It’s March, which means one very important thing - it’s Women’s History Month!
In true WooWoo style, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by shining a light on some badass women (both historical, and current) who have opened up about all things female sexuality. Female sexuality is a topic that has been historically hush-hush but we’re so pleased to see and contribute to progression being made in this field.
Retailers are finally paying attention to the rise in women taking pleasure into their own hands. Gone are the days of feeling you need to be discreet ordering pleasure products, or popping into high street stores with an air of embarrassment looming over your head as people watch you walk out with your bag of good vibes. Fashion brands like Nasty Gal now stock vibrators and bondage tape. Retailers like Feel Unique and Boots have recognised the need for catering to the UK female population who now masturbate on average 2.5 times per week; Boots with their Sexual Pleasure & Wellbeing category, and Feel Unique with their Sexual Wellness category (where you will spot WooWoo, YAY)! The Feel Unique category was created after recognising a 115% increase in sex and wellness searches on its website.
Opening up about all things female sexuality
Discussions around female pleasure are opening up and normalising the realities of our sex lives. Podcasts like Broken Pussy Podcast discuss the good, the bad, and the downright nasty on sex - the truths we need to hear! The amazing gals at Come Curious have their F**ks Given podcast which gives an uncensored look at their guests’ sexual histories. Oloni's Laid Bare podcast is like a more informed and educational version of what you talk about after a few wines with your girlfriends. From asexuality, to squirt lessons, vaginismus and leaving porn - every topic is being talked about. And we're here for it.
A change in society is happening. We’re taking a step back from the cold studio pornography people have grown up with. It’s being replaced with sex through a normalised, lighthearted, loving lens - real. Apps like Ferly, Dipsea and Sunsette are creating adult audio and adult literature that are changing the way people access and think about porn. Come Curious are making waves with their educational erotic films like ‘Tips and Tricks for Lickin’ Clits’. It really is a time of change.
But how was it before?
Women’s pleasure has been written out of history. The clitoris has only recently started to be understood and acknowledged, we’re talking full discovery in 1998!
In the Victorian Era, mild hysteria AKA mood swings, anxiety and a bad temper was treated manually. The Victorians recommended treating these symptoms with the stimulation of the female sexual organs, by the hands of a doctor. This would result in a "paroxysm" or "fit" (an orgasm in the modern world). The mild hysteria would ease. Yup, orgasms are good for your personal wellness, as the Victorians came to find. When the electric vibrator was invented, it was as a medical device to invigorate the nervous system, benefit the complexion and scalp, and ease soreness. It continued to be marketed like this for decades.
The modern day version? In 2019, sex toy manufacturer LELO wrote an open letter to the Department of Health urging the NHS to prescribe masturbation to relieve the stresses of modern life and improve wellness.
"The function of pleasure is to make us feel good; and self-pleasure and masturbation can have positive benefits for our health in a variety of ways, including the release of the hormone oxytocin which can lower cortisol levels; getting to know our bodies better; and building sexual self-confidence.” - Sex Therapist, Kate Moyle.
So here are 5 women we’re thankful for that have helped made female sexual empowerment what it is today:
She basically declared the Hitachi Magic Wand was a sex toy. She declared it as an empowering feminist tool, to be used independently sexually, not to depend on a partner for an orgasm. It was a way of empowering women and freeing them.
The magic wand was marketed as a massager, but with a long handle and powerful head, people like Betty publicly sang its praises as a sex toy. She even used the Hitachi Magic Wand in private masturbation classes to help teach women how to stimulate their clitorises. This is when sex toys were frowned upon societally.
Venus Libido was banned from Instagram after reporting a man for his unsolicited dick pics. She decided to post screenshots of messages and images, censoring his genitals and username, to call attention to the harassment, and reported the account to Instagram. But she was left horrified when Instagram deleted her account instead, and silenced by the social media platform, telling Huffington Post: 'I've built my account up over two years, and it felt like it was being ripped away from me for speaking out.'
Follow her at @venuslibido
A victim of upskirting. She was shocked after discovering it was not an offence, after being targeted at a music festival where a man put his phone between her legs and took a picture. Upskirting is now a criminal offence in England and Wales following her campaign! Gina said: "To the outsider, the ordinary person, law and politics are complex and daunting. But both are penetrable if you believe in yourself and find the right support."
Follow her at @ginamartin
Founder and owner of The Cherry Revolution; an Award Nominated sexual wellness movement that aims to break societal norms surrounding women, identity and sexuality by making shameless pleasure a priority. All profits made go towards offering support and resources to Female Genital Mutilation survivors across the globe, ending period poverty, and funding other local and international educational/recreational programs. Africa explores themes like refusing to fake orgasms to stroke your partner's ego, the ethics of sexual pleasure and wellness, boundaries and expression.
An Australian Urologist who redefined female sexuality through groundbreaking research. When she read the book, Last's Anatomy in 1985, she read that female genitals were considered as a "failure" of male genital formation - she made it her personal mission to tackle it. Following her research, it was discovered that the clitoris wasn’t how previously described throughout history, “but spongy, shaped like a wishbone and up to four centimetres long under the pubic bone. Not only that, but this tissue is highly sensitive and becomes erect when aroused, just like the penis. This was later backed up in 2005 when O'Connell conducted MRIs on 10 living women, showing how incomplete and inaccurate textbook descriptions (and sketches) of the clitoris and female genitalia in general had been up until that point”.
To all the women mentioned, we thank you for the paths you’ve created, and still continue to create for societal change. However, we still have a lot of work to do. People still shudder at sex chat, and are quick to judge each others sexual experiences. In the tech world, a vibrator called the Ose was stripped of its innovation award and banned from exhibiting because the event organisers said, “it did not fit into an existing product category”. The device which was created to give women a blended orgasm (an orgasm reached through internal and clitoral stimulation) was called “immoral”, and “profane”. Yet at the same event were sex robots. Hmmm. Double standards?
Research shows that there is an orgasm gap: it’s estimated that 87 percent of heterosexual men will orgasm during intercourse with their partner, whereas only 49 percent of women do. Acceptance that women need more than penetrative stimulation will help to bridge this gap.
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