Search Results for: "joellen notte"

DRAFT: Our Expert Contributors (Updated)


SCARLETEEN   is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization, collective and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It’s the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through most of its tenure.

THE STD PROJECT  is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions.

CONDOM MONOLOGUES SexEd, Activism, Storytelling and Much More… Condom Monologues dispel harmful myths about safe sex and sexual stereotypes that permeate our ways of understanding what is “healthy sexuality”. They accomplish this through sex-positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality that affirm the diversity of people- genders, sexualities, kinks and relationships.

HEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.  She’s received so many highly respected awards that they cannot all fit here. So please read more about the amazing Heather here.

JOELLEN NOTTE  is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site

KATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, community-builder. Ultimately, her work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us all create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. To that end, she writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication. She is also the founder of

safersex0.jpg csph
CENTER for SEXUAL PLEASURE and HEALTH  (CSPH) is designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues. Led by highly respected founder and director, Megan Andelloux, CSPH is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, & advance the sexuality field.

BEDSIDER  is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (which does mean no pharmaceutical company or government involvement or funding). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.

MEGAN ANDELLOUX  founder of the CSPH, is a Clinical Sexologist and certified Sexuality Educator. Listed on Wikipedia as a top sexuality educator in America, Megan’s innovative education programs, writing, social media presence, and ambitious speaking schedule has made her one of America’s most recognized and sought-after experts in the field of sexual pleasure, health, and politics.

DR. MELANIE DAVIS   delivers workshops and lectures on age-related changes in intimacy and sexual expression as well as the impact of menopause and cancer on sexuality and self esteem. Melanie speaks frequently on body image, as well as on the sexual impact of cancer, menopause and aging. She helps healthcare providers and educators build knowledge, acceptance, and communication skills. She is an AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator.

 DR. KAREN RAYNE  has been working in education for the past two decades with an expertise in sexuality education. She founded Unhushed in order to open conversations about sexuality in the home. Dr. Rayne works with private schools, churches, non-profits, and other organizations creating programing, training facilitators, and educating students. Dr. Rayne is passionate about providing comprehensive sexuality education to people of all ages and stages with sensitivity and a touch of humor. Her newest project can be seen at

The Golden Rule to Healthy Hook-Ups

Photo credit: Carolina Ponce

Photo credit: Carolina Ponce

Girl meets boy. They become friends and soon enough, they are hooking up on a regular basis. No love, no commitments – they only do it for the purpose of having sex!

Casual sex has been portrayed in contradictory fashion throughout history. It’s deemed a mortal enemy of love and commitment. People who engage in it are often put down, punished or shamed. At the same time, casual sex is also represented as proof of sexual liberation. As a result, when someone feels like it’s not a good fit for them they might feel stigmatized and fear being perceived as prudish or sexually repressed. It’s a double edged sword.

So how do we reconcile this? Is hooking up unhealthy or healthy?

Sex educator, JoEllen Notte highlights a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggesting that it’s not so much whether you have casual sex that impacts your mental health, it’s why you do it.

This article was originally published on


"Sex that is casual? Shocking!" Image from

“Sex that is casual? Shocking!” Image from

You may have noticed that in the last couple of years there have been a bevy of stories about hook-up culture, online dating, friends with benefits and the general shift from the assumption that everyone should be engaging in “rings and babies dating” to an acceptance that a whole lot of folks are engaging in what could be described as “fuck buddy dating”. Hot on the heels of this discussion has been another conversation. A very intense conversation. A kind of scary conversation. A conversation about how all of this is very, very bad for everyone.

Studies came out telling us that people who engaged in these hook ups were unhappy. Articles came out bemoaning the death of dating, courtship and romance and in general people agreed that this was all very, very bad.

But what if they were all very, very wrong?

When we start to really look at some of the “concern” we see some interesting patterns. Studies set out to prove that casual sex is damaging and (voila!) did! Angry writers who don’t enjoy casual relationships themselves writing scathing indictments of the practice of hooking up because, clearly it is threatening their way of being. Suddenly these “facts” start to look a bit skewed. Are there voices coming from the other side? Perhaps even (gasp!) neutral voices?

Continue reading at The Readhead Bedhead.


condom ad condoms too tight

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Setting The Record Straight | #condomtruth


Last month, a new condom brand called Sustain began promoting a self-funded study insinuating, at first glance, that the majority of mainstream condoms are laden with carcinogens. Next a petition surfaced, relying on this flawed study and sponsored by  “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,” calling the FDA to “Get Carcinogens Out of Condoms.”

