Note: This article contains mature sexual content.
When Seventeen Magazine was first published in 1944, it set out to give young teenage girls a wholesome example in a culture where women’s roles were still evolving. Today, however, it seems Seventeen has far outgrown its name.
The Seventeen Magazine website offers an “Answerology” section that offers sex advice so graphic, it has a disclaimer page warning that it is R-rated. Before you can click a link to read the questions, you are asked to agree to the following conditions: “I understand that the following pages may include sex-oriented content; I am not bothered by sex-oriented content; By clicking on the Include R-rated Questions link below, I will have released and discharged the providers, owners and creators of this site from any and all liability which may arise from my use of the site.”
Not only is a website for teens seventeen and under offering sex advice of an adult nature, Seventeen Magazine has partnered with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of abortions, to answer some of the questions.
The front page of their “Answerology” section offers advice on a variety of subjects, from fashion and entertainment to money and college, but it also has a sex section as well. It tells visitors to the page “Have a sex or body question? Have it answered by a Planned Parenthood expert!”
Many (but not all) of the sex-related questions are answered by “Alex at Planned Parenthood,” who often provides links directly to the “Info for Teens” section at Planned Parenthood website, which offers advice on “Sex and Masturbation.”
While some of the advice given is responsible and suitable for teens, some of the advice is questionable. When a 17 year old asks if they can get cheap or free birth control at Planned Parenthood without telling her parents, “Alex” tells her to call Planned Parenthood for full details, and also answers “In general, you don’t need a parent’s permission to get prescription birth control (like the pill). However, there may be certain locations where, for one reason or another, a health care provider will require parental permission. Planned Parenthood’s policy is to protect patient confidentiality as much as is legally possible…In the meantime, you can always get condoms without anyone’s permission. And they’re usually cheap (at drug stores) or even free (at health clinics).”
Among the subjects being discussed on the site by minors include a 17 year old who asks about the health risks of being “fingered” by her boyfriend and another 17 year old who fears she is pregnant when her boyfriend ejaculated on her while “dry humping.”
A 16 year old asks if it is normal for being “fingered” to hurt after a long time of not having sex. A staff member (not “Alex”) answers the question without even mentioning that she should refrain from such behavior to begin with. “Fingering (and sex) can be uncomfortable or hurt for lots of different reasons. Sometimes a girl might not be aroused enough, or relaxed enough, so she might not have much lubrication,” the answer states. “If you and your boyfriend decide to have sex, always use a condom to protect against STDs.”
A 15 year old who asks about masturbation is told “Masturbation is a healthy way for people to explore their bodies and learn about their sexual feelings.” Another 15 year old asks how lesbians have sex, and a Seventeen editor explains the different ways, including the use of sex toys.
A 16 year old asks if there is a safe way to have oral sex, and a TeensHealth.com staff writer answering her question does not discourage it, but does encourage the boy use a condom. The writer also suggests the use of flavored condoms if she dislikes the taste of latex condoms.
A number of websites are in the Seventeen website network, including CosmoGirl, TeenMag, MisQuinceMag, and DonateMyDress.org. Seventeen is owned by the Hearst Corporation.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog When Liberals Attack. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SIGN UP or SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page.