The biggest takeaway I had from my FLASH (Family Life and Sexual Health) classes back in elementary and middle school was that most people don’t like publically discussing sex. It makes them very… uncomfortable. And. Awkward. These women I’m going to spotlight, however, not only are talking about sex, they’re changing up the sex industry- and the public is taking note.
1. Mona Chalabi
I stumbled upon Mona Chalabi recently when reading an article entitled “The Coolest Person on Instagram Right Now… Is a British Data Analyst.” Chalabi is not any old data analyst, however. She runs an Emmy-nominated web series for The Guardian entitled “Vagina Dispatches” which uses stats to uncover lesser discussed issues surrounding women’s sexual health, like the orgasm gap. Chalabi is also working on a new podcast called “Strange Bird” that will examine statistical outliers.
2. Polly Rodriguez
Polly Rodriguez’s journey into the sex industry began when she went to buy a vibrator after colon cancer left her menopausal at age 21. In an interview with Refinery29, she described it “awful”: “I walked in, and there were just a bunch of older men looking at magazines, and pink phallic products everywhere. So I turned around and walked right back out.” The experience led her to aspire to a better sex-toy shopping experience for women which became the impetus for Unbound, the subscription-based sex toy company she later co-founded. The company is dedicated to catering to individual’s needs and women’s sexual health. Rodriguez also is the co-founder of tech collective Women of Sextech and was recently named one of “6 Women in STEM to Watch Out For 2018” for the amount of capital she’s raised for Unbound’s sexual wellness app.
3. Eileen Kelly
I actually stumbled upon Eileen Kelly’s Instagram (@killerandasweetthang) years ago since we’re both around the same age and from Seattle. When I checked back up on her, she’d risen to over 400 thousand followers and is now a widely-known sex educator who has been featured everywhere from the New York Times to Cosmopolitan. Her blog “Birds&Bees” is an online forum dedicated to “redefining the talk” where girls can post questions about sex and receive feedback from the community. It also features articles from Kelly herself like “Taboo-Free Vaginas.”
4. Lux Alptraum
Lux Alptraum first made waves when she became the CEO of Fleshbot, one of the leading porn blogs. As an Ivy-educated, young, queer female, Alptraum certainly didn’t fit the stereotypical description of a CEO in porn. Alptraum has since stepped down from the role, but she continues to be active as an avid writer, consultant, and speaker at conferences and panels across the country on topics ranging “from puberty and pregnancy to healthy sexuality in the age of internet porn.”
5. Emily Rothman
If you read the New York Times recent hit article “What Teenagers Are Learning from Online Porn”, you’ve heard of Emily Rothman. Rothman is an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health and one of several women who founded Porn Literacy, an innovative curriculum currently being piloted in Boston. The curriculum addresses the reality that many teens watch porn and thus teaches them to effectively analyze its messages.
Cover Photo via Refinery29