Heather Corinna

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Heather Corinna
Born (1970-04-18) April 18, 1970 (age 48)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation feminist activist, writer, photographer, artist, educator

Heather Corinna (born April 18, 1970) is an author, activist, and Internet publisher with a focus on progressive, affirming sexuality. She is a self-described "queer, rabblerousing, polymath."[1] She was one of the pioneers of positive human sexuality on the Internet. She has advocated for accepting the diverse forms of a sexual experience and avoiding "expertitis".[2]


Heather Corinna was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Chicago and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[1] She suffered sexual assault at age 12, and was homeless by age 16.[3] She has written about the role that her experience with sexual assault and other violence in her youth have played in motivating her art and activism.[4]

Corinna is a 1986 graduate of the Chicago Academy of the Arts, where she studied music, creative writing, and art.[5] She also attended Shimer College, then located in Waukegan, majoring in Humanities.[1]

During her twenties, Corinna worked for several years as an early childhood educator. After working in education with developmentally disabled adults and in a Montessori elementary classroom, she founded an alternative kindergarten/pre-kindergarten in Chicago, which she ran from 1992 to 1996.[6] She continued to work as a kindergarten teacher until quitting to work on Scarleteen full-time.[7]

In the late 1990s, Corinna founded Scarlet Letters, an adult erotica online magazine targeted to women.[8] Shortly after creating the site, her site was removed by web hosting provider Verio, forcing her to find alternate hosting.[7]

Since the main content of the site was off-limits to teenagers, she posted five pages of basic sexual education content for teenagers to read.[5] Upon being deluged with requests for further information, she established Scarleteen in 1998.[5] The side of the website targeted to girls was originally known as "Pink Slip".[7] In 1999, she added a section targeted to boys, initially known as "The Boyfriend".[7]

Both Scarlet Letters and Scarleteen faced difficulty obtaining both traffic and financial support in their early years. In the 1990s, Scarleteen was often excluded by mainstream directories as too sexual, while pornographic sites also refused to provide it as a link for under-18 visitors.[7] The site subsequently came to survive largely on donations,[7] some of which now come from past users with children of their own.[9]

In 2015, Corinna received the Sexual Health Champion award from Vancouver-based Options for Sexual Health.[9]



  • Founded in 1998 by Corinna and co-editor Hanne Blank, Scarlet Letters[10] was one of the earliest adult erotica online magazines and was the first woman-owned, woman-run, and women-centered sexuality website. It initially featured erotic fiction, poetry, photography, and visual art and has since expanded to include non-erotic content that promotes progressive sexuality. The website is currently on hiatus.
  • Corinna's personal website, Femmerotic, contains samples of her photography, writing, and journal entries.
  • Corinna's work has also appeared in The Guardian, Issues Magazine, PIF Magazine, Maxi Magazine, CleanSheets, LeisureSuit.Net, Other Rooms, Cherrybomb, Sexilicious, Blood Moon, BAACHOR Magazine (in which her essay "The Door Into One Moment, Eternal" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and Batteries Not Included. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have also appeared in the anthologies Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Viscera, The Adventures of Food, Aqua Erotica, Zaftig: Well-Rounded Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 1 & 2, Shameless: An Intimate Erotica, and Penthouse and will appear in the forthcoming anthologies Breakthrough Bleeding: Essays on the Thing Women Spend a Quarter of Their Time Doing, but No One’s Supposed To Talk About and What We Think: Gender Roles, Women's Issues and Feminism in the 21st Century.
  • Her photography and visual art have been shown at/in 555 Gallery, Sex Worker Visions (New York), Babes in Toyland, Jane's Guide, Michelle 7, On Our Backs, the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Trixx (to benefit the GLBT youth center, District 202), The Independent, The Mammoth Book of Erotic Women, SEAF 2004, and other venues.

Sexual education[edit]

  • Corinna founded Scarleteen, an " independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website," in 1998.[11] The website is staffed by Corinna and a group of volunteers. As of 2007, the website received 10,000-30,000 visitors per day.[12]
  • According to Scarleteen, "Heather is currently also a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor for the Cedar River Clinics/Feminist Women's Health Center, and the director of the CONNECT teen outreach and education program. In addition, she has recently completed the facilitator training for Teen Talking Circles. She is a sexuality consultant for the health department of New Moon, a magazine for girls ages 8-12; and her young adults sexuality advice at Scarleteen is now syndicated weekly at the United Nations Foundation supported reproductive health hub RH Reality Check."[6]
  • Corinna's book, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide To Get You Through High School and College, was published by Da Capo Press in 2007.

Reviews of S.E.X.[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Corinna, Heather. "The Long and the Short of It". Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  2. ^ Bruening, Amanda (August 2008). "Revolutionize. Liberate. Celebrate". Paper Dolls Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. 
  3. ^ Chansanchai, Athima (2007-05-13). "Everything teens wanted to know about sex ... is at Scarleteen". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  4. ^ See, for example, http://femmerotic.com/favorites/013002.html
  5. ^ a b c Skotzko, Stacey (2007-05-24). "The birds, the bees & the book: Chicago native's new release, Web site teach teens about sex". Chicago Tribune. 
  6. ^ a b "The Scarleteen Staff & Volunteers". Scarleteen. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cass, Dennis (1999-12-08). "Women and Children First!". City Pages. 
  8. ^ O'Keefe, Mark (2003-11-19). "Forbidden fruit: Anonymity, accessibility of Internet help turn women on to porn". Chicago Tribune. 
  9. ^ a b Hui, Stephen (2015-02-04). "Scarleteen founder Heather Corinna wins 2015 Sexual Health Champion award". The Georgia Straight. 
  10. ^ http://www.scarletletters.com/
  11. ^ "About Scarleteen". Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  12. ^ Bussel, Rachel Kramer (2007-07-24). "21st Century S.E.X. Ed". WireTap. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. 

External links[edit]