Even in 2021, sex education, or for that matter, even basic sexual awareness, remains largely absent in India’s predominantly conservative society.
And then we have Dr. Tanaya, better known by her social media identity Dr. Cuterus, who has been busting myths and raising awareness about sex and genitalia through small, easy to understand, and highly informative posts and videos.
From answering questions we may be too embarrassed to even ask our best friends to providing proper information about practices like abortion, anal sex, impotence, and whatnot, Dr. Cuterus is the friendly sex guide we desperately needed, but weren’t sure where to find.
In conversation with ScoopWhoop, Dr. Tanaya talked about what led her to become Dr. Cuterus, how she handles the online attention, good and bad, and the kind of questions she has received.
Dr. Tanaya is a gynecologist, who graduated from Subharti Medical College, India, and later, University of Oxford, UK.
Over the last two years, she has been sharing information about sexual health, menstruation, masturbation, and various other topics on Instagram and YouTube.
It was an impromptu video in 2019, on how to use menstrual cups, that gave birth to Dr. Cuterus, originally named Uterosaurus Rex.
It was menstrual hygiene day and on my personal Instagram account, I made a couple of videos, like a few stories on how a menstrual cup goes inside your body. And a few of my friends really liked it and they asked me to upload it on a public platform. So I made this Instagram account and uploaded it there. And people really liked it, and I got encouraged to do it.
Slowly, in 2020, she began working on the idea of growing Dr. Cuterus’ social media presence to destigmatize the idea of sex, by sharing important and necessary information for the youth on a platform they were most accustomed to using.
And as far as the story behind the name Dr. Cuterus is concerned, it’s because Dr. Tanaya believes uterus is a cute organ that deserves far more credit than it receives – after all, we all came from a uterus, didn’t we?
It was originally called Uterosaurus-Rex, after my favourite dinosaur, T-Rex. But that was not a name people felt very comfortable with, it was difficult to spell and all of those things. And I think the uterus is very cute. It’s a wonderful organ, we don’t give it enough credit. It’s more important than all other organs in our body, in my opinion, because none of us would be here without the uterus. We were all born from a uterus. I just wanted to change the idea and the way we look at uteruses, which is, ugly, disgusting, and only for babies. I wanted to make it cool. It’s a cute thing, so it’s Cuterus.
Much like the name, Dr. Tanaya ensures that she shares information in a way that is easy to grasp and understand, while also working to diminish the embarrassment and illogical sense of shame that most people experience while talking about sexual practices in India.
This is also why she believes that much like conversations about basic hygiene, even conversations about sex should be normalized in households – something she experienced because her parents were open about this conversation since she was a kid.
We don’t need to have a separate talk (about sex). I think sex education should be an integral part of life. Kids should grow up knowing what their bits (sexual organs) are called. They should not be saying “woh private part hai” or something like that. Like you teach children how to wash their hair, have a bath, you should also teach them about their body from the very beginning. And gender, sexualtiy, these should be very normal conversation. They shouldn’t be such taboo things, as we treat them. I believe in not making it a talk. I believe in making it a cumulative, learning experience throughout your life.
She strongly believes that it’s high time we stop treating sex and genitalia as subjects to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Her opinion also comes from the fact that most of the questions she’s received revolve around insecurity over the way our bodies, specifically sexual organs look.
The most weird questions I get are about period myths. There are also a lot of questions about the way their penis, vulva looks. Because you know, pornography. I see a lot of insecurity, more than anything else. Sometimes I do get really bizarre, dumb e-mails as well. Like someone asked me if their shape pf penis is good. And of course, there’s the non-consensual dick pics and even pictures of their vulvas. So it’s not just men.
And of course, there’s the occasional trolling – something she’s gotten used to ignoring, because she believes most of it stems from insecurity.
I do get it (trolling) a lot when I talk about masturbation because a lot of people believe, that according to Ayurveda, masturbation is a bad thing. Other than that, at large, the community is generally supportive and nice. There are so many questions we have about our body and there is no right space to address them that people, I think, don’t troll me as often because they believe, if I troll her, I won’t be able to get the answers. I think it’s a mix. And being a woman online talking about sex, so it is going to happen but it’s not to an extent that I want to stop.
Ultimately, her aim is to make Dr. Cuterus, and through it sexual awareness, a part of everyday conversation, by promoting healthy discussions on a topic that should never have become taboo anywhere. And we are all for it.
All images from the Instagram account of Dr. Cuterus. You can follow Dr. Cuterus on Instagram for more of her work.