The modern woman is no longer confined to the clasps of the kitchen, no longer a makeshift sewing extraordinaire and no longer has to discard a fruitful career to hand-rear her children. However, the ‘gender gap’ is still substantial in many aspects of a woman’s life, starting with, perhaps, the most organic of all- sexual gratification.
In a world where it is strange to consider a man not reaching climax, it is not an uncommon fact that many women have never orgasmed from sexual intercourse alone. In fact, only around 75% of women have. This statistical ordeal can be referred to as the ‘orgasm gap’, a term coined by author Laurie Mintz. Mintz says the number one factor when defining the ‘orgasm gap’ is “cultural ignorance of the clitoris”, a stigma that is still rife within the 21st century.
This is only emphasised by browsing chat forums such as, The Student Room, posing the question, ‘Am I the only girl who never cums during sex?’ One user says, “[I] never really expect to orgasm so it makes no difference”, and another, “Ugh, I actually just feel like never having sex again.” These disheartening statements seem to be the general consensus, with heterosexual women being the least likely to orgasm during sex at 65%. It is also apparent that many women are becoming immune to the idea that it is not necessary to feel sexual pleasure, however, certain ‘fierce feminist’s’ are striving to shift this attitude.
Victoria Parrott, or Vic as she refers to herself, rejected the potential controversies when creating her brand Naked Grapefruit, simply screwing them up and kicking them to the curb. Her main goal of “normalising female pleasure” through the creation of ‘First Base’: a bullet shaped, pretty purple, ten pattern vibrator, as well as a highly informative and witty website, also happens to go hand-in-hand with “fucking off the patriarchy” – another of her objectives.
“Naked grapefruit came about because I want to normalise female pleasure,” she told us. The “female-run and independent” online organisation introduces itself as a place to tackle taboos, as well as offer an unthreatening product, encouraging everyone to get educated in female satisfaction. “It’s really important that all genders understand because otherwise you’re just fighting a losing battle,” Vic said.
Feeling that there was a gap in the market, as well as a gap in orgasm statistics, Vic filled the demand for a sex toy starting point, “[I] noticed that female pleasure wasn’t part of the conversation and it wasn’t part of the topic,” the 25-year-old told us. “[I] wanted to change that and started noticing within the industry there was no safe space for women.”
Having been based in London for a year-and-a-half, Vic discovered a newfound passion in Naked Grapefruit, that has now transformed into a full-time career. The driving force behind the project is bringing to market a product for females, made by females.
“One of the big things that I noticed was that within the industry there are lots of companies that say they are progressive, but when you look into them you see that they’re driven by certain ideals and expectations.” Vic feels it is important for a female mind to be behind the production of pleasure products: “I don’t want to name any brands in particular, but you find that they’re from a male gaze and their expectation of what female pleasure is and how women masturbate, rather than reality of it.”
The objective of Naked Grapefruit is not solely based upon the element of “male gaze”, like most things in society, but is, too, focused on creating a product for the younger generation. “I also just wanted to create something that younger people had a bit more of an affinity to, because I think there’s a bit of a detachment when it comes to sex toy companies.”
Vic admits that “when I first tried to buy a sex toy I was just completely overwhelmed by the choices. You know there’s 20-inch dildos and what not, which I think can be very off-putting and quite scary and that’s why I want to bring to market something that wasn’t intimidating.”
And last but not least, Vic also wanted to establish an environmentally-friendly product and a sustainable business plan: “[I wanted to] create a platform that is more sustainable and ethical, people before profits.”
She also explains some of the science behind the product: “Essentially because sex toys aren’t spoken about very often, the regulations in the industry are quite behind; meaning lots of toys are made out of plastics that contain toxins called phthalates.” These are used within plastic products to increase their flexibility, durability and transparency. However, in some cases products containing the toxin have been known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
Many women are using phthalate-based products to sexually stimulate themselves, which in turn can be potentially harmful to their reproductive organs. “I wanted to bring a toy to market that was made with silicone because that isn’t toxic,” Vic said. What more could you want from a sex toy company?
As highlighted by the forums, many women are clearly reaching out into the online abyss to try and solve their sex-based mysteries. However, even before the conception of the ‘First Base’ product, Naked Grapefruit’s online presence acted as a safe-space for women to get accustomed to understanding their own bodies.
“I didn’t initially start it with the aim of selling products, it was more a place where I could post empowering information and help people to understand.” Vic says the product felt like the most obvious next step: “As I was doing more research and finding out stats about clitoral stimulation, it made sense to bring to market a toy that would help women explore themselves.”
With plenty of humorous and charming online blog posts, addressing issues such as, “A bit about the clit (fun facts),” and emails filling her inbox, Vic and Naked Grapefruit act as a sort of ‘agony aunt’ for female sexual queries. “When I started doing it, I got lots of emails from people who were struggling to orgasm and wanted to know if it was weird that they couldn’t,” Vic says. “I think a lot of girls out there don’t understand that most of the time women need clitoral stimulation.”
Vic blames this lack of knowledge on the ‘sexpectations’ the film industry imposes on young women. “Growing up, in lots of films we are shown a heterosexual couple having penetrative sex and the girl usually orgasms from this alone. Lots of girls watch that and then think that there is something wrong with them that they can’t and half the reason for that is why they’ll be faking orgasms.”
So far, Vic hasn’t faced many hurdles in relation to Naked Grapefruit, however, as expected any judgement has sprung from a lack of understanding of her goal: “[I] think to be honest it’s been mainly from the slightly older generation,” she told us.
“When I first told my parents about it they weren’t quite sure how to take it, but they see the educational blogs and posts that I’m doing and I think you start to understand why sex toys are quite important,” she says with a small laugh. However, Vic holds the sex toy industry accountable for this, “usually [sex toys] are delivered in discrete packaging and you’re made to feel quite embarrassed about it and I don’t think that should be the case.”
Even though sex is a touchy subject within society, in particular with the notoriously prudish Brits, Vic feels that these taboos need to be demolished, so is outwardly bold with her advertising. “When I’m flyering, people are immediately shocked by the way we are portraying it, but then I think once people look on the site and start reading the leaflets, they kind of get it.”
This unashamedly loud advertising style is what seems to be drawing attention to Naked Grapefruit. Everyday Instagram users are adding pictures of her bright orange and pink slogan: ‘We cum in peace. So should you,” stencilled onto the pavement. “I think you need to shock people into feeling more comfortable with this kind of thing.”
In the future, due to organisations such as Naked Grapefruit, positive and pleasurable sex for women will eventually become the norm, Vic says, “obviously throughout history women have been oppressed sexually and I think unfortunately that’s all filtered into society today.”
But taking on this battle is like pulling at string, the more women that are knowledgeable the faster the string untangles. “I think it links to body positivity and self-confidence, feeling confident being able to say what you like and know what you like is how we can solve it,” Vic said.
“It all comes down to the idea that in cis heterosexual relationships, a man is central to a woman’s pleasure, but I think there just hasn’t been enough education around women being able to enjoy themselves.” And this “education” is how to unravel the patriarchy one sex toy at a time.
Featured image by Victoria Parrott