Vibrators for everyone.
As often happens during discussions among Team SHESAID, a recent features meeting turned to talk of sex.
It started with someone venting their frustration over the orgasm gap; more specifically, the fact that us gals tend to give more oral sex than we receive from guys, many of whom – despite lifetimes dedicated to porn viewing – just can’t seem to figure out how to hit the right button.
Then someone chimed in with the suggestion lesbian couples are having the best sex, if for no other reason than the fact they should have an easier time giving good head with a superior knowledge of the female anatomy to lean on. But no. Others testified some of the worst oral sex they’d ever received was given by another woman.
“So, no one knows what to do with a clit!” I exclaimed. And we laughed, but also tried not to cry, because every woman in the room had at some point in her sex life given up hope of climaxing at all with a partner (let alone achieving all four of the magical types of orgasm available to us).
And we’re not the only ones. A three-woman team of self-professed sexual activists, Sexy Liberation are solving the mystery of the clitoris and attempting to bridge the orgasm gap between the sexes, one vibrator-assisted climax at a time. Since 2014, the ground-breaking group have taken a stand for sexual education and the sexual revolution by giving away free sex toys.
I’m trying hard not to embolden or use exclamation marks, so I’ll repeat: Free. Sex. Toys. For you. For $0. And there’s no catch. (Except your pledge to put said device to work getting you to O Town.)
From this study, the facts are pretty clear. Heterosexual men are more likely to say they always orgasmed during sex (95 percent) than us women are (just 65 percent). Interestingly, lesbians are enjoying it 86 percent of the time, so obviously some of them have figured it out, but the orgasm gap refers to heterosexual encounters – that is, sex that is considered ‘over’ when the man has ejaculated.
I chatted with Jannet, Lexi, and Shirin, the women behind Sexy Liberation, to learn more about how the idea for providing women with free sex toys came about, and where their passion for destroying the taboo around female sexual gratification came from…
How did the three of you meet?
We met through a Women in Tech group at our university. We all hit it off right away.
Where did the idea for Sexy Liberation come from?
We have been giving out condoms and lube since college. As we all know, there are some huge issues with consent education. This was a great avenue for getting face-to-face with people and giving them educational materials on consent.
One of us came across the idea of the ‘orgasm gap’ in a gender studies course. To say the least, we were definitely familiar with the concept in a practical sense, but it was seldom discussed outside of women’s studies courses. We started giving away mini-vibrators in addition to lube and condoms, and, if we were to pinpoint a particular moment at which Sexy Liberation was born, it was then.
How did you go about turning your idea into a business?
We were all living in a house together in Indianapolis working on various freelance, pro bono, and personal software projects and were still giving away freebies from time to time and wanted to have reach that extended beyond Indiana.
We were able to build the first version of Sexy Liberation in just one night and even had three orders for free toys by the next day. The day after that, we had 35 new orders. This was followed by 70 more. Then 173. We saw we were offering something people really needed, so we talked together and agreed that this is what we all wanted to do from now until at least the foreseeable future.
Where does your passion for sexual equality come from?
Our heroes are Audre Lorde and Bell Hooks. We even have posters of each of them hanging up in the living room. More recently, however, the passion has come from the people that write to us about their current sexual situation. Many of them have never had an orgasm with their partner, or even by themselves.
Some were sexually abused and now have strong reservations when it comes to jumping into the could-be wonderful world of sex. Sexual pleasure is a basic human right, and many have been stripped of that right. The thank you notes we receive are some of the most touching pieces of writing we’ve ever come across. Hearing from our clients is what truly drive us.
What does the sexual revolution mean to you? Is there an end-goal?
The sexual revolution is an ongoing movement that seeks, as its end-goal, equality. We know we have a long way to go when sexual depictions on screen are, for the most part, designed solely to attract and promote the male gaze, when girls and women are bullied, rejected, or even shunned from families because they have pursued their natural sexual inclinations, when women’s, but not men’s, birth control is a point of discussion by government officials.
These problems are large and can seem overwhelming. We believe we need to start with women themselves by sharing the truth of sexuality: that it is natural, pleasurable, pointless to try to repress, and, most importantly, that all women have the right to their own pleasure.
Why do you think there’s still a taboo around women’s sexuality, whereas a man’s sexuality is more encouraged?
For the most part, men’s sexuality has been accepted for as far back as history dates. As we fight for a world with greater gender equality, normalization of women’s sexuality moves closer and closer to that of men’s, but we have a long road ahead of us.
One of the most glaring issues is the representation of women in mainstream pornography. More often than not, women are dehumanized in porn. There is no verbal consent. They are treated as if they have no choice as to what is going to be done to their bodies.
So, what happens when a woman tries to express her sexuality? She is labeled as licentious and abnormal. The cycle of shame continues until that woman is silenced. Perhaps one of the worst effects of this is women attacking other women for sexual expression. The time for women to stand together and stand up for one another is now. We can’t be tearing each other down by discouraging these long overdue discussions.
How do you think a sex toy changes for the positive the way a woman views her body?
Pleasure is reinforcing. In other words, once an individual has a pleasurable experience (for example, an orgasm), she or he is likely not only to seek out this highly pleasurable experience again, but to associate aspects of that experience with pleasure and come to hold a more positive view of all that is associated with that experience.
So, for example, when a girl or woman experiences orgasm and comes to see her body as a source of pleasure, it’s natural for her to develop positive feelings and thoughts about her body. She may come to appreciate the way she looks or the way a particular part of her body feels, or that her body is particularly sensitive or responsive to a certain kind of touch or certain types of talk. In many ways, then, sex-positive and body-positive attitudes are highly intertwined.
Do you think some of the responsibility is on a woman to correct her partner when they aren’t getting the right spot?
Sure. Relationship and sexuality experts agree that communication is key. And this, of course, means both partners communicating as openly as they can. Because of the taboo society has on women’s sexuality, a number of barriers already are in place by the time a developing girl begins to become aware of her own sexuality; her drive, her preferences, her fantasies.
Often girls and women absorb the societal message that their sexual gratification is somehow secondary or even unimportant. Boys and men, too, often receive messages from media, peers, and even family that their gratification is more important. As a result, males may not be well-attuned in some cases to women’s pleasure – including key pleasure zones such as the clitoral area and G-spot. A woman can provide guidance by responding verbally when her partner’s touch feels good.
If communication is key, how does a sex toy help a woman move past solo time to talking to her partner?
Sex toys give many women a better sense of their own bodies and what they enjoy. Masturbation with sex toys allows women to come to know themselves, as there are fewer barriers to an individual’s self-exploration.
Given the toys you provide are free or heavily discounted, how are you able to keep going financially?
This is something we were concerned about as well. Fortunately, people buy enough paid toys to support the free toy initiative. The best way to support us is to purchase any of our paid products. It’s a huge help to us and to those that are ordering free toys.
In May Sexy Liberation reached a milestone with giving away your 50,000th free sex toy. What’s next?
We are proud to say that we have now sent out over 70,000 free toys to 80 countries. Our main focus right now is getting sex toys into the Middle East. Many people don’t believe us, but there is a high demand for sex toys there. The difficulty is actually getting the toys into people’s hands without them being confiscated by customs first.
We are often shipping and then re-shipping toys several times before people actually receive them. We have a few ideas about how we could conceal the toys so that the rate of confiscation is much lower. There are a few logistical issues we’ll have to tweak first, but hopefully we can launch this initiative by mid-July.
Get your Sexy Liberation toys here!
Image via tumblr.com.
Comment: Do you think sex toys can close the orgasm gap?