If you're new here, hi! We're Slipp - a sexual health brand with a mission of normalizing women carrying condoms in an effort to improve reproductive health.
Today is launch day. It's been nearly 2 years since I started working on this endeavor. After a lot of research, testing the market, crowdfunding, and family & friends' support - we've brought Slipp to market.
For me, it's been 2 years. But from an outside perspective, this is only day one. For that reason I wanted to take a step back and reflect on why I started Slipp in the first place, and what we want the future of sexual health to look like.
It's not just about condoms.
A few weeks before I came up with the idea for Slipp, I was sitting around a table with a group of guys I barely knew. Somehow the conversation had drifted to the topic of sex, and these guys were talking about how they refuse to use condoms.
"If I feel like I have to use a condom with a girl, I wouldn't be having sex with her in the first place."
This annoyed the hell out of me. As a woman who chooses to rely on condoms as a method of birth control (one of the few non-hormonal options), I hated hearing this group of guys suggest that using a condom or not would be up to them and them only.
The reality is, women have a lot more at stake when it comes to sex. Biologically speaking, vulva-owners are more prone to irritation and/or infection. If we're faced with an unplanned pregnancy, we bear the physical responsibility of either giving birth or going through an abortion (and access to safe abortion is at risk as we speak). We have the option of hormonal birth control, but for some of us, the uncomfortable side effects aren't worth it.
So where on earth do the men who were sitting around the table that day get the audacity to decide it's their choice whether or not they use protection?
Maybe it's because condoms are primarily considered male birth control. External condoms are known as "male condoms." But in the case of heterosexual sex, isn't it equally (if not more) important to the vagina-owner what is going inside their body?
The condoms we have been seeing on the shelf speak directly to men. They're trying to convince men "it's like wearing nothing at all." They're perpetuating this idea that the most important part of heterosexual sex is male pleasure.
The minimization of female pleasure.
The more I started diving into the sexual health space, the more I started learning about the orgasm gap, and how straight females experience the least amount of sexual pleasure.*
It made me think about the times I was afraid to enforce the use of a condom because I thought it would mean asking my male partner to sacrifice his pleasure for my comfort. Why did I think his pleasure was more important than my health and safety? Let alone, my pleasure?
It turns out this is a typical part of the straight female experience. Many of us have this deeply engrained belief that our pleasure is not as important as our male counterparts.
Bringing it back to Slipp...
Once I started diving into market research, I learned that I wasn't alone in my experiences. Over 80% of the straight female-identifying surveyees admitted that they don't carry condoms with them. Almost 70% said they feel awkward buying condoms. And many of them said they've felt uncomfortable enforcing the use of them.
I wanted to create a condom brand that I, personally, could resonate with. I wanted a brand that would care about my health and my pleasure. That I could purchase discreetly online to avoid the condom aisle.
And at the same time, I wanted to spread the word about what I was learning. I want women to start reclaiming their right to safer sex AND their right to pleasure.
I want condoms to not be embarrassing. Particularly for straight women. There's this double standard that when a woman carries condoms she's promiscuous or 'always ready for sex.' Meanwhile, when a man carries condoms he's generally seen as responsible. I think we should acknowledge that women who carry condoms are simply practicing self-care for their body.
There is so much room for improvement in the sexual health space. Many of us face embarrassment, trauma, shame, and discomfort throughout our sexual lives. That needs to change.
I hope you can feel comfortable embracing your right to safer sex and your right to pleasure. I hope you can communicate with any sexual partner(s) you have about consent, mutual pleasure, and contraceptive options. Whether you use condoms or not, we're glad you're here to learn and grow with us. Thank you so much for your support!
- Victoria Lyons,
Founder of Slipp.
* Based on a 2017 study among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-0939-z