Can You Learn About Sex from YouTube Videos?

Can You Learn About Sex from YouTube Videos

Apparently, hundreds of millions of people think you can.

According to a recent New York Times piece, “The sex and relationships commentators who arose in the self-help boom of the 1980s emphasized their expert status. But while Dr. Ruth, Dr. Laura and Dr. Drew telegraphed their academic credentials in their names, modern sex-ed stars make an asset of their amateurism. Eileen Kelly, the 20-year-old Instagram-famous founder of the sex blog and forum Birds&Bees, self-effacingly refers to herself as “a random girl from Seattle.” The British sex-ed YouTuber Hannah Witton calls herself a “self-taught expert,” and her lack of credentials is part of her message.

“You don’t have to be a doctor to be involved in sex education,” Ms. Witton said. “It’s sex. It should be accessible to everyone. There shouldn’t be any barriers to talking about it.”

There’s a part of me that bristles that 20-year-olds are teaching the equivalent of sex-ed classes on the Internet. Who are they? What have they done? What do they know? These are, indeed, reasonable questions. At the same time, if they don’t delve into giving medical advice and don’t claim to have credentials that they don’t, I see no harm in it.

One of the cool things about the internet is that anyone can become an expert if his/her message is compelling enough to the masses.

In fact, I see a lot of help for people who are curious about a VERY popular topic, but unlikely to admit it to friends, look for a sex therapist, or pay for assistance. Kind of like dating coaching, just a bit more risque.

Frankly, it’s not that different than my own story; declaring myself America’s Leading Dating Expert back in 2004 despite my lack of credentials, and helping thousands of women along the way. I never pretended to be anyone other than a guy with a lot of experience, an innate sense of fairness, and the ability to see both sides of an issue, and, thirteen years later, I feel I’ve grown into my self-declared expertise.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some downsides to relying on an amateur with an opinion and a camera.

This new breed’s desire to entertain, however, can allow room for myths to slip in. In a video that delivers a rollicking guide to lesbian sex, Ms. Scarcella playfully informs her audience that you can spot a lesbian by the relative length of her pointer and ring fingers. (You can’t.) Some sexual stunts seem better at capturing clicks than making points…

“These videos mean that more people can have access to information about sex, and they get to choose who they’re comfortable getting it from,” said Debby Herbenick, an associate professor of public health at Indiana University. “Sex is still pretty stigmatized, so that can be really lovely.” On the other hand, she said, “the information is not necessarily accurate.”

Ultimately, the only thing that matters is not the credentials of the advice giver, but rather that you get the help you need to be a happy, fulfilled person.

One of the cool things about the internet is that anyone can become an expert if his/her message is compelling enough to the masses. If you can educate and entertain – and people enjoy your work and are willing to pay you for it – you’re a lucky person indeed.

However, one should remain skeptical of anything you read on the internet, this site included. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is not the credentials of the advice giver, but rather that you get the help you need to be a happy, fulfilled person.

Your thoughts below on self-styled experts and gurus are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Malika

    There is a lot of information/misinformation out there, and it’s true you should take some things these self styled experts say with a grain of salt. Yet the internet has also provided a platform for people to talk openly about aspects of sex that are taboo and that can only be applauded.

    I have vaginism and that is one of those aspects of sexuality that was very difficult to find any reliable information anywhere (online/offline) until very recently. While a very good GP and sexologist helped me to tackle my problems in this area in a constructive way, the internet has provided me with a wealth of information on how other women have dealt with it. I remember reading a blog last year of a woman who wrote about her years long struggle to get her problem taken seriously. GP’s who are underinformed have a tendency to either dismiss your pain or to even claim that it is normal to feel as if you are being stabbed by a knife repeatedly when having vaginal intercourse. Sigh. Once she had finally found a GP who would refer her to a sexologist and physical therapist, her ensuing journey towards being able to relax and enjoy all aspects of sex was accompanied by her writing a weekly blog post of it. After googling vaginism i found her on the sixth page of the results and devoured all her blog posts in one go. Reading her story and subsequent recovery literally moved me to tears and i revisited her blog during several days, not quite believing that someone had blogged about a problem i thought no one would understand. It’s not too much that she helped me to stop feeling like a freak and to keep on working with my own medical carers to solve my vaginism. I’m not completely cured, but i am getting there. That is something i could not have imagined, just a couple of years ago and people talking about their struggle with something we think should just work seamlessly has been of an immense help.

    1. 1.1
      ScottH

      There was a site called the Experience Project where people shared their experiences on a number of topics and if one didn’t exist, you could start your own.  It was all about people helping people and it was great.

      The guy who started it wanted to share information on a medical condition that his friend had and it expanded from there.  I got involved in the forum on loveless marriages and was fascinated by the real-life stories that people shared.  It was immensely helpful.

  2. 2
    ScottH

    This line is critical:  “Ultimately, the only thing that matters is not the credentials of the advice giver, but rather that you get the help you need to be a happy, fulfilled person.”

    I’ve been to plenty of degreed professionals who were wrong/incompetent/etc…   It’s fine to listen to what people have to say and decide for yourself whether you should take their advice but you always have to be your own advocate and decide what works for yourself.  That’s why I keep coming back here.

    I recently took my daughter to an MD and my initial impression was that this lady is an idiot.  As she talked, she confirmed my suspicion and she was ready to tell us that something was no big deal and dismiss us but I told her to take a biopsy and as she did, she admitted that I had reasonable grounds to ask for it.  I got pretty mad at her comment.  anyway…  And especially question financial “professionals.”

     

    1. 2.1
      Malika

      Hi Scott:

      MD’s are well educated but not infallible. You might be asking for advice for an area they are not well versed in, they might be having an off day and are not tuned into your story, etc. There are a lot of reasons why they may not be giving you the best advice out there.  Good for you and your daughter that you insisted on a biopsy. I needed to visit three doctors and a therapist to have my problem taken seriously, and even now there are GP’s who STILL don’t get what i have .

  3. 3
    D_M

    Evan,

    I think it’s possible to learn something from self proclaimed experts. Different ways of approaching things can often be illuminating. On this specific topic, the more tricks that are in the goodie bag, the less likely that your LTR will suffer from intimacy erosion.

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