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Pro Pleasure Podcast - an Interview with Frankie and Anouszka

There's a lot of chat about 'romance' this time of year - but where's the pleasure? Closer than you might think, as it turns out... We caught up with Frankie and Anouszka from the Project Pleasure podcast to find out more.

Tell us about your podcast, what's it about?

Anouszka Tate: Project Pleasure is about putting the pleasure back into safe sex and healthy relationships by teaching you all the things you should have been – but probably weren’t – taught at school. We don’t claim to be experts: we’re learning at the same time as our listeners through chats with actual experts, from sex educators and gynaecologists, to the founders of gorgeous sex brands and feminist activists. On series one we covered things like porn, masturbation, orgasms, and contraception. In series two you can expect topics including libido, toxic masculinity, sex and disability, and reclaiming sex after assault.

How did it come into being, how did you come up with the idea?

AT: Frankie and I met producing the sex and relationships show on a national radio station. Every Saturday we would talk to people calling in with questions that were often so basic. How had people in their 30s, 50s, 70s got through life without knowing these things? At the same time we were seeing a consent crisis in universities, hearing about young girls missing school because of their periods... we listened as our male friends told us sex was ‘good’ if they had an orgasm, whilst our female friends said sex was a success as long as there was no pain...

Frankie Wells: And really selfishly I just wanted to have better sex myself! For some reason we're told we can't ask for what we want in the bedroom, especially as women. I wasn't enjoying my sex life and I thought something was wrong with me. Me and my friend joked about how we didn't know where our clit was until we were 19, which is crazy, because it's our own body and we're just not encouraged to explore our own bodies and what feels good – and I thought, why aren't we talking about it?

AT: So we realised we could be the ones to talk about this stuff – simply because we feel comfortable doing it. We’ve learnt that that’s extremely rare, and brings a sense of duty to make others feel as safe as we do. There’s great power in hearing the experiences of others, and feeling a little more ‘normal’ and a little less alone.

Why talk about female pleasure – and do enough people talk about it?

AT: Because it’s been about male pleasure since the beginning of time. We need to talk about it more because language matters. It can seem like a small detail but, for example, when we call oral and manual sex ‘foreplay’ we’re relegating the kind of sex that’s most likely to get a woman off to a warm up act before the ‘main event’ that’s most likely to get a man off. We need to stop saying ‘vagina’ when we mean ‘vulva’. By misnaming our own anatomy we’re erasing all the parts that have the potential to bring us most pleasure. We need more realistic language to talk about our sexual encounters; at the moment it’s always about power dynamics and conquest rather than mutual pleasure.

FW: It’s true – no one talks about female pleasure. Masturbation is a huge taboo for women; there’s so much stigma and shame attached. Women are told they’re not sexual beings but sexual objects. We are opening up but we still aren't talking enough about sexual pleasure, as women. Talk about it with your friends, even if you find something embarrassing, I guarantee you can find someone who relates and that will allow you to open up and address some of the issues you've been facing. That's what Project Pleasure has done for me; I've begun to learn to listen to my body, get out of my head, ask for what I want and have great sex.

Frankie Wells and Anouszka Tate

What's the response been like?

AT: Right from the start we’ve been most surprised by the huge response from adult men. They weren’t necessarily our target audience, but it seems like we’ve managed to create a bit of a safe space for them to learn without being judged. My inbox is full of random guys suddenly opening up about questions they have about their sex lives, their mental health, their struggle to live up to traditional masculine ideals – it genuinely fills my heart with so much joy that they’re engaging in these conversations because of the podcast.

FW: Everyone has been very supportive, my Dad plays it out in his office and he get tips from the women in his office to send back to me which is so sweet and funny! I've had a few friends and friends of friends ask me questions or make suggestions and it's really nice to see people open up and want more out of their sex lives.

AT: And we somehow managed to nab ourselves an award for Best New Voice at the Audio Production Awards 2018! Never thought I’d be winning an award for live recording myself doing a STI test vaginal swab…

Women seem to be doing really well in the world of podcasts – why do you think that is?

AT: Yes women are definitely smashing the world of podcasts! Honestly? It’s because anyone can start a podcast – you can literally just record yourself on your phone and put it on the internet – so women aren’t having to rely on the big powers that be (traditionally men) to commission them, or say that their voice, their stories, their experiences, are valid enough to be worth giving a prime time radio slot. There’s something so powerful about feeling heard, so I do think podcasting is particularly valuable for traditionally marginalised groups.

FW: It's so great women take the lead in this medium. I think there’s a huge demand to hear women's voice. In radio there's a limited number of slots and we're told when we're allowed to be on the mic. All you need is a phone with a microphone to make a podcast and you are good to go. This is about women giving themselves a platform and the huge success of podcasts like The High Low, The Receipts and Laidbare with Oloni shows that women are engaging, they are funny and they are intelligent – and we want to hear what they have to say. It's a really exciting time to be working in audio. I feel very inspired.

Any other podcasts you recommend?

AT: I’ve learnt so much and have had my eyes opened to so many conversations and experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have come across or engaged with thanks to The Guilty Feminist. And The Receipts is my absolute guilty pleasure – the three women who host it make me cry with laughter so I have to make sure I’m not in too public a space when I’m listening. Fellow sex-positive duo Come Curious also have an incredible podcast called F**ks Given.

FW: For me it’s Come Curious, Vulva La Revolution, and The Second Circle.

Project Pleasure is available on iTunes and Soundcloud