Get Familiar: The Oh Collective
In a world where conversations about sex and intimacy are often hushed, where traditional values and conservative upbringings can cast a shadow over our most intimate desires, there exists a group of friends who are determined to bring these topics into the light. Meet The Oh Collective – four best friends and the children of first-generation Asian immigrants, on a mission to empower individuals to embrace their sexuality and reclaim the pleasure that life has to offer.
Raised in households where discussions about sex, intimacy, and sexual education were considered taboo, The Oh Collective found themselves navigating a complex web of cultural expectations and personal desires. Like many others who share their background, they experienced the challenges of growing up in an environment where open conversations about sexuality were virtually non-existent.
However, instead of accepting the status quo, The Oh Collective decided to take matters into their own hands. They realized they were not alone in their experiences of unenjoyable sex and the pervasive discomfort surrounding sexual topics. Armed with a vision and a determination to create a positive change, they founded The Oh Collective, an initiative that seeks to liberate people from the shackles of sexual shame and help them embrace the pleasures that life has to offer.
In this blog article, we delve deep into the inspiring journey of The Oh Collective. We explore the roots of their conservative Chinese heritage, the challenges they faced in navigating a world where open conversations about sex were often stifled, and their mission to break down these barriers. Join us as we uncover the stories, experiences, and insights of The Oh Collective and learn how they're turning the tide on a topic that is, without a doubt, a fundamental part of the human experience. Because, as they believe, life is too short to have bad sex.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting The Oh Collective? What motivated you and your friends to create this platform?
It all began during our weekly dinners, where we would give one another nudges to bring excitement into our sex lives. It was also through those dinners we realized the only things we learned about sex were biological but sex is way more complex than that! Among our friends, we knew we were not alone, and many people felt the same, so we were motivated to bring nudges, the things we learned and sex toys to help more people connect with their bodies, physically and mentally.
How did your shared experiences growing up in households with conservative Chinese heritage influence your decision to address the taboo topics of sex, intimacy, and sex education through The Oh Collective?
We grew up as second-generation Chinese immigrants in conservative households where our parents thought sex was a means to procreation but not for intimacy and pleasure. We knew it was our responsibility and had to take matters into our own hands to educate ourselves, help our communities and normalise the topic of sex as a form of intimacy and pleasure.
Could you share some personal experiences that led you to believe there was a need for The Oh Collective's mission of reclaiming sexual pleasure?
The four of us came together from different angles but with the same vision and purpose to make pleasure better for us and our sisters.
Eden: I was in a long-term relationship where I felt stuck and bored sexually. I didn’t know how to communicate in the right way how my other half could fulfill my desire, nor could he understand what could fulfill my desire. I looked online and there was nothing out there I found helpful, so we decided it was time to take that matter into our own hands.
Simona: I was working at Nike Shanghai and when speaking to the girls there, there was a huge difference between what we were taught in the West and what they were experiencing in the East. Pleasure was always through the male gaze: sex revolved around pleasing the man and the female colleagues/sisters I spoke to were never taught to put their pleasure first. We heard this crazy fact that women do not receive any oral sex, but their male counterparts do - “that’s just the way it goes”. I realised that this happens too often, and not only in the East. It’s time for females to put their pleasure first.
Diana: I always was open-minded to try new things and experiences, but I felt like in the majority of my experiences, I was very self-conscious and so focused on my partner feeling good that I never prioritised my own pleasure and didn't have the confidence to ask for what I wanted or needed to feel fulfilled. Once we had a community to talk about it I felt less alone and more open to asking for things for myself and ultimately opening up a whole new way of pleasure and experiences with myself and other halves without shame. This motivated me, and us as a team, to want to give the opportunity for everyone to feel empowered by their desires and experiences in a safe and shame-free way.
Winxi: After a breakup in which I had prioritized my partner's desires and felt disconnected from my own, I found myself uncertain about my own sexuality and lacked the vocabulary to openly discuss new and unconventional aspects of sexuality. Thankfully, my friends provided the encouragement and support I needed to explore beyond my comfort zone, introducing me to experiences I had never imagined. This journey prompted us to create an environment where positive encouragement for exploring new, unconventional desires was not only welcomed but celebrated. To our surprise, we observed that people admired our willingness to embrace these once-taboo topics and appreciated our efforts to foster open conversations about them.
The Oh Collective aims to change perceptions about sex and promote sexual pleasure. How do you envision breaking down the cultural barriers and stigma associated with these topics, especially within the context of your Asian immigrant background?
It’s all about education and seeing people just like you normalizing these topics. That is why we put ourselves, real faces, at the forefront of breaking down the barriers. We are not shy to put our faces on the back of our packaging, we discuss our intercultural relationships and sexual preferences online, we interview industry experts on sex and relationships, and partner up with trusted brands like Patta, Maha Amsterdam en Soho Amsterdam to show that it’s not a shameful thing to talk about pleasure or enjoy sex!
The topic of sexual stigma and cultural barriers could be different for people of different cultural backgrounds and we know our stories resonate with those with similar immigrant backgrounds and experiences.
What are some challenges you've encountered in starting The Oh Collective, and how have you worked to overcome them?
There were a couple of things that we encountered:
- Censorship: We first started the brand in Shanghai (where we worked as expats at NIKE), and China has extremely strict censorship laws across all social and e-commerce platforms. To even say the word “condom” needed to be implied through innuendos. In Europe, we also experience censorship challenges where certain ads for male erectile dysfunction can get approved while sexual wellness products for women are often denied. We have to work with platforms with fewer ad restrictions to people willing to discuss the topic openly to get our brand out there!
