India’s population clearly shows that Indians have sex, a lot of sex. But sex education remains a subject people do not want to talk about. Despite being the ‘coolest generation’, what is not cool is that conversations about sex, health, and hygiene are not a part of education.
However, there are a few cool millennials who do not shy talking about sex. 20-year-old Mumbai artist Priyanka Paul and graphic designer Rushil Bhatnagar are unafraid to talk about this taboo topic through their work BEDx Talks. I went to a school where sex-ed could only be considered a luxury because we rarely ever had it, so we grew up knowing so little about sex and how it works, but simultaneously were also exposed to so much media that’s constantly fetishizing sex and telling us it something to aspire to and is everywhere, and I mean that has definitely led to a major imbalance with regard to how we perceive sex on a daily basis,” says Priyanka.
Paul has taken to the internet to explore her identity – from being female to queer and non-Savarna – through her work. It’s the same quest for honesty that has resulted in her project: BEDx Talks (a parody of TEDx Talks), a desi sex education zine aimed at young millennial men.
BEDx Talks aims to be more driven by facts and educational. Starring a shiny suited Mr. Dickinson, which is a dick, functions as a guide and the zine is irreverent. The visuals are made up of collage-work drawing from characters and scenes in Hindi films – “we’re bringing to light and also critiquing the portrayal of sex in Bollywood”. The zine is “filled with a bunch of puns and is generally a fun take on sex, keeping in mind the male perspective and that it explores male sexuality,” said Paul. But it is not boringly mainstream – Paul has made sure that sexual and gender identities across the spectrum are addressed, making BEDx Talks inclusive.
Rushil Bhatnagar shares, “This started as a Facebook status; ‘Just In: UNESCO has officially declared cuddling as BEDx Talks. Priyanka and I then discussed that this has the potential to become a platform for sex education. What started as a classroom personal project, we scaled out to reach to a broader audience? And thus, BEDx Talk was born. A Desi sex-ed guide for millennial men.
The zine targets an audience aged between 16-26 and it is designed in a way to actively engage them. “These are millennials who are aware of things, curious to know more and lazy to read about it. The tone and visual language are set to the same, to be more youth-centric, open and honest in terms of dealing with the younger generation,” explains Bhatnagar.
We are trying to shed a light on topics as such and make it more inclusive by including the age of consent and why men should know more about this at an early stage, Bhatnagar added.
The duo, Priyanka and Rushil hope that BEDx Talks leads to open discussion with regards to sex education and also the conversations we are having with men in our lives. “Here’s hoping we make more content directed towards men about subjects that matter. Less unrealistic male-oriented porn and more male-oriented sex-ed,” Priyanka shares.