Dildon’t Disrespect Black Femmes: Our Personal Experiences With Wild Flower Sex Shop
Being a sexuality professional is hard, hard work — but it’s even harder to be a Black femme in this space. We endure the undermining and proving of our worth that others in the field may also experience, but the misogynoir and specific violence that we navigate in addition to that only adds to the necessity of our work. Despite the specific challenges that we face, Black femmes are doing incredible, necessary work in the sexuality field. We deserve to be here, and even more importantly, we have a right to share when we have been wronged.
This is a story of the latter.
The following are personal stories from Black femmes who’ve felt harmed by Amy and Nick of Wild Flower Sex. All of us have been hesitant to share. Amy and Nick are well known in the community and to speak up about our experiences with them, especially as Black femmes, had us fearing that we’re going to look like “angry Black women.” And the fact that we had to even consider not speaking up for fear of validating a racist trope speaks to the weight of what it means to be a Black femme in this space.
To be clear, we have a right to our anger. And we have a right to have our stories heard.
We do not intend for this callout to cause harm, and we are not writing this with any feelings of animosity. However, we feel a duty to not remain silent, so we’re writing these statements to demand justice and accountability from Wild Flower Sex, both for ourselves and others who have been harmed by Amy and Nick. We ask that white sexuality professionals stand alongside us and uplift our stories as valid, sharing with their networks and condemning harm to Black femmes with the same energy as they demand from us in support of their own endeavors.
And lastly, we want to mention that, because of the way the events unfurled between all of us, Unbound Babes are unfortunately deeply intertwined in our stories. While we wish that they didn’t have to be involved in this, it’s clear that, given some time and perspective, Unbound has been involved for reasons that we believe stem from pettiness and jealousy.
Ev’Yan’s (@evyan.whitney) Story
First, I want to first express the grief I feel that I have to write this callout. When I met and began working with Amy and Nick, I was so hopeful and optimistic that ours would be a friendship that was healthy, supportive, and transparent. After a little more than a year of engaging and working with them, it’s become very clear to me that they are not who they claim themselves to be and now I feel a deep sense of fear and anxiety whenever I think about them because of the harm they’ve caused me.
This is my story.
My relationship with Amy and Nick of Wild Flower Sex started in 2018. I had noticed that Wild Flower was coming up a lot with my friends and colleagues, and I was really intrigued by what they were doing and how they were trying to forge their way as a non-binary digital sex shop that centered pleasure, inclusivity, and education. So, I reached out in March 2018 saying that I appreciated their work and would love to connect.
The response I got back felt like I was being brushed off. As such, I didn’t reach back out again.
Then, in May 2018, Amy reached out to me via email and told me they were interested in my participation in an event they were hosting for WF’s one year anniversary celebration happening in Brooklyn that July. When Amy reached out, I don’t think they remembered that we had had an exchange prior to this, so I reminded them that we had spoken, that I was very familiar with their work, and that I was interested in speaking. When I asked for more information — specifically whether or not travel and lodging would be covered as I was traveling from the west coast — Amy let me know that they only had a budget of $300 for each speaker and couldn’t accommodate my travel. I was so excited about speaking at this event (and the prospect of coming to New York for the first time) that I asked if there was any way we could work something out. Amy then offered to have me stay at their apartment to help with my lodging costs, and we struck a deal where they would pay for my flight if I agreed to do their event for free. We spoke on the phone, got everything all sorted out, and I came to New York in July for their event.
I ended up getting an Airbnb for most of my stay during my visit to New York but the last couple of nights, I stayed with Amy and their partner Nick in Brooklyn. (This was a day or two after I spoke at their anniversary party.) As I was prepping to come to their place, Amy and I texted back and forth, and they mentioned that they and Nick would like to treat me to an exclusive tour of the Google headquarters in Manhattan. At the time, Nick was a technical operations manager at Google and could get us a day pass to visit the headquarters. At their apartment before we went on the tour is when Amy first mentioned their issues with Unbound Babes, a sex toy company and shop that is WF’s competitor. Amy proceeded to make the following allegations to me about Unbound:
- That Unbound received $2mil+ dollars in funding from Peter Thiels who is a right-wing conservative who donated a large sum of money in support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. I was also told that Peter Thiels was anti-woman, anti-choice, homophobic, and the sole reason why Gawker was taken out of publication.
