To those of us who never got the talk about the birds and the bees, the Internet remains the primary (and often the only) source of sex education. While having a safe space to express our curiosities and anxieties regarding sexuality can be liberating, it’s impossible not to see that the web is rife with misinformation and bad advice. Tackling this imbalance are today’s Instagram sex educators who bring their experience and expertise to the platform to help people expand their understanding of sexual desire, pleasure and fulfillment. By regularly busting myths and taboos around sexuality and encouraging people to embrace healthy sexual practices, these content creators are quietly shifting the paradigm.
The purpose of sex, first and foremost, is pleasure, argues Seema Anand (@seemaanandstorytelling), mythologist and author of The Arts of Seduction (Aleph, 2018). While this in itself is a radical thought in the Indian context, wherein sex is seen for the most part as a means of procreation, Anand goes a step further and focuses on female pleasure. She shares everything from quick tips to deep insights derived from years of studying the Kamashastras—Indian scriptures that talk about eroticism and sexual pleasure, of which she says there are hundreds! She frequently answers questions from followers on safe sex, busting common myths around sex, and soothing people’s anxieties around their sexuality.
Attachment is good
A lot of advice around having an active sex life—on the Internet and even otherwise—revolves around avoiding feelings and not getting attached even while engaging with partners in an intimate manner. This is scary, reckons Todd Baratz (@yourdiagnonsense), a US-based psychotherapist and sex educator who helps followers understand the connection between attachment trauma and sexuality.
Our capacity for attachment is a strength that needs to be owned, he writes. While it is always a possibility that one can get hurt in love, suggesting that we can somehow turn off our emotions is outrageous, he says. Through his posts, he offers advice on improving communication with one’s partner(s), managing expectations around sex and learning to be comfortable and creative around one’s desires.
Ace dad advice
It is a blessing to live in a world that is beginning to view sexuality as a spectrum, recognising that there are so many different ways in which to experience (or not experience) sexual attraction and desire. Cody Daigle-Orians (@cdaigleorians) is a queer writer and educator who identifies as asexual. In his posts, he helps his followers understand that asexuality is a spectrum in itself and that there is more than one way to be asexual. While most asexual people experience little interest in sex, they may have varying degrees of sexual and romantic attraction, he says. Daigle-Orians calls himself an ‘Ace Dad’ and helps people understand and accept their sexuality by answering their questions with gentleness and clarity.
Quality sex over numbers
Thanks to the advent of dating and hook-up apps, finding a sexual partner could be a quick right swipe away. But having numerous sexual partners doesn’t necessarily indicate a healthy sex life. Pallavi Barnwal (@coachpallavibarnwal), author and certified sexuality coach, draws from personal experience as she writes, “I know men who brag about having slept with 30+ partners and yet were utterly disrespectful and oblivious about my needs in bed [sic].” Through her offline work as an intimacy coach and her posts on Instagram, YouTube and Quora, Barnwal creates awareness about healthy sexual practices that lead to the fulfillment of both partners. The Instagram page carries informative posts on subjects such as the orgasm gap, sexual fantasies and the use of sex toys.
Apurupa Vatsalya (@inapurupriate), is a lawyer-turned sexuality educator who identifies as an intersectional, sex-positive, neuroqueer feminist. Through her work in the real world as well as on social media, she advocates for rights and pleasure-centered sex education for people of all kinds. Her posts and videos carry information and insights on intimacy, sexual health and pleasure. She frequently collaborates with fellow educators to raise awareness about the sexuality of neurodivergent, queer and disabled individuals. “Having been deprived of sexuality education myself and having internalised misinformation stemming from the Brahminical patriarchy, I struggled to take care of my own sexual health, needs and wellbeing. I want to be the educator I wish I had growing up,” Vatsalya says.
Indumathy Sukanya is an artist and independent journalist based in Bengaluru