Nina Julie Lepique is convinced that women masturbate to their head cinema more often than to visual pornography. The whole hustle and bustle takes place in the imagination. Taking the idea further, in 2018 Lepique developed an adult audio platform called Femtasy. In an interview with stern, she talks about her reasons for founding the company, the prejudices she encountered and the differences between female and male masturbation.

Ms. Lepique, female desire is your business model – when you originally pitched the idea for an erotic audio platform to friends, family and investors, how was the response? Were there any prejudices or even negative objections? Femtasy was the world’s first streaming platform for erotic audio – and that’s why there were definitely one or two surprised looks. Nobody had heard of this concept before. On top of that, we’re all just “generation porn” and have been socialized with visual, male-targeted, free, mainstream porn. And then I came along and said: “Let’s do everything radically differently now.” The platform is completely female-centric, works with audio only (no, no video at all!), is ethically produced and deliberately designed in such a way that we distance ourselves from ideals of beauty, which are particularly important in porn. At the beginning of the founding journey, there was almost every reaction: from being smiled at and “Is that supposed to work?” to immediate enthusiasm and “Finally there is something like this!”.

How did you deal with the criticism? With a lot of resilience – and the awareness that people often react like this out of insecurity. Uncertainty, because sexuality – and especially masturbation, then also by women – is unfortunately still heavily stigmatized and taboo. Uncertainty about what her reaction now says about her own sexuality. And uncertainty about how to react to me – a young woman who was 23 or 24 at the time – who is declaring war on an entire industry. Today, audio eroticism is a well-established term and many people in Germany have heard of it. We played a leading role in driving and shaping this change towards a much more ethical, gender-equitable and healthier consumption of eroticism and porn, which makes me proud.

Why is masturbation still so frowned upon in society? Legacies from religion aside; Masturbation still poses some kind of threat to some people. We see time and time again that masturbation is still a critical issue, especially in relationships. Masturbation is often equated with a lack of satisfaction in sex life and is not seen as a “normal part” of the sexual repertoire. In general, sexual lust is still very shameful for many and in this context masturbation is the ultimate surrender of this lust – something that you really only do for yourself. Without expectation, without obligation, without transaction and 100 percent self-determined.

Men are considered to be more visually arousable than women, tend to look at porn, whereas women often masturbate to their head movies – do you have an explanation for this? This is actually found out again and again in studies, but finding an exact explanation for it is difficult . “Men are visual beings” is one that is often heard, but aren’t women also to a certain extent – at least in areas of life such as fashion, interior design or art?

But you yourself created audio eroticism for women without video – why? In my opinion, the conclusion comes from two directions: On the one hand, because women are much more under the pressure of being judged and pressured by ideals of beauty. Unfortunately, the confrontation with visual porn is often painful – because, honestly, who really looks like the women in the films? Audio is a wonderful solution to this problem, because when we describe the storyline, each listener can imagine who he or she likes. We also consciously distance ourselves from ideals of beauty, and the audios are “body-neutral” – meaning we focus on how our bodies make us feel rather than what they look like. On the other hand, a big problem is that the scenarios and dynamics in mainstream visual pornography are primarily designed for men, i.e. for the so-called “male gaze”. For me, the fact that women prefer to use their own mental cinema is a sign that there is a great desire for alternatives. We find this again in our own study: 50 percent of German women want a more creative form of sexual stimulation.

Beyond that, where is the biggest difference in female and male masturbation? The act itself is actually not that different. It’s often portrayed as women running a bath first, putting on some soft music and lighting a few candles before the action begins. That’s just not true in most cases. There are now some studies that show that women and men hardly differ in the duration and frequency of masturbation. And we see that with Femtasy too: There are users who only log in once a month and others who are there every day, sometimes several times a day.

Is the mood more important for women than the pure drive? I wouldn’t separate the two from each other and would rather say “Mood makes the drive!”. Women can also be overcome by a purely physical lust that seems to come out of nowhere and is purely physical, almost animalistic. And the more the mood is right, the smaller the distance to excitement. But what does mood even mean? They like to say “Foreplay begins when the last orgasm ends”. That means it’s not just the kiss on the neck that gets you going – depending on the love language, it’s the compliments, playing with your hair, little surprises, or proactive support with everyday tasks that lay the foundation for your lust in the lay everyday. These supposed little things are so elementary for female pleasure!

Masturbating to the enemy: many have imagined someone they really hate doing it – how do you explain this phenomenon? That’s what I love about our imagination – there are simply no limits. Better still, in our imagination we can play with our own limits. What we can see very clearly from the views: The fantasies people have often have nothing to do with what they would actually do in real life. A threesome is a super hot idea in your head, but it might make you jealous in real life. It’s the same with the enemy image: You can’t like someone in real life and still find them sexually attractive. So why not explore in the imagination? There’s also definitely some appeal in imagining that sexual attraction is so strong that it overshadows all conflict – perfect fodder for an explosive scenario!

Have you ever heard of stress masturbation and if so, what do you think? As long as it doesn’t become compulsive, I think any reason to masturbate is perfectly legitimate. Stress relief is one, many also masturbate to be able to fall asleep better. Masturbating has a calming effect and also releases cannabinoid-like substances. I’d say it’s better to masturbate than resort to other means, right?

What is the most popular audio format at Femtasy? Our “360 Audios”! This stands for 360 degrees, i.e. a spatial audio experience that borders on virtual reality. An innovative recording technique makes it possible to record the sounds and voices in such a way that they can later be heard from all directions. That means: headphones on and you’re right in the middle of the action – and the absolute main character. In a three-way fantasy, for example, you can hear two voices coming from two different directions, which is an absolutely immersive audio experience, which our users really like!