It’s 2018 and there’s still a stigma on sex, and Meika Hollender is here to end that. As the Co-Founder/CEO of Sustain, an online shop for natural tampons and pads, and creator of letsgetontop.com, an advocacy website for women’s sexual and reproductive health, Meika has tackled many industries on her quest to spread universal knowledge on sexual health – now she’s conquering the literature world.
Her new novel, Get on Top, explores all the questions about sex and women’s health we want to ask, but end up googling on WedMD.
She carries herself with a personal, sassy flare that’s quite Carrie Bradshaw-esque, but she’s filled with all the information we never find the answers to in school. She addresses topics like exploring your vagina and self-pleasure, female anatomy, self-care, and so much more. She discusses everything you ever wondered about periods, safe sex, birth control, and every question you’ve thought of as a woman.
HC Hofstra had the chance to ask Meika a few questions about her brilliant new novel, her career, and her insights.
How long have you worked on Sustain, what’s their primary mission?
I co-founded Sustain almost 5 years ago. Our mission is to get every single woman to think with their vagina — to create a world that fosters open, honest and real conversations about sexual and reproductive health.
What drove you to dedicate your life to women’s sexual health?
I saw two major opportunities – first, in all other categories, women were demanding safer products, from food to cosmetics, but for the most intimate of products, the ones going inside of our vaginas, there weren’t safer more natural options. Additionally, sexual wellness products have been forever made by men and marketed to men. What about women? Women buy 40% of condoms but have been completely neglected by the category.
I founded Sustain because I am dedicated to change all this. To empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health with better, more natural products.
So first off, what inspired you to write your novel, Get on Top?
All the women I have talked to through Sustain over the past 5 years, all the women who have shared their stories, fears, questions, all the women who don’t have access to accurate sex + health information.
The common thread among all these conversations, and all these stories, was a lack of accurate, sex positive information. I wrote Get on Top to provide a space for informed, healthy, sex positive, pro-pleasure information about all things sexual and reproductive health.
Why do you think sex is such a taboo subject even after all this empowerment?
The empowerment in the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp is incredible, but we are only scratching the surface. So many women are still at a crossroads when it comes to expressing their sexual needs and desires, and while it can feel like we’re making huge progress, there are decades of societal shaming and repression around female sexuality that need to get undone…so it’s going to take time!
Why is your target audience towards 18-29-year old’s?
Women are suffering—especially in the eighteen to thirty age range. They’re suffering from misinformation, fear, intimidation. They’re worried about the side effects of birth control, confused about consent, sexuality, and cheating, and don’t know when or always even where to seek medical attention. They’re also being disproportionately impacted by the rising rates of STDs. But! On the flip side, my generation is ready, willing, and able to define a new era of how we talk about and think about sex, so it’s a no brainer that we at Sustain want to be a partner for them on this journey.
What would you tell young girls in high school to do when they’re faced with a problem that could hurt their sexual health?
Start talking! Talk to your doctor, your parents, your sisters, your friends. The first step towards resolving these types of problems is to find someone to talk to so that you can manage through it.
Why is there a societal shame to be openly sexual?
Of course! We live in a time where women are being over sexualized in the media but yet we’re slut shamed for casual sex.
What was the biggest struggle you’ve faced throughout your career – and writing your novel?
Hmmm…so so so many! But overall, my biggest struggle has ultimately been my biggest opportunity: Our country’s stigmatization of women’s sexual and reproductive health.
What advice can you give to girls who are very shy about exploring their sexuality?
I think most of us, at least early on, are shy about exploring our sexuality – it’s totally normal. Take it slow, and take time to explore your sexuality with yourself before engaging with a partner :)
You stated in your novel that only 20% of single women continually carry condoms. Many women are told by their S/O or otherwise many comments like, ‘My penis is too big for the condom,’ ‘I don’t like condoms,’ ‘I promise I’ll pull out’ in order to get out of wearing condoms’. How should they handle the situation when it comes up?
I have a very much zero tolerance policy for anyone who refuses to wear a condom. Never put your sexual health at risk, because your partner doesn’t feel like wrapping it up. Period.
With releasing your novel, what is your goal – what do you want people to take away from it?
I want women to start talking. I want them to learn about their bodies, what they like, what they don’t like. I want this book to help enable a future where we talk openly and honestly about sex and all that goes with it.
Your book covers everything from periods to sex to vaginas, what are the most common questions you’re asked of millennial women?
“Why when I have sex is it painful?”
“What type of birth control should I be on?”
“Why can’t I orgasm from penetrative sex?”
“What the F*** is in my tampon?!”
The list goes on….and on, and on!
What is the most shocking story you’ve heard from a fan or consumer?
One woman wrote to me about 3-4 months ago and wrote me this long letter about how she was getting ready to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. She said that even though she didn’t know me, she felt like I was a ‘big sister’ to her and that she could come to me to talk about how she was feeling about making this big decision and how to prepare for it. It was a pretty incredible moment.
These types of notes are why I do what I do. I’m not a doctor, or a therapist, or a sex educator, but I am a woman who has gone through many different experiences, and my mission is to create a space and a forum for all women everywhere to address their questions, concerns and desires around sexuality and sexual health.
What are 3 big statements you wish you could tell all women?
Talk to your friends about sex.
Don’t put anything inside your vagina that you don’t know the ingredients of.
Don’t fake orgasms.
If you could describe your novel in one word, what would it be?
Vagina-friendly (is that a word???)
Do you plan on doing any more projects for women’s health?
Ohhhhh hell yes! This is just the beginning.
As you can tell, Meika’s wit and girl boss attitude transcend through not only her novel but with everything she does. To every woman reading this: do yourself the biggest favor of 2018 and buy this novel. I thought I knew so much about my own body, but her novel showed me what it is to be an empowered, sexually smart woman in this generation. Meika is telling us it’s time to talk about sex and our sexual health with no shame. And it’s about time we start.
Get On Top: of your pleasure, sexuality, & wellness. A Vagina Revolution will be available on March 13th, 2018. Order it here!
Cover Photo by Delilah Gray