We chatted with Viv Kan and Emily Lola Tan, spokeswomen for Womanizer, a company making sleek, discreet intimate pleasure products with their patented Pleasure Air™ Technology. They launched a new range of products in Hong Kong in October.
Besides making waves in women’s (and more recently, men’s) self-pleasure product industry, Womanizer advocates for sex positivity and destigmatizing the discourse surrounding sex. In Hong Kong, some pin this stigma on lacking sex education, religion, and traditional Chinese culture.
We talked about the importance of clearing the cobwebs of negative ideas often associated with sex, how doing so could impact local culture, and the bigger impact of prioritizing your pleasure on mental and physical wellbeing.
Viv Kan is a mindfulness and intimacy coach for couples and corporates; the latter referring to sexual intimacy as well as the self-intimacy of coming into awareness of your own body.
#1 – Viv, how have you seen attitudes towards sex positivity (and women’s sexual empowerment in particular) evolve in recent years?
I’ve seen women become more open and comfortable speaking about sex positivity, especially after the #metoo movement. We’re normalizing the conversation, rather than suppressing our sexuality, which we often forget is a natural part of being a human.
#2 – You’ve talked about taking pleasure back and exploring it yourself with a toy. What role has this self-exploration played for you when being intimate with a partner?
Self-exploration has helped me discover what gives me pleasure and what turns me on, rather than solely focusing on a partner’s pleasure. It made me prioritize what I wanted in intimacy, instead of overthinking how I looked or felt the need to get to the destination. Orgasm is really not the end goal. When I slowed things down, I felt so much more open and at ease during intimacy.
#3 – You’ve emphasized the importance of incorporating pleasure rituals into daily life. What are your most treasured rituals for staying attuned to your body and desires?
Often times my pleasure rituals start beyond the bedroom. It’s things like moving my body freely to music I love, being aware of my sensations, enjoying fresh flowers at home – these are things that help prepare my mind and body for intimacy. I also love moisturizing my body and moving in front of the mirror and just enjoying myself or have my partner watch me!
Emily Lola Tan is a movement advocate, aerial art and pole acrobat, and general badass. She’s also on an ongoing journey battling cancer.
#4 – Emily, can you tell me more about the role self-pleasure and self-exploration played in feeling more like yourself when you were in a low point during your cancer treatment?
Physical exploration had always been a pursuit of mine – through martial arts, pole dance, aerial arts, sports, dance, parkour and movement. I only learned in my early 30s how these were my way of dealing with trauma and suspected ADHD.
The cancer diagnosis in 2018 forced me to look further inwards at health, not only from a movement and nutritional aspect but from aspects of mental, emotional and sexual wellness as well. Throughout five rounds of intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, I wanted to cover all bases in optimizing my chances of survival. I found help from an exercise physiologist, a functional medicine practitioner and for the first time in my life, clinical psychologists.
I had a hard time being intimate with my partner at the time and could not understand why. After talking to sexologist Sara Tang and being gifted my first ever pleasure toy (Womanizer), it sparked the pursuit for self-exploration and its direct relationship with self-pleasure. I spent years exploring myself with external influences and realized I neglected my internal care.
#5 – You’ve mentioned that you want to normalize talking about sex with your friends. Why do you think it’s important to do this?
I think if the topic of sex were normalized with friends, I would have learnt how to deal with hurtful situations better. I didn’t talk about my non-consensual sexual encounters with any friends when it happened during teenage years. (Editor’s note: If you are or have been a victim of sexual assault, Rainlily is a great resource for counselling, physical check-ups, and legal support.) There’s so much shame around that where society places more emphasis on the victims than the abusers.
Since the massive uptake in social media usage, sex education has become way more accessible in recent years. The fact that I’ve seen trams with Womanizer’s branding and that Hong Kong hosts Sex Expos annually already puts us in a better position than most conservative, Chinese-speaking nations. However, in comparison to other nations where sex education is taught in public schools at an elementary level, we still have a lot of work to do.
Educators like Sallys Toy’s founder Vera is doing amazing work for the Cantonese speaking demographic by hosting workshops and events. If more organizations can get behind sex positive advocates and educators like Vera, Sara Tang and Viv Kan, while offering academic courses for aspiring coaches, I believe it is only a matter of time until the topic of sex is going to be just as casual as talking about headline news at the dinner table.
#7 – What would be the effect of opening the topic of sex at an earlier age, say with teenagers?
Normalizing talking about sex, quite literally from perception, education and experience, opens up the possibility of helpful sex education from a very young age. Imagine a world where every young person is taught consent and pleasure, instead of shame and manipulation.
Empower parents with the tools to talk to their young ones, empower teachers with training in emotional intelligence because sex is a sensitive topic after all; an empathic human touch is what separates us from machines.
Viv Kan is the founder of Mindful Intimacy, empowering women and couples to amplify emotional and sexual satisfaction, and Kan Elevate, a corporate holistic wellness program, on top of being a certified yoga teacher.
Emily Lola Tan is a movement Renaissance woman, having touched aerial arts, pole acrobats, personal training, Mixed Martial Arts, and dance. Diagnosed with blood cancer in 2018, she is an avid advocate for conscious living.
Disclaimer: This article is written in partnership with Womanizer, a brand under WOW Tech. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The HK HUB.
Header image credits: WOW Tech