Thanks to the #UnmutePleasure campaign, the account on Instagram owned by the Womanizer brand has been restored. The brand comments on the situation and states that it will continue to strive to change the platform’s approach to positive sex content.
In early August, to the surprise of all fans and others, the @womanizerglobal account on Instagram was deleted. The brand, which is known for promoting the positive aspects of female sexuality, launched the #UnmutePleasure campaign to not only restore the account, but also to draw attention to Instagram’s ostracizing attitude towards erotic industry.
– Womanizer has been dedicated to promote positive, tasteful content encouraging empowerment and self-love. Of course, we do show more skin here and there but never in any explicit way and with the sole aim to destigmatize female pleasure and shame around it – Joanna Rief, head of Sexual Empowerment, comments. – We show empowered women who are comfortable in their own skin and celebrate their body and sexuality – and that is the problem. Instagram has a history of flagging posts from female sex-positive communities purely on the basis of sex. For instance, while male nipples are fine, female nipples are strictly forbidden if it is not in the context of breastfeeding.
Sorry, it was a mistake
Only after two weeks, the account belonging to the brand Womanizer was restored. An Instagram rep confirmed that the account was incorrectly removed:
– We investigated @womanizerglobal’s page and found that the account was originally incorrectly removed on 4th August and restored on the 16th August. The account is now active with no restrictions, and an extra check has been added on to the account to prevent future takedowns by automation – explains the Instagram rep.
This is not the first time Instagram has admitted that the account deletion was due to a mistake. A similar situation recently occurred with an account belonging to the Pornhub platform. However, in their case, the ban was removed after just 24 hours.
For companies in the sexual wellness industry, as Womanizer, such a long account freeze is a significant problem:
– Not being able to connect with and reach our 80 thousand strong community, we organically gained, is annoying and painful. Womanizer and other sexual wellness brands are forbidden to advertise on social media so we can only grow organically, through relevant content, as well as with the help of paid influencers on a regular basis. Social media is the way to connect with people at the moment, so banning us limits our possibilities to expand our brand and its reach – Rief explains.
Preventing erotic companies from advertising is just one of the many inconveniences they face. Recently, Instagram introduced a new feature called ‘Sensitive Content Control’, which removes posts that they deem “sexually suggestive or violent” from their ‘Explore’ section. By hiding the posts, the new feature makes it significantly harder to gain new followers, through the platform.
One might even think that Instagram is against the sexual wellness industry and successively restricts its possibilities. When asked if she thinks Instagram is too strict about sexual content, Joanna Rief replies:
– I believe that guidelines, specifically regarding sexual content, are absolutely necessary to enable a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone online or on social media. While Instagram’s current Community Guidelines certainly have this goal and implement rightful restrictions, they are at the same time quite arbitrary when it comes to content published by the players in the sexual wellnes industry, such as Womanizer.
– Our theory: Instagram’s guidelines are inherently sexist and serve only to enforce conservative gender roles, inhibiting women who are fighting to reclaim their bodies and sexuality for their own pleasure – not the male gaze – Continues Rief.
Inbox full of penises
Of course, it is true that the purpose of all these restrictions is to legitimately protect minors, and those who do not wish to view sexual content, from exposure to sensitive material. Unfortunately, every such change negatively affects companies like Womanizer, while in no way solving one of the platform’s oldest problems:
– Another example of this is the repulsive – and in some US states now illegal – practice of sending so-called “unsolicted dick pics”. We are sure that Instagram has the technological ability to filter this kind of content, see for example the warning that pops up when someone mentions Covid-19 or the Covid-19 vaccination, so why not block unwanted nude images? – Joanna Rief wonders.
These types of pictures, force women to look at sexual images they never wanted to see. To make matters worse, there is also no mechanism to protect underage girls from exposure to such photos. And yet the truth is that if, in real life, a man on the street pulled down his pants and forced a woman to look at his penis, he would be arrested for indecent exposure.
Even comes to such absurd situations as in 2019 when Instagram blocked the account of influencer Venus Libido. Venus was fed up with constantly receiving pictures of penises in private messages and reporting them, so disgusted, she decided to post screenshots of a man’s messages censoring his genitals and username to draw attention to the problem.
In response to her report, Venus was informed by Instagram that the man had not violated the guidelines and that his account would remain online. On the other hand, not much later, Instagram, without specifying what guideline she had violated, first informed Venus that she had broken the rules and the platform deleted her post and then blocked her entire account.
#UnmutePleasure will continue
Womanizer will continue to push for social media platforms to treat the sexual wellness industry as equals. When asked if she thinks #UnmutePleasure will affect the platform’s approach to sexuality content, Joanna replies: – We are glad to have our Instagram channel back, thanks to the amazing efforts of our team, followers, influencers and other external supporters. The #UnmutePleasure campaign was successful in that sense. But the work certainly doesn’t stop for us.
– We will continue to work towards creating a shame-free and empowered space for please and sexuality online. The #UnmutePleasure campaign is ongoing. I’m sure that with time and the combined efforts of the sexual wellness industry, social media platforms will need to change their guidelines and adapt them to reflect attitudes of the 21st century. We also would be more than happy to have an open discussion with Facebook and help developing guidelines that support sexual female empowerment and the sexual wellness industry and still stick to rightful restrictions – she continues.
Erotic content, it is a very sensitive topic. There is no doubt that not everyone should have access to it and there must be proper rules in place to enforce this. However, the current inconsistent direction in which Instagram is going is causing many companies and brands to be unfairly marginalized and we still have a long way to go before this changes.