teens

A top magazine wrote about anal sex for teenagers. Then this mum declared war.

“We should not be teaching – period – children how to have sex,” so says conservative Christian mother Elizabeth Johnston, as she stands, magazine in hand, next to a fire pit.

She’s flicking through the pages of US magazine Teen Vogue, taking aim at their portrayal of all things from “homosexual sex” to “gender fluidity” and “masturbation”.

Johnston, also known as the Activist Mommy, is a mother-of-10 and current viral sensation, as she espouses the dangers of talking to teens about sex. Her rant, uploaded as a video to her Facebook page, is in response to a piece in Teen Vogue titled ‘A Guide to Anal Sex’ by sex educator Gigi Engle.

If you’ve seen the words anal sex and Teen Vogue populating news sites in the last week or so, there’s good reason. The magazine, growing a reputation for its progressive politics, published the anal sex guide earlier this month. Since then, ultra-conservatives have raged with their raging rage, trolling the magazine and author alike, campaigning for the magazine to be pulled from the shelves.

For context, the piece is a gentle one.

It goes quietly, easing the reader in, brimming with assurances there’s no pressure, this is clinical, let’s just have the the facts in front of us.

“Being in the dark is not doing your sexual health or self-understanding any favours,” Engle writes.

“Even if you do learn more and decide anal sex is not a thing you’d like to try, it doesn’t hurt to have the information. If you’re not comfortable reading about anal sex, that’s perfectly OK, too. We have plenty of other articles around a variety of issues and wellness. Feel free to click out if you’d like! No pressure at all.”

In an era where porn glorifies the most unlikely of sexual scenarios, Engle writes the internet can be a confusing place for someone looking for information about anal sex.

“Obviously there is a lot of stuff on the Internet about anal (we don’t suggest you Google it), but most of what you’ll find is either porn or advice for experienced sexual persons looking to try something new. What about the teenagers? What about the LGBTQ young people who need to know about this for their sexual health?

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“I have got you covered.”

According to Rowena Murray, the author of For Foxes’ Sake –  a book written for tweens and parents alike on all things sexual education – young people are “starved” for sexual education, and that Teen Vogue‘s guide to anal sex is supremely “helpful” for teens in the dark.

“It’s really important that parents know that education isn’t encouragement. Our data shows, time and time again, the more education teens have, the later they have sex, the fewer STI’s they have and the lower teen pregnancy rates are,” she tells Mamamia.

“In fact, over education is probably a good thing because it tends to put them off a bit.”

Murray argues the internet is saturated which “so much misinformation” with regards to anal sex, if reputable sources aren’t the ones to take ownership of spreading it, teens will inevitably “end up on PornHub”, with porn slowly “taking the place” of traditional forms of sex education.

“There is a very likely chance that [if we ignore the concept of anal sex], a teenager will try it anyway, and there’s a very, very likely chance if they do that, they will injure themselves if they don’t know how to prepare, have safe sex and lubricate.

Teen Vogue are being very helpful here because parents are often uncomfortable about having these discussions, so these magazines have a really big role to play in practical sex education.

“Parents can breathe a sigh of relief.”

It’s a concept The Activist Mommy, whose video has amassed more than 10 million views, seems unimpressed by, calling the content of Teen Vogue “garbage” and claiming its editors’ “brains are in the gutter”.

And so, to make her point just that much clearer, Johnston finishes the video by ripping the magazine apart, throwing piece by piece into the fire.

Which, of course, would be quite a statement, if the story actually featured in the magazine and wasn’t an online exclusive for Teen Vogue‘s digital readers.