Fueled with dangerous sound-bites, Sustain launched a social media offensive:


And another from Sustain’s founder:


These messages are undoubtedly alarming. The reality is, however, that there is no scientific evidence linking condoms to cancer—and to claim otherwise has the potential to unravel decades of committed work focused on saving lives through encouraging condom use and education.

Thus, those of us who support and advocate for sexual wellness and reproductive health need to take notice and action, especially as these claims are unsubstantiated by medical science.

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, investigated the issue and found that the study is burdened with faulty methodology and numerous inaccuracies. Further, it was paid for (in part) by founders of Sustain.

Read the full article, Cigarettes Cause Cancer, Condoms Don’t at RH Reality Check.

As health advocates, educators, and consumers it is critical that we take careful note and act on this situation before Sustain unravels years of positive condom advancement through their alarming marketing tactics.

How can you get involved? Join the #condomtruth conversation!



Copy/paste tweets or make your own  |  hashtags: #condomtruth #bettercondoms

–  Cigarettes Cause Cancer. Condoms Don’t. #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Faulty studies & scare tactics risk lives #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Misleading marketing hurts public health #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Trust #science, not misleading marketing #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Fight #condom stigmas, don’t create them #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Unethical marketing is more dangerous than #nitrosamines #condomtruth
–  Faulty #condom studies have real consequences #condomtruth #bettercondoms


@SustainCondoms to Stop their Misleading & Dangerous Marketing

@JeffHollender (Sustain’s founder) 
with the campaign hashtag: #condomtruth
@missmeiks (Sustain’s co-founder) 
with the campaign hashtag: #condomtruth


SALON  Are condoms killing you? This new contraceptive company wants you to think so
JoEllen Notte  Condoms Cancer Scare Tactics: How One Company is Using Fear to Sell
Condom Monologues  There Is No Cancer In #CondomTruth
Sexational  How Not to Respond to Criticism, Featuring Sustain Condoms
The CSPH  Condoms, Nitrosamine & Cancer- Oh My!


As Melissa was investigating the RH Reality Check article, she reached out to both Sustain’s founder Jeffrey Hollender and Jessica Arons of the Reproductive Health Technology Project (RHTP), the organization that conducted the study.  Jessica Arons did initially write back directing Melissa back to the RHTP study, as well as cutting and pasting paragraphs from the study. Unfortunately, this did not actually address Melissa’s concerns or questions.

You can read Jessica’s response to Melissa’s RH Reality article: “Cigarettes Cause Cancer. Condoms Don’t”, here.  Beneath that, you will see that Melissal replied to Jessica’s rebuttal in the comment section.   Anyone that has read Melissa’s article, “Cigarettes Cause Cancer; Condoms Don’t,” will recognize that nowhere does Melissa state that RHTP asserts that condoms cause cancer.

In her response, Melissa wanting to redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand stated:

As a sexual health and condom advocate, I appreciate that Jessica Arons’ response helps to clarify the myth that “condoms cause cancer” — hopefully discouraging future campaigns from exploiting the RHTP report to further their own agenda. To make this conversation about RHTP’s report, diminishes the actual issue. This is not about RHTP — it is about the fact that a report that has not been scientifically peer-reviewed in the academic community is being misused by the company (Sustain) that funded it.

Prior to finalizing her article, Melissa wrote the comprehensive list of questions (noted below) which she sent to both Jeffrey and Jessica. The importance of these questions is not to attack the study. As a condom advocate and expert, Melissa wanted clarification on the study’s methodology which she has found to have many flaws, inconsistencies and shortcomings.

Melissa received a flat refusal from Sustain’s founder, stating that he did not see why he “should take the time to respond to these questions.” Jessica Arons never replied.

As Melissa has written, she is  “of course — very open to continuing this conversation to make certain that accurate information prevails and that campaigns around condoms are free of stigma, scare tactics and shame.

