After discovering I had vaginismus around September 2019, I had a spur of the moment idea. I set up an Instagram account to raise awareness about vaginismus and end the stigma that being sex-positive equates to having a high libido. This led to the creation of the Low Lib Club. I didn’t realise I had dived straight into the deep end and how full-on running a sex-positive Instagram account would be. It didn’t take long for the Low Lib Club to be a major part of my life that most of my time and energy was going towards.
In the early days of this account, I got a constant buzz from likes and comments and the content I was making. Overtime the buzz became addictive and if a post didn’t do well I would feel defeated and I began to resent the Low Lib Club. The love I had felt for this account at the start had plateaued and I almost pulled the plug on this Instagram platform I had created from the comfort of my bedroom. However, I decided to take some time away from being a sex-positive content creator and came back to Instagram with a complete re-brand. The Low Lib Club became The Sextivist and, having run this Instagram account for a bit over a year now, here are five things I’ve learned along the way.
The easiest thing you can do to feel safe on social media is block people.
Many of us in the sex-positive community get inappropriate messages or images sent to us on a daily basis, as some people seem to view sex-positive content creators or sex-educators as people who must be okay with receiving unsolicited dick pics or graphic masturbation descriptions.
When I first started to receive these kinds of messages I would reply with an extensive paragraph on why it’s not okay to send nudes or explicit messages without asking first. Unsolicited nudes or suggestive messages are non-consensual sexual acts. At times my paragraphs would lead to even more nudes sent my way or people slamming me for being sex-positive and not wanting nudes. These responses made me incredibly uncomfortable with knots in my stomach.
I realised those sending me (and other sex-educators) nudes we didn’t ask for have such a lack of understanding of consent there was no point engaging. I now feel much safer blocking people who send me these kinds of messages rather than hitting them with paragraphs. They can no longer message me or view my profile and no one should feel obliged to engage with people who are sending inappropriate messages. Embrace the block.
Never let imposter syndrome get in your way.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all fallen victim to the bitter nagging voice of imposter syndrome and boy does imposter syndrome love to drag me and my content down. I have such admiration for everyone I’ve met through The Sextivist but a lot of people within the sex-ed and sex-positive community study psychology, teach or have a health-related background. I’m a fashion marketing student who last studied science at GCSE level several years ago. I can’t really see myself teaching in a more traditional classroom setting either and yet through the content I create I am classed as a sex educator. Not having a more science-based background or teaching background leads to constant thoughts that I’m a fraud, who has no right to be called a sex-educator.
There is a lot of self-doubt that comes with running The Sextivist. I have to remind myself that those of us in the sex-positive community who use social media to teach people about sex are from all different walks of life, and that’s okay. Sex is also such a broad and expansive topic too that we all have our own lived experience of. Regardless of the profession and the route you took to get there if we all gave into imposter syndrome the world would be an incredibly dull place.
The importance of setting boundaries on social media.
Boundaries are crucial to have in all aspects of our lives, from our dating lives, to our work life, and to our lives on social media. When I first started my sex-positive Instagram account, I had very little understanding of what boundaries are and how to set them into place. Upon reflection, it was my lack of boundaries I had for the Low Lib Club that almost led to me deleting it.
Coming back as The Sextivist I made sure to set some account rules to make using Instagram a safer and more enjoyable experience for myself. These rules range from my set days off to letting people know inappropriate messages or comments will lead to them being blocked. When I set these account rules into place I was worried that people would view me as a dull content creator, with all these rules in place, but running an Instagram account isn’t a walk in the park and can lead to burnout. There is this expectation that you have to reply to every DM or comment and always be available but we’re people and we have other priorities outside of our Instagram accounts. Putting boundaries builds stronger respect between content creators and those who engage with our content.
It takes a lot of energy to be vulnerable online but is so worth it.
I have an endless amount of respect for people who chose to be vulnerable online and decided that this is something I wanted to incorporate into my own Instagram account. I’ve talked about my own sexual experiences, as someone with vaginismus, and shown what my body looks like when I’m bloated and on my period. I do this to try and help normalise these ‘taboo topics’ that aren’t spoken about as much as they should be and by adding my own personal experience to it, I’m putting myself and parts of my life that I’ve been told to hide out online for anyone to see. Taking a photo or making a post where the main focus is me doesn’t require a large amount of research like my more fact-based posts do. However, being vulnerable and exposing parts of myself online does take a lot of energy out of me. There is this uncertainty of not knowing how people will respond when you peel away another layer of yourself and put it on display.
Over time I’ve realised that the most positive and uplifting comments are on the posts where I have been vulnerable and honest. If we all hide our bodies away or feel ashamed talking about our sexuality, then we’re never going to normalise what society says is abnormal. There is a strength to being vulnerable online, especially when ending stigmas.
The sex-positive Instagram community is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.
From unwanted dick pics to burnout and anxiety there is a lot of stressful tears that comes with running a sex-positive Instagram account. But, being a part of the sex-positive community is worth every single hardship. A couple of months ago I was added to an Instagram chat with a couple of other sex-positive accounts and there is such a strong level of respect and admiration we all have for each other. All our posts and graphics are completely different and so is the way we communicate to our followers and there is so much versatility within the sex-positive community on Instagram. We learn from each other, we’re each other’s biggest supports and constantly build each other up.
Along with the incredible people I’ve met through The Sextivist, having people reach out to you and say how much they’ve learnt from your account and how important your account is to them is, hands down, one of the best feelings in the world.
Words by Emmie Cosgrove
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