Slush 2019 included an interesting conversation about taboos and solving problems “the world refuses to talk about.” One of the participants was Andrea Barrica, CEO and Founder
of O.school, a “judgment-free media platform aimed at teaching about sexuality and pleasure.” In an era where freedom of speech is threatened in different ways, discussing topics that some might want to silence is crucial. However, it is highly ironic than in a highly sexualized world (just analyze ads, movies and Instagram accounts) discussion starts with a talk about sex.
To understand what is behind Mrs. Barrica’s philosophy we need to depart from who she is, her upbringing, and sources of education. We should also mention that her company is based in San Francisco, California. During her participation at Slush, she stressed her immigrant Filipino background, her family’s stress on studying and being a “good girl” and her traditional Catholic upbringing. Although her constant grin could convey a high level of happiness, she was also vocal about the hurtful side of her life experiences. She mentioned an early marriage, the focus on fulfilling others’ expectations, the blatant and involuntary ignorance about basic sexual matters, an inevitable exit from an accounting career, and self-education in sexual matters through online sources. The short biography written for the Slush program also mentioned she is a queer woman of color.
It takes courage to disclose so many personal matters to a massive audience, yet she managed to do it in a cheerful manner. Although discussing publicly about the relevance of sexual performance might produce a sense of knowledge and freedom, there is the possibility that other topics that both women and men would like to talk about could remain comfortably hidden behind a pleasant grin. An interesting aspect of Barrica’s concept of freedom and liberation is the one she connects to being de-educated of her Catholic upbringing. She refers to the Catholic Church’s moral teaching about chastity (which for a unmarried woman or man roughly consists of complete abstinence.)
For Barrica, the deficit of quality education in sexuality and personal dignity is not the problem. The problem is the content of that education whether from a religious source or from pornography (which she does not recommend.) Surprisingly, the dignity of a person’s body is not addressed by Barrica’s philosophy: she merely focuses on its capacity to produce and perform. For instance, she advertised her company’s “order your orgasm” service where people can choose different factors to obtain a product (like choosing ingredients for a burrito.) But becoming a vocal promoter of sexual enjoyment does not bother the former financial professional, she claims to be in the same industry since according to her “there are two shames in a person’s life: money and sex."
We definitely need to acknowledge people like Mrs Barrica who have the audacity to publicly show the acute need for dealing early, openly and seriously with topics that can define happiness, fulfilment and ultimate destiny of a life, and in this case of her potential customers’ life.
Certainly, there is a lot of room for discussing sex and perhaps we can start by identifying its right place, its beauty, and its ultimate purpose.