Fashion brand Monki was forced to pull its latest campaign off social media because female masturbation still offends everyone

'It’s no secret that penetrative sex on its own doesn’t feel that good (a.k.a good at all) for most girls,' read the text on one of the images, 'so masturbation with a partner can be the key to an orgasm during sex.' Naturally, the internet exploded

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The Independent Online

“Treat yourself”: two little words that form the basis of many a marketing campaign and arguably drive the entire world of female fashion. We are so regularly told by advertisers that the answer to the immediate problem is a treat – a bar of chocolate, a lipstick shade, a manicure, a pair of shoes. Sneaky payday sales tempt us to “treat ourselves” in heady superficial rushes of adrenaline, buoyed up by the idea that we deserve it because we’ve worked hard all month.

And far be it from me to criticise the delights of the ASOS order. I myself have partaken on many an occasion. But it doesn’t mean I’m not bored of the concept of “treats” being so tied up in a physical act of purchase, of consumption. Wasn’t it about time someone turned the concept of “treating”, the physical act of reward, on its head – especially where marketing to women is concerned?

Thank God for Monki, the quirky, bright, bold and ethical brand from the Scandis that has quietly spent the last few years pitching interesting fashion for women of all ages and sizes. And thank God for their latest campaign – the #Monkifesto – which saw celebrities and well-known figures talking frankly about traditionally female issues that extend beyond the politics of a “cheeky” (ugh) chocolate bar. Normalising periods? Sure. Flying the Pride flag? Absolutely. Female masturbation? Now hold on a minute…

As part of their campaign, Monki commissioned brilliant artist Sara Andreasson and Slutever founder Karley Sciortino to produce an illustrated guide entitled “Go Please Yo’self”. It’s something we’ve quite simply never seen before: a brand that would traditionally focus on what you put on your body launching a campaign teaching you how to get off, off the back of their punky, funky, cooler-but-not-patronising-big-sister brand image. The women drawn have realistically imperfect bodies and the narrative is very much “you do you”, in every sense.

“It’s no secret that penetrative sex on its own doesn’t feel that good (a.k.a good at all) for most girls,” read the text on one of the images, “so masturbation with a partner can be the key to an orgasm during sex.” Another showed a picture of a woman accessing what is presumably porn on a smartphone.

Naturally, people objected.

I didn’t dig my way through all of the outrage, but there were two major criticisms that befell the campaign: firstly, some were upset that Monki were “encouraging” women to watch porn. Secondly, others protested against the company daring to affirm what many women already know (penetrative sex doesn’t always get the job done) and tell them it’s OK to feel that way. Because the most offensive thing a brand can do right now is apparently send the message that it’s fine to be the way you are.

Whereas the big sister brands of Topshop or River Island are the type who will let you borrow their leather jacket or show you a cool new way to wear your hair, bringing up issues that run deeper in women’s lives than what to wear on Saturday night is the kind of big sister the high street desperately needs to offer women, young and old alike. In the same week as “the first male CoverGirl” appeared on Ellen, Monki also dared to use their platform to be different in a new way. And naturally, it went the way of the dodo. Though you can still see the campaign in all its glory on their website, it’s been yanked from social media; the work of talented women has been taken off a public and open platform for daring to say what we’re all thinking – and what many of us needed to hear a long time ago.

In no way would I like to drag Monki’s poor community management team through the mud for bowing to the pressure of a ridiculous and saddening few. Enough people are now doing that on social media. You clearly can’t win. But I would like to say a very big and loud THANKYOU to the brand for daring to push boundaries in such a woman-positive and sex-positive way.

Thankyou to Monki for doing something good with their fame and for their fan base. Thankyou to the artists, creative team and community managers who pushed this work through and sorry that you had to take it away. Thankyou to Monki for using their platform to celebrate self-appreciation and self-love (literally and figuratively). 2016 has been a dumpster fire and we need every glimmer of positivity we can get. Thankyou for helping us get ours, even for a short time. 

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