Virgin & Martyr starts as an adventure, more than two years ago, in the vast Instagram ocean. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it should become your no. 1 profile in your feed, right now. Uniting 24k+ readers as of now, V&M is what everybody needed in a world full of unsaid things and hidden thoughts. Take a look at the universe Greta Tosoni and Greta Elisabetta Vio slowly built to give us a vision on sexuality, pleasure and health free from any sort of taboo.
Virgin & Martyr. A safe place for insecure people, or is there much more?
The definition of “safe place” is fundamental to describe V&M. This is because, especially when it comes to issues still influenced by taboos and prejudices, it is fundamental to have spaces, online but also in reality, in which to feel free to be oneself and share one’s opinions without being judged or discriminated.
The project is addressed to everybody, implying an inclusive approach that wants to give space and value to everyone, without leaving anyone behind.
Our aim is to open dialogue and disseminate clear and up-to-date information about health, sexuality, respect for oneself and others, undermining the old myths and leaving taboos behind them. We believe in the importance of feeling good in your body in order to be better with others, support them and celebrate diversity together in all its beauty.
You will have received lots of messages from many people looking for advice or maybe just a simple outburst. How would you summarize in a few words the state of mind of women and men who face problems related to their sexual universe or maybe even just the fear of being able to show and express themselves?
One of the main things we try to do is just to arouse interest in our bodies and what is around you in a direct and engaging way.
Every day we receive testimonies or comments and there are many messages in which we are asked to clarify something or our opinion on something else. However, when it happens that we are asked about personal health issues, we always point out that we are not professionals or experts: we do not diagnose or give medical advice.
In general, people have a lot of curiosity and sometimes a bit of fear, perhaps due to the awareness of being in front of themes that they have not yet explored well.
Nevertheless, speaking is the first means we have to exorcise our fears and often it is enough to write them black and white to begin to take awareness and control, but to know that on the other side of the screen there is someone who listens to you and does not judge you is a great relief.
Is the degree of difficulty in expressing women and men different? What do you think are the obstacles that still do not allow people to be able to talk to their bodies?
Each person has his approach which varies according to many different social and behavioral factors. Usually those who find it more difficult to express themselves are those who, having never been used to the topics we deal with, do not know which words to use or ignore many basic concepts, and often for this reason they do not know well what questions to ask. This is why we focus a lot on a simple, direct disclosure that can be made available to everyone, allowing us to clarify common grounds from which we can start real comparisons.
15 April 2039. What will have changed in the approach of people with taboos, information and awareness of all issues included in the sexual sphere?
In twenty years many things can be done and as many can be changed.
We cannot know what will happen, but we certainly have hopes and goals, which, although they may seem utopian, allow us to continue this project with enthusiasm. Virgin & Martyr believes in the power of an inclusive, positive and clear, not only sexual, but also sentimental education.
In an ideal future, these positive body and sex movements that contribute to the demolition of taboos and stereotypes will lead us to recognize, accept and celebrate the uniqueness of each one. There will be more and more curiosity, interest and dialogue on bodies and sexuality. This will lead to the existence of adequately (in) trained educators who propose new tools to approach these issues. Families and parents will thus learn to trust in letting them face these issues even outside the home, contributing at the same time with a home environment open to comparison. As a result, there will be no fertile ground for shame, insecurity, discrimination and all the inconveniences that result from it.
How do you deal with criticism and censorship on platforms that do not agree with the publication of content deemed “explicit”?
Fortunately, we can clearly divide the discourse of criticism from that of censorship.
Although Instagram has very narrow guidelines when it comes to bodies and pleasure, this has not therefore made us a particular target of criticism from people who do not share our vision. The algorithms that control the forbidden contents hit us on the page, often removing images that didn’t even exceed the explicit limits, but that apparently fall into that gray area that Instagram keeps under control. In fact, even just the fact of talking about sexuality or genitals (#sesso and #vagina are obscured hashtags) has often made us fall into the “shadowban” network, greatly limiting our visibility and literally putting us in the shadows.
Our way of reacting is always proactive: one of the initiatives we launched to involve our community in circumventing censorship was #censuramiquesto, in which we invited people to share in the stories of the images in which the censorship of our bodies were reinvented and free information, tagging us and the hashtag. This generated a great movement that allowed us both to be reached by many new people who otherwise would not have found us, and to reopen the discussion about the liberation of bodies and conscious sexuality, bringing new voices, approaches and perspectives.
There is no censorship here. An advice you’d give with your heart.
What we believe in: being ourselves and allowing others.
It should be the easiest thing, but in reality it is a continuous and multifaceted process that requires commitment, patience and awareness. It is not at all obvious, but we often underestimate it, forgetting to talk to ourselves.
We must not forget that we are changing and varied identities, with different desires, tastes, passions and paths, and therefore unique. Every diversity is a richness. Questioning oneself, being curious, listening to others, learning respect are the first steps to recognize one’s own uniqueness and that of others, but above all to contribute to the construction of an increasingly positive and inclusive culture.
Photos taken from Virgin & Martyr’s account. Featured image by Erika Lust Films.
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