Alice Leach, 24, from Norwich, reveals how a hook-up app designed for short-term sexual encounters rather than relationships, is helping women put their erotic pleasure goals first.
People can be so judgemental when it comes to women and sex. It’s always fascinated me how if a woman says she’s looking for a sexual encounter but doesn’t want a relationship, she’s often looked down on, whereas for men it’s more acceptable to crave casual sex.
I'm engaged now, but in my twenties I was very career-focused and there were times when I was just looking for a hook-up relationship. But when I’d meet men on Tinder, how they presented online and their intentions, were often two different things. For example, in their profile they’d say they weren’t up for anything serious, but then it turned out they were looking for a wife.
It was really confusing and I believe – through the work I do now – that mismatched intentions are the cause of most of the trauma people experience around sex.
Whether you’re looking for a husband, or a shag, it doesn’t matter – either is great! The important thing is: go to the right place and meet people with the same intentions. Being able to do that without stigma or judgment is what we’re trying to facilitate through the app TapDat.
It's an app for people – especially more introverted people – to engage with others who are looking for a sexual connection without the expectation of a traditional relationship.
There are so many statistics now that show that people are choosing to have less conventional forms of intimacy and yet, where do you get that information? Or meet those people? This app aims to fill that gap.
Before I worked for a hook-up, I worked in legal content. My job there was to make information less confusing for people.
That’s exactly what I do at now through my work. It’s become this incredible outlet for my obsession with being clear and honest, but also allowed me to explore a topic that I’ve always been interested in: sex!
Read more: Why I'm proud to be sex-positive
It’s crazy the amount of people having sex who don’t know their own anatomy, how important lubricant is, or how to talk about their desires.
I think a lot of people are just trying to muddle through. We don’t know how to ask for what we want, or what we don’t want.
We don’t know how to say, ‘I would like to explore this kink but not physically, I’d like to watch some ethical porn or listen to erotica instead.’ There is so much more about sex than having an orgasm, but that’s kind of all we are taught about.
That’s why I wanted this app to be much more than a hook-up site. It is a place where people can get sex education and includes blogs and sex facts, tips and tricks and above all, a place where open discussion about all things ‘sex’ is celebrated – because I’ve noticed how much people want that.
I recently went to a launch party and a mutual friend introduced me to a stranger as ‘my friend the sexpert, she has a hook-up app’…. within two minutes I was engaged in a full-blown conversation about female masturbation with this new person!
It’s incredible how once the initial ’shock’ or surprise fades, almost everybody desperately wants to engage in chat about sex, masturbation, consent, pleasure or the orgasm gap between men and women. They want open conversation and information.
One of the areas I’m really interested in is female self-pleasure. I have always masturbated and been very open about that fact, but I am definitely in the minority.
From the minute sex becomes part of the conversation, women’s bodies and pleasure is trumped by focus on pregnancy and STIs – both important, but not the whole picture.
As opposed to boys, where touching yourself is almost encouraged, we are not taught as girls that masturbation is even an option, which is mind-boggling to me.
For the majority of women who have never masturbated, they cannot transfer the joy that they do find in any kind of sexual engagement with a partner to their own body.
I strongly believe these women are not having the best sex they could be having because they don’t even know how to ‘drive their own car’.
I'm passionate about closing that gender gap in masturbation and sex in general. The majority of the sex industry is male-dominated and from the male gaze after all. If you consider that we all have sex, we should see a 50/50 split working in the sex industry.
One area where women do hold ground however is in sex toys. So many sex toys now are specifically designed for female pleasure, but I would like to see them being designed more to heighten pleasure, rather than simply provide it, as they are for men.
It was important to me that we had a marketplace on the app where women (and men) can buy sex toys. There are two brands rather than two products I would recommend. This is because products are very body specific. For example, there’s been a massive trend towards suction toys but for some women these are way too much stimulating especially for an initial toy.
I want something that is sleek and gorgeous and feels good in my hand. I don’t want something that has a rabbit head on for example – that just doesn’t feel like a treat!
This is why my favourite brand is Lelo. They don’t have batteries, but instead a USB charger, they’re waterproof and most importantly, very beautiful to look at. You could leave them out on your bedside table and most people wouldn’t know what they are. One of my favourite sex toys is the Lelo DOT which is a very thin clitoral stimulator.
My second suggestion would be a toy from the Girls Gotta Eat’s (a female-focused podcast about sex and dating) new range called Vibes Only. Their sex toys sync up with an immersive app. It’s a great way of exploring not just your body, but sensuality in general. It’s about increasing pleasure, not just bringing pleasure.
Researching (and trialling) sex toys is just one small part of my job as a sex educator these days. My family is very proud of the work I’m doing. My fiancé loves to hear about the research, talks about the app with his friends and thinks it’s such a positive project.
The research and education I’m getting has had a positive impact on our relationship too, creating an even more open line of communication and new ways of discussing things (not just sex).
My friends too are so supportive – from helping with research, offering personal experiences and always talking openly with me about sex and relationships.
My mission is to help more women be able to do the same.