THE SEXUAL STIGMA
As a part of my job, I’m often approached to engage in sponsored posts. You’re probably well versed with how this whole blogging things works, but as a quick refresher, this is basically when a company asks a blogger to share their products/events/brand in a natural and engaging way. It’s also how the majority of bloggers make a living.
That being said, you have to be very selective about who you work with and what you promote. If my livelihood is my image and my words, I have to be sure that whatever I’m aligning those with is not going to be detrimental to how my readers and audience view me. For example, you’ll never see me promoting a skinny tea, because I don’t believe in faddy diets and I don’t believe in telling my audience that they aren’t good enough the way that they are.
This is something I consider every time a brand approaches me. That’s why, when SmileMakers approached me a few weeks ago, I was a little apprehensive. Vibrators, orgasms and lubes - okay, they are hardly topics I haven’t touched upon before, but the harsh reality is that overt female sexuality doesn’t win big jobs. A lot of brands want bloggers to be vanilla in order to appeal to the widest audience possible - to sell everything from face creams to merchandise and co-written books.
I’ve never aspired to fit into this mould, but I also didn’t want to damage the potential for future work.
And then it clicked. This stigma - this misrepresentation of female sexuality as in someway incompatible with serious business acumen or as something that should be kept strictly private - is the exact reason why I should work with SmileMakers. This is a brand that champions the female orgasm, whose mission is simply this: ‘to erase taboos around women’s sexual pleasure by uniting positive, fun, and inspiring women everywhere…to normalise sexual wellbeing products and reframe them as a natural and healthy part of life and beauty care’.
Female sexual pleasure is a taboo. We are told to appear sexy for the admiration of others, but to reserve our own sexuality for a select few. Have you ever heard the key and lock analogy? It goes along the lines of ‘a key that opens a lot of locks is a good key, but a lock that is opened by a lot of keys is a bad lock’. If you didn’t guess it, your vagina is the lock, and if you don’t keep it secure like the precious flower it is, then you’re not a good woman. Keys are supposed to open locks, that’s their function, but locks, on the other hand, are supposed to stay secure.
But this is quite obviously bullshit. My sexuality is not a piece of metal, my sexuality is complex and beautiful and frankly, liberating. And key to me being open and honest and proud of my sexuality is knowing my orgasm. I'm a keen believer in the fact that you can’t expect somebody else to please you if you don’t even know what pleases you.
SmileMakers want to help women on this journey by promoting personal massagers (or vibrators, if you’re old school) as a normal, natural and healthy part of life. Having spoken to close to 10,000 women, they found that whilst 20-50% had used a massager, 60-90% were open to buying one. So what’s stopping them? Is it the sideway glances as you walk into your local Ann Summers? The fear that peers will see them as dirty? The potential disdain of a partner?
Because why wouldn’t we want to orgasm more? Sexual wellbeing is heavily linked to a happier, healthier life. When we experience sexual pleasure, endorphins and oxytocin are released in our bodies and we feel euphoric and more relaxed, not to mention the fact that regular orgasms improve both mental and physical health in the long run. And, I hate to repeat myself, but self-pleasure will inevitably improve your sex life with current or future pleasures. You get to know what turns you on, what you like, what you don’t like, and most importantly, how you would like it.
I lost my virginity when I was 18. For a long time, I thought I couldn’t orgasm. This is because I didn’t really know how the female orgasm came about, thanks to misrepresentations of women reaching climax through penetrative sex only, the power of the big ‘O’ being placed altogether in the hands of a partner, rather than with a woman herself. (As a side note, can we all agree that TV and film representations of sex are bullshit? I’m never more annoyed than when I see a liaison with no foreplay and no lube, and yet an instant entry and mutual orgasm. PUR-LEASE.)
The reality is that a minority of women orgasm through P-in-V sex alone, and you want to know why? Because our vaginas aren’t built that way. Nearly all of our nerve endings are in the clitoris - with some lurking around in the cervix too - but there are almost none in the barrel of the vagina. Almost none! Did you also know that the clitoris has eight time the amount of nerve endings that can be found in the head of the penis? And yet we pay so little attention to our sexual hotspot, or at least we don’t admit it.
KNOWLEDGE = PLEASURE
I can be a writer, a clothes horse, my own accountant, my own manager, a lover of adult cartoons, a regular, on-time rent payer, a candle connoisseur, a vegetarian, an English Lit grad and a woman who enjoys her own orgasms all in one. Knowing your own sexuality and being ‘respectable’ are not mutually exclusive. I can have gravitas in a board room and be fulfilled downstairs all in the same body. Female sexual pleasure is not something to be shy about - embrace it, explore it, announce it - you’ll certainly find yourself more fulfilled than before.
If you’re shy about personal massagers, then consider trying SmileMakers. Their approach is both liberating and humorous, with each vibrator boasting it’s own identity and purpose. Will you spend the evening with The Fireman? Or will The Frenchman be courting you today? The packaging is millennial af and aesthetically pleasing, and the iconic smiley faces on each of the products reminds you that female sexuality doesn’t have to be intimidating, it can be light-hearted, and, well, most of all, lead to a very big smile.