- That Unbound has willingly kept this information from the public and have evaded Amy’s attempts to hold them accountable, and that the one potential reason Polly (the CEO and co-founder of Unbound) was able to evade that accountability is because Polly was using her previous cancer diagnosis as a sympathy card to keep folks from critiquing.
- That as Amy was being vocal about Unbound on their Instagram and Facebook, Amy received a cease and desist letter from Unbound, telling them that if they continued to speak about what they knew, Amy would be sued.
- That Amy is frustrated that they have been silenced and wishes Unbound would be exposed for who they really were.
All of these allegations were news to me. I of course had heard of Unbound Babes. I had previously done a promotional campaign for them way back in 2015 when they first started as a subscription box service, and since then, I had seen them come up a lot in conversations I was having with my own clients and colleagues about their favorite sex shop. But I didn’t know anything about these allegations before Amy told me, and I was honestly shaken by this news.
At the time, I had no reason to mistrust Amy, so I took them at their word.
Later, when Amy and I met up with Nick at the Google Headquarters, we continued to talk about this over lunch and Nick also chimed in with this disgust and hatred of Unbound. The one thing that I remembered most from these conversations was how much they stressed how much power Peter Thiels had — that he had the power to literally ruin people’s businesses and lives and therefore, everyone knew about Unbound’s funding but were too afraid to say anything. Amy and Nick were terrified that if they spoke up and against that C&D, Wild Flower would be shut down. But, they continued to stress that more people needed to be told about this and that we needed to make sure that we took Unbound down.
While it was never explicitly stated or requested by Amy or Nick that I take on the responsibility of sharing that news with my own friends and peers, hearing Amy and Nick complain about how hard it was for them, a relatively new indie sex toy business, to make it on their own without the mass support of venture capitalists and to hear them express how much integrity and intentionality they were bringing into their business (while also hearing them say that they would speak up about Unbound if they could, they just couldn’t because of the C&D), I chose to take up the fight. After I got back from New York, I started telling everyone I knew what Amy told me about the funding, about Peter Thiels, about the C&D, about how Unbound was evading accountability — all of it. I did this not just to inform people of what was going on, but also in support of WF. Amy had even said to me after I mentioned I was afraid of the backlash I’d receive if I went public with what I knew, “So many people talk to me about how shitty they are. I feel like it’s [sic] take one person to start it and they’re [sic] be a wave.”
Every time I told someone knew about what Amy told me about Unbound, I felt like I was doing right by Wild Flower, and each time I told Amy that I had told another person, there were profuse thank yous and lots of gratitude for putting myself out there.
Over the course of the next year, I proceeded to collaborate and offer support to Amy and Wild Flower Sex in the following ways:
- Featured and promoted Amy on an episode on my podcast where I promoted WF and offered my listeners/followers a special discount on their purchase
- Supported and helped @wildflowersex’s Instagram account be reinstated after being falsely removed in January 2019
- Recommended my private clients to patronize WF’s sex shop
- Promoted their sex shop on my Instagram feed and newsletter, including their campaign in January 2019 for their Love Yourself t-shirts for which I was paid just $75
Throughout my continued support, there were only two times that I can recall that Amy promoted me and my work as a sexuality educator on their growing platform that did not directly result in it benefitting them, and one of those times I explicitly asked that they promote a digital course I had just came out with. It was just this year that I started to question my relationship with Amy and WF; whether they really supported me and my work or if they were purely interested in maintaining a relationship with me because I was gladly doing their dirty work of exposing Unbound and had also been a black face/body they could put on their Instagram to prove their intersectionality, diversity, and inclusiveness. I started to wonder if our relationship was genuine or if I was being used. I also began to realize that even though I had done a lot of promotion and support for them, it was never reciprocated. After I had done the Love Yourself campaign I rarely heard from Amy, save for an occasional response to one of my posts on Instagram.
