If you’ve ever been to buy pack of condoms in a public place and not felt some unpleasant mingling of ‘this is so cringe’, ‘please stop looking at me’ and ‘I cannot be bothered with this BS today’ then you have something in common with an overwhelming majority of women living in the UK.
It’s not exactly a revelation that products meant to enhance and improve our sexual wellbeing have mainly been marketed at men for the last few decades. This has of course resulted in some pretty garish packaging and some questionable choices of adjective in marketing materials.
The most unfavourable impact of the exclusion of women from conversations about sexual pleasure has been that women feel just that: excluded. Feeling sexy and being in touch with your sexual self can be difficult for women when sexiness is a concept marketed to us with the male gaze at the centre of our ads and the products we use.
Fortunately, attitudes to female sexuality are changing and women’s pleasure, their identities and their experiences are now a deeply relevant part of the conversation. Fem-tech companies and entrepreneurs are disrupting the world of sexual wellness, creating products that cater directly to women, to their wants and needs and to their values and lifestyles.
One of these companies is HANX a condom brand founded by a banker and gynaecologist turned entrepreneur duo. I caught up with Founders Farah and Sarah to talk sex, shame and the why today’s brands should be speaking directly to the women that use them…
Tell us about who you are and what you do…
We are Sarah and Farah, so-founders of HANX, the first premium male condom designed uniquely with women in mind. HANX is here to make the world think differently about sexual wellness and encourage women to confidently care from their sexual health without shame or embarrassment. Farah and I are friends from school, and whilst Farah studied finance and pursued a career in investment banking, I became a medical doctor and spent most of my time in gynaecology and sexual health.
What motivated you to co-found a condom brand?
Over two years ago now, we realised that there was no condom brand out there that made us feel comfortable buying carrying or using them. We decided that this needed to change so founded HANX.
What makes HANX different from other brands?
We use fair-trade and all natural latex, are vegan certified, clean scented, ultra-thin and discreetly packaged: the go-to condom! Ultimately, we are not only a fantastic product, but are a brand that relates to our consumer. We are creating something that is sustainable and protective, but also makes our community feel positive and proud to care for sexual wellness.
You describe HANX as being made ‘by women for women’ tell us about that…
No condom brand in Europe speaks to a female audience. They are very male targeted and dominated often promoting a man’s conquest and in garish packaging that women would not feel good purchasing. Women are also very conscious about what goes in and on their bodies, and HANX condoms are as natural as possible and think of the woman as well as the man! As female founders, we are our target market, and therefore can relate completely to what is needed for women. Why should our sexual wellness be less important than every other aspect of wellness? HANX is here to change that.
How important do you think it is that women start seeing themselves reflected in and represented by the products they use?
It’s super important. We all can have an impact on the world by using products that are sustainable and vegan-friendly for example. What’s more, the brands we use are able to represent our values and what we believe in. Using certain products has the potential to not only care for ourselves, but for the greater good.
There’s a quote on your website that says: Men carrying condoms makes them studs. Women carrying condoms makes them promiscuous. Tell us more about your thoughts on that…
There is still a common misconception here in Britain that condom use is equated with promiscuity in women, but men are praised for having multiple sexual partners. This negative view is affecting people’s sexual wellbeing and future. We are becoming much more accepting and open-minded with regards to sex, but there are still some damaging taboos that negatively impact our sexual health. HANX is here to encourage positive sexual wellness whilst allowing women to feel confident using condoms.
Your products are also vegan and fair trade. Why was that important to you?
From the outset, it was important for us to build a sustainable company. This meant that everything down to the latex we source, which is fair-traded and ensures fair and safe working conditions for all factory employees, is sustainable. As we grow this is a huge aspect of our culture and something we will continue to maintain.
Where can we buy HANX condoms?
You can buy online at hanxofficial.com, and you also have the option to subscribe and save 15%, whereby HANX are delivered discreetly to your door each month. We are also available in WAH nails, Coco de Mer, Amazon Prime and Glow Bar London.
Do you have any other recommendations for products, experiences, things to read or listen to that champion female sexuality and are all about ending shame culture?
There are lots of great things out there championing sexual wellness and positivity. The podcast Project Pleasure talks about ending shame and encouraging pleasure, the website OMG Yes which is all about female pleasure, and many charities including the Eve Appeal and Wellbeing of Women as well as The Lady Garden Foundation, all of whom are encouraging women to talk openly about their bodies, health and sexual wellbeing too.