Pratisandhi

From Tinkle to Talking Dirty: How Comics Can Help With Sex Education


Key Takeaways:

Comic books, both online and in print, are a fun and artistic manner of educating people about sex.

 

In the ever-evolving field of sexual education around the globe, conservative methods have been shown to fall short when it comes to educating and engaging the youth. The colourful, dynamic world of comic books can help combat this. There is a myriad of reasons why comics can serve as a great tool for sex education:

 

  • Comic books have a purpose beyond entertainment, as they can convey emotion and nuance. Colourful art, relatable characters and diverse and inclusive storylines can present an interesting manner to learn about sexual health and terminology, as opposed to bland and concept-heavy textbooks.
  • The visuals in a comic book for sex ed can be adjusted to make them non-threatening and comprehensive. 
  • The characters in a comic book can delve into aspects of relationships that sex education tends to miss out on, such as communication, consent, boundary-setting, relationship dynamics, decision-making, etc. These characters can be role models for the readers.
  • Cultural perspectives can also be incorporated into the comic book’s plot, by depicting a culture’s norms and values, while still being relevant 
  • Comics can approach taboo and difficult topics of sexuality, gender identity, menstruation, masturbation and more with sensitivity and reduce stigma and shame

 

There has been a growing trend in digital comics and webcomics; this material can be easily accessed and shared online. This provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and sex education. There are several advantages to reading digitised comics:

  1. Real-time updates 
  2. Engaging features like animation, background music and other multimedia elements
  3. Translation to multiple languages
  4. Social media promotion and sharing
  5. In-built engagement metrics such as page views, shares and time spent reading
  6. Global reach and accessibility
  7. Gamification options like rewards, quizzes and challenges
  8. Collaborative opportunities with public health professionals, writers, educators and artists

Here are some comics that deserve more appreciation:

  • Webtoons

Ever since its inception in 2014 in South Korea, Webtoon has become a popular medium for consuming digital comics. Sex education is not the main genre that the platform promotes, but it has several comics made on sexuality and gender identity that incorporate other genres like fantasy, action, comedy and more. An example of a comic on Webtoon that covers important aspects of sex education is ‘Boo! it’s Sex’.

 

  • The Together Project

This is a campaign created by Sexpo that aims to spread information on the dimensions of sexuality, sexual habits, sexual rights, relationships and gender. 

  • Oh Joy Sex Toy

This health and wellness website incorporates humour and research to make comics that are fictional and non-fictional. It explores kinks, sexuality, faith, mental health and much more in one-page format comics.

  • Instagram 

Instagram is an ideal social media platform for visual art. Several comic strip creators on Instagram cover topics of sex education, body image and the LGBTQIA+ community, featuring unique and outstanding art styles. Some of these illustrators like @the_reddot, @artwhoring, @jeniferrprince, etc.

 

The resources mentioned above are merely a drop in the ocean of digital resources that the internet has on sex education. This medium also has its drawbacks as there are countries where artistic expression and the messages that comic books represent get banned. It also brings up

issues of ownership and censoring, which might only get worse with the advent of AI and technology. However, it’s still worth noting that comic books are a transformative medium of art and they have the power to inspire open dialogue and conversations on sex education. 

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