For this latest edition of Between the Sheets we’re going a bit higher-tech than usual and chatting with the collective Motherlode, fellow members of the Women of Sex Tech community.
Motherlode is a team of three artists and developers—Carol Civre, Leah Roh, and Isa Ghaffari—who are building an immersive, computer-animated virtual reality series called Pillow Talk around these three pillars: sexuality and gender, communication and consent, and masturbation and sex toys. From the first installment, picture this scenario: You’re a s-explorer aboad a va-gondola, embarking on a journey down Lube River, and during your journey you encounter different sex toys you can gather and learn about. Sounds insanely interesting, right?
“These mini experiences will be all about normalizing masturbation as a tool to learn about your body, and using sex toys to facilitate this exploration,” they explain. “We have a background in fine art, interactive design, and film and animation, respectively. Our different interests have evolved into a mutual love of 3D design and creating virtual worlds, which is what Motherlode is all about.”
Read on for details on the Motherlode ethos and their hopes for the future of sex ed and VR porn!
How did the idea for Motherlode Lab come into existence?
About a year ago we were all working at a tech-based startup. It was a good learning experience but there were a lot of things about the workplace that didn't sit right with us. We wanted to make projects that align with our ethics, which were not present at the time working for three white cis-men who believed that the future of technology should be developed by and for white cis-men. We also think women should run the world. A combination of those factors led to us coming together as a team to create the kind of work we want to see more of in the art & tech industries.
What is the biggest thing you wish schools would include in sex ed?
There are a lot of things about sex and sexuality that sex education curriculums take for granted. What most would consider to be indispensable knowledge, a sex education curriculum brushes off with, "oh, that's just something people figure out on their own." Why aren't students learning about consent, masturbation, sexual orientation & gender identity? People struggle to celebrate and explore their sexuality—it's a taboo subject because we're taught it's taboo. There is a dire need for people to develop an intimate, complex, and autonomous relationship with their own sexuality, especially before involving another person's sexuality. Sex ed needs to be less clinical, less heteronormative, and less binary. The road to creating an inclusive, comprehensive and universal sex education curriculum is long, which is why it is time to start thinking outside the box.
What is the role of self-care in your lives? Do you use it to control stress, or just to be present with yourselves?
Allowing time for things like exercising, healthy eating, play dates with friends (or our cats). It's the little things, really. As 3D artists and developers, we spend an absurd number of hours hunched over a computer screen; we reward ourselves with screen-less chunks of time, for our well-being and to rest our tired eyes!
Do you think sex (with yourself or others) can be a form of self care?
Absolutely. With yourself, definitely. It is amazing to have that kind of knowledge of your body and power to make yourself feel good. This can be the case with a partner or partners, as well, but it's really important to be open and communicative about what you want and need. The self care aspect can only exist and thrive when all parties involved feel comfortable and heard.
What do you think the future of sex and technology looks like?
Since the dawn of (the digital age), people have entertained the idea of meshing together sex and technology. The VR porn industry exists, and is growing quickly. New technology is becoming more accessible and democratizing people' voices and shared experiences, so our hopes are that this will help to diversify the world of sex. We are part of a wonderful community called Women in Sex Tech which includes a variety of women-led companies and endeavors that are using technology to do just that. We don't need any more white men making VR porn. We need more people to use technology to empower themselves and other people, especially when it comes to sex. Because sex ed is so lacking, a lot of people are getting their information about sex online and from alternative sources. It's important to provide informed and inclusive resources and experiences so people don't end up learning about their sex lives exclusively from Yahoo! Answers.
Thanks a million Motherlode! Follow on Instagram @motherlodelab for updates on the launch of their Pillow Talk installments.