What if I told you that you could rent a clean, private space that included a couch, a desk, free Wi-Fi, possibly a bed, and maybe a shower for $20 an hour? What is the first thing you’d think of using that space for? Sex.
The founders of Breather, a new app that connects city-dwellers in Montreal and NYC to available spaces with the above amenities, believe their technology is being used by hip, urban, mobile-workforce folks who just need to “take refuge from the daily grind” and experience “the perfect time-out experience.” You know what I imagine many of their clients are really doing in those rooms? Having sex.
And yet on the FAQ page of Breather, the founders admonish us to get our “minds out of the gutters” because they’re not “that kind of place.” Even though the company wants to create a temporary home or office for you, you're not supposed to be doing the one thing that many of us do in our homes, and quite a few of us do in our offices.
Breather's prudish response may not seem like a big deal, but it's actually endemic of the rampant sex-negativity of the VC-funded startup scene. Despite the fact that there is quite literally millions to be made on apps and websites that focus on sexuality, it's very challenging for startups that contain “adult content” to find funding.
When I interviewed Cindy Gallop of Make Love Not Porn about her struggles with funding for my blog Kink and Code, she pointed out that, “It’s never about what the person I’m talking to thinks. It’s always about their fear of what everyone else will think.” Silicon Valley boasts of being so cutting-edge, and yet when a company wants to talk about sex, the men who hold its purse strings are like eight-year-old boys running away with hands over their ears. As a result, even the blowjob-on-demand service Grindr has rules stating that nothing explicit can be included in profiles and refers to itself euphemistically as a “friend finder.”
Personally, I’m sick of it. I’m ready for Silicon Valley leaders to step up and be adults who acknowledge and celebrate sex as an awesome part of life. This puritanical prudishness is not only hurting us as a society but it's also hurting these investors’ bottom lines. Seems to me that if apps like Breather and Grindr could be honest about what they exist for without fear of losing funding, we’d all be better off.
So who’s it going to be, venture capitalists? Who is brave enough to stand up to the crowd and start really disrupting shit?
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