Fast forward to May 2019 where I returned to New York for an event that was created to bring awareness to and start a conversation about HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder). I had been invited to attend this event because I had just signed on as an influencer for one of their campaigns. Because I am still working with this particular brand, I won’t be mentioning them by name out of respect for our professional working relationship. But I do want to mention in the spirit of transparency that there are two separate campaigns involved with this brand—one that is strictly about promoting and discussing a new drug to address HSDD, and another that is simply about bringing awareness to the fluctuations of sexual desire that can happen throughout our lives and the importance of releasing the stigma about it. As an influencer with this brand, I am apart of the latter campaign and that campaign has no ties to the drug itself (legally, I’m not even allowed to mention it by name). It’s just about bringing awareness to HSDD which is something I’ve not been diagnosed with but I have had my own fluctuations of my own sexual desire throughout my life.
A day after the event, after I had published a series of stories on Instagram about my experience at the event, I received a DM from Nick (Amy’s partner). For context, I had not spoken to or had any contact with Nick since I had lunch with them at the Google Headquarters in July 2018, so receiving this message from them was surprising, to say the least. Their message was brisk and to the point: “Hey it’s Nick. Heads up, [pharmaceutical company] is a super evil company.” Nick went on to tell me more information about this company and essentially that, by proxy, I am doing something bad by working with them. I didn’t know how to respond to this. While at first glance it would appear that Nick was giving me a friendly “heads up”, being that I hadn’t spoken to Nick in a year (or Amy in a few months) and the fact that they immediately pounced on my Instagram story about the event made me feel like they were passive aggressively judging my decision to work with them. I completely understand being concerned about my choice to work on a campaign with ties to a pharmaceutical company and I had my own concerns as well. What bothered me was that Nick’s message didn’t come off as concern, it came off as judgmental.
I was also insulted that either of them would think that before deciding to work on a campaign with this company that I wouldn’t have done my research, when in fact, I was very intentional about this decision and even had my manager on the phone with the creative team four separate times to ensure that our collaboration would be aligned within my ethics and values.
It would have been totally different if Amy or Nick had approached me with more consideration and rather than talk at me with facts about this brand, they asked me explicitly why it was I chose to work on this campaign. If they had, I would’ve given them information and answered any questions they had so that they knew I was considering all angles of this and felt confident that I could participate without going against my integrity. Instead, I felt like I was being reprimanded and treated as though I made this decision without thinking.
The other question that I kept asking myself when I received this message: Why have you made it any of your business who I choose to work with, and what gives you the right to judge me for working with an “evil company” when, as of this writing, Nick still works for a tech giant, Google, (which has more than its fair share of unethical business practices)?
I felt like I was being asked to justify my decision to work with this brand to someone who only seemed to care about me when they wanted something. In that moment, as I was feeling disrespected and untrusted, it became really clear to me that our relationship had never been reciprocal and because of that, I didn’t own them an explanation for my decision.
I didn’t really know how to process this information or what to do. I chose not to respond to Nick’s messages right away and instead waited until I could center myself for an intentional response. In the meantime, while I waited, I chose to unfollow WF’s Instagram account and unsubscribe from their newsletter. Shortly after, I received a direct message WF saying:
“Hey. We saw that you unsubscribes [sic] from our mailing list and unfollowed us. We didn’t mean to offend you — we just wanted to help inform you if you weren’t aware. We value you as a friend and an amazing sexual resource. Let us know if you want to chat.”
I was admittedly happy that I heard back from them and to have received such a thoughtful response, and I was ready to engage in a dialogue with them to reassure them that I had made my decision to work in this campaign from a place of total awareness and understanding of what I was getting into. But before that, I wanted to address what they had said at the end about valuing me as a friend and sexual resource because the fact that I had been feeling unsupported by them was really bothering me. So first, I told them why I unsubscribed/unfollowed (“I’m just trying to have more poc/black faces on my feed and I was getting too much email in my inbox. I didn’t mean any offense.”) and then I ended it with: “I will say it’s nice to know you value me as a friend; I don’t hear from you guys that often and haven’t always felt that love, so thanks for saying so.”
