Last month Zoe Sugg attracted multiple headlines across numerous newspapers. The reason for these “Zoella scandal” headlines? Her website, Zoella, has been dropped as part of the GCSE curriculum.
Why was she dropped, you ask? Zoella.co.uk published an article in which sex toys were discussed and reviewed.
Now in reading that did your head explode? Did the world as you know it cave in on itself?
No? Well, of course not – because it’s not a big deal. And yet multiple news organisations sought to publicly shame Zoella.co.uk for publishing such “inappropriate” content and revealed in the fact that she had been “dropped” from the GCSE curriculum as punishment for daring to write about sex and female pleasure.
Zoe Sugg, who we must remember is a 30 year old woman herself, recently made it clear that the content on her website is geared towards women in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket.
Taking to her Instagram to discuss the articles Zoe said in part “I discovered that a GCSE syllabus were using the @zoella website as part of their curriculum. I was then told it had been “dropped” (not sure how one is dropped when one didn’t know they were ever involved…) as some parents complained as we had posted an article listing the best sex toys for 2021 & apparently this is absolutely disgusting that 16 year olds should even be graced with such horror”.
If zoella.co.uk was being used on the GCSE syllabus it was up to those behind the curriculum to thoroughly check the content the site published, it was not up to the Zoella team to censor their content “just in case” the Zoella site was used as an example in a GCSE curriculum.
And besides that, what is wrong with teenagers learning and reading about sexuality and pleasure? That was something that (rightly!) further annoyed Zoe…
“It worries me that they think 16 year olds aren’t exploring their own bodies, doing this with someone else or know what a sex toy is. Although we don’t aim our content at teens, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s there for them to read at all & these media articles are just perpetuating the fact that female pleasure is something that we should feel ashamed of. THE VERY REASON WE WRITE ABOUT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!”
The double standard in how we talk about male pleasure vs female pleasure
This got me thinking, don’t we as a society instil the idea of girls and women censoring their sexuality from the get-go, “just in case”?
How, you might ask? Let’s look at where most of us get our first understanding of sex…Sex Education.
Throughout our schooling we are only really taught about the biology of sex. They tell girls about periods, a condom might be mentioned under hushed tones no real mention of contraception or STIs. We’re given a (brief) idea of childbirth and…that’s it. We’re sent forth in the hopes we’ll one day multiply, but only once we’re married.
Nobody ever discusses what sex actually involves. There’s no mention of consent, there’s no LGBTQ+ representation. And masturbation, if mentioned at all, is geared solely towards the males in the classroom.
This attitude creates the old-fashioned and inaccurate notion, that can be boiled down to the actual facts: Men masturbate, women menstruate.
Both are completely normal.
"Society is not ok with girls and women seeking pleasure"
We’re all aware that people are having sex, (yep, even teenagers) and they’re having it for fun!
Why is it then, that we have this double standard? Boys masturbating, boys thinking and talking about sex, boys having multiple sexual partners – all of these are pretty normalised.
When the above is brought up in the context of girls? They’re “sluts”, “too promiscuous”, or “going to land themselves in trouble one of these days.”
The truth of the matter is, society is not ok with girls and women seeking pleasure (or god forbid, actually getting pleasure) from sex and sexual activites such as masturbation. Should females masturbate it is with the intent that this be, again, for the pleasure of the heterosexual male. A pretty archaic sentiment, but true nonetheless. Female pleasure, in mainstream media and society, is structured by and for the male gaze.
It is this idea that is wholly embedded in our society, that causes girls and women to be ashamed of their sexuality. We live in a world where news outlets felt they could publish a front page article targeting a site aimed at women, no matter their age, that wished to openly discuss sex toys and female pleasure, in an attempt to shame not only the Zoella team, but womankind as a whole.
Masturbation is not shameful
The headlines were framed as a scandal, a taboo.
Newsflash people, WOMEN AND GIRLS MASTURBATE!!
Whereby shame was once the emotion that shrouded this act of self-pleasure, hearing influencers, media sites and even our friends discuss masterbation, can only lead to shedding the stigma around female sexuality.