- Changing perceptions: It’s always not easy changing how people think about the topic when raised to think about sex already as taboo and dirty. We heard a lot of women saying, “I never orgasm during sex,” and mistake that as a norm due to the existing orgasm gap. To overcome that, we have to educate people that there is an “orgasm gap” where 65% of heterosexual women never orgasm during sex! Then we must let them know how to achieve orgasm during heterosexual sexual encounters through physical touch, communication, and mental stimulation. This is also where our products come in, we created sex toys to help couples and individuals communicate and experience pleasure better!
How has your personal journey towards understanding and embracing sexual pleasure shaped the content and resources you provide through The Oh Collective?
We know that everyone experiences sex in their own individual way, and it’s not a content-fit-all solution, so we try to provide as many interviews and stories through diverse people from different backgrounds. We host a podcast interview called the “Just Like You” series that you can find on Youtube and Spotify where we interview sexual wellness experts such as Reed Amber, Danielle Bezalel from SexEdWithDB, shibari artist hua hua.
Your platform emphasizes the importance of enjoying sex and intimacy. Could you share some specific strategies or advice you offer to individuals looking to enhance their sexual experiences?
If we could put it into steps, we would recommend the following:
- Know your body: Understanding your body physically through using your hands, different experiences, and vibrators is the first step in enhancing sexual pleasure.
- Know your sexual turn-ons and turn-offs: There are some tests and quizzes you can do online as a first step to knowing what turns you on and off sexually. We recommend taking the BDSM test and the Love Language test. Also, think about what turns you on and off in the past!
- Setting boundaries: Part of understanding yourself sexually is also understanding your sexual boundaries. What are you okay and not okay with when it comes to pleasure?
- Putting it into action: You can absorb all the information and knowledge but only truly experience pleasure when you put it into action!
How do you hope The Oh Collective will impact the lives of those who have grown up with similar cultural backgrounds and experiences? What changes do you aspire to bring about?
That it’s normal and not ‘dirty’ for us to be sexual beings! We want all females to feel irreverent and take control of their bodies and pleasure.
We aspire to have all females enjoy sex and talk about sex in the same way we talk about mindfulness, quality sleep, practising sports and eating healthy.
The concept of reclaiming sexual pleasure might still face resistance or skepticism within certain communities. How do you plan to engage and educate individuals who may have reservations about your mission?
We absolutely agree with this fact but we’re hopeful that with time and positive media impacts can slowly change people’s minds. The 4 of us have altered how our conservative parents thought about sex since we started The Oh Collective.
The most important thing is to state the facts of our biological bodies and how the female species have evolved to enjoy pleasure, not shy away from it. The cultural and societal impact on the existence of the pleasure gap and our lack of understanding of pleasure. And lastly, show the positive impact of how having healthy sexual wellness education can positively impact relationships with oneself or with a partner in the long term!
As the children of first-generation Asian immigrants, what conversations or changes do you hope to initiate within families and communities to promote more open and healthy discussions about sex and intimacy?
We understand that for many parents, it’s very awkward to speak to their children openly about this topic, as do children to their parents. We hope that the communities can begin with having an open mind that sex is a very common thing amongst all humans and that sex is multi-dimensional.
Can you share any future plans or projects that The Oh Collective is working on to further its mission?
World domination by having all females experience pleasure.
In the coming month, we also have a POP-UP in the centre of Amsterdam, bringing together all aspects of wellness from nutrition, sleep & rest, movement, connection, mental wellbeing, and sex. We know you’re at your best when your mind and bodies are.
What advice would you give to young adults who are also seeking to challenge societal norms and start meaningful conversations around important but often neglected topics?
Start! We know it’s easier said than done, but we’d encourage them to start no matter how big or small the topic is. Start small, start with one friend or a trusted circle of friends, and if you don’t have any - find your girls at The Oh Collective; we’re always here to help. This is exactly how we started as The Oh Collective: with 4 friends in Shanghai first, and now we’re talking to the Patta Community!
At the POP-UP, there are also daily events to engage with:
Throughout our pop-up, we have a lineup of daily events that are designed to bring people closer together and enhance different aspects of your wellness journey:
- September 23rd, 16:00 - 18:00: Join & The Table for an afternoon of connection with the women of & the Table to meet each other, speak about our lives, sexual wellness, and how we continue unapologetically building that every day.
- September 24th, 14:00 - 16:00: Join Vaillacooldance for a sip & sketch workshop where we boldly delve into the world of sex and dating through drawing. You'll learn how to unleash your most outspoken, confident, and unapologetic alter-ego while enjoying drinks and intimate discussions.
- September 24th, 18:00 - 20:00: Join Swayze for a clay workshop for self-expression where you can reconnect with your inner self. It’s not just a solo experience; it’s a collective journey. Join like-minded individuals in grounding exercises, fostering a connection with others and discovering the profound relationship between clay, self-expression, and personal introspection.
- September 27th, 18:30 - 20:00: Join The Cyclical Coach x The Women’s Collective on an event where we learn to embrace the four stages of your menstrual cycle and how they affect your libido. Expect a spicy yet knowledge-packed workshop to empower your pleasure and sexual well-being.
- September 28th, 18:30 - 20:00: Join Sun for Soul for an introduction to Chinese Medicine and how to integrate it to take are of your body every single day. In this workshop, you’ll get to build herbal blends to get you ready for the change of season and build your own seasonal practice recommendations.
- October 1st, 14:00 - 16:00: Join Borderline Shibari to discover the art of shibari and touch. You’ll learn the introduction to shibari and enhancing eroticism through touch to apply to your daily lives.