Shortly after I sent it, Instagram let me know that the message had been “seen” by Amy and/or Nick. I waited for a response so that we could continue to talk about what happened, but I never heard from either of them again. A few weeks later, I happened to see that they had unfollowed me on Instagram too, so I just took that to mean that they were done with my friendship. Honestly, what it felt like was that because I wasn’t willing to grovel at their feet for my decision to unfollow them or continue to work with a company they deemed “evil”, they threw me away.
I literally felt like they had used me and discarded me when I could be of no more use to them.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I came back to New York to speak on a panel about the censorship those in the sexuality industry face on social media. After the panel ended, one of the organizers of the panel took me aside and l told me that they had received a very troubling message from someone that they had asked to sponsor the event. After they approached this company and suggested they become a sponsor, the company responded and said that due to the fact that “several of the panelists had recently done paid advertising for companies we consider to be ethically compromised” they didn’t “want [their] brand associated with these individuals.” When the panel organizer asked for more information and why, the company wrote back and named me specifically and said that, “Ev’Yan recently promoted a large pharmaceutical company”. Two other individuals were mentioned by name, one of those being Ashleigh (@ashelighchubbybunny).
This company who deemed us as being “ethically compromised” is Wild Flower Sex.
I was deeply bothered by this and disappointed that folks who were once considered friends would intentionally cause me to lose a job, harm an existing business relationship, and interfere with potential future opportunities because of my decision to work on a particular campaign. I now worry if my other jobs or paid opportunities are going to be jeopardized because the sexuality education and industry are very small, so the chances of me and WF crossing paths again are not a matter of if but when. What was most interesting about this is while Amy was naming me as being “ethically compromised” to folks who hired me to speak, WF was still using my image to promote their brand on their Instagram feed. It was only after my manager reached out to Amy and Nick the day after the panel and demanded they discontinue using my image that the photo was taken down.
I do not understand why I am the target of WF’s anger about my choice to work on this particular campaign. Why aren’t they directing that anger at this pharmaceutical company? Don’t they understand how incredibly hard it is to make a decent living in the sexuality education industry? Perhaps they don’t as two able-bodied, femme- and masculine-presenting white folks with a lot of resources and privilege.
WF has no right to pass judgment on me for trying to make an honest living doing the work that I do, especially when, in the two times I’ve worked for them, my compensation from them was way lower than what I am worth. As part of my efforts to live a life where I am paid what I’m worth, I have made it my mission to give some of the funds I receive for my work back to black femmes. In the spirit of transparency, I have donated more than $7700 to underfunded black trans organizations in 2019 alone, and the reason I’ve been able to donate as much as I have has to do with the fact that I am being paid adequately for my labor. I wonder how much money WF has donated to black femmes this year?
I view Wild Flower Sex as highly hypocritical for deeming me as being ethically compromised while their co-founder, Nick, continues to work at Google, one of the largest and most unethical companies in the world — something that I don’t know if they’ve been fully transparent with their own community about. It’s puzzling that two people who seem to position themselves as being on the top of the moral high ground can have such cognitive dissonance about their complex and complicated relationship to capitalism.
I have felt used, exploited, and manipulated by Wild Flower Sex. I feel that they used me as a pawn to help take down their competition with Unbound and did it in such a way where they would not have their hands dirtied. (And consequently, I have learned after a personal conversation with Polly and her team that much of what Amy relayed to me last year was absolutely false.) I feel that they used me as an object as a Black queer femme to give themselves clout and validate themselves as intersectional and inclusive.
If they were so intersectional, wouldn’t they consider the nuances and complexities of a Black femme trying to get paid for their labor within capitalism?
For a platform that claims to be so inclusive, Amy and Nick (two white, cis-passing people) take up a lot of space within their own social media. I have yet to see any posts from them highlighting other sexuality educators of color and their expertise on their platform — unless it’s to use their image on WF’s Instagram feed as objects to prove their diversity. As a Black femme who was once featured on WF’s Instagram feed, it has felt more so connected to their brand and company and not my own personhood or humanity. When I look back on our friendship, I realize that I’ve never felt seen by them as a human, and that was clear the moment they discarded me when I called into question their value and support of me. Ours was a relationship that was one-sided and with ulterior motives.
