Home » ‘It gives us control’: rise in women exploring sexual fantasy in midlife

‘It gives us control’: rise in women exploring sexual fantasy in midlife

by Narges Mohammadi

A new generation of sexually adventurous middle-aged women are exploring kink and fantasies without shame, according to the founder of one of the UK’s largest sex-positive communities.

Emma Sayle – who founded Killing Kittens and organises extravagant balls and sex parties for consenting, vetted adults – said there was a growing appetite for sexual adventure among the UK population, but especially among women wanting to concentrate on themselves for a change.

“We find a lot of women are leaving marriages, or their husbands have left, they’ve had kids and suddenly they’re in their late 30s, early 40s, even 50s, going: ‘Hang on a minute, it’s time for me to be unapologetically selfish and recognise I’m a human being with needs and desires,’” she said.

She added: “I think there’s a realisation that you’re not on the shelf when you’re 40 or 50 – you can be 70 and still have a sex life, still go out and experiment and explore and date or try new things sexually.”

Women are also ready to part with their hard-earned cash for Killing Kittens parties – such as €175 (£150) for a ticket to next year’s Venice Carnival Ball, which promises the “ultimate erotic masquerade experience in Italy’s floating city”.

“This is not a generation of women who have relied on their husband for finances,” she says. “If women are financially independent, that kind of channels into every other aspect of our lives, it gives us control over everything else.”

It has been a momentous year for Sayle, who in April co-launched a dating site and online community, WeAreX, or WAX for short, which promises “social dating for the open-minded”.

It’s a place where users can explore their fantasies, hook up with other singles or couples, buy tickets to sex-positive events and, from next year, it will also become an advertising platform for brands unable to advertise on social media sites. It has attracted 200,000 members, with about 50,000 active users. Last month, more than 1m messages were sent on the app.

This is good news for British taxpayers, who now own a 1.5% stake in each company, after the UK government invested £170,000 in Killing Kittens (a riff on a meme: “Every time you masturbate … God kills a kitten”) through its Future Fund, a government rescue scheme set up during the coronavirus pandemic to shore up independent businesses. It was a canny move: in 2000, the company was valued at about £9m, now that has increased to £15.5m.

Sayle, who went to an all-girls boarding school and spent a part of her childhood in the Middle East, founded Killing Kittens 18 years ago in part because of a deep sense of injustice about sexual inequality.

“When I was dating I just thought, this isn’t fair, this isn’t balanced,” she said. “I wanted to create a world that I wished I lived in, where it was balanced, where I didn’t feel any shame or guilt.” Women are consciously in the driving seat at Killing Kittens events – men, known as Toms, are not allowed to attend without a woman, and when the fun gets started, only women can make the first approach.

But she now wants to make that option open to anyone, through WeAreX, where all users are asked to sign up to an ethos “that encourages people to be their true sexual selves, free from toxic masculinity and negativity”.

But Sayle wants to keep female empowerment at the heart of Killing Kittens events. “The world is still so imbalanced when it comes to women across the board,” she said, pointing to the fact that all-women start-ups received 1.9% of venture capital money last year, a significant drop on the 2.4% in 2021.

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