Select Page

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a number of stories highlighting the rampant fear of sex that exists throughout the tech industry and especially in social media.

  • Instagram deleted Scout Willis’ account after she posted both photos of herself in a sheer top and of a jacket featuring topless photos of her friends.
  • Twitter banned condom ads.
  • Apple banned Happy Play Time an app that teaches about female genital anatomy and pleasure, from the app store.

    And of course, during this all, #yesallwomen was taking social media by storm.

    For those who pay attention to the relationship between sex and tech, none of these stories come as a surprise. All of it fits into a robust precedent set by social to shame and hide anything they deem “adult content,” a term which has a vague definition that is often unequally invoked. For example, Happy Play Time would have been joining a number of apps designed to turn your phone into a vibrator. Additionally, there are countless stories of moms who have had their Facebook accounts shut down after posting photos of themselves breastfeeding. Meanwhile, pages and users who post photos featuring more nudity and, often, sexual overtones, are allowed to stay. I make this point not to say which is right or wrong, but rather to point the inconsistencies in how social enforces its rules.

    Such policies and the lack of standard enforcement are doing a disservice to public health. Much of the banned content provides some sort of sex education, encourages conversation around sex and pleasure, and ultimately helps to decrease shame around the topic. Happy Play Time is about women getting to know themselves while the condom ads are promoting safe sex. Given that the target audience for many of these companies is spending a significant amount of time on social media, it is vital that such messages are present and reinforced.

    In the end, the tension between sex and tech is rather surprising. We almost expect news about a traditional industry like banking banning sex in some way. But tech is all about pushing boundaries and being both cutting edge and edgy. Sex ed, especially that which utilizes technology in some way, is the same. And just like with practically every tech advance, new sex ed often is viewed as potentially dangerous. In fact, even the arguments against the two fields boil down to the same fear: they are “ruining our youth.” For some reason tech does not see these similairies, or the fact that just as the latest gadget is meant to improve our lives in some way, sex ed delivered directly to its audience leads to healthier and happier lives.

    Other Sexual Health News this Week

    HHS Board Invalidates Medicare Ban on Gender Reassignment Surgery (ACLU)

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Departmental Appeals Board ruled on May 30 that Medicare’s policy of categorically excluding coverage of gender reassignment surgery is unreasonable and contrary to contemporary science and medical standards of care.

    9th Circuit Court of Appeals Protects Arizona Women’s Access to Non-Surgical Abortion (Center for Reproductive Rights)

    Is Gallup Asking the Wrong Questions about Sexual Orientation? (National Journal)

    Hospitals Helping Children Cope with Gender ID Issues (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    Greenville Sen. Mike Fair Blocks Sex Education Bill (Greenville Online)

    Study Finds Little Progress in Gender Equality in Minnesota (Northlands NewsCenter)

    Bobby Jindal to Receive Bill Directing Doctors to Keep Pregnant Women Alive in Louisiana for Sake of Fetus ( – The Times-Picayune)

    Ohio Bill Would Restrict Abortion Coverage (The Columbus Dispatch)

    Important Dates

    The following conferences are taking place in June. Click on each title for more information and to register.

    The Sero Project’s HIV is Not a Crime Conference, Grinnell, IA, June 2-5.

    13th Annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, Philadelphia, PA, June 12-14.

    Breaking Through Barriers, Ohio’s statewide sexual and intimate partner violence conference, June 25-26, 2014. Dublin, OH

    See SHR

    Interested in meeting the folks behind SHR? Check out where they’ll be.

    Philadelphia Trans Health Conference: Stop by the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health booth to meet Megan Andelloux.