Sex education in India goes as far as a chapter about the human reproductive system in the primary class, but deserves a better and bigger conversation. These sex educators are using social media to normalise having discussions about sex, and educate the internet.

DR CUTERUS (@dr_cuterus: 384K followers)

Dr. Cuterus aka Dr. Tanaya is an award-winning, internationally trained doctor, who is passionate about medical education

Dr Cuterus

How did you start Dr Cuterus?

It started when I was posting about the menstrual cup. I used to live in the UK, and the menstrual cup was not that big in India at that time. So I used to smuggle back cups for my friends in large quantities, and posted about it on my personal Instagram account. People found it really helpful, and suggested that I should make a public account for this.

Sex education is still taboo in India, how can we change it?

Sex education is something that does not happen in schools yet. I went to a premiere private school in my city, and this was skipped. The teacher did not even teach that basic chapter on reproduction, I am not even talking about sex. We need more education, and it has to be a part of the curriculum, and it has to be comprehensive sexual education, not just teaching us about the biology of how reproduction happens.

Sex Educator

TALK YOU NEVER GOT (@talkyounevergot: 15.2K followers)

Talk You Never Got is run by Karishma, who used to teach sex ed to high schoolers in Providence before coming back to India, and working on her Instagram page

Talk You Never Got

Your Instagram content is very engaging, and creates dialogue. How do you compartmentalise what to talk about?

I choose my topics based on what I am getting a lot of questions about. But I also cover topics that are essential for comprehensive sex education. I try and debunk some common myths around sex. In terms of weightage, I think I would like to believe that everything is important because if we don’t read and educate ourselves, we don’t know what we don’t know.

What’s the difference you’ve faced in teaching sex ed in the US, and teaching here in India? 

The difference was very little. The questions were very similar between countries, between age groups. The difference is that here, there is more shame around sex, whereas when I was teaching in the US, we were able to normalise it. But all kids everywhere are equally awkward, and have the same misconceptions.

You also include topics on mental health and relationships. How do you blend it in with your conversations on sex?

Mental health and relationships come with sex. I think healthy relationships are equally important when talking about sexual health because healthy relationships are the foundation of making sure people are safe, and understand consent.

Sex Educator

SANGYA PROJECT (@sangyaproject: 7.9K followers)

The Sangya Project, founded by Tanisha Rao and Aashish Mehrotra, is an online initiative to provide comprehensive sexuality education for better mental and physical health across ages, genders, and socioeconomic groups

Sangya Project

Why the name Sangya? What does your logo mean?

We started Sangya Project as an online initiative to provide free, destigmatised, and comprehensive sexuality education. We chose the name Sangya Project because it translates to ‘noun’. The idea was, and still remains, that these labels, emotions, experiences, and identities that we choose to censor or hide, are just nouns. Now that we have grown into a registered company, we wanted a logo that better represents us and our upcoming sex pleasure products. We reached out to the trans community, and hired two incredibly talented graphic designers for the task of creating an abstract but minimalist logo — one that they thought symbolised us best. The final result was an absolute gem.

Sex education goes as far as comics, porn, and an uncomfortable communication with your friend. How can we change that?

Unfortunately, porn and comics aren’t sex education. And, there’s a lot of work to do on this front. Messages about sex and sexuality are everywhere, and the only way to ensure better conversations in pop culture, better healthcare policies, and more humane court proceedings, is by starting with the basics: language. As a population and as a mixed bag of varying communities, we must first build a language for holistic sex ed and use it every day, so it becomes normalised and accurately represents us all, across mediums.

Do you think social media and its engagement is enough to at least start a conversation about sex education in India?

The main aim is to create systematic change. Right now, the most accessible way is through social media, where people can learn and hold anonymity. While social media allows for opportunities to start several conversations, it’s also a shared responsibility among us as educators or platforms, to make sure that the conversations are continuous. 

Sex Educator

AGENTS OF ISHQ (@agentsofishq: 18.1K followers)

Agent Of Ishq was created in 2015 by Paromita Vohra, Afrah Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, and Aditi Maddali, before Instagram became cool. The team describes AOI as a multi-media project about sex, love, and desire

Agents Of Ishq

Why ‘Agents’? What was the thought behind the name?

