Meet the 20-year-old sex blogger, Eileen Kelly (aka @killerandasweetthang) who’s introducing for the youth, by the youth sex education
With a strong allegiance to sexual health and scoffing at expectations of demureness, New York-transplant Eileen Kelly has become something of an Instagram sensation. No stranger to the digital sphere, Kelly first amassed a following (355k and growing) dispensing advice while offering a glimpse into her personal life via Tumblr. Beyond the thicket of risqué selfies she’s grown known for, looms a bubbling desire to debunk the nonsense swirling around sex; a desire that has since spawned a safe haven for teens to openly learn and discuss sexuality. The killerandasweetthang blog strives to guide followers through everything from the insertion of their first tampon or IUD, pre-anal sex enemas, and etiquette for sexing within the same friendship circle. In an era where liberation movements are in full swing, a modernised one-stop shop for those tussling with coming-of-age issues seems right on time.
Above, we premiere the blog's debut short film (directed by Zev Magasis) – an ode to youth culture and the filthy paradise that is NYC. And chat to Kelly about her inspiration behind the new platform, destigmatising sexuality, and what’s up next.
Why did creating a safe space to learn about sex spark your interest?
Eileen Kelly: I went to Catholic school my whole life and we didn’t get any of that. I saw how detrimental it was to people around me. A ton of my friends got abortions in high school and a lot of stuff went down that could’ve been avoided. I have this presence on the internet already so why not use it to create something that I really care about and am passionate about. We worked on the blog for about eight months, it’s been up for two and now it’s just growing. We’ll start introducing events in summer and holding workshops, we’re going to do some work with Planned Parenthood next year and start doing STD drives in New York. We have a lot of ideas.
“There are so many misconceptions around sex because young people either have nobody to turn to or they receive information from those who find it taboo or are misinformed themselves” – Eileen Kelly
Offering workshops for teens and young adults sounds awesome. Plenty of us relied solely on ill-informed friends and porn for guidance…
Eileen Kelly: There are so many misconceptions around sex because young people either have nobody to turn to or they receive information from those who find it taboo or are misinformed themselves. The goal of our blog is to not only educate those who feel embarrassed or have no other resources, but to serve as a source of comfort and reliability. What’s unique about our site is that it’s written from a peer-to-peer point of view. It’s advice from people our readers' own age. It’s much easier to absorb information from someone you can relate to.
The Birds & Bees forum will be an interactive aspect of the website in order to allow open conversation. We’re hoping to deter young people from false information concerning their sexual health and, more importantly, act as a safe, shame-free place for all questions and comments relating to their own life.
This is an interesting time to launch a sex-ed blog. With rape culture rampant, is dismantling the ambiguity around consent with your readers a priority?
Eileen Kelly: Extinguishing the diluted definition of consent among our readers is a top priority. It is so important to depict the severity of rape and explicitly stress it’s not a matter to brush aside. Countless stories are in the news about how prevalent rape culture has become in our society. It is our responsibility as a sex-ed blog to confront issues that various role models, such as parents and teachers, do not discuss with younger people. I feel strongly about addressing rape and consent in a direct way, in order to instill in both young girls and boys that 'no means no' and there is no grey area to it.
As many identities don’t neatly fit into one box, how do you plan to make your platform LGBTQ-inclusive? Will various gender identities and sexual orientations be covered?
Eileen Kelly: We feel it is very important to write about issues that all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation can gain insight from. It is of the utmost importance that our readers feel that our platform is a safe place – either to learn or to help us better inform others or ask questions to keep themselves informed. We plan to fully confront the LGBTQ community and the obstacles they’re facing, whether that be through commentary on current events or contributing articles from those within the community. We’ll also be introducing more writers in the fall from a range of demographics. We want to make it clear that anything can be openly talked about because we are here to establish a community of sexual/educational growth.
How have the digital age and high visibility online played into everything?
Eileen Kelly: I’m definitely within that age group, where I was there before the whole shift into social media, which is really interesting and I touch on that a lot with the blog. I remember when Facebook was invented. I remember when everyone started getting Myspace, and then Facebook and then Twitter and Instagram. I look at middle schoolers and they don’t remember what it was like not to have that stuff, so that plays a big role in keeping me grounded and seeing it for what it is. It allows for a lot more comparison. It affects our self-esteem a lot, there’s no doubt it has a lot of negativity. So that’s why I try to take something like social media, which I understand and use and am part of the age group that’s the driving force behind it and use it to create something positive.
“We’ll start introducing events in summer and holding workshops, we’re going to do some work with Planned Parenthood next year and start doing STD drives in New York. We have a lot of ideas” – Eileen Kelly
So that’s one of the biggest upsides?
Eileen Kelly: Yeah, and just connection. I have people who send me Tumblr messages from around the world or even the merchandise – I ship everything out – so I see where we’re shipping the shirts and it’s like, Australia, Indonesia, it’s crazy. People all over the world are looking at this blog.
With a large following, of course, comes critics. What’s the downside?
Eileen Kelly: I’m 20 years old, I’ll post provocative pictures here and there and people think that takes away from my education or what I have to say, which is BS. It almost serves as a driving force to prove them wrong. Everyone who’s working for me, we’re all getting sex-ed certified so we can fully teach it. It’s a one-year program. We’re actively studying. It’s like being in full-time school right now but it’s what we care about. I get a lot, “What does a 20-year-old know about sex?” That’s really interesting because we’re trying to take it from a peer-to-peer perspective. You can go on PlannedParenthood.org or pick up books from the library and find a lot of the information we’re putting out there. But what makes our site unique is that it’s coming from my point of view or from another young person’s perspective, we’re sharing our experiences to help other people not make the same mistakes.
In the minds of yourself and your team, what qualifies the platform as a success?
Eileen Kelly: The definition of success for our platform can be measured in an abundance of ways. Since we are just starting out, the current focus is growing our brand and creating a sense of security and development for our readers. It’s important to establish a loyal bond with our readers and create a place they can trust with sensitive issues that relate to all things growing up. Although, we deem ourselves a sex-ed blog, we touch on relationships, health, basically any problems that our generation faces growing up in the digital age. While maintaining this forum of open communication, we also plan to build on our brand and hopefully begin programs and activities, open to all who want to join, where we can expand on specific issues and discussions. Although we are a small, intimate team right now, we are forever growing and I feel that by the time September rolls around we will double or even triple in size! Most importantly, we want to be able to reach as many people as we can and offer support in any way we can. Even just making a difference in a single one of our readers' lives is a success to us.
We already believe our platform is successful. Our feedback has been amazing! I get messages from girls and boys around the world all the time, emailing in and messaging me, saying that reading the blog is making a change. And that it helps them feel less alone. This is our passion and real life issues are often overlooked in our society; we hope to make changes on a large scale: changing the way people treat sex, talk about sex and their humanity.
Visit killerandasweetthang here