Hormonal birth control isn’t your only option. Yet, for many reasons, it seems to be the option most favorably promoted to women. Slipp, a “female-first” condom brand, is changing that. Simply put, we deserve to have more shame-free options when it comes to birth control.
I first came across Slipp on Instagram. I was captivated by the content I saw because it was honest, unfiltered, informative, and very relatable. The message that “safe sex is self-care,” stuck with me. I appreciated how conversations around sex and sexual health were happening on the page. I knew that I wanted to bring some of that conversation to the blog, so I slid into Slipp’s DMs and got in touch with Victoria, the founder of Slipp.
In our Q&A discussion, we chat about shame-free protection, setting boundaries, and consent. I’m excited for you to read along and join the convo!
Q: First, can you share a bit about yourself and Slipp?
A: My name is Victoria Lyons and I’m the Founder of Slipp Health – a “female-first” condom brand (not to be confused with ‘female condoms’!).
Our mission is to minimize the barriers that prevent women from buying/carrying/using condoms and help people feel in control of their reproductive health.
Our condoms are delivered discreetly to customers’ doors so they can avoid the awkward trip to the condom aisle; and developed with simple ingredients for optimal vaginal health.
Q: What inspired you to start Slipp?
A: I have personally sought out non-hormonal birth control methods and been frustrated with the lack of options on the market.
In doing so, I found condoms to be a great option: they are highly effective; they don’t come with the side effects of many other methods; and they’re pretty affordable (relatively speaking).
But I learned that women, in particular, feel awkward about condoms.
- 68% of women say they feel uncomfortable buying condoms
- 82% of sexually-active women say they don’t carry condoms with them
- And women are more likely than men to feel uncomfortable enforcing the use of a condom
On top of that, I felt like the condoms on the market weren’t speaking to women about their reproductive health concerns. So I decided to step in and try to fill that gap in the market.
Q: What have been some challenges and successes so far in starting your business?
A: Challenges: Where to begin?! There are so so so many components to starting a business. I think one of the hardest things is not knowing what you don’t know. There’s no guidebook to starting this specific business. So I’m constantly learning on the fly. The good part is that since there are so many challenges, there are lots of opportunities to overcome them and become more and more confident in my ability to do so.
Successes: I am honestly just so happy to have gotten this far! To have a physical product that I can see and touch is so exciting. I can’t wait for our upcoming launch and to continue to grow from here.
Q: Why do you believe there is such a stigma around condoms?
A: I think women, in particular, experience a stigma around buying/carrying condoms. There actually used to be a law that carrying condoms as a woman could be used as evidence of prostitution (crazy, I know).
There’s this notion that carrying condoms as a woman is promiscuous. Yet, when a man is carrying condoms they’re generally seen as responsible. I think the reasons for this are complex and deeply rooted in the history of gender inequality and purity culture.
I think it’s important to normalize women carrying condoms so that more of us can feel in control of our sexual health.
Q: When you say shame-free protection, what does that mean to you?
A: I think there should be no shame in taking care of your body, and no one should make you feel uncomfortable for enforcing the use of a condom.
Q: What would you say to women who are hesitant to carry condoms?
Personally, I think carrying condoms feels empowering. It sends a message that you’re in control of your sexual health and you care enough about your body to take care of it.
Q: According to Slipp’s page, women are more likely to feel uncomfortable enforcing the use of a condom. What advice would you have for women that may empower them to set boundaries in the bedroom?
A: Women – more than men – tend to have an ingrained belief that they should put their partner’s pleasure above their own wants/desires (you can thank the patriarchy for that!).
However, there are a few things that might help you feel more comfortable enforcing the use of a condom:
- Bringing your own condoms can help you feel more ownership over your contraceptive choice, making you feel more confident asserting your desire to use one.
- Keep them somewhere handy! Sometimes people tell me they think condoms “kill the mood.” But often that has to do with having to scramble to find one. If you keep them somewhere handy, you can seamlessly put one on with little interruption.
- Have conversations about contraception BEFORE you’re in the heat of the moment. Communication is key – so take the opportunity to discuss your contraceptive choices before you’re in the heat of the moment so that all parties are on the same page.
- Remind yourself that healthcare is self-care – safe sex included! You don’t want your sexual experience to be tainted with worry and fear after it’s over because you didn’t take the proper precautions. Sex is so much better when you feel safe, healthy, and protected!
Q: I believe that when we talk about sex, we also have to talk about consent. What misconceptions have you noticed around the conversation of consent?
For one, I think consent is more than saying “yes.” Consent is an enthusiastic yes, and should involve continuous feedback (in other words: you can change your mind at any time). For example, try saying things like, “is this ok?” “do you want to keep going?” etc. to check in with your partner over time.
Also, I don’t think there’s enough of a conversation about the importance of getting consent before having sex without protection. If you choose to not use protection, it’s important that both/all individuals are on board with that decision, and have clearly consented to it. Don’t assume your partner is on birth control, or that they’re okay with it. It should also be agreed upon each time you engage in sex.