I cannot tell you how to spend your money or which companies to support. However, I ask that folks who follow or buy from Wild Flower Sex examine their decision to support a company that shows such little respect or regard for Black femmes specifically, and only cares about us when they can use us as objects to prove their intersectionality or as pawns to help them take down their competition. I also ask that folks question the ethics of a company that blacklists Black femmes for their decision to make living wages in an industry that is still working hard to be taken seriously and be respected.
Ashleigh’s (@ashleighchubbybunny) Story
It has now been a year since I attended the Pillow Talk session hosted at Melissa’s by a super white femme presenting the event as a sex-positive and inclusive space. I usually explain this as the beginning of my being more vocal about my journey with and within the sex positivity movement.
I feel that people inherently think that because talking about sex is such a “freeing” thing, that these conversations and spaces that they occur in are inclusive by default — which is not true. They are still headed by and representative of varying degrees of proximity to whiteness — and more times than not led by white women. Which is why what I’m doing as a fat, queer black woman is still seen as “revolutionary” and “inspiring” because the common narrative of my sexual experiences as it pertains to other people is one of settling, trauma, hypersexualization and fetishization — and that’s made aware when others bring up people like me possibly having sex yet completely ignored and not believed when I try to address these things head on — which is why I understand that my voice is important not only within this wave of the feminist movement, but overall.
Fat, black women are not supposed to be having sex, let alone enjoying it. And if you’re queer on top of that, you might as well just hope someone loves you “enough” to deal with your greedy ass needs or is “desperate enough” to look past them. I’m not supposed to center my needs, have them met, or even make them known. So me doing what I do is important.
Which is why me having that jeopardized over some white feminist bullshit upsets me. I have worked with multiple companies in my short career so far as a “sex positive influencer” and I’ve noticed the patterns of white women and femmes being the ones in charge, steering the conversation and profiting the most off of our current wave of sex positivity. I’m very well aware that this is not new, and understand the privilege they have in being able to express their sexuality while being able to have it legitimatized and celebrated as they literally sell it to us with a 40% markup. But I also understand that they are able to do this and have always been able to do this because their sexuality as it exists within our society was created out of the oppression and punishment of ours. Ever since my ancestors were kidnapped and brought here, we have never fully had ownership over our bodies or our sexuality, which makes my work even more necessary.
Shortly after I was contacted, shot, and paid for a photoshoot with Unbound, (in December), I posted photos from the shoot onto my ig that quickly prompted a nudge from Amy of Wildflower Sex, telling me that the company was “a super fucked up company financially backed by shady republicans” due to where they originally received their funding. I of course was taken aback, but at that point the collaboration had already been done, I had already been promptly paid and created a respectful and mutually beneficial professional relationship with a brand that saw what I was trying to do with my platform and decided to celebrate that with a PAID COLLABORATION. Amy shared a little more info, but not enough to actually move me to action, because I feel at that point they wanted me to spread this information or do something about it that I didn’t feel I needed to do. So I let them know I would “let the babes know” and left it there.
Some time passed and I reached out to Unbound to ask them to be one of the sponsors of my lingerie party that I put together with my business partner Venus Cuffs. They were on board, as well as Romantic Depot BX and I of course asked Wildflower Sex, as I considered my professional relationship with Amy and the brand to be cordial enough to get their support and mutually benefit from that situation as well. This was now the beginning of May, and I asked Amy if they would want to sponsor the party. They said they would get back to me, and after a week I reached back out for follow up. I was asked who all was going to be sponsoring the event, and when I told Amy the other two retailers, they replied, “We don’t want to be associated with Unbound, as you know, but I know Karmenife still promotes them.” Karmenife was a panelist I booked for my panel within my event that hadn’t been made aware that her decision to continue promoting Unbound had caused such an issue with Amy. So I reached out to Karmenife for more information, then booked an in-person meeting with Sarah-Jayne of Unbound to further discuss the problem that Amy had with the company’s funding history as I didn’t want it to negatively affect my event.
