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If a woman tells you she has had an orgasm, you shouldn’t trust her. Instead, you should hook her up to an algorithm to see if she’s a big old faker.
This seems to be the not-so-subtle suggestion from a group of five men working in sex tech, who claim to have developed an algorithm that can “validate an authentic female orgasm”.
The tech, designed by a company called Relida Limited, will supposedly help sex toy creators make better sex toys by monitoring a woman’s heartbeat.
The theory, they say, is that an accelerated heartbeat can show that a woman has truly orgasmed – never mind the fact an accelerated heartbeat could signify a number of things, including fear or stress.
According to the designers, “so far there is no evidence and proof of female orgasm” and “there is no reliable way to be sure if a woman has an orgasm”. Asking us, apparently, does not count.
Stu Nugent, a brand manager for the pleasure brand Lelo, was pitched the algorithm, and shared images of the presentation on Twitter. Nugent says he’s used to receiving unsolicited pitches weekly through LinkedIn, but says: “I have never received anything as egregious as this.”
“I was stunned,” he tells HuffPost UK. “I had to do some background to make sure it wasn’t a prank, and having discovered it to be absolutely, unashamedly real, I would have much rather it had been fake.”
In Nugent’s opinion, the pitch has “no redeeming features”.
“Why is ‘female orgasm’ written in a different font, like it was copied and pasted from Wikipedia?” he asks. “Why did they make up the statistic that ’26-74%’ of women have faked an orgasm? Why are there snails [on the presentation]? Why, and I feel I can’t stress this enough, are there snails?”
Nugent says he’s offended by the attitude these pitchers have towards women’s orgasms, but wants to hand the mic over to women to explain why the pitch is so wrong (good man).
Ti Chang, co-founder of sex tech company Crave, described the “male-dacity” of the pitch as “insulting”.
“Women don’t need this kind of male saviorism, we’re orgasming just fine without you.”
“The premise of their startup is to determine if a woman has actually had an orgasm, because they don’t believe women know their own bodies well enough to determine if they have had an orgasm,” Chang tells HuffPost UK. “They also don’t believe there is scientific proof of the female orgasm. I feel like I’m talking to a flat-earther.”
Chang would like to ask the algorithm designers why they are “trying to fix something that is not broken”.
“A common downfall of many startups is to create solutions for problems that don’t exist,” she adds. “Women don’t need this kind of male saviorism, we’re orgasming just fine without you. Lastly, only boys would reduce a woman’s pleasure to an orgasm.”
Women on Twitter also had a lot to say on the matter.
Nugent says he’s also offended by the “callousness of the attitude it takes towards the pleasure industry as a whole”.
“Charlatans like this think our industry is an easy win, a quick buck,” he says. “They believe they can easily monetise people’s sexuality. I’m proud to say that the huge response to my original tweet proved that attitude wrong. We’re tired of our sexualities being commodified by idiots.”
In response to its critics, Relida Limited issued a statement on its website, which it also sent to HuffPost UK. “There is a tweet describing us in a twisted, very wrong and insulting way,” it read. “That’s why we decided to clarify ourselves.”
It shared five points, including: “Yes, an orgasm may be identified with heart rate, as it has a specific pattern when climaxing”. The statement continued: “We never wanted to sell this algorithm directly to women or men. Indeed, this is a sensitive subject and information that could create additional pressure on women. We just want our algorithm to be used as a testing way for companies developing new products for women’s pleasure.”
On 12 June, HuffPost UK noticed Relida Limited had added to the statement on its website. It added: “The creator of this algorithm is a woman looking for the wellbeing of other women.”