“Bisexual or biromantic?” o “The lack of self-esteem in sex” are not topics that are necessarily being learned in schools, but rather in social networks. Despite the efforts, in Mexico there is still a strong rejection of addressing sexual education issues in schools and at home . This deficit is being covered, for better and for worse, by social networks.
You don’t have to go back decades. In 2018, the National Union of Parents for the content of the free textbooks of the Ministry of Public Education, which insisted that “they can confuse minors if we allow them to contain gender ideology and concepts such as sexual rights, which do not exist. in any binding treaty.
However, the doubts in minors are there and Faurí Aguirre, a specialist in sexual and gender education, shared: “sexual education classes are not about sexuality. They are from biology. They don’t talk to you about sex education in the school system. From that point it is an advantage that, at least in networks, figures begin to emerge that speak to you about sexology, about sensuality, that they cover the whole range that they did not tell us about.
According to Aguirre, the fact that minors are looking for information on social networks that they do not receive at home or at school also opens the door to other types of risks.
Brands: education or advertising?
Elde Trojan, the condom brand, has more than 14,000 followers and, according to their biography, their purpose is to promote a safe, healthy and fun sex life.
The first TikTok they made was titled “excuses” and in this one, they insert condoms into a cucumber, a banana, an arm and even a leg to show that condoms “don’t squeeze”.
According to Rodolfo Rodríguez, general manager of sexual health at Trojan Mexico, this can even become a tool that people can use when they are told they do not want to use a condom, because they can say “I saw it on a Trojan TikTok” .
Rodríguez shared: “It is not easy to have advertising for condoms, for sexual health, on social media platforms. There, what Trojan is doing is captivating the audience with something much more fun and tropicalized to Mexican culture.”
It doesn’t squeeze you 🙄 don’t do…
On the other hand, Meibi is a brand that sells sex toys and publishes tutorials on how to get the most out of sex toys, as well as posts that talk about general sexual health tips and information. For example, “three things you didn’t know about the clitoris” or a criticism of intimate soaps, since they only exist for vulvas and not for penises.
According to Aguirre, the fact that brands report sexuality on social networks has advantages and disadvantages.
“Its advantage is that there is a lot of credibility in the information that a brand gives. That helps you because, from the outset, you say that it will be substantiated. But what we must not forget is that one of their interests is to sell their product. How wonderful that they sell it to you for pleasure or to avoid a sexually transmitted disease. But they continue to do it with the aim of selling,” he shared.
Aguirre adds that part of the problem with brands is that they continue to be phallocentric and their narrative continues to be penetrative and binary. “It is a job that brands still need. In addition, this way you can offer many more options with your own products. It’s just changing the marketing. Getting to open up to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community and say: here are all the uses of our products, change the content and adjust it to all ranges”.
The risks of educating yourself on social networks
“ There are risks of bad information (…) many times the information is not specific or accurate, it is still phallocentric, it falls into the culture of rape, it is still binary or exclusive,” shared Faurí Aguirre.
For example, Sebastián García, a Colombian musician who has more than half a million followers on Tik Tok, has more than 40 videos with the theme “I stole a kiss from him”. In these, the musician gives kisses without the apparent consent of the young women and, even, they are accompanied by texts such as “She did not want to kiss me but I ended up convincing her”. This is reminiscent of past advertising campaigns that have been heavily criticized for their sexist content, such as
“All the work that has been done on consent is lost. The subject of sexual relations when there is alcohol involved. All the work to make sexual violence visible is diminished because it continues to be normalized,” Aguirre mentions.
On the other hand, sexual education about the LGBTQA+ community continues to be made invisible on social networks. “There is no talk, for example, of the asexual range. It remains invisible and remains a risk. Asexual people are 30% more likely to commit suicide because they are not recognized and it is a matter of sexuality,” shared Aguirre.
How to have an advertising focused on sex education?
Rodriguez shared that the main thing is to have openness. “Brands have to be open to all questions, topics and groups.” For example, in October, Trojan made a collaboration on Twitch with the gamer EG Wicho and the sexologist Paulina Millán, where they answered questions about the public, who ranged from 13 to 45 years old.
“We are not going to be able to answer 50,000 questions in a live, but it is where we invite you to ask these questions on social networks. Understanding how to use a condom, how to avoid contagion, how to dispose of a condom… all this information that we don’t receive at an early age and what we have to do”.
Aguirre shared that in addition to changing narratives, having appropriate language is also of the utmost importance. “It is important to make everyone visible. Instead of cataloging products as ‘for her’, ‘for him’, it is better to put ‘for vulva’, ‘for penises’, ‘vibrators’ without cataloging them. This opens the panorama so that more people feel identified and represented”.
How to educate yourself about sexuality in social networks?
For Aguirre, the main protection is education and promoting dialogue and spaces so that the youngest feel confident to ask their questions and share what they are consuming on social networks.
But there are also other tips that can be applied to filter better content:
Check who is giving the information
Whose profile is it? It is important to identify what information they are giving you. It may be someone who is just sharing their experience and is not speaking from a theoretical background, or it may be a specialist, such as a sexologist. This is the first step to discern if it is theoretical information or experience.
Look at the vocabulary:
How do they name the parts of the body? Due to social network policies, some letters have to be changed so that the content is not downloaded; for example, “p3ne” instead of “penis”. However, if they use words like “little bird”, “pilín”, it is probably not a good source of information. Body parts should be named and seen in a more natural way, without using words that hide sexuality or show it as something to be ashamed of.
Keywords and hashtags:
Use words like “advice”, “tips”, “what is” to do your searches. In addition, you can also support yourself through hashtags such as #Sexualeducation.
Use parental control tools:
To block pornographic or inappropriate content for minors.
Here are some recommendations for accounts that meet these criteria:
- Journalist specializing in sexuality
- feminist sex educator
- Sex toy store offering workshops and talks