Sarah-Jayne of Unbound was transparent about the situation and clarified enough for me that I felt comfortable with my decision to continue working with them for the event. So I proceeded with the sponsorship. Upon the announcement of the party, Wildflower Sex unfollowed me, which I didn’t really care about, but I thought that the severing of our professional relationship would be the greatest consequence of that, until July 24.
I was booked and confirmed to speak on the Oppression in the Algorithm panel for Welcome Home Studios in March 2019. So when I was told after the panel that I had been named specifically in an email that Amy & Nick from Wildflower Sex sent in regards to being asked about participating in the event, I was confused as to why I was just now hearing this information. They stated that because there were “certain individuals” on the panel that were associated with Unbound, they didn’t want to be associated with us or the event. This had the potential to get us cut from the panel as this was a very visible company declining to be a part of an event that would have mutually benefited both parties.
Tea (of Welcome Home Studio’s) decision to let me and the other panelists know of this is something that I feel Amy & Nick did not expect as they are completely knee-deep in their self-righteous endeavor to defame Unbound and use black femmes to do so in an attempt to save face and “legally” protect themselves, yet they have not met with Unbound or discussed the problem they have with them directly after over a year of this bullshit.
I honestly do not care about these companies having issues with each other, as that is how capitalism works. But I do not appreciate being caught in the violent crossfire of a privileged white person using black femmes to do their dirty work and punishing us if we don’t. This is beyond textbook white feminism and something that I do not feel like being a part of as the problem Wildflower Sex has is with Unbound, and Wildflower should not be trying to stop black women & femmes from being able to pay their bills because they did not appease Amy by doing what they tried to get us to do.
At this point, it is very clear that Amy intends to blacklist us from any profitable opportunities as sex educators or influencers, and I’m not surprised considering that this is the historical course of action that white folks take when they do not get want they want out of marginalized groups or circumstances.
What Wildflower Sex has done and is continuing to do is violent, and in the grand scheme of things continues to reinforce the system of whiteness that protects those that benefit most from it even when they are actively oppressing others for their own benefit or leisure.
Keep in mind, neither Amy or Nick has reached out to anyone before or after these situations have occurred to let them know how they feel about our decisions to continue working with Unbound, yet have all of this time to sleuth around in inboxes and emails to actively defame our characters, stop us from being able to feed ourselves, and assume that we don’t understand how or have done the research to come to the conclusion of whether or not the collaborations with Unbound should continue.
This is violent, plain and simple and very telling of an “intersectional, sex positive, feminist” company that doesn’t even pay their influencers or collaborators in the first place. This is the problem with white feminism, the performative, self-serving, violent nature of it all.
Karmenife’s (@lisaspliffson) Story
Wildflowersex and I began mutually following each other on Instagram a while back and in the beginning our relationship was amicable. They sent me a vibrator I won in one of their raffles, they used some of my photos in their Instagram, I always recommended their brand to followers and friends. When their Instagram was taken down, I posted on my story about it to help get it back up. Wildflowersex never paid me to promote their products but I did it anyway at the time because I supported them.
That amicable relationship began to change once I started my business relationship with Unbound Babes.
Unbound Babes reached out to me and began sending me products that I loved and I began posting about them. Around the time Unbound asked me to be a part of their affiliate program, Amy saw one of my story posts about Unbound and began telling me what an awful company Unbound is. Amy sent me links and told me that Unbound had received a donation from the Founder’s Fund. At the time I was very upset at this news because I was under the impression that Unbound was working with the Founder’s Fund. I told Amy that I would ask Unbound about it myself and Amy responded by saying “I have your back.”
When I emailed Unbound about their relationship with the Founder’s Fund they answered me with respect and honesty and told me that they accepted the donation, but that was the extent of their relationship with the Founder’s Fund. I was assured that no money would be going back to the Founder’s Fund and their answer sufficed for me and I decided to continue on with our business relationship.