Here are the questions Melissa sent to Jeffrey and Jessica for clarification on the study, the motivations behind the study, and any consideration made to the impact this type of campaign might have on condom users:


-Names of experts, as cited, who chose the condoms for testing
-What actual criteria did they use to choose the condoms tested?
-Why were obscure condom styles chosen over best-sellers of the brands? or
-Excepting Trojan, why were the most ubiquitous condom styles excluded from study?
-Sources from which the tested condoms were obtained and by whom
-What was the documented protocol for handling and storage of the condoms prior to testing?
-Specific documentation for your study and testing methodology
-Names of individuals involved in implementing the study
-All source of financing for the study and the amounts donated
-Copies of the actual test reports for each brand
-Name/contact information at the testing facility, permission to discuss the study
-ATSM standards applied
-Method of testing employed (as there is more than one method for testing nitrosamine levels)
-Why was that specific method chosen?
-What is the threshold (as per recommended by the ISO and WHO) before nitrosamine levels in condoms is considered high?
-Are you aware of any companies that have taken steps to eliminate nitrosamines prior to the publication of the study, and if so, which companies?
-Several brands have shared proof that they came to RHTP, prior to your releasing the results of your study, with 3rd party testing results (actually the same facility you apparently used) that proved their condoms had extremely low (if not undetectable) levels of nitrosamines. Why did you disregard this information?
-How do you account for the complete lack of even one medical study demonstrating cause or correlation of condoms with reproductive cancers? Is this important?


-Does Karex manufacture Sustain, if not who does?
-Is the raw rubber shipped directly to the factory, and processed on site at the facility, or is it a prevulcanized formula?
-Does your manufacturer employ unique or customized techniques (including rubber, chemicals, processes) for producing all condoms they manufacture, or are these techniques only used for Sustain products?
-Leaching and washing is common practice in condom manufacturing. What new techniques have been developed specifically for the production of Sustain?
-How often are Sustain condoms tested for nitrosamines? Is it for each production run and on multiple batches?
-Which testing method is employed for Sustain condom nitrosamine levels?
-Why do you claim your condoms are GMO free, when no condoms have GMOs?
-Are you concerned this might worry the public unnecessarily?


-I read your statement that you worked with a former Durex employee in creating a method for eliminating nitrosamines. Would you please elaborate on your work in this area?
-Does Sustain intend to disclose these new innovative methods to other manufacturers to create change in the industry? Is there a white paper for the new method available?


-How did Sustain determine the best method and communications plan for disclosing their concerns about nitrosamines in condoms?
-How do you account for the complete lack of even one medical study demonstrating cause or correlation of condoms with cervical and “penile” cancers? Is this important?
-Did Sustain consult with experienced industry peers or public health professionals to determine the safest, most responsible and effective method for disclosure to teens and other at-risk consumers?
-What steps have you put in place so that consumers do not simply walk away with the top-line message and the dangerous impression that condoms are unsafe?
-Are you concerned that your recent statements are irresponsible or might be misleading to the public, for example:

Eight out of 10 brands on the market contain a potential carcinogen called nitrosamines,” she says. “When you talk to women, they’re so conscious of what they’re putting in their body and on their body, from cosmetics to food, they’re like ‘Oh my God, that is certainly not anything I want in my body.’”

Jeffrey Hollender says nitrosamines are found in rubber products, and many foods and tobacco. “They’re not an additive; they’re a chemical reaction, a byproduct. Nitrosamines are known to cause cervical cancer ...”

And penile cancer,” his daughter chips in.

Nowhere do either of you mention that you feel using condoms is safer or more important than not. So what is the takeaway for the public consumer from this interview?

Melissa concluded her email, “From my research, at this point, the RHTP study appears to have been completed for the purpose of discrediting competing condom brands and pushing forward the agenda of Sustain both with consumers and with public health agencies.

For purportedly wishing to collaborate with condom brands and facilitate working together for change…surprisingly, no documentation has been forthcoming to support any of the assertions of the study. Instead brands have been stonewalled and no transparency has been offered.

At every press opportunity your message is on point: Condom have carcinogens, but not ours… I would like to afford you the opportunity to respond to my concerns. I welcome and look forward to your reply.


Consumers absolutely have the right to know what is in their products. Consumers also have the right to demand honesty. Misleading marketing, scare tactics, and irresponsible messaging is a disservice to all of us, especially to the millions of people who depend on condoms to protect their health.

As, transparency is what Sustain continues to uphold as their core business ethic, we sincerely hope Sustain will take this opportunity to replace their words with actions.  We would much rather being working with Sustain to expand condom knowledge, education and access.

Yet we cannot do so until the “condoms cause cancer” messaging Sustain has used as a marketing tactic stops. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation to make certain that accurate information prevails and that campaigns around condoms are free of stigma, scare tactics and shame.

