Is Sex Over-Censored?

Sex positivity with Ffion Nugent.

Although we still have a long way to go, I truly believe we are moving towards living in a world where sex and relationships are seen in a more positive, liberal light. Young people are growing up in a tech era, where sex-positive activitsts, sex educators and ethical porn industries are more accessible on social media platforms, especially Instagram and Twitter. Where #sexeducation has reached over 1 million posts according to Vice. 

Young people have opportunities aplenty to engage in online sex positive workshops, Instagram Lives and podcasts, where they are able to make more informed choices about their own sexual health and playfully explore the world of sex toys, solo sex and BDSM, whilst respecting consent. 

However, the positives of online sex education always comes with a disadvantage – censorship. There is an ongoing battle between the sex industry and censorship since Instagram updated its guidelines in December 2020. The new guidelines disallows any nudity on Instagram’s platform. However, the use of nudity has been increasingly nuanced, where it is often used as a tool for health promotion, real world art or for educational purposes. Sex educators cannot showcase the content they want to display, with the risk of Instagram taking it down from their feed due to a ‘devience from community standards’. As a result, many activists in the sex industry are made to adapt their content to look more commercialised and softer for mainstream media. For example, only displaying the inspirational ‘self love’ side of masterbation, whilst overlooking the raw, filthy, horny reality of it.

Why do the nipples of topless slim, cis, white women rarely get removed but topless photos of trans people, BIPOC or plus sized models are immediately up for question? The words ‘Vagina’ and ‘Clitoris’ are constantly being reported or flagged by Instagram, causing online sex workers to tone down their language to avoid their account being suspended. This costs them a large number of followers to add to the hardships of making a living in the sex industry already created by the pandemic. 

What can we do to make a difference? There are online petitions ran by independent sex workers and other global petition organisations available to sign up to. Examples of popular petitions are below.

Instagram, stop unfairly censoring nudity and sexuality.

Stop Instagram from censoring fat Black women.

Image courtesy of Canva

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