After that, my entire relationship with Wildflowersex changed. All the respect and love they had for me completely dissipated. They unfollowed me on Instagram and began talking to others about me and my relationship with Unbound in a disrespectful manner. I learned of this when Ashleigh Tribble and Venus Cuffs were putting together the Centerfold event and had asked me to be a part of the panel. When Ashleigh was in discussion with Wildflowersex about being a part of the event, they declined and mentioned Unbound and my relationship with them as being one of the reasons. This came as a surprise to me because Amy never disclosed to me how they felt about me, how they disapproved of this or anything. I was also confused because when we finally met in person at an event, I was STILL very actively promoting Unbound but instead of bringing that up to my face they hugged me, praised me and all my work and even asked if I would dogsit for them sometime in the future. If they really respected me and cared as they continuously stated, why weren’t they honest? Why did they do this whole performative act of love and support to my face but behind my back, talk down about me and say they wouldn’t want to be associated with me/Unbound?
Wildflowersex has every right to feel how they feel about Unbound Babes. What I don’t understand is why didn’t they call out the company they view to be such a danger to the community? If they feel so strongly about it why have they been silent?
Wildflowersex has a following but rather than speak how they feel on their page or website, they choose to funnel information about Unbound to black women and femmes like myself with the expectation that we be the ones to call them out. The issue here is black women and femmes being dehumanized and viewed as mouthpieces not human beings with autonomy. What’s even worst is that when the black women and femmes they’ve given this information to choose to work with Unbound (a company that has always respected us and paid us for our time) we are immediately punished for it.
As painful as this is, it comes as no surprise to me. This is white feminist violence, something that black women and femmes constantly have to deal with and fight against. I was treated like an object, something to be used so that I do all the work while Wildflowersex collects all the profit without speaking on it themselves. This behavior is violent, anti-black and evil and they must be held accountable.
La’Shaunae’s (@luhshawnay) Story
I found Wild Flower through my explore page and commented on a few of their posts because I thought their toys was cute. I ended up following them and sent them a message, but got brushed off at first.
Later, I asked about what was tea with Unbound because Wild Flower had shaded them on their Instagram story at the time. They then sent me what they’ve apparently been telling everyone else (screenshot below).
Then, they told me they would send me sex toys in exchange for a promotion on my Instagram. They didn’t attempt to offer to pay me, just offered free sex toys that I didn’t turn down. Even though I told them what I tell everyone who wants free promos from me (I’ll post it in my IG story but not my main feed), I ultimately ended up not posting about their toys at all because I wasn’t paid.
Venus Cuff’s (@venuscuffs) Statement
I’ve never had a direct conversation with Wildflower, but I witnessed what they said to Ashleigh after Wildflower contacted her directly about their issues with Unbound while I was planning my Centerfold event with Ashleigh. (Ashleigh and I are business partners.) Ashleigh had contact with both Wildflower and Unbound handling our sponsorships and I trusted Ashleigh to make decisions that would help us build the event while I handled other matters for our event.
When this information was finally passed down to me, not only did I not completely understand what was going on, I wanted evidence and facts so I could understand. Wildflower has never sent proof of those allegations directly to me nor to Ashleigh. I don’t enjoy entertaining gossip as evidence without proof. I just wanted to throw a dope event. I didn’t plan an event to be wrapped up in drama when WF can save their thumbs the energy by simply calling Unbound out themselves instead of sending DMs and emails to everyone in the greater NYC area and relying on “angry black women” to do the work for them. I’ve done callouts before. While they are uncomfortable to do, if you feel strongly about the ethics and morals of a company, go after said company. I didn’t want gossip and 3rd party inbox messages. So I didn’t entertain it.
I don’t think Wildflower is wrong in why they feel how they feel about Unbound. I believe in and support companies with strong morals and ethics. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and feelings. However, HOW Wild flower has handled this situation is completely unprofessional and wrong in my opinion.
They are holding the wrong people accountable in the most violent way possible.
They are going after what they perceive to be “the low hanging fruit” and attacking women of color, sex workers, and folks who are disabled who work with Unbound. Why haven’t they just called Unbound out themselves? Why did they go to peoples DMs attempting to get black femmes so angry that we do that for them? Instead of directly dealing with their issue with Unbound and calling them out themselves, Amy and Nick choose to go after Black and Afro-Latino folks who work with them. Let me give you an example of what is happening. It’s like Punishing the workers of Walmart “for supporting the corporate industry” instead of going after the company that is actually doing the damage, or blaming Amazon workers for Amazon’s actions.