5 Ways to Stay Sex Positive when Dealing with Depression

Photo credit: Martjin de Valk

Photo credit: Martjin de Valk

Sex may be the last thing on your mind when you’re depressed. But sex educator and coach, JoEllen Notte explains that being “sex positive” does not simply mean having lots of orgasms. In this article, she defines sex positivity as acknowledging and remembering part of your identity as sexual. This is important because regardless of gender, age, or state of health, a shameless, healthy sex life is the right of every person.

Yet as one is battling with the physical and emotional states of depression, it’s an enormous challenge to care for oneself and take pleasure in one’s sexuality. Here JoEllen offers five tips for doing all you can to make yourself feel good and stay sex positive when dealing with depression because ultimately this is what it is all about: taking good care of yourself.

After reading her piece, consider participating in JoEllen’s online survey about the impact of depression on sexuality.

Key points to remember are:

  • Sexuality can be a positive force in your life in which you grow and develop your passions. It is about respecting you for you.
  • When you aren’t feeling sexual, explore the sensual. Sexual and sensual are not necessarily the same thing.  Sensuality is about navigating your sense around what feels good. It can be as simple as taking a scented bath.
  • Be reflective about what motivates you to make certain choices in your sex life.
  • Sex positivity is not about the quantity of sex you are having. It’s about being aware of what you need that is right for you.
  • Advocate for yourself and talk to your doctor if you feel your depression and/or medication is affecting you sex life.

This article was originally published at theRedheadBedhead


I’ve been having a hard time writing these last couple of weeks. New insurance led to a switch in which particular generic form of my antidepressant I received and lo and behold, the different one isn’t quite getting the job done. I’ve been a bit weepy (ok, more than a bit, pretty much anything involving dads gets me choked up… just happened while I was typing that), a bit brain-foggy, having a hard time focusing or getting stuff done (sorry if I owe you an email!), taking occasional sobbing breaks and getting hit with intermittent waves of free-floating guilt and paranoia. It sounds really bad but it’s kind of like when you live on a street with a lot of potholes, people who never drive down it think it’s the worst thing ever but you’ve learned to navigate, right? Anyway, while my doctor and insurance company duke it out (that’s right, they are currently arguing over why it’s worthwhile to treat me with the correct medication) I’m taking my vitamins, exercising and trying to focus outward (speaking of, congrats to the giveaway winners!). To that end I have come up with this handy little list.

Sometimes depression can suck the sexy right out of you which can be even more depressing. Let’s talk about some ways to fight that, shall we?

1. Remember, sex positivity isn’t about having all the orgasms.

I suspect some of you read the title of this and thought “Seriously? I’m depressed and you want me to worry about sex? Why don’t I just cure cancer while I’m at it?!” But remember, staying sex positive doesn’t mean going and having all the sex with all the screaming orgasms. Take that pressure away first off. In this case, I’m not even asking you to stay sex positive in the broader whole-world, big picture sense. I’m talking about you for you. I’m just asking that you remember your identity as a sexual being. Some depressed people don’t want to have sex. Sometimes medications render depressed people incapable of orgasm (we’ll come back to that in a minute) this does not mean sex is something that exists separately from you and only for others. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of depression is the chasm that seems to exist between you and the rest of the “not depressed” world (as you perceive it) don’t add to that by saying “sex positivity? eff that noise! I’m depressed!” just work with me here. 🙂

Continue reading at The Readhead Bedhead

condom ad condoms too loose



JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Silicone-Based Lube: Alternative Uses

Photo credit: "Stereotype"

Photo credit: “Stereotype”

There are many reasons why silicone-based lube plays a worthy addition to your sex life. As we discuss elsewhere, not only does silicone lube heighten sensitivity, it can also make sex safer because it reduces the risk of condom breakage, particularly when using ultra thin condoms.

Studies show that silicone lube is the safer choice when engaging in anal sex. As well, it feels and works just like oil- a little goes a long way, it’s waterproof, and it lasts longer than water-based lubricants because it doesn’t absorb into the skin. Silicone lube is also a great option for toy play. Be careful though. Silicone lube should never be used with toys made of silicone or Cyberskin (read more about toy safety).

If that’s not enough reason to convince you to try silicone lube, consider all its other handy alternatives. For example, you can use silicone lube for shaving (to help keep the razor sharper for longer). Also, some lubes, such as Erosense Luxe, are an ideal alternative to message oils.

