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By Pooja Singh. It was a dull lockdown Sunday afternoon.
Anahita S. A lifelike illustration of the vulva popped up. She fumbled. The night before, she and her girlfriend—her first Tinder match of the lockdown—were discussing masturbation.
It was only when her mother handed back the phone after a quick look that she realised it was a detailed drawing of the vulva, or the external female genitalia. Also read: Why more Indians turned to sexting during the pandemic. School textbooks prefer to limit explanations to the reproductive nature of the vagina, glossing over details like why the clitoris—the only human organ meant solely for pleasure—has more than 8, nerve endings.
Schoolteachers often still skip the section in the biology textbook completely rather than teach it and answer questions from students. Even if there are some depictions in pop culture of women pleasuring themselves, they are mostly pornographic in nature. A small but growing group of independent counsellors, students and content creators across the country is trying to change this mindset with the help of social media. They want people to learn about and openly discuss how deeply connected sexual and mental health are, with a special focus on a largely ignored topic—what the vagina wants and needs.
At least once a day, Shivli Shrivastava gets an Instagram DM with a query from a or something woman, asking about female masturbation and how to do it. Think a Japanese cartoon meme talking about consent, a slide show on why non-latex condoms are better, an AMA on genital care. Shame and guilt attached to sex is the other barrier. A big reason for the rise in interest is the pandemic.
The year-old expert attributes the trend to the pandemic-induced absence of physical touch and constant exposure to shows on OTT platforms, like Netflix, that are high in sexual content. There are women who have looked at their vulvas in the mirror for the Hosting a woman for her pleasure time during the lockdown because more conversations are happening now in the safe space of the online world. After examining three decades of research on sex education, a study published in the Journal Of Adolescent Health last October concluded that talking about sexual health in schools has multiple benefits.
This is likely to result in more confident students with improved academic success and mental health. Even when it comes to adults, research shows that having trouble with sexual health can lead to feelings of worthlessness, even depression, triggering a vicious cycle of worsening depression and sexual dysfunction.
Clearly we are a country that loves sex, then why the shame? We really do love sex. More information, social conversations and influencers encouraging sextech as the best alternative to partners are playing a role, he believes. Also read: Let's talk about sex toys. That Sassy Thing, a wellness brand dedicated to the needs of women, too has been seeing a rise in sales since it launched in December.
During the most recent lockdown, the Delhi-based brand saw a 1. Then I tell them if they had an orgasm they would know. Self-pleasure is the best form of pleasure given the conditions right now, she says, referring to the pandemic. So masturbation becomes an outlet. Her sources for content are books, research papers and experts in the field.
Online webinars, Reels and Instagram Live are playing a role too. Her own audience in sex education-related webinars went up from 10 to per session during the lockdown. The other reason is the freedom social media offers. In a country where a visit to a gynaecologist is still a hush-hush matter, there is little chance of someone knocking on the door of an expert for a sex problem. So open DMs have become a source for answers, as Kolkata-based educator Karishma Swarup discovered through her talkyounevergot. She started the soon after graduating from Brown University, US, where she was part of a programme to educate youngsters from lower-income groups about sex.
After her return to India over a year ago, she realised people had similar questions here. I have had so many women ask me how to use sex toys, where to buy them from, which ones are better. The freedom of the online space can prove to be therapeutic as well. It has always been the male gaze.
As part of the initiative, she has been hosting the occasional vulva-drawing workshops, where she invites people online to come and tell their stories through the vulva. People have the option of registering anonymously, switching off their cameras and only displaying their artwork.
The comforting expression of art has also helped people deal with trauma. Even outside the virtual world, conversations on sex, vagina and pleasure have started picking up, albeit slowly. Netflix shows such as Sexify and Sex Education have encouraged Indians to stop looking for metaphors when talking about sex. Earlier, you would either find jokes on sex or crass comments. The absence of resources and information related to sexual wellness and accessible gynaecologists prompted the Mumbai resident to start raising awareness through Instagram and YouTube four years ago.
This quiet awakening is pushing some parents to consider talking to their children about sex as well. Take baby steps with your. Making sex- or pleasure-related content for social media is no easy task, though.
All the experts I spoke to had at least one funny and one scary story to tell about the way they have been trolled on social media. The Instagram of a friend of Shrivastava, who works in the same field, was closed after an information post on pleasure. The algorithm…or their bots…are really sexist. Some students started social media s last year to talk more openly about issues related to consent. Nobody talks about the patriarchal attitudes towards sex, about consent.
They host sessions with counsellors, NGOs and health experts, discussing everything from masturbation to the difference between good touch and bad touch, and the toxicity and sexism of the porn industry. Our teachers and parents are still so uncomfortable to talk about it. The other reason for an immediate need for such platforms is the increased conversations they facilitate on patriarchy, moral policing and gender inclusivity—topics that are yet to find a wider audience.
What about porn, sexting—these things happening widely? Anahita experienced it first-hand that Sunday afternoon. Big Story Opinion Talking Point. Cook Drink Discover. Trends Shop Beauty. Environment Innovation. Wellness Fitness. Raising Parents It's Complicated Pets. Let's talk about pleasure, not just sex Students, content creators and counsellors are using conversations on sex, desire, consent and the vulva to start discussions about health, patriarchy and gender inclusivity—one social media post at a time.
Internet, pop culture, dating culture—all are now contributing to more positive sex talks, says Leeza Mangaldas, a sex-positive content creator Courtesy Leeza Mangaldas. Did Wimbledon mark the end of an era? Listen, read, introspect to counter body-shaming. Nagaland's own 'Amazon'. Who said what at Wimbledon What India Inc can learn from non-profits. An artwork by Shreya Bhan Brushbound. Courtesy Shreya Bhan Brushbound. That Sassy Thing, a wellness brand Hosting a woman for her pleasure to the needs of women, has been seeing a rise in sales since it launched in December.
Courtesy That Sassy Thing. Courtesy Lust Stories. What's on the menu for athletes at Olympics. Flying taxi startup Whisper Aero aims to keep noise levels down. By Rahul Jacob. Why is a good year for watches. Next Story.Hosting a woman for her pleasure
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Let's talk about pleasure, not just sex