Why is female sexual pleasure still a taboo? This woman wants to change that

Jingjin Liu.
PHOTO: ZaZaZu

In light of International Women’s Day, we shine the spotlight on Singapore-based female entrepreneurs who have pivoted and adapted their businesses due to Covid-19 and brought about positive change to our lives.

Female sexual pleasure and wellness is a topic that’s often not discussed, and when it is, it’s frequently (still) met with discomfort and embarrassment.

With a tenure spanning 10 years in the entrepreneurial and automotive
scene, ZaZaZu’s co-founder Jingjin Lu seeks to change all that, starting with a sexual wellness platform that offers a safe space for women to explore, own and take charge of their own sexuality.

PHOTO: ZaZaZu

The premise of ZaZaZu is centred around three cores; education, consultations, and products.

Not only does the company curate educational content on its website, it also hosts workshops and events with sexual wellness experts.

Then there are the panel of experts, from sexologists to hypnotherapists, to help ZaZaZu’s female community address their sexual-related challenges.

And then, of course, there are the products from its e-commerce arm — to further personalise the experience, there’s a holistic sexual inclination test to understand each person’s sexual persona.

And with this, the company curates a pleasure box that comprises mood-boosting essential oil, accessories for couple play, the main sex toy that suits the individual’s preferences, and relaxants such as vulva musk to wind down.

There’s even a “ZaZaZu Club” membership with the goal to infuse sex into daily life.

Describing herself as a femtech entrepreneur, Jingjin sheds light on how she’s changing the conversation around women’s sexual health, navigating the business of female sexuality through the pandemic, and more.

Tell us why you decided to start the company and your journey

Jingjin Liu (JL): I’ve always wanted to help women to establish intrinsic confidence with a business that drives positive impact. I believe that when a woman has confidence in her sexuality, she will be more willing to venture out of her comfort zone.

This is why I moved to Singapore in 2018, where I pursued my EMBA and laid the foundations for my business. In China, where I grew up, I had little to no sexual education.

When I moved to Germany at 16, schools and society were more open in discussing sex-related topics. The environment helped me develop my confidence and understanding of sex-related issues. By providing a supportive environment to learn about sex and sexual wellness, I want to help women gain confidence in themselves.

How do you personally define sexual wellness? 

JL: For me, sexual wellness is as fundamental to our health as physical and mental wellness. It is the ability to love yourself, understand the intimate parts of your body and take care of its needs.

Our sexuality is a living breathing part of who we are. It shapes our relationships, our self-esteem and it connects our mind and our body.

I believe that sexuality informs identity. When we are secure in our identity, that helps to develop confidence, which empowers us to make decisions that help to change the world for the better.

Especially in Asia, where sexual wellness products and female sexual pleasure is a taboo topic, how do you aim to change that perception?

We aim to educate and develop a community that promotes sexual wellness and intimacy, and to encourage women to take care of their sexual well-being and discover their bodies. Our sexual intimacy survey has found that only a minority (less than 25 per cent) have ever climaxed during intercourse, which often leads to dissatisfaction, break-ups, and divorce.

We also host regular workshops and host events with in-house sexologists and intimacy coaches with different specialisations, as well as various educational campaigns so women can understand and experience pleasure better.

One of our objectives is to make sexual wellness more approachable. As a next step, we’re creating an all-inclusive community, the ZaZaZu Club, to infuse sex into daily life.

This activity-filled ZaZaZa journey spans three to six months, the first of which will integrate the five senses. We’ll be partnering businesses with products that help stimulate the senses, including restaurants serving aphrodisiac food or essential oil retailers.

Through this journey, we want everyone to be in touch with their sensuality and gradually view sexual wellness as an essential part of life.

ALSO READ: Women's sex toy maker sues New York City subway, calls ad ban sexist

Growing up in an Asian household, did you grow up with the same viewpoints that you now aim to change? What made you change your perception? 

JL: The misunderstanding and misconception of the term “sexual wellness” is the biggest hurdle in Asian society. I grew up being told that sex is ‘dirty’ and ‘bad’ and pleasure, and that female pleasure is ‘forbidden’ and ‘slutty’.

When I moved to Germany, where school and society were open about sex-related topics, I realised that knowledge is true power. Avoiding sexual education is not the answer.

Parents may be afraid that if children are exposed to more knowledge, their children would start to explore sex earlier. The opposite is true. When we know more about sex and sex-related topics, the better we can make informed decisions.

How has the pandemic affected ZaZaZu?

Our business didn’t accelerate in the beginning. As we started our business in the middle of the pandemic, some ideas we had were not possible to realise when Singapore was in lockdown.

Since sexual wellness is such an intimate topic, without face-to-face interaction, it was very difficult to gain trust from anyone, let alone a new brand in this space full of misconceptions and misunderstanding.

We started our own YouTube channel and hosted Facebook live events to openly share our journey, mission and vision, and why we want to normalise sexual wellness for women.

Gradually, we gained trust from our audience, and were overwhelmed with private messages of people sharing their intimacy challenges during Covid-19, seeking advice and< advocating ZaZaZu’s mission.

ALSO READ: 'Sex tech' aims to rise above negative image

Did you find any changes in perceptions and behaviour during the pandemic? Are people more willing to experiment and try new products, and find out about sexual wellness?

JL: I realised that once we have built a relationship with people and they start to trust us, they begin to seek more advice, and explore our quizzes and surveys to learn more about themselves. Many people may think that lockdowns and quarantine will increase the frequency of sex.

However, our sexual and intimacy survey found that the frequency of having sex dropped by almost half. One reason could be that the pandemic can be a stressful period, and the resulting tension due to the close proximity with one’s partner could have actually reduced the frequency of having sex.

What changes did you have to implement?

JL: We realised that in order to truly elevate sexual wellness, we must incorporate sensuality. If you’ve never tasted wine, you would not miss the taste. This is the same with great sex; if you’ve never experienced good sex, you may not spend the money to enhance its experience.

That’s why we extended our offering to include the “ZaZaZu Club”, by infusing intimate wellness into daily lives through introducing pleasurable activities with wholesome, educational angles, which naturally integrate sensual feelings into your daily activities.

ALSO READ: She quit her HR job to sell sex toys

What do you think is most important in running a business during times of crisis? 

JL: Choose your tribe consciously. Focus your time and energy on those who believe in you.

How do you think the industry will evolve and what's next for ZaZaZu?

JL: I believe that the sex tech industry will become less stigmatised and more mainstream in the next five to 10 years. Just think about how mental wellness and yoga were perceived 20 years ago, yoga was considered only as stretching and mindfulness was only perceived as a breathing exercise.

With the pandemic in mind, 2021 is all about proving and improving the concept in Singapore. We plan to expand to other countries including Vietnam, Hongkong, Taiwan, Thailand and China.

We ultimately aim to create a safe space where sex is healthy, pleasure is positive and education gaps are sealed. The future of sex will be like having great food with friends in a restaurant; we enjoy it, embrace it and have it frequently.

My long-term goal for ZaZaZu is to become the go-to place in Asia for all sexual wellness-related topics and challenges, to foster meaningful discussion and build a strong community.

What mantra do you live by and what brings you joy?

PHOTO: ZaZaZu

JL: I had the opportunity to meet Indra Nooyi in person. When she was asked how she became the first female CEO at PepsiCo, she said: “You do your job better than any man, better than any woman, simply better than anyone―this is how you make it to the top.”

Since then, this has been my mantra in business and life. Simple things in life bring me the most joy, such as watching my little boy sleep, a weekly date night with my husband and having a foot massage.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.