Instagram has proven itself to be more than just selfies and plants captured during golden hour. There are some inspirational women and key influencers who are using their talents to teach the public that sex education doesn’t end in school and that, alarmingly, what we learnt throughout our most formative years was just the very tip of the iceberg.
The general trend across the UK’s education system is teaching sex education that covers the bare essentials. If you’re a woman, it misses a lot of the key essentials too. Pleasure is rarely, if at all, spoken about, not to mention female pleasure. When was the last time you saw the clitoris defined on a diagram in a biology textbook? This is very much a feminist issue.
Women’s bodies will always remain mystified if they are not researched by scientists to the same extent that men’s bodies are. Women’s differences, especially when it comes to sex, need to be understood and then talked about in order to become normalised. Did you know that the female muscular system looks like this? This image was tweeted last year and quickly went viral. It highlights that science studies man’s body as the default, even though that only accounts for 50% of the population.
The following women are breathing life into this discriminatory gap, teaching their followers about sex, women’s bodies and far more than you could learn in a PSE class.
Florence Given is a powerhouse. She’s a prominent force in empowering women and those who identify as women to openly talk about their pleasure, sex, embarrassing sexual stories and broader topics like the performance of femininity. She won Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year in 2019 and also sells brightly colourful prints with her well-loved, tough love slogans such as “stop raising him, he’s not your son”. With 405,000 followers, her message is resonating with many women.
Given’s feed is incredibly inclusive and ensures that all sexualities and types of women are considered. Given’s best asset is her Insta stories, which are also saved to her account as “highlights”. She asks her followers questions such as “What methods of achieving pleasure have you always been ashamed of?” and compiles what she receives in her DMs into an anonymous and hilarious showreel of things we all do, but maybe never discuss. The only thing that combats shame is talking about the thing that makes you feel ashamed; Given’s account achieves just that.
Dr Anita Mitra, or the “Gynae Geek” as she is known on Instagram, is an author and NHS doctor with a PhD on the vaginal microbiome. Oh, she also has 95,600 followers on Insta and her own YouTube channel. She is on a mission to rectify the poor quality, confusing information and “utter nonsense” about vaginas on websites and blogs. Her feed is full of straight-talking facts, evidence-based information and accessible diagrams shedding light on how women’s reproductive organs work.
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women. It can be painful and debilitating and the number of people suffering with it are very similar to those with diabetes – yet there is only a fraction of the awareness, showing once again the frightening discrepancy between men and women. Luckily, this is one of the issues that the Gynae Geek has chosen to spotlight on her account, with diagrams of the uterus that you probably haven’t seen before and helpful illustrations. The Gynae Geek is an incredible, science-backed resource that’s useful for all women. Why don’t they teach this in schools?
Sexual health and the city
The newly created sexual health blog, Sexual Health and the City, is run by Francesca Fiennes, an Education and Wellbeing Specialist at Brook – a charity that works with young people to equip them with the skills and information they need to improve their sexual health and wellbeing.
This informative account is run in tandem with Fiennes’s blog, which has so far dived deeper into sexual health issues such as consent, demystifying STIs and a comprehensive guide to the history of sexual health. Her Insta features weekly quizzes and frequent book recommendations that touch on subjects such as periods, female pleasure and the psychology of sex, for those wanting to learn more.