There are even more unexpected benefits. In this fun video, sex educators Kate McCombs and JoEllen Notte run through the many ways people have re-purposed silicone lube for everyday home remedies. This is definitely worth a watch for any first time enthusiastic lube user!

This post was originally published at


When you get a room full of sex educators together, inevitably the conversation takes some interesting turns. One of the things we love to talk about are “sex geek hacks.”

Sex geek hacks are little ways we re-purpose our sex geeky belongings for off-label uses. Sometimes you’ll see articles for how to turn every day items into sex toys (my personal favorite being the hands-free lube dispenser) but this is a different approach. We take sex accessories and use them for non-sex purposes.

Image from

Image from

There are countless examples of sex geek hacks. From dildo bookends, to Pure Wand-as-home-defense-weapon, sex geeks are a creative bunch.

One of my personal favorites is using the Liberator Jaz mini as a laptop desk. It’s the perfect size and weight and doesn’t feel heavy on your lap. It also feels delightfully on-point when I’m writing articles about sexuality.

I’d say the overwhelming favorite among sex geeks is the alternative uses for silicone-based lube. Every time I mention it on twitter, I get heaps of enthusiastic replies and suggestions for new uses. JoEllen Notte (a.k.a. the Redhead Bedhead) and I made a little video about just these things.

Unsure what size

kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.
Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

What Does Sexual Consent Look Like?

Image from Bedsider

Image from Bedsider

When it comes to sex, consent is essential. As JoEllen Notte of the writes, consent is to sexual play as a doorbell is to a home. We do not question the validity of houses having doorbells. And yet, the topic of sexual consent generates heated debate.

What does consent actually mean? What does sexual consent look like? Do I have to sign a contract with my partner about everything we do together before we take our clothes off?

This confusion is not surprising. Movies typically portray sizzling sex scenes without any talking. The characters are so in sync with each other that communication seems unnecessary. In the article below, JoEllen points to ways in which “enthusiastic consent” is the brunt of media jokes that poke fun at anti-harassment activists as out-of-touch, over-the-top PC mood killers.

How did we get to this political climate around consent?

According to JoEllen, it all begins from a faulty model taught from a young age: The “no means no” model.

In this clever piece, “I Got Your Consentlandia Right Here“, JoEllen runs through the flaws and harmful effects that longstanding approaches to consent have had in our media, our legal system and our personal well being. Then she demonstrates practical ways that consent takes place and how it looks in different contexts. When you’re done reading, you’ll never think of consent as a drag again.

Here are key points to take away:

  • “No means no” perpetuates the stance, “They never said no”, as a valid response to sexual harassment and rape charges.
  • The new model, “Yes means yes”, implies collaboration. Real consent happens only once there is an active, voluntary “yes” or “F*ck Yeah!”.
  • Consent is an on-going process that requires constant communication.
  •  “Yes means yes” allows for no confusion, no mind reading, and much better sex!

This article was originally published at


The topic of consent has been weighing heavy on my mind this last week. I’ve watched people wrestle with it, spring into action around it, snark about it, debate it, discuss it and even mock it, dismiss it and reduce it to a meme. A conclusion that I’ve come to (a conclusion that I’ve come to many times before) is that most people— even the ones who want desperately to help— don’t really get consent. The fact that the topic breeds debate and frequently causes people to get angry (“What, do I have to fill out a form before I touch someone now?!”) is actually absurd because when it comes down to it, consent is just about not violating boundaries. That shouldn’t piss us off. We’re not outraged that houses have doorbells rather than coming with the assumption that we can all just walk on in, right? Right. But somehow when you suggest to people that they may want to ask before stomping all up into another person’s space, there is backlash. So how did this happen?

Think back to how you were taught about consent. Odds are you weren’t really. You were more likely taught about “no”. If you were born with a vagina, you were probably taught to be careful because people might rape you and you should say “no” or, if you were born with a penis, you were told that “no means no” and if you hear “no” then you should not proceed because, rape¹. What has happened here is that you learned a couple of things:

  1. One partner should charge ahead until they get the red light from the other.
  2. Listen for a cue to stop, rather than a cue to start.
  3. If you don’t hear a “no”, you’re good to go.

