Here at Kinkly, we strive to do more than help you explore your sexual desires. We also want to help you get educated in all things related to sex. That's why our May Sex Blogger of the Month is Jenelle Marie Pierce, founder of TheSTDProject.com and Spokesperson for PositiveSingles.com. Jenelle's direct yet approachable work educates those who need more information about STDs. Here are Jenelle's answers to Kinkly's 10 questions!
Kinkly: Give us three words that describe your blog.
Jenelle: Empowering, comprehensive, relevant.
Kinkly: What inspired you to start the blog?
Jenelle: At 16, when I contracted genital herpes, and for many years after that, there weren't resources like mine. Everything available was overly sterile, clinical, and matter of fact, and while that kind of information is still important, it didn't help me move forward. Those resources didn't help me with the grey areas and learning how I could have healthy relationships and be sexually healthy while still living with an STI/STD...so I made one that did.
Kinkly: What's behind the name?
Jenelle: Our name is pretty direct, and that's intentional. I considered something clever or an acronym, but I didn't want to hide behind the stigma. I wanted to address it. Just the letters "S, T, and D" send people squirming. We wanted to challenge that immediate reaction and open the discussion right from the start. We also chose not ot use STI in our title because while that's a little more accurate and current, most people outside of sexual health education aren't aware of what STI means. We wanted to make sure that if an everyday person was searching "STD symptoms" they would be able to find us. The whole idea is to meet people where they are, rather than preach at them from where we think they should be, and in that way, we hope to make our work more palatable and approachable.
Kinkly: Who's your target reader?
Jenelle: Pretty much anyone who wants to know about STDs - whether they are trying to reduce their risk of contracting STDs, whether they have been diagnosed with an STD, or whether they know someone who has an STD. Our demographics are interesting as well. Right now, we receive about 200,000 views from 100,000 unique visitors each month - men, women and non-binary, all ethnicities, all abilities, many are between the ages of 18 and 30, all income brackets and education levels, and from all areas of the country and the globe. Really, ,there are very few sexually active people who are not impacted by STIs/STDs in some way.
Kinkly: What's unique about your blog?
Jenelle: I think what makes our blog stand out is the personal stories - mine and those of our readers who come and share their perspectives anonymously. We also have our fair share of expert and medical practitioner articles, but it's the personal, raw, and honest voices that stand out the most when you visit The STD Project.
Kinkly: What is the topic you find yourself covering most often and why?
Jenelle: Definitely herpes and herpes stigma. Herpes is like the last bastion of socially acceptable shaming. People use it in punch lines, you hear it in every comedy, friends use it to call someone slutty or dirty...it's just riddled with so much unnecessary shame that when people are diagnosed with it, they almost always lose it for a little while. So, our job is to bring them back from the edge.
Kinkly: What was your most popular post ever? Why do you think it drew so many readers?
Jenelle: Hmmm...that's a good question because they rotate from month to month. The top three, in no particular order, are the difference between an STD and STI, if so many people have herpes then why is everyone afraid, and what is my risk of spreading herpes?
Kinkly: What's the best thing about writing a sex blog?
Jenelle: I've become everyone's secret keeper. People tell me all manner of things about their sex lives, I think, because they know that they won't be judged or shamed and that I'll legitimately try to help if they're asking for advice.
Kinkly: What's the worst thing about it?
Jenelle: I've become everyone's secret keeper. LOL. It's simultaneously the best and the worst part of this work. I just wish everyone else knew how "normal" they were and how many other people have similar secrets, experiences, and feelings, but it's not my place to share those details other than in a general way like I just did. So, I keep it all to myself. It can be a little maddening at times.
Kinkly: OK, now for the good stuff: Give us your best tip for great sex.
Jenelle: Great sex is whatever you think great sex is - you don't have to have a lot, a little, a certain kind, a certain way, with certain people, in certain places, for certain reasons. There are no rules. No one gets to choose what is right for you and your body. I think that's the very first step to having, receiving, and giving great sex. It is entirely up to you to define what that means for you. As long as it is consensual, it is no one else's business. Period.
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