A nice Jewish girl's naughty secret

November 24, 2016 23:21

It's not the kind of conversation you normally have over the Friday night dinner table. I could have been anything - a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant. And here I am, with my lovely family, telling them that I want to run an erotica empire.

There was a deafening silence in the room. I could hear cutlery scraping against plates. My brother had his heads in his hands, laughing, thinking it was the funniest thing in the world.

"Grandmother, do you know what a threesome is?" he said. I wanted to die on the spot. Someone cleared their throat. All I could do was look down at my latkes, wondering what on earth I was doing.

Moments before, I had revealed to my family that I planned to launch the world's first sex magazine for women. A 'naughtier big sister' to my current site, About Time, the magazine would be a sex-positive female voice on the internet, a place where female desire is celebrated, encouraged and explored.

But why? For one, the analytics spoke for themselves: people wanted to read about sex. In the eight months of running About Time, a food, travel and lifestyle magazine, I worked out that 30 per cent of our search traffic came from the words orgasm, masturbation and virgin alone. We were getting 65,000 monthly users, and I reckon about half of them were female, feminist and desperate for advice on their sex lives.

Secondly, because there was nothing like it. As a woman in London - Jewish or not - where do you go for ideas, instruction and inspiration around sex? There's no platform that allows for women's sex lives to be openly discussed, no place where female sexuality is positively encouraged.

We don't need American celebrity Lena Dunham to tell us that feminism is cool again. A new generation of empowered young women is developing, and we need a forum for women to express themselves.

It's incredible in the 21st Century that there's still prudishness towards the topic - which is why we called it About F**ING Time. Because it really is.

I took a punt. I found an editor for the sex site, and we got to work creating the most beautiful, honest and engaging platform possible.

Finding a team to get behind it was easier than suspected. Every month, About Time hosts #SETSessions, where we invite aspiring journalists from Twitter to gain one-day's work experience in a magazine environment.

With almost 50,000 followers, we filled the spots quickly. Of course, what the attendees didn't know before this October date, was that they were actually taking part in a day researching, writing and discussing sex content in London. We shut the doors, we cracked out the breakfast cereal and revealed the truth. We wondered whether they would all storm out. But what took place was one of the most uplifting, encouraging, awe-inspiringly beautiful days of my life. By the end of the day, these total strangers were talking about sexual desires, problems they'd faced and toys they'd tried. It was like a girls' common room at school - in the best way possible. We learnt that women do want to talk about sex, they just need the space in which to do it. It confirmed all our doubts about the project and proved to us that we simply had no choice. It had to be done.

AFT Magazine launched last month and I'm proud, but not wholly surprised, to confess that we've had almost 52,000 users since launch day, with more comments, interaction and positive praise that I could have ever imagined. In week one, we were featured in Time Out as one of the A-Z of Sex in London. In week two, I was getting emails asking for advice from men about their girlfriends' desires. In week three, we hired an agony aunt.

My family's response was only to be expected. There is a risk in associating yourself with sex. As we all learnt it at school, sex is a tie that is hard to break. Too much snogging by the bike shed can lead to a lifelong reputation. My family were worried I would ruin my chance of "serious" journalism, that I might never get commissioned by the Jewish Chronicle.

Ha! Personally, I was worried that my boyfriend, who comes from an orthodox background and keeps kosher, might be ashamed to take me home. I shouldn't have worried. Mainly because we never showed his family.

As I told them, just because you run a business, doesn't mean you are a business.

Do people think Jacqueline Gold is promiscuous because she runs Ann Summers? Of course not. Would a man be chastised for promoting sexuality? Unlikely. It certainly doesn't help that I'm a 23-year old girl running such a publication, but neither does that make me a sex icon either.

There is a remarkable silence around female sexuality, especially in the Jewish world. For feminism to truly happen, we need equality in the bedroom as well as the boardroom - and we must wake up to the new wave of empowered young women in London. I'm hosting a talk with World Jewish Relief in February to discuss sexuality in the Jewish community. We're thinking of calling it 50 Shades of Jew. Join me and find out what the product of three months work, 35 total strangers, many late nights and open dialogue can lead to.

I never really intended to start a business. I'm terrible at keeping receipts and the only business plan I have says "people like photos of cake". But sometimes you fall into things and you wonder what life was like before.

November 24, 2016 23:21

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