This model has proven disastrous in myriad ways. From lawyers who argue that unconscious victims weren’t raped because they didn’t say the all-important “no”, to people who have no idea how to communicate sexual needs because everything we’ve been taught is based in negatives (i.e. what DON’T we want), to the general pattern of blaming victims not rapists because, obviously, they didn’t “no” hard enough, to the fact that no one knows what the hell “yes” looks like, to this bizarre idea that if we ask people if we can touch them before we touch them we will never touch each other again/it will be super-awkward and not fun.

Folks, it’s a steaming pile of horse shit. All of it.


As you may have noticed, I’m a bit consent obsessed and, while consent is not always about sex (in fact, a lot of what we’re talking about applies to most non-sexual situations and, ahem, communities), I’m happy to report that my own life got way easier, more comfortable, more fun and, frankly, sexier once I figured this consent business out….

Continue reading at The Readhead Bedhead.

Unsure what size

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Let’s Talk About Sex & Depression, Really (Survey)

Photo credit: Ashley Rose

Photo credit: Ashley Rose

The relationship between depression and sex is complex yet often overlooked by the medical field. As a sex educator diagnosed with depression herself, JoEllen Notte of the, is taking on this taboo topic and opening up a new channel for people’s experiences to finally be heard and acknowledged. She has launched an online survey that will infer “what symptoms people are experiencing, what variables are affecting those experiences and what responses they are getting from the medical community.”

You will be asked questions about your own history with depression as well as sexual behaviors. All data is collected anonymously, encrypted and stored in a secure data base. At the end of the survey you will asked if you wish to be interviewed for (anonymous) inclusion in my upcoming bookJoEllen Notte

Go here to learn more about this survey. And check out more of JoEllen’s writings on the topic of depression and sex.

condom ad condoms too loose

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

The Blind Leading the Blind: Is Abstinence-only Education to Blame for Parents Who Can’t Say “Penis”?

From Mean Girls (2004)

From “Mean Girls” (2004)

Abstinence-only education does not exist in a vacuum. There is an important history in the United States in which certain laws and federal funding began supporting fear-based curricula. This stems from the belief that if you tell students the biological consequences (i.e, STIs, unwanted pregnancy, death) and social consequences of sex (i.e., specifically for girls, loss of purity and respect) it will encourage student to delay sexual activity. But studies show this is not the case. Despite all abstinence-only efforts, teens are not engaging in less sex, and the prevalence of STIs among 15-24 year olds remains high.

As sex educator, JoEllen Notte points out in this article, avoiding fact-based approaches to sex and sexual relationship education only leaves students ill-equipped to make safer choices.

In this article, she makes a strong argument that abstinence-only sex ed has produced a generation of parents today who are not only incapable (or unwilling) to discuss sex in a healthy, positive manner with their own children, but who also have not established a positive relationship to sex for themselves. Hence the need for more adult sex education to undo the damage and shame instilled by the abstinence-only model.

Here are important points to take away. Be sure to read through the entire article as there are some juicy links within:

  • Abstinence-only teaches girls that their value is based on their “virginity”.
  • Abstinence-only promotes the myth that condoms don’t work and that “sex” is limited to penis-vaginal intercourse.
  • People, parents and children alike, are unclear about terms of consent. We need to teach it!
  • Sex education does not stop after high school. Parents need it too. They need guidance about how to talk to their children about sex in a way that does not shame or reinforce misinformation.

This article was originally published on


A couple weeks back there was a rash of stories about a baby doll that had some parents all up in arms. Why, you ask? Was it unsafe? No. Racist? No. Prohibitively expensive? Not that I’ve heard. The big problem? It has a penis. You know, like a human. People were PISSED. The ire was vented in the now-common manner- facebook posts- where folks are declaring that the “company makes me sick” because little girls “don’t need to know about anatomy” etc, etc.

Barely a week later a petition started circulating demanding that the Fremont Board of Education remove a book called “Your Health Today” from schools. Parents were outraged (outraged!) that the book: “exposes youth to sexual games, sexual fantasies, sexual bondage with handcuffs, ropes, and blindfolds, sexual toys and vibrator devices, and additional instruction that is extremely inappropriate for 13 and 14 year-old youth.”

