Misinformation in the Information Society
The other night, whilst flicking through the TV channels to see what TV had to offer, I got stuck at a programme called "The Sex Clinic". I am not someone who would voluntarily watch reality TV programmes (no judgement - they just don't appeal to me), but I caught myself being fascinated. In the programme, a young man in his early twenties spoke to a consultant before having a sexual health test. The consultant asked whether he had been using condoms. To my utter horror, the man said that his decision as to whether he used protection depended on the name of the sexual partner. Girls with two "a’s" in their name, prompted him to use a condom, whereas others didn't. He was also convinced that, unless he ejaculated, he was immune to catching a STI. As I sat there, nearly spitting out my vitamin drink, my partner decided he had seen enough and swiftly changed the channel.
My initial reaction was to laugh, shake my head and throw my hands in the air in despair of such apparent idiocy, however, I then remembered some events I recently talked about with Julie, the founder of Secret Whispers. She had told me that, on her tireless mission of educating the Nation, she found herself in a female bodybuilding group online as well as a menstrual cup help group; both groups have members in the high thousands. Julie had been trying to work with the bodybuilder group for ages, highlighting the link between a weak pelvic floor and extreme weightlifting. As she got ignored, she posted in the group, offering a free workshop on pelvic floor health. As a result, she got blocked. Meanwhile, in the menstrual cup group, Julie was appalled to read that the best way to get a menstrual cup out of the vagina was to "bear down and push". Her efforts to gently educate people that this was not necessary and also really bad for the pelvic floor, got, yet again, met by blocking her from the group.
It got me thinking: In a world where information on everything and anything is at our fingertips, why are many of us still so misinformed, under-informed or not informed at all? How come huge groups with tens of thousands of followers allow for damaging information to be spread? Do we, as a result of information overload, shut down and don't take in anything anymore? And why are so many of us (and I include myself in there) not clued up about our bodies and their natural functions? I am not looking for a scapegoat or for someone to blame. I am asking these questions to find really urgent and necessary answers. As a teacher, I believe schools should play a bigger part in educating people who menstruate on their options, as well as giving very clear messages on the pelvic floor and sexual health. Some of it is already being taught, but maybe not to the full extent. Do we need to talk more openly and publicly about these issues? Whilst I am sure that programmes such as "The Sex Clinic" have great educational value, I am not sure it should be the preferred way for young people to find out about their bodies.
I believe it comes back down to shame, taboos and what we, as a society, have been pre-programmed to deem acceptable to talk about. In an ideal world, the period would not be met with "hush-hush" and taxable sanitary products, we would openly talk about this monthly event and make adjustments in the workplace for those who suffer from physical effects every month. In a utopian society, we would tell everyone about their pelvic floor and how to exercise it like every other muscle in your body. We'd talk about sex lives as we talk about our other lives, without preconceptions and shame and not just something that is to be giggled about over a couple of glasses of wine. All those things are part of our everyday life. Let's talk about them, let's educate ourselves and each other and help the next generations to lead more tolerant and accessible lives, so they can make valuable informed decisions.
Carola is a writer, content and copywriter and published author. You can find her on Instagram @chameleoninhighheels, Facebook @chameleoninhighheels and on www.chameleoninhighheels.com.