In the same way that stereotypes hold women back in the workplace, they also hold women back in the bedroom. Prejudiced attitudes toward sexuality, unrealistic beauty standards, false assumptions about sexual health, and the continuing association of sex with reproduction have been shown to hinder sexual expression. But one brand is challenging this with an unapologetic campaign and encouraging women to show these stigmas the finger, quite literally.
The inclusive sex toy company Hot Octopuss recently launched a new ad campaign called Show Stigma The Finger, which was designed to tackle the common stereotypes keeping women from enjoying sex. “We believe the world would be a better place if everyone enjoyed healthier and happier sex lives,” the campaign statement reads. “The principal obstacles to that are the stigmas and taboos associated with sex and masturbation.”
It stars six activists of different ages, skin tones, abilities, and identities proudly displaying their middle fingers in the nude. Each ambassador has shared their own story of sexual oppression and why they’ve ultimately chosen to “show stigma the finger.”
“I’m sticking the middle finger up the misconception that disabled people don’t want, or can’t have, sex. Sexual pleasure is a basic human right! We all ways to be loved, we all crave a bit of intimacy from time to time and like it or not, disabled people are sexual beings,” says Mary.
Meanwhile, Emelle is sticking her middle finger up to homophobia. “I’m sticking my middle finger up to the misconception that gay women are only gay because they’ve not had sex with the ‘right guy.’ A lot of men thing lesbian sex is a joke and not proper sex – and that they can turn me,” she says. “I can’t be turned. For me, lesbian sex is exactly what I want physically and emotionally and it gives me the most sexual pleasure.”
As for Lori, it’s ageism. “I’m sticking my finger up to all those who think that being 55 years old means I’m passed my sexual prime. We’re constantly marginalized, especially when it comes to sex and dating. Pushed aside in favor of younger, perkier versions,” she says. “Older men are called eligible bachelors and silver foxes, while older women are dubbed old maids and spinsters.”
The other ambassadors are giving a fitting middle finger to transphobia, body shaming, racism and colorism. “The stars of the campaign are giving a fearless F–you to years of stereotypes that society has placed upon them. They’re standing up for anyone who’s ever been told they are too big, too old or not pretty enough to enjoy sex,” Julia Margo, co-founder and COO of Hot Octopuss, said in a statement. “It’s our responsibility to make sure these voices are not silenced.”
After being told the campaign was “too inappropriate” by media buyers, the company refused to take no for an answer. Partnering with multidisciplinary artist Aleksandra Karpowicz, the ads are displayed in New York City. It’s also gone viral on social media, with thousands of people sharing their personal stories of sexual oppression using the hashtag #ShowStigmaTheFinger.
But the campaign, which is tied to the launch of the company’s new gender-neutral finger (get it now?) sex toy, DiGiT, is doing more than causing a stir or starting a conversation; 10 percent of profits from the product will go to charities chosen by the campaign’s ambassadors, including the Human Rights Campaign, Little People of America, SAGE, Race Forward, Project HEAL, and National Center for Transgender Equality and Human Rights Campaign.
Now, that’s a sex toy anyone should be proud to own.