All accounts indicate that while the book did, in fact, indicate that sex can be enjoyable , none of the information was prevented in a salacious or provocative manner. In fact, Slate describes it as “the most boring prose imaginable” including lessons explaining that students should only ever do what “they are comfortable doing”. But that wasn’t enough to keep parents from freaking out. My favorite complaint is the one that is about one of my favorite parts of the book: Parent Asfia Ahmed, fretted to the San Jose Mercury-News, “There’s a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history, how does that relate to a 14-year-old kid? I don’t see it at all.” *

I wish this August was some kind of sex-negative anomaly but it’s not. Earlier this year, there was a similar wave of discussion in reference to teaching children the proper anatomical terms for their body parts. That’s right. People have been getting upset because their children were given factually correct information about their bodies- they were, for example, exposed to words like “vagina”.

So, what gives? How did people become convinced that accurate education was heinously inappropriate and something to shield their children from lest their innocence be destroyed.

I have a theory.

I blame abstinence-only education.

But not the education of this generation. I think this generation of parents who thinks they can shield their children from their own genitals and that they shouldn’t talk to their teenagers about sex, lest they get ideas is the result of the previous generation- the first one that was highly likely to be presented with abstinence-only education in their schools.

Let’s take a quick history break: Abstinence-only education started receiving limited federal funding in 1982 through the Adolescent Family Life Act. After the passing of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, which included a mandate that 50 million dollars yearly be allocated to abstinence-only education, it spread rapidly as cash-strapped schools decided that receiving the funds was more valuable than, you know, teaching kids anything about sex.**

exposed to similar nonsense in schools. We need to be the antidote to abstinence only education. Right now, there is a generation of parents who, when it comes to teaching their kids about sex, are basically like the blind leading the blind and, as educators, let’s be their guide.

Continue reading at The Redhead Bedhead.

Unsure what size

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

#Tweet4Condoms Update: @Twitter is Not Protecting Users

61- tweet 4 condomsIn June we launched a petition demanding that @TwitterAds remove condoms from it’s blacklist.

The results? A force of support from thousands of people and numerous organizations who want to see sexual health messaging promoted, not shamed.

Currently, Twitter’s confusing policy continues to block a whole spectrum of sexual health advocates. Their policy views condoms as something to protect from it’s users, outlawing condom ads that contain or link to any mention of sexual pleasure.

But condoms are inherently sexual. How can you- more importantly, why should you- disconnect condoms from sex and pleasure? As we told RH Reality Check, promoting pleasure is more effective at increasing consistent condom use than any fear-based campaign.

Together we stand to put condoms in the public conversation as both a fundamental and pleasurable component to sexual health.

Other organizations and companies such as The STD Project, Bedsider and Momdoms have come forward sharing their struggles of censorship. Numerous sex educators continue to speak out against Twitter’s policy that has excluded them from the platform including Elle Chase, JoEllen Notte, Megan Andelloux and The Center For Sexual Pleasure & Health, and many others.

Twitter’s irresponsible approach to sexual health is riddled with hypocrisy. Health organizations are stalled by confusing automated messages stating they violate Twitter’s restrictions on “adult content”. Meanwhile, suggestive images of sexy clad women can show up in one’s Twitter feed.

Here are the #Tweet4Condoms campaign most recent developments:

This month a 7-year old government funded condom distribution program, Rubber Revolution DC, was blocked from promoting their campaign to fight HIV/AIDS. @FreeCondomsDC received an automated message informing them that their tweet violated Twitter’s policy on “adult or sexual products and services.”

The good news is that DC’s Department of Health was able to get the ban lifted for their campaign. In response to media coverage of the ban, Twitter spokeswoman Genevieve Wong stated: “We allow advertisers to run campaigns that promote condoms and safe sex.”

Great news! We thought.

And we checked to see if the ban lifting applied to us as well. No luck.

Since the launch of #Tweet4Condoms, we’ve reached out to Twitter numerous times with absolutely no response from them, we figured Genevieve Wong might have some answers for us too.

So, we promptly contacted Wong.

Unfortunately, we were greeted with a copy and paste message of Twitter’s automated reply reading:

Thanks for checking in. I connected with our Ads Policy team about the status of your account, and wanted to pass along their response:

Thanks for your question about the status of your Twitter Ads account. We’ve reviewed your account and confirmed that it is ineligible to participate in the Twitter Ads program at this time based on our Adult or sexual products and services policy at this time. Violating content includes, but is not limited to, nudity, partial nudity, sexual aids and toys, as well as adult/sexual language. If the violating content has been removed, please respond and we will re-review your account for policy compliance.

