Introducing the wonderfully talented Alison Falk (@FalkYou), founder of SexTechSpace, for this Sextech Salon feature. She discusses bridging the important gaps between tech and sextech.
What is SexTechSpace and how did you get into it?
SexTechSpace is a platform and free bi-monthly digital publication on the intersection of technology and sexuality. I noticed that as I spoke about sextech from the perspective of a software engineer, there were droves of people who worked in tech that had never even heard of it before.
I found that due to the taboo we associate with sex and sexuality in our society, sextech is often swept under the rug. Of the numerous people in STEM I’ve contacted, including those who have been in the industry for decades, not one had heard of or come across this subject at any panel, meetup, or conference.
Where there is neglect in addition to lack of educational resources, there is bias. I saw this as an immediate problem that needed attention and claimed the opportunity to bridge that gap. I was so excited because I felt so lost in tech and I was always jealous of the people who would say: “I love tech because I can use my skills to build an app that revolves around my passion for guitar” or something like that. Finding sextech was that moment for me.
What is your vision for the future of SexTechSpace?
I’m finishing up the job board for our website which I am super excited about. People in the online tech community of engineers and developers have come to identify me with this segment of tech and I find that really fulfilling and humbling.
I constantly have people reaching out to me asking “how can I get involved in sextech?”. My goal is to connect individuals who have genuine interest and the needed skills to progress sextech. Connecting them to companies who risk contracting out work to possibly unknown workers who may treat it as just another paycheck or could potentially code their bias into a project.
The second issue of SexTechSpace demonstrates a perfect example of this where a founder contracted out the development of her product to a group of engineers. They told her the product worked so she said “great, let me test it”.
They were in shock when they found out she was actually going to insert it inside herself to run a proper test, and even more to find out that it actually didn’t work once inserted – leading to more time and cost for the founder.
What are the key trends you’re seeing at the moment that influence your work?
The growing interest in individuals wanting to own their sexuality and their passion to break the boundaries around being taught that sex is bad, dirty, or shameful.
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had since starting to work in sextech?
The support from the online tech community and the sextech community. I am grateful for it every single day. I think the idea of being a solopreneur is bullshit and I know I would not be here if it weren’t for all the people I’ve crossed paths with who have inspired me, shared or found value in my work.
When it comes to sex, what’s the one thing you wish everyone knew?
The confidence you have in your sexual life translates to all other areas of your life. Learn to carry that energy and honour it.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I was so lost growing up. I remember taking a career test in high school and my result was “dictionary editor.” Not sure what the hell that meant but I had no idea what I wanted to do and never really had a strong passionate interest in anything particular.
However that’s totally okay because it led me to try so many things and repeatedly fail so I could finally discover what felt right to me. I wish people had told me that it was normal to not feel like you knew exactly what you wanted to do because it terrified me and made me feel less than.
The silver lining now is that I have an experience in a little bit of everything and I’m not afraid to take on a new challenge because I’ve had to do it so many times before.
What was your sex education like growing up?
Almost nonexistent and definitely not inclusive. I grew up in a rural area with a graduating class of about 100. Our gym teacher taught our class and I remember watching an illustrate video of how erections happen, watching a fear-inducing video of a someone giving birth, and our gym teacher telling us she got pregnant from being fingered.
The experience was completely focused on cisgendered heteronormative sexual experience, with absolutely no acknowledgement of vaginal orgasms or clitoral existence. So I grew up having no idea what that was and never even thought to ask.
What are you currently working on that you are willing to share?
I am working really hard on building the SexTechSpace job board and am really hyped to launch it and help connect companies and founders with individuals who have genuine interest in sextech innovation!
What advice would you give someone who is looking to break into the industry?
If you can’t find an opportunity, look for the gaps in the industry and create one.
What wider changes do you think sextech can have or is having on society?
I think it’s forcing people to be confronted with something they are uncomfortable with.
I often find that when networking and handing over my business card, I am suddenly dropped into a new vortex of conversation where the individual starts expressing their thoughts on something sexual, their sexual experiences, or asking for suggestions on toys, etc.
I always reply that I am not a sex educator but am happy they feel talking to me about such things and I am here to listen. They typically end the conversation by saying “thanks for listening, I’m so glad you are doing this work, I’ve never told anyone that before.”
That makes me feel so good and I think it’s really amazing from a sociological standpoint that proves people need an outlet or “permission” to talk about sex. I truly believe sextech is giving people that permission and will be the catalyst for normalising this type of dialogue.
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Alison! We’re thrilled for the upcoming episodes of SexTechSpace!