Sex education has always been nil to spotty. We thought — if the internet is the home of sex, well, the internet is where we should do some comprehensive sexuality education. As the name, we chose Ishq because it is a word everyone knows, and it combines both sex and love. Agents, because we want to spread ishq in the world. Each and every one of us is an Agent of Ishq — in our own lives, and in making this conversation richer and go further. 

You are probably one of the very few who are using Hindi to communicate your messages. Was this an intentional decision?

Yes, Agents of Ishq was bilingual from the beginning. We want to reach a mixed audience, rather than remain in silos. We aim to create an Indian language for talking about sex, love, and desire rooted in the Indian social and cultural context so it is more meaningful for Indians. Besides being bilingual, we draw strongly on popular culture from Bollywood, traditional Indian paintings, and Bhojpuri songs. This familiarity and enjoyment allow us to enter uncharted waters, and discuss taboo and difficult topics. 

Have you ever scrapped a topic because it felt too taboo to talk about?

No we don’t. We do think that there are some topics that are more sensitive than others, and we take our time to work on those with respect to the nuances and research that is required. Our aim is not to shock, confront, or outrage — it is to make sense of our sexual experiences, and deepen the feeling of agency and emotional resilience in people. This allows other people to also entrust us with stories about difficult experiences that don’t fit into already existing moulds. 

OH MY HRITHIK (@ohmyhrithik: 9.9K followers)

Oh My Hrithik, or OMH, is an Instagram page run by Mansi Jain, Suparna Dutta, Vaishali Manek, Kriti Kulshreshtha, and Kevika Sengla. They don’t tag themselves as sex educators, but are enthusiastic promoters of female sexual pleasure and fantasies 

Oh My Hrithik

What led to the creation of OMH?

OhMyHrithik started with the realisation of the taboo around female fantasies, self-pleasure, masturbation. The five of us are classmates from college, and we started a campaign on social media to start a conversation around female fantasies and pleasure. We went with OhMyHrithik because usually when you indulge in self-pleasure, you tend to give a sigh of relief, and included the name of our Greek God, because so many women love Hrithik Roshan. 

What is the one thing you think needs to be changed when it comes to female pleasure and fantasies? 

The only thing that needs to be changed for female pleasure and fantasies, is the shame and guilt associated with it. People should start speaking about it openly, and start embracing fantasies. Once you start accepting your own self, you start loving yourself. Someone should not feel guilty about their own thoughts, fantasies, or their bodies. 

LEEZA MANGALDAS (@leezamangaldas: 530K followers)

Leeza Mangaldas is a content creator from Mumbai who focuses on sex education, the human body, and gender

Leeza Mangaldas

What are stigmas around sexual health that need to change? 

Society teaches us to feel shame around our bodies, our desires, our sexual experiences, and even simply the idea of sex itself. Because of how sex-negative society tends to be, most of us experience some amount of sexual shame. Sexual shame perpetuates a culture of silence — people aren’t much less likely to have sex as a result of the shame and stigma society imposes, but they are much less likely to be able to talk about it, or seek help when they need to.

Cliteracy is a term that was coined in 2019, and not many know about it still. Do people understand female sexual pleasure and clitoral stimulation?

The clitoris is a primary source of sexual pleasure for people with vulvas. And yet, most of us know so little about it. Many people with vulvas are surprised and delighted to learn about the clitoris, because this information isn’t made easily accessible to us. I get a lot of messages from women saying they understand their own bodies better, thanks to the information they learned from my videos, or that they experienced their first orgasm thanks to something they learned from my videos and that is always so heartwarming to hear.

Do you think people are finally getting over the concept of ‘losing virginity’? Has the conversation around that evolved?

The idea of virginity — particularly the primacy placed on the “chastity” of “virgin” women — is historically rooted in establishing the paternal origin and entrenched in male ownership. People are recognising the problems with this patriarchal construct. Even the term “losing your virginity” is inherently problematic. The emphasis should be on ensuring all experiences are consensual and safe. There’s also no pressure to have sex.

Sex Educator