Sophie and Alice Holloway should have no trouble drawing a crowd when they show up at Cambridge University’s “Freshers Week” for first-year students next week.
They won’t be there to learn, but to teach. And their mission? To educate young women about orgasms and encourage them to “think differently about how women are treated in the bedroom.”
The London-based sisters are the founders of Holloway Smith Noir, a line of luxury pleasure accessories (shown above) sold through lingerie retailer Coco De Mer, as well as the diffusion line Gigi Noir sold on ASOS.
And, not surprisingly, they are both fearless and uninhibited when it comes to spreading their gospel of pleasure-based sex and “sexually empowered relationships.”
To do so, they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign called “Ladies Come First” to help pay for a 10-page “Guide To The Female Orgasm”, a “manifesto for sexual pleasure” aimed at university-age women. They’ll be distributing it at Cambridge next week and at Birmingham and Royal Holloway’s sexual health awareness week in November.
Sophie, 27, and Alice, 29, call themselves “Mistresses of Teasewear” and say they developed the orgasm ed project after listening to customers “calling out for more information and empowerment in their sexuality.”
“They wanted great sex, and all the relationship benefits that come with that,” they wrote in their Indiegogo fundraising pitch.
The Ladies Come First campaign is especially timely, they say, because younger women today are beginning their sexual journeys in an environment poisoned by threats of campus date rape, online bullying, and widespread slut-shaming.
And many women enter college ill-informed about female pleasure, partly because of gaps in school-based education: the national curriculum addresses biology and sexual health, but not pleasure, and parents can withdraw their children from sex-ed classes if they choose. As a result, Sophie said, women are still learning about the intricacies of orgasms the old-fashioned way (from Cosmo and Sex and the City) and are unfamiliar with the feminist principle of “pleasure entitlement.”
“All the hard work done by feminists and scientists to prove that women can, do and should enjoy sex does not seem to be benefitting younger generations,” they said.
“We have Ann Summers parties, which opened up conversations around female masturbation and vibrators, but it’s still fairly taboo to talk openly about sex, unfortunately.”
The sisters plan to republish the Ladies Come First guide yearly, incorporating feedback from students as well as new research information, and eventually to distribute the guide to all UK universities. You can support their campaign here.
Lingerie Talk asked Sophie and Alice to tell us more about Ladies Come First and why women need to be educated about orgasms. Here’s their report:
Why Women Need To Be Educated About Orgasms
By Alice Holloway, Holloway Smith Noir
There are two reasons why women wear lingerie (fine, there are infinite reasons, but give me the benefit of the doubt):
The first and most important is to feel good. Something about the silkiness/laciness/see-throughness, the secretness, the body-enhancing, kaboom-here-I-am-ness of a good pair of pants and a decent thrust-them-up-to-your-chin bra that instantly puts a spring in your step and a little knowing smirk on your face.
The second is more deeply hardwired into our DNA. It’s something we may or may not be totally aware of and it’s a mixture of many wonderful things — relaxation, stress relief, intimacy, physical bliss. It’s an orgasm.
No, not your orgasm, gents. We want one all our very own. We want it to start trembling in our inner thighs, shoot sparks through our lady flower, and then burst into fire all over our body and mind like the death of a star sending shockwaves through an entire galaxy (yes, that’s why we have the Supernova tassels). Putting on lingerie, hopefully at least sometimes, is one of the first steps of anticipation towards this mind-altering event.
But the sad truth is that many women will be disappointed. The number of women who experience orgasm during sexual intercourse sits, according to research, at about 30%. This may well have something to do with the most commonly held idea of sex — ie., that it primarily involves penetration of the woman, which isn’t actually the best idea for stimulating the clitoris. And the clitoris is the key to the female orgasm.
Of course, everyone knows that, right? Well if they do, then the problem is even worse than we thought, because that means that 70% of partners know what to do, and they just aren’t doing it. Perhaps they think the female orgasm is not important, perhaps they tried and didn’t get anywhere (quickly enough) so they gave up.
However we try to explain the problem, the time for speculation has passed. The time for education is here.
Ladies Come First (our sexual responsibility campaign) is printing a ‘Guide to The Female Orgasm’ to distribute at universities during Freshers Week. Getting straight in there during those first few weeks of freedom and discovery, before all the drinking society shenanigans kick in.
The guide isn’t a box-ticking, 5-steps-to-a-female-orgasm kind of affair. Sure, it has some helpful info about what and where the orgasm really is. But mostly it’s a manifesto for female pleasure. It’s a marker in the sand about what women should be able to experience during sexual experiences — relaxation, stress relief, more relaxation, intimacy, physical bliss.
We hope it will give young women permission to expect more than an unwanted grope from their peers, to be part of the exploration and the experience. Eventually we want to build an argument that pleasure-based sex education is necessary in schools, but you’ll have to keep watching to see when we achieve that massive goal.
For the time being you can find our crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds and community to print the guide, with a ton more information on our campaign here.