Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I am delighted to announce that I have a new URL! All of my posts and your insightful comments have been moved to: www.karenrayne.com.

Please come visit me at www.karenrayne.com, where we will continue to talk about adolescent sexuality in new and exciting ways!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Barbie can grow breasts

Late last night my dear partner (you remember, the city planner?) asked if I remembered the doll called something like Betsy Busty - the doll whose arm you twisted and her breasts grew. I admit, I jeered at him. But since we have a fast Internet connection, he was able to prove his point before I had even gotten a good laugh up and running. I give you: Growing Up Skipper and Growing Up Ginger.
You can kind of see the instructions on the Ginger box, but here's the easier-to-read version: twist Skipper's or Ginger's left arm, and her breasts grow larger and she gets taller (her waist lengthens). Apparently there was some controversy at the time (1975), but Skipper still went into production. Then later came Ginger.

I am, I admit, rather stunned by the outrageousness of this. The body image issues. The inappropriate puberty expectations. The bizarre plastic torso. I could go on.

Did you have a Growing Up Skipper/Ginger doll when you were a child? If you didn't, you probably did have some toy that you would never buy your child - as times change, so do our perception of the appropriateness of toys. So what toy(s) did you have that would be considered inappropriate by today's standards, either for safety or body image or some other reason?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tyra Banks has a vulva puppet!

This is too good, folks. A great educational clip to send to your teenage boys and girls to inform them all about what a girl's vulva looks like.

How old were you, female readers, when you finally realized you didn't pee out of your vagina?

Happy Friday and weekend watching!

Thanks to the folks at the Voices of American Sexuality blog for the head's-up about this video!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Condom Fashion

You’ve gotta love this. Talk about taking wearing a condom to a whole new level!

These are all images taken during a fashion show at the Fourth Annual China Reproductive Health New Technologies & Products Expo. It was, rather unimaginatively, sponsored by Guilin Latex Factory, China’s largest condom manufacturer. But honestly, I can forgive a large amount of crass mass marketing when it results in wedding dresses made out of condoms.

Send some of these pictures to your teenager - and get started talking about how wearing a condom is both practical and stylish! :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How not to talk to kids about sex...

For Better Or For Worse is a great comic strip. The author, Lynn Johnston, is in partial retirement, so some of the strips that are running now are from the early years of the strip. This is one of those early strips (it also ran yesterday).

What a lovely image of how not to talk with kids about sex! You always need to find out just what they're asking before you start answering - and then do so in as simple terms as possible!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Teenagers and sleep patterns

Teen brain development and patterns are such that many teenagers just aren't able to fall asleep before 11pm or midnight. This all comes down to brain chemistry and when those chemicals are released during a typical day.

So late sleep times, combined with typical high school start times as early as 7:30, means that most teenagers just aren't getting enough sleep. That has all sorts of negative effects on memory, physical development, decision making, and other important things. But most of these things just don't have a big impact on a teenager's decision to try to go to bed earlier.

Finally, here is some research that might actually impact your teenagers to try to go to bed earlier.

It's been clear for a couple of years that adults who get less sleep tend to have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI), but now it also appears that children who get less sleep in the 3rd and 6th grades are likely to have a higher BMI in 6th grade. Since this finding has held true on both ends of adolescence, my smart money is on it being true in adolescence as well.

But either way, most teenagers legitimately have a hard time going to sleep at a decent hour because of their brain chemistry. Don't be too hard on them because of it - they're probably already feeling the pain of not enough sleep without anyone else pointing it out.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Free cell phones for students?

New York City is apparently considering giving free cell phones to all students. And then rewarding them with free minutes for high grades/test scores/etc. The ban on cell phones in the schools would continue - these cell phones wouldn't even work during school hours.

I have to admit, this seems like an incredibly poorly conceived plan. Maybe I haven't heard all the details (certainly a possibility), and they actually do have everything well thought-out. But here are some of my questions:
  • Paying students (with cell phone minutes) for good grades? Really? I could go on at some length here, but I'll leave it at that until another day.
  • Part of the reason they're thinking about this is because parents are in an up-roar about the cell phone ban - in case of another 9/11 type emergency during school hours. How will this address that problem? The cell phones won't even work during school hours.
  • Giving one cell phone manufacturer and one cell phone carrier access to all of the students in the NYC schools is rather like giving Coke exclusive access. It's an amazing deal for the company in terms of life-long customer-building, but a bad habit-forming gig for the schools to be taking part of, both in terms of the school's inflow of money and the students' development.
  • What about the students with poor grades? Would they get any free minutes, or would they just have a useless piece of plastic to take care of?
  • Who is responsible if the cell phone is lost or broken, as I guarantee they will be? Are the students required to maintain it? Is the school going to fix and replace the phones?
  • I could go on. But I won't.
The up-sides (and what are those again?) just don't seem to balance out all of these issues.

But now that I've slammed the idea at some length, what do you think? Please be honest! I'd be interested if anyone thinks it's a good idea, and to hear why.