Leeza Mangaldas, Sex Positive Content Creator recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Leeza opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

When asked about the content that she is creating on Instagram, Leeza said, “I tried to create a conversation around sexuality, sexual health, gender, the body, identity. My hope is that this can help in normalise these conversations because sex remains so stigmatised for discussion. Most young people don’t receive information. It is a normal part of life. It’s something we deserve, i.e accurate judgement about sex. The fact that most people have a smartphone now, the internet allows us to access the stuff from the comfort of our homes and privacy from our headphones and phone. It’s really lensed. I also think that young people use social media so much , I mean people don’t put the phone down. They took it even in the bathroom. So, if you want to connect to young people, social media seems like a great way to do it, but it’s so important to me to have conversation. A typical attitude to sex education is like lets teach people how not to have negative experiences. ‘Ok, so it’s very don’t do this, don’t do that and kind of fear-based approach. If you have sex, you will get pregnant. If you have sex, you will get an STD. Ohh it really really bad that if you sex you will be punished and if you done something wrong or evil,’ This kind of the messaging is there. Any official messaging intended is laced with judgement and punishment. All of this type of language, absence base, fear based or i mean, even when it is well meaning it’s like does or not to get an std or not to get pregnant. Nobody is focusing on pleasure. Nobody knows how we can have the best experience, it’s just talking about how we can not have a bad experience. You know what i mean. I wanted that shift where we talk about sex and its normal, important and wonderful thing, rather than scary bad thing.”

Talking about the topics she has been addressing via her videos, she said, “I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics i choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around on certain thighs and addressed them. I think many people, have a lot of issues about body image. Like you know questions around penis size, questions around boobs size, questions around like why is the skin of vagina is darker than the rest of body or lots of question around first sexual experience. I have created a lot of content type of trying to provide help for full information what you should know before you have sex. You know consent is a subject that is important to me, talking also about stuff like arousals, desires and being in contact with your own body and pleasure and understanding that you can communicate better because I think communication is central to sexual experiences.”

Speaking about where she an draws a line between helping younger people to get relevant information about sex and drawing line with what is the legal age to have sex, she said, “The age of consent was vary from country to country and changed over time and it’s a really tricky area without easy answers in terms of age of consent of what is legal to begin having sex. In India, it is 18 but there was a time when it was something around 12 here. If you know, a child marriage is a part of how things operated in your grandparents’ generations. In other countries, it’s 16 and in some countries it’s still even younger than that. So, how old is appropriate or not appropriate 16, 17, 18 ,20. This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer and it’s not up to me to decide. I’m also a citizen abiding by the laws, so of course, I maintain the age of consent. In India, it is 18 but i think the information, the education is something has to start earlier and have to start when the child is learning the first word or when he learns the body parts. For example, you are teaching him this is your eyes, your nose, you are teaching them the words to think and why is it that we never teach them the correct names of vagina, instead we say something either name like shame shame. You’re getting it, in such an age, this is shameful. So, of course, you should be appropriate but not for one-time conversation, which you have with a young person. These are opportunities to normalise education around sexuality, body, sexual health, all through childhood, because it’s usually the age 6 or seven somebody will ask mom, where do babies come from how would i get here or if you are expecting another sibling like how would it get in your stomach? Are you going to tell them that a bird dropped it or you found it in the dustbin? Why lie to the child? After there are picture books that simplify an explanation or consumptions and pregnancy, seeing things. When your adult teaches a child to get on her first periods, don’t you think they owe an explanation.”