If WF really felt a way about Unbound’s investor they also wouldn’t be promoting their own brand on a platform that took money from said investor.
I find it outrageous that someone with privilege and resources as a white heterosexual cis passing couple wouldn’t use their platform to challenge another white-owned business. It’s as if they know their white privileged powers are no match against another white privileged power so instead, they fight with those who have less power with them. Those actions are not those of anyone who is an ally of blacks, queers, and sex workers. Those are not the actions of someone who is fighting for what is right.
To this day, I am STILL not completely sure of all the allegations against Unbound. However, I am sure that Unbound is using their resources to support Women of Color, Queer bodies, and disabled bodies by directly compensating them for their work and Sponsoring events ran by Women of color. The same cannot be said about Wildflower. If Wildflower handled this situation differently, I don’t believe I would have lost as much respect for them as I have.
A Statement from Unbound Babes (@unboundbabes)
It is disheartening to read the accounts given here. No individual should ever feel as if their livelihood is caught between two companies. Each person that we have partnered with, who also contributed to the Medium piece, is someone we deeply admire and respect. We value being a part of a community that holds us accountable because the work that needs to be done to reclaim our bodies in the sex tech world must be intersectional.
To all of our influencer partners, past, present, and future, let us be clear: when we are called in, we view that as an opportunity to listen, to be better, and to affirm our belief that we have a responsibility to amplify the voices of those who are constantly doing the work, especially black women and femmes.
We understand that there are questions that have been raised about Unbound. Unbound has never served any legal documents to another company within the sex tech industry. The various efforts we made in the past to connect with Wildflower about their claims have been unsuccessful. In 2017, we closed a $2.7 million seed round of which $150,000 was invested from the fund that is being referenced, which has also invested in widely used products and companies including Facebook, Instagram, Postmates, Lyft, and Spotify. We neither have a relationship with any of the limited partners in the fund nor have they influenced any of Unbound’s decisions or actions.
To Ev’Yan, Ashleigh, Karmenife, La’Shaunae, Venus Cuffs, Cameron, and anyone else who didn’t feel safe coming forward: thank you for the work that you do for the community. We stand with you and, if you are open to it, hope to continue collaborating in the future
A Closing Statement from Cameron (@blkgirlmanifest)
Though I haven’t directly interacted with Wildflower, much of what was shared above rings true to my own experiences within the sexuality space. In a way, this is both about Wildflower Sex and not about them at all.
The fact of the matter is that Black femmes still face so much in this space. We are still pushed out of the same spaces for opportunities, pigeonholed by others’ assumptions and limitations of who they think we are and are more often tokenized to only be able to contribute because of our identities than for the expertise we hold as sexuality professionals.
These stories matter because there is no sexual liberation without racial justice. And this means that when Black femmes say they have been harmed, you rally with them and show with committed actions that you believe them.
I also want to talk about what solidarity and accountability looks like for many of us. In sharing these stories, we’re not interested in shares that don’t hold the same commitment to standing alongside us. We are not interested in disappearing stories or whisper networks and private DMs only of “I support you.”
We are asking for public displays of uplifting the voices of Black femmes in the space. For non-Black folks (and white people in particular), this means stating in public statements — whatever that looks like for you — that you not only believe us, but you demand that Black folks get the same support and solidarity that white folks in the field do.
This means publicly stating what you will do in your individual or institutional power to address racial disparity within the sexuality space. And yes, this may mean making difficult choices, diverging from what was easy or previous alignments.
The decision to remain aligned with institutions, companies, and individuals who have been called to have harmed means that you too are contributing to that violence.
What we don’t want is for this to be painted as an attack or takedown, or any other kind of weaponizing of Black womxn’s anger. Because we are so much more than our anger. Every person that has shared their story is someone that you should be following because they are doing transformative work within the sexuality space, work that digs deep and creates the future that we all want to see. We are not your tokens, Mammys, or diversity quotas. We are individuals doing incredible, necessary work so that we can help others (and ourselves) get free.
The least that you can do is to uplift us and say, “I see you. I hear you. I believe you. You’re valid.”