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Interview: Meg Smith – creator of sex-positive subscription boxes

Yay for inclusivity, confidence, and safety

By Jennifer Harrison March 3, 2016

It can be easy to hate the mail when all you receive are bills. That’s why we love subscription boxes that make the post so exciting you’ll be sitting at the letterbox in anticipation. There are subscriptions for coffees, books, cake, geeky collectibles, and DIY craft boxes. There seems to be no limit to what you can sign up to receive monthly. We recently got our hands on a unique subscription box that’s a little more risqué than others: Smutbox.

Inside the boxes there are lots of positive messages and an impressive mission statement: to give people confidence and to create a society where we can openly talk about sex and relationships. There’s an inclusive attitude and philosophy behind the whole project. We spoke to one of the creators, Meg Smith, about their goals and what it takes to deliver this type of service.

It’s obvious you aren’t just delivering sex toys. The boxes have more purpose than that. What would you say is the goal behind Smutboxes?

I think of the boxes as a vehicle for the message were trying to send, and the community we want to grow. The boxes themselves are fun and exciting and a great way for people to try more things and open themselves up to a slightly kinkier lifestyle, but most of all it’s about making sex more open and accepted.

How much of a problem is this?

Growing up I think we had maybe one sex education class the entire time I was in secondary school, and that just involved the science of reproduction and putting a condom on a banana. There was nothing there about the culture or realistic sides of sex. There was nothing in there about consent and boundaries, or about avoiding infections. Most of all though, sex was treated as a massive sin, something truly immoral. This meant when we all got to 15-16 and started having sex, girls were shamed as being easy or sluts, and yet boys were seen as “legends” and “heroes”. Boys can be naughty but girls must follow the rules, right?

In 2016 sex is still seen by so many as immoral or something to be secretive about. The dangers involved in sex all come down to not being safe, and people aren’t safe because of a lack of education and feeling powerless in situations. I have heard countless times of people not using protection because they didn’t want to ruin the moment, or because the man said no. If they say no, you have every right to hop off and go on your merry way home.

Is this just an educational thing then? Schools to blame?

It starts there but we are also fed up of seeing adverts and films all portraying sexy as exactly the same thing. A slim white female with big boobies and a muscular male with a deep tan and covered in baby oil. Girls are starving themselves for unobtainable bodies and boys are punishing themselves with constant workouts and protein shakes. What about those who don’t fit into these traditional gender or beauty stereotypes? Are they not capable of mind-blowing sex? Of course they are. We can all enjoy magnificent sex if we want it and our subscription boxes are supposed to cater to everyone.

Making a subscription box that’s inclusive is a good first step but what comes next?

One of the parts of the website I’m most excited about is our community page. We will feature reviews, unboxing videos, and have a forum to really encourage people to open up about sex. If we start taking this seriously, then perhaps we will start talking to our kids about it more. We will be able to challenge our government to make sex education about so much more than putting condoms on bananas. We want to give teens the opportunity to ask questions without feeling like they’re going to be punished. We will give the next generation the confidence to feel beautiful and empowered by their own bodies and minds.

The Smutboxes are a bit different from the subscriptions we’re used to. Have there been any unique challenges creating the service?

There have been many points on this journey where we wanted to quit. We originally wanted to crowdfund our first boxes, both to minimise the financial risk and gauge interest. That all went to absolute pot pretty quickly. Kickstarter had a number of rules which meant we couldn’t use their site. For starters they said it wasn’t allowed because all rewards have to have been produced by the project or its creators themselves so nothing can be resold. They said that rules out subscription boxes and that would be fair enough if it weren’t for the fact that Kickstarter has loads of other subscription boxes on there already!

Indiegogo’s rules were similar and we were also blocked for “pornographic material.” They say we couldn’t post images or videos that were sexually explicit. We weren’t exactly planning to embed Brazzers videos but their attitude severely limited what we could put in our campaign. The whole mission here is to make sex more accepted and we would have to hide much of what we’re doing. So screw you, I won’t censor myself for your website.

Then it came to trying to post ads on Facebook and Twitter. We can’t post “adult products of services (except for family planning and contraception)” so we tried to use just our logo for ads and even that wasn’t allowed. Our targeted ages for the ads were from 21-60 and included people who “liked” pages such as Ann Summers and 50 Shades of Grey, but heaven forbid those people are subjected to the word “smut.”

It’s such a positive product and goal but it sounds like you’re having to fight to make it a reality. Is it worth it?

It has been a bit of a mental drain so far and it’s only the beginning. These issues I’ve had all highlight the problem we want to solve. We don’t want sex to be something we are ashamed of and feel the need to censor and hide from our children. Sex is completely natural and a very large percentage of the population love it. The dangers from sex all come from a lack of education and censorship will never ever fix that.

You can learn more about Smutboxes at the website or on Twitter.


Main image © Smutbox

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