#MeToo. I think.

I imagine a watchful Jesus hanging out in the backseat drinking a Coke like my pastor says he does. But when I let them put their hand on my thigh, I see Jesus leave the car and walk away.

Now we’re kissing, and I’m having second thoughts. I don’t really like their hand in my pants, but I’ve never been taught what I’m supposed to “like” or “dislike.”  


I say “sure, let’s go to your house to hang out,” so I think that I pretty much consented to sex. Because, as a temptress, it's my job to stop them by saying “I’m saving myself for marriage.”

Even though I wish I could back out, I stay. It’s not #MeToo because that’s for people who didn’t consent to things, right?

[rebelmouse-image 19398091 dam="1" original_size="5236x3491" caption="Photo by Daniel Garcia/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Daniel Garcia/Unsplash.

In the wake of all the #MeToo stories, it struck me how many of them featured language such as, “They already bought me dinner, so I felt obligated to do something. I don’t know why.”

I instinctually knew why because I had similar thoughts as a pastor’s daughter who was taught to abstain from sex. I knew these victims never had a proper consent conversation because there isn’t any place for it where abstinence is taught. My parents thought that talking about consent would negate their teachings about abstinence, so I never learned how powerful saying "yes" and "no" could be.  

The reality is that teens are having sex, and teaching abstinence-only sexual education has dangerous ramifications.

We need to move past telling teens to “picture Jesus in the backseat drinking a Coke” if they are considering becoming intimate. The shame created by scenarios like this leaves Christian teens vulnerable in murky situations. While I never experienced some of the horrific scenarios mentioned in many of the #metoo stories, I nevertheless always felt like it was my fault for putting myself in sexual situations. I felt obligated to do “something” that would satisfy the guy, so he wouldn’t be upset at me for leading him on. I felt shame.

[rebelmouse-image 19477594 dam="1" original_size="6000x4000" caption="Photo by Rosie Fraser/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Rosie Fraser/Unsplash.

I learned that my body was not my own — but God's.

Therefore, consent would naturally lie within his control. These are not the thoughts of someone who has been taught a healthy view of their sexuality.

My sexual education consisted of my mother and father calling my brother and I into their bedroom and telling us they wanted to answer any questions we might have. After the term “boner” was awkwardly discussed, it was clear the conversation was over. I later received a book that vaguely described a "tingly feeling."

This lack of sexual education is the root of the problem. According to Sharon Hollings, who was raised evangelical, it was "just assumed that I wouldn’t be having sex. Meaning I didn’t have any advice or insight on how to handle things when I did.”

I was never taught that my feelings were paramount.

I was never taught that it was important to know what you like and dislike.

The magic of sex was that when you consented to your partner on your wedding night, you would like EVERYTHING.

Spoiler alert: You don’t.

The lack of a proper conversation about my body as my own became glaringly obvious when my parents explained that masturbation was a sin, that even thinking about having sex with someone meant you had already done it in your heart. Boy, was I a heart slut for Patrick Swayze. Throughout my adolescent self-exploration, I constantly apologized to God and felt guilt about my sexuality.

[rebelmouse-image 19477595 dam="1" original_size="6016x4016" caption="Photo by Ben White/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Ben White/Unsplash.

This lack of a discussion of bodily autonomy and shaming for self-exploration leads to a whole different problem.

Growing up in Christian schools, there was a running joke that you could do everything but sex. This was not something officially taught, but it was an unofficial practice among students. According to Cindy Rogers, who was raised Catholic, “I went to school with some super religious folks. They would have anal sex and still call themselves virgins.” Folk duo Garfunkel and Oates even have a song parody on the subject, “The Loophole.”

The denial of real teenage interactions leads to confusion about consent. It can lead to non-consensual sexual activity. We need a more realistic approach. The consent conversation is eliminated in abstinence teaching because of the assumption that it might encourage sexual activity.

This becomes especially dangerous for marginalized LGBTQ teens.

They're told that they are not allowed to act on their sexual preferences — ever. This puts them in even greater danger for self-blame when faced with consent decisions. If those teaching would at least offer abstinence as one of many choices instead of the only option, that would allow teens to feel they have control over the decisions facing their bodies.

My friend, who was raised similarly to me, recently put things into perspective for how she approaches the topic with her children: “If you don’t give people a healthy view of sex without the guilt factor, people aren’t going to know how to protect themselves. You won't be able to listen to that little voice that says something about this isn’t right. You need the self-esteem and confidence to go, 'Yeah, nope, I’m out.'"

It’s urgent that we put young people’s sexual autonomy at the forefront of the conversation.

Emphasizing “your body, your choice” will allow them to thrive in adulthood.

We need to move into a realistic view of life, love, and sexuality. We need teens to understand that without consent, they are the victims of a crime. That they are #MeToo and not #MyFault.

I’m pretty sure that if Jesus was actually drinking a Coke in the backseat, he would agree. I’m also pretty sure He’s switched to La Croix at this point.

This story originally appeared on Ravishly and is printed here with permission. More from Ravishly:

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

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What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Here at Upworthy, we cherish our loved ones and although Valentine's is not all about gifts, if you are looking to buy a special gift for a special someone, then you came to the right place! We have curated a list of our personal favorites from our store, Upworthy Market, where you can feel good about your shopping because every dollar you spend directly supports local artisans who craft their own products. In this gift guide, you'll find all products have special thought, hand-made with love and they are all under $30 to help you stay within a budget.


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