It goes without saying that this year has been difficult. But if there’s one long overdue change to our collective cultural consciousness that has finally come to fruition, it has been the ongoing amplification of Black, trans and female voices in a society that has for far too long tried to suppress them.
“2020 will obviously go down as the year when we as a society decided to stop being passive observers in all matters of social injustice,” says Sara Kranjčec Jukić, Global Brand Manager of LELO, the world’s leading designer in luxury intimate lifestyle products.
Founded in 2002, LELO not only observed but has continued to actively challenge cultural taboos and a lack of education surrounding female pleasure, as they notably disrupted the intimate products realm. Working in an industry that has historically prioritized male pleasure, or even worse, censored female pleasure, LELO has been at the forefront of a movement calling for the celebration of female sexuality, rather than shame.
With that focus in mind, BlackBook teamed up with LELO and New York City gynecologist and vaginal surgeon, Dr. Amir Marashi, to present A Woman’s Right To Pleasure: a radical 270-page coffee table art book, featuring the works of over 75 the most influential female-identifying artists, writers, and creative thinkers to date, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin alongside photographs by the likes of Marilyn Minter, Nan Goldin, Cass Bird and Renee Cox, and emerging talent like Arvida Byström, Martine Gutierrez and Monica Kim Garza. Using female pleasure as a vessel for self-articulation and empowerment, the book depicts necessary narratives through various mediums, ranging from provocative personal essays to artworks that explore pleasure in all its subjective glory. Along with the book, BlackBook, Dr. Marashi and LELO will also host a digital exhibition via BlackBook Presents and an auction through a unique collaboration with artsy.net, the premier online gallery platform.
The project came to fruition as a result of our partnership with LELO, and their aligning ethos that sees female pleasure as a human right that should be celebrated. As we know all too well, pleasure, almost always, has been framed through a male-centric, heterosexual, white lens. Contrastingly, women’s pleasure, and pleasure in its countless other forms, have been historically oppressed and granted little visibility in the face of misogyny, misinformation and censorship—until now.
“Our society likes to put women on a pedestal,” observes Jukić. “We’re modest, we’re demure and pure, all of the things you would expect from a mother. The notion of women enjoying sex, taking pleasure from something so carnal, goes completely against that image… This will never change until the media starts to truly represent female pleasure, until we pull it from the tropes of bad TV where, apparently, it takes two thrusts in missionary for a woman to see stars.”
To combat the blatant lies propagated by mainstream media surrounding female pleasure, LELO has always prioritized education in their mindful marketing strategies. Through various campaigns, blogs, newsletters and even selectively choosing partnerships that understand their mission, they have become not only a dominating brand, but a loud, leading voice in the sexual wellness space. In fact, Playboy Magazine scribe Adrienne Sacks once wrote of LELO that, “liberated people can liberate others.” This quote is one that Jukić has kept close to heart. ”Education is power,” she stresses. “Education is the only way to remove the stigma from sexual pleasure and to demystify female pleasure. Education is the only way to get to the ultimate goal: sexual liberation.”
Beyond the business of selling high-end intimacy aids, LELO puts their emphasis on education into practice. The brand’s design procedures are extensively researched. From ideation, products are then modeled with sketches and clay, digitally 3D-rendered, the technology tested and the mechanics developed, before consumer testing stages even begin. And their dedicated clients are not the only ones benefiting from their meticulous and comprehensive process. Jukić notes, “Finding solutions to difficult design obstacles is an incredible amount of fun, and once you figure it out it’s really rewarding.”
On how women can take steps in their own lives to empower themselves and others around them, LELO highlights masturbation and physical self-exploration as an essential practice. In addition, the brand suggests that people should really take the time to get educated on the anatomy of their bodies.
“Don’t gloss over the details, don’t use the wrong terminology, don’t mix vulvas and vaginas, insist on proper representations of sex, insist on calling things by their name, insist on female creators expressing themselves fully,” urges Jukić. By fostering this stronger and deeper relationship with their own bodies, women can kindle a significantly greater sense of self-articulation, an ability to express their desires even beyond intimacy.
Join LELO and BlackBook in the battle for women’s sexual liberation in A Woman’s Right to Pleasure, available now. The book is also accompanied by an art exhibition on BlackBook Presents and in collaboration with Artsy.