Sex is a vast topic- from erotic male-focused pornography to larger questions around consent, what you know is too often dependent on which corner of the internet you hail from. Or as in the case of our founders- your family.
Born in a deeply patriarchal Punjabi family- as she would come to realize much later, Aastha didn’t find herself until she left home for the first time. Left to her own, Aastha felt a deep incongruence between the person she was brought up to be, and the person she felt she was meant to be. College served as the perfect liberal and cosmopolitan platform to catalyze this change. Aastha, an avid reader already, found her passion not in International Relations, her major, but rather in exploring gender inequality and the myriad of ways it impacts our ability, no matter the gender, to be authentic to ourselves. She started with herself, and set roots that felt genuine and sincere. Her sexual liberation was the key to her own journey along this path- as she started to explore her own body and gain confidence sexually (with partners or herself), she found herself taking charge of her life personally and professionally. She felt liberated, confident, and ready for the world. Or rather, ready to build a world that helped everyone to find the person they were meant to be, and allowed them the freedom to make that transformation fearlessly.
We wrote another blog article uncovering the tale of pleasure-in-play and its role in helping Aastha break some of the shackles imposed by society. Check it out here.
Ritesh on the other hand, lucked into a family that was not just supportive and encouraging, but also several decades ahead of time when it came to social issues. Despite the family’s rigorous academic leanings (His great-grandparents are Ivy League graduates!), when Ritesh decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur and learn from the world as he goes, his family supported him, no questions asked. His sister always received the same treatment – She too, much like him, did not know that there was a world out there where individuals were denied opportunity and love because of their gender(s). In his mind, his family was the default setting for the world instead of a rare gem in the Indian social landscape. Ritesh found himself on the wrong side of far too many arguments, before he finally acknowledged his privilege, and started to do the groundwork to understand what the world looks like for far too many people. His full time job, as the Digital Marketing head of POPxo (India’s largest digital community of women) helped him understand how (lack of) pleasure was one of the biggest problems the modern Indian woman faced, across the country, and he knew he could not solve this problem alone. Enter Aastha.
Boy meets girl, the stars align and they start a…business?
Aastha and Ritesh have been best friends since they were 13, and too young to understand the differences in the worlds they came from. As they grew up, they started to learn from each others’ experiences. Aastha taught Ritesh about the ugliest parts of the world as we know it and how she and so many others learn to navigate it. Ritesh taught Aastha about the world he came from, one that had no judgement despite rigorous honesty and communication. They realised the true gap in the society was for a bridge that helped people navigate from the former to the latter. In a country which has policed female sexuality for millenia, sexual liberation seemed like the perfect place to start fighting back.
Manzuri is derived from a Japanese word that translates to ‘female masturbation”. Literally it translates to ‘ten thousand rubs’ because well, the more the merrier, right? The word also roughly translates to consent in Hindi. Much like the word itself, Manzuri aims to straddle both ends of the spectrum and everything in between with it’s focus on pleasure as well as sex-positive education. Sex, on it’s own or as a means to the larger goal of creating an egalitarian society, has to look beyond just imparting pleasure. This understanding shapes Manzuri’s approach to content and commerce, as it strives to address both mental health and body positivity- two topics that are intertwined with any sort of sexual activity. We aim to not just empower our consumers, but to create a community that carries our message forward in their conversations and relationships.
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Despite endless struggles, women are still deprived of their rights to please their bodies. Often, we are made to shush our voices when it comes to discussion on the topics related to female masturbation. To this, add a layer of lack of awareness, understanding and social stigmas, and, we have a perfect recipe for disaster. This is where we felt the need and obligation to step in and contribute, or as we call it- cliterate you!
We wish to normalise pleasure positivity so that females feel confident to please their bodies without being subjected to the scrutinizing slut-shaming narrative.