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Celebrating FemTech

Celebrating FemTech

Sex toys for women, designed by women? It makes sense doesn’t it?

There is a gender-based orgasm gap flying it’s flag strong in the wind. In hetero couples, it's no news that male partners finish a hell of a lot more than their female counterparts. Male sexuality and biology is arguably more understood and openly talked about in society than female (or non-binary) sexuality. For instance, ask anyone in your office/gym/favourite cafe the difference between a vulva and a vagina and I am 80% sure they will hesitate before answering - if they even get it right.

Despite many people still finding this topic of female sexuality a huge taboo, things are generally getting better (in our society at least). Social media, the fourth wave feminist movement and programs like Sex Education and Fleabag are making massive waves. Sexual liberation is becoming more linked with overall wellbeing, personal autonomy and happiness–as it should be. Taking all of this into consideration, you would be forgiven for thinking that a forward-thinking industry such as the Tech would have taken note of this particular cultural shift and be doing everything they can to pursue it. Picture it: these top tech. heads opening their doors up to innovations maximising female or non-binary pleasure and having an absolute blast whilst doing so. You would imagine that the FemTech (female-led technology companies) industry would be having a real moment right now; it's 2020 after all.

Yet, like countless other sectors, the Tech industry is dominated by male leaders. They are celebrated, propelled forward in their careers and recognised for their work. Female founders within this same market are not treated remotely equally. Male-focused toys or products are generally regarded as more socially acceptable than female-focused innovations: what a bore!

This bias begins at the very base level. Our founder, Ky Hoyle, recently studied levels of investment in female-led companies and start-ups:

“A 2017 report found that for every £1 raised through Venture Capital, 89p went to all-male founder teams; 10p to mixed-founders and just 1p to all-female founder teams.”

Further research suggested that funding appointed to companies with with at least one female founder was significantly lower than those without female founders, which is particularly shocking when female-founded and co-founded businesses tend to perform around 63% better than other companies.

Empowered Women, Empowering Women!

Speaking of which, Dame Products are responsible for one of our favourite toys in store. A company led by two amazing women, they are constantly striving to push the boundaries of magnifying female sexual pleasure and close the orgasm gap one orgasm at a time. The New York subway is a prime spot for advertising. Many an erectile dysfunction ad or a Viagra promotion is featured along its’ tiles. Yet, when Dame Products tried to feature their innocuous pebble-shaped vibrator with the slogan “You come first”, they were denied (see image below for a direct comparison, taken from Dame Products' site). In retaliation, Dame Products have had no choice but to sue the New York Transit Agency, the MTA. You can visit their site here to read more about their #derailsexism campaign and find out how you can support them!

Meanwhile, the notoriously sexist CES Innovation Awards made an absolute PR mess when doing what they do best last year. Yes, you guessed it, by being sexist. This event is a yearly celebration which, to quote their own website, "The CES Innovation Awards is an annual competition honouring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products". Historically, they have been critiqued for ignoring female tech founders and featuring exclusively male keynote speakers at the ceremonies.

CES highlighted their streak in displaying a bias against women when, last year, they reprised an award given to Lora DiCarlo’s phenomenal Osé. DiCarlo’s entry was a sex toy she designed that shows a huge development on gadgets optimising female sexual pleasure. Organisers, however, regarded the toy obscene–unlike the VR porn or sex robots that are regulars at the show.

Thankfully, social media is a monster and Twitter went off. PR pressure caused CES to relent and they ended up being forced to return the award to DiCarlo - how embarrassing. They have since officially announced the inclusion of SexTech on the floor, which considering the fact you can now buy a vibrator from your local supermarket, is surely a little slow for a "progressive" technological giant. Still, we hope they gave their PR team a bonus for this one as it is brilliant news!

Now, as we are swiftly nearing International Women’s Day (Sunday, 8 March), we thought it high time to throw a little light and recognition to the women of the FemTech and sexual pleasure industries. To do this, we've organised our very own Sheros season–that's Sh! heroes incase you didn't get it. Our favourite FemTech trailblazers and pleasure pioneers are featuring in a host of exciting events and an in-store exhibition! Keep your eyes peeled on our social media pages for announcements about these.

There's undoubtedly a huge way to go before we achieve inclusion and diversity within the sex tech. industry and beyond. We hope that our Sheros season will enlighten, inspire and educate. Sexual pleasure and autonomy is vital to womanhood of any expression and we hope to celebrate this over the next few weeks.

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