I read an article today about the GCSE exam board being flooded with complaints from parents who are concerned about adult content featured on a female bloggers website, this female blogger’s content was being cited as part of the GCSE media curriculum It is worth noting that said blogger was completely unaware that her work was being used in such a way and the ‘unacceptable adult content’ was an article relaying the most popular sex toys currently on the market. The female blogger is called Zoe Sugg and her website Zoella has, since 2017, been referenced as part of the GCSE media syllabus. Zoella has an impressive catalogue of work and the website celebrates women in both the content and the team who help produce it, the target audience of this site is 25-34 year olds and has been for quite some time. Since the news broke that Zoella has been dropped from the syllabus, the media response has been woefully predictable and the language used in telling the story is also tired and dull. It is a familiar narrative and yet another attempt to shame and silence the female voice, which is discouraging to say the least.
With all that is going on in the UK at the moment I can not believe the tabloids response to this blog piece – it has taken centre stage, saturated the readers with the usual methodology of creating contempt towards a woman. Sexual female empowerment is once again stigmatised over the more palatable representation that women are merely spectators in their sexual journey as apposed to an active, willing participant. In the vast amount of work on offer from Zoella, an article listing a few sex toys should not be grounds for ‘dropping it’ on an educational level. Zoe Sugg is an impressive young woman who has become a self made media sensation and a very savvy business woman, teenagers could learn a hell of a lot from her.
I have always wondered why women are encouraged by societal expectations to not be too ‘sexy’, the suggestion being that our sexual identity is unattractive or unappetising . Or even that our sexual identity, and how others view our sexual identity, is ours alone to control. No one can control how someone views another person and changing how you present yourself or being encouraged to edit yourself to make somebody else more comfortable, is simply unacceptable. You could argue that the act of masturbation is not particularly ‘sexy’, yet discussion of it is seen as the height of ‘sexiness’. Female masturbation is not an act merely to fuel a male fantasy it is about an individual discovering safely what works for them and what they like. It can be introduced to a happy healthy sex life and sex should absolutely be a topic open to discussion.
It would appear that most people who have been offended and thus complained about the Zoella article are the parents of students undergoing their GCSE’s. These same parents – who surely have had sex at least once in order to pro create – seem to think that talking about sex with teenagers will encourage mass orgies and teenage pregnancies and a whole bag load of STI’s….stigmatising sex for teenagers doesn’t negate curiosity. It does however, make it a taboo which is, in my opinion, far more damaging and unhealthy. If it is a taboo that can not be talked about at home or at school then it encourages an individual, who is experiencing a natural curiosity of sex, to seek and obtain answers elsewhere. The internet can give teenagers a whole lot of answers and online pornography is rife. I would not like my children to get their sexual knowledge and advice form the unrealistic sexual exploits demonstrated from a lot of pornography shown nowadays….this is not real sex it is usually male based fantasy that again puts the female as the passive participant not an active engaging partner. Empowering teenagers to talk openly about their sexuality will do nothing but encourage and create mature well rounded adults who respect their sexual partners and take ownership over their own sexuality. Feeling empowered and able to talk about sex will if anything, encourage teenagers to wait and feel confident in waiting until they are ready to have sex. Banning certain content and people from a teenagers education will not stop teenagers from wanting to experiment and learn about sex, anyone who believes this technique will work is woefully ignorant to what a teenagers life revolves around!!! The media in their rhetoric of this story have fanned the flames on a fire that, in my opinion, is a huge overreaction.
Zoe Sugg has been one of several online celebrities that was cited as part of an exam board AQA’s GCSE course and her website Zoella has a lot of content to research and learn from in terms of media studies. Bearing in mind she was completely unaware that she was a part of this syllabus, her list of a selection of popular vibrators is hardly x-rated and really should not have caused such a negative response. Blogging by its very nature celebrates and encourages freedom of speech Zoe is yet another example of a young woman being shamed for something that should not be shameful. She discusses a whole range of issues and many articles will be of huge benefit to young adults.
A teacher friend shared a fantastic post highlighting the hypocrisy of this recent censorship – a professional author (Hollie Poetry) pointed out that the current syllabus celebrates studying Romeo and Juliet, the infamous Shakespearean play where 2 underage characters have penetrative sex and then commit suicide, yet this is hailed as a ‘great love story’?? The ‘banning’ of Zoella from the syllabus is an outdated response and the censorship of selective sources from our teenagers is counter productive.
If you want to read the article that is causing all the unnecessary negative media response you can here
Zoe Sugg took to her instagram to issue the following statement in response to the negative press that she has had to endure the last 24 hours:
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