You can learn more about this policy at

For those following along, you may remember our entire account has been deemed ineligible and has been blocked from TwitterAds entirely.

The tweet we submitted that put us on the blacklist did not contain or link to any sexual language or erotic images.

In fact, we do not talk about condoms and/or sex in a more sexual or explicit way than (who do advertise on Twitter).


Durex’s home page vs. Lucky Bloke’s homepage.

While it is positive that Durex and RubberRevolution are now able to use Twitter’s outreach- the platform continues to be unequal. Most companies and organizations are banned by default. Consequently, important voices in the field of sexual health are excluded from one of the world’s most powerful communication channels.

We are committed to standing up for sexual health and demand that Twitter change it’s faulty policy.

Sign our petition to change Twitter advertising policy. Join us as we #Tweet4Condoms! For public and global health.

Because sexual care is health care!


(Please note, you can sign the petition without displaying your name. Your privacy is important to us too!)

All the ways to support the cause and share the campaign

  • SIGNING: our petition asking Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo to remove stigmatizing and harmful restrictions on condom advertising.
  • SHARING: the campaign’s media coverage!
    • ThinkProgress: Twitter Is Being Pressured To Stop Censoring Ads About Condoms
    • RH Reality Check (Our op-ed): Twitter Banned My Company From Promoting Safe Condom Use
    • RH Reality Check: Twitter Bans Company From Advertising Condoms, Citing ‘Adult or Sexual Products’ Policy

Here are some tweets. Copy/paste your pick!

@Twitter condom policy is hypocritical & ineffective at “protecting” users #Tweet4condoms

#Tweet4Condoms because sexual care is health care: #Tweet4condoms

A #condom a day keeps the doctor away! #Tweet4Condoms

Condoms are a global health necessity. I stand w/ @theluckybloke to change @Twitter‘s ad policies #Tweet4Condoms

You can start a revolution for your country on @twitter, but no ads for #condoms. So, we’re starting a pro-condom revolution! #Tweet4Condoms

#Tweet4Condoms because if you restrict the distribution of condoms, you are restricting efforts to save lives

Put an end to @TwitterAds restrictions that impede condom access. Sign #petition #Tweet4Condoms

Link to our petition:  OR share our other images below!

on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram…actually, anywhere you’d like…












Dr. Foreskin: How You Can Stop Worrying and Love the ‘Hood’

Photo credit Robin_24

Photo credit Robin_24

Male circumcision is common in the United States. Eight in 10 Americans who have penises have their foreskin removed. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilities Project, in 2011 circumcision was the most common medical procedure performed in hospitals. So it’s not surprising that a lot of people have questions about the foreskin. Similarly, some might prefer the look of circumcised penises simply because they are not used to it’s counterpart. As sex educator JoEllen Notte points out in this article, our aesthetic preferences are shaped by what we frequently see.

In other words, there is nothing inherently ugly about the uncircumcised penis. JoEllen answers all your foreskin curiosities below.

In this article you will learn the following:

  • There are practical tips to manually and gently retract the foreskin.
  • The foreskin acts as a protective barrier of the glands (head of penis)- like a penis sleeping bag!
  • The foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis, and thus increases sensitivity.
  • Always communicate to be sure what your partner enjoys.

This article was originally published here.


Several of my friends have never seen one, a few live in fear of encountering one and one refuses to have any interactions with them at all. I am referring not to an accountant, an El Camino or one of those Real Housewives people (all actual fears of the Redhead Bedhead) but to the uncircumcised penis. For reasons I’ll never understand, some folks act like uncut dicks are rare as unicorns and as unpleasant a discovery as hidden household mold. I guess I travel in a more foreskin-friendly circle because I have encountered nearly as many men with it as I have without it and I really don’t know what the big deal is. It’s a dick, people. You can handle it.

Frankly, I think foreskin is kind of adorable¹. It’s like a little² penis sleeping bag! (truth be told I love anything that comes with its own case-from Vera Wang to, you know, regular wang). And when the foreskin retracts – I’ll stop here, because we are going to have a quick moment of instruction:

If you are getting it on with an uncut gentleman and pants are off and he still looks very noticeably like, well, an uncut gentleman this means the foreskin has not retracted and this is where you come in. Wrap you hand around the shaft of the penis and gently draw the hand toward his body and then- eureka!- you have a cock just like you know and love.


Continue reading at The Redhead Bedhead.

condom ad condoms too loose

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting