Meet the Speakers: Haruna Katayama, FemTech Analyst
How do we render a new social reality of sex? Why is it important? Meet Haruna Katayama, FemTech Analyst, on her journey to democratize sexual pleasure and to normalize women’s sexual health.
For Haruna Katayama, the journey to sexual wellbeing is personal. A native of Sapporo, Japan, Katayama grew up in a conservative environment in which ambiguity was considered a virtue.
“As a child, I loved my own body and sexuality for what it was. The most important thing was that I was healthy and that my body could move to do all the things I loved to do. In the process of growing up, however, that changed. My surroundings started imposing various ‘correct answers’ of what my body – and what I – ought to be,” Katayama explains. “We’re constantly surrounded by sexual content, which is undoubtedly filled with social norms. Growing up, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the world of gaze and external perception.”
Katayama is here to change that. A true globetrotter, having lived in many places around the world – Sapporo, Tokyo, San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, and New Mexico – she has been exposed to a multitude of perspectives, cultures, and societal norms. Indeed, in every different environment, there is a different truth.
“As I moved around the world, I started noticing that the values and perceptions that I used to have and for so long had carried with me, came to be re-written, over and over again. The idea of sexual wellness was one of those things,” Katayama says. “We review our existing values, say goodbye to those that do not suit us, incorporate those that do, and create new values of our own. It was an extremely liberating realization for me, and one that I want to forward to others.”
That sex sells might come as no surprise. Katayama informs me that in 2018, PornHub received 80,000 international visitors at every minute, meaning an annual visitor number of 42 billion. But according to Katayama, sex doesn’t sell as much as it should; and the sex sector is certainly not as democratic as it has the potential to be. In fact, women’s pleasure is constantly removed from the conversation. At Katayama’s own blog, she describes the many challenges that SexTech entrepreneurs face, such as women’s sexual health being shunned and censored, a constant gender-based double standard, harassment by business partners, and ads being deemed “inappropriate,” and thus rejected and hidden away from the public eye. Even the fact that most investors are male means that projects focusing on female sexuality often don’t get the investments they need to fully survive.
“Technology trade shows are unwilling to support the innovation of pleasure. Legislation often encourages tech companies to go against the wave of democratization of sexual wellness and create a restrictive digital world,” Katayama writes in her undergraduate capstone work: a guidebook to SexTech market analysis and branding. “I believe that problems faced by the SexTech industry are a microcosm of the issues faced by the larger society,” she continues. For Katayama, her first encounter with SexTech was in 2017. Living in San Francisco at the time, she discovered theLioness vibrator, designed specifically for women to experiment and learn about their orgasms. Since then, Katayama has worked tirelessly to uplift women’s pleasure and sexual wellness, working and collaborating with SexTech entrepreneurs all over the world. Currently, Katayama is working at fermata, inc., a FemTech company based in Tokyo, to normalize sexual wellness in Asia by leveraging the power of technology and design.
Crossing borders in a multitude of different ways, we at xPlot are thrilled to be working with a powerhouse like Haruna Katayama. Katayama will be joining us at our annual event on May 19th, 5PM CET to speak about the rendering of a new social reality of sex, women’s pleasure, and how we can (consensually) cross the line. I hope you’re as excited as we are.
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