A new ad campaign designed to tackle common prejudices and phobias keeping women from enjoying happy, healthy sex lives went live in New York City and online this week. But not before the ads—from inclusive sex toy brand Hot Octopuss—were rejected by numerous media buyers for being “too inappropriate." 

True to the message of the #ShowStigmaTheFinger campaign, the brains behind the ads—Julia Margo, co-founder and COO of Hot Octopuss, and multidisciplinary artist Aleksandra Karpowicz—refused to take no for an answer.

“When we were told the ads were too inappropriate, we knew we had a duty to make sure the world saw it,” Margo said in a press release. “The stars of the campaign are giving a fearless F–you to years of stereotypes that society has placed upon them. They’re standing up for anyone who’s ever been told they are too big, too old or not pretty enough to enjoy sex. It’s our responsibility to make sure these voices are not silenced, so we’re going ahead with the campaign despite what the authorities say.”

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Sophia is giving the finger to the perception of flawless 🖕🏼And to the impossible standards we place on ourselves. She's supporting @projectheal. . . Link in bio. #ShowStigmaTheFinger #HotOctopuss

A post shared by Hot Octopuss (@hotoctopuss) on Oct 29, 2019 at 2:46pm PDT

The “stars” are six activists of all ages and body types chosen from the hundreds of women who applied to be part of the campaign. Proudly wearing nothing but their middle finger (and looking incredible doing it) are Lori (56), Emelle (31), Raj (52), Victoria (33), Mary (50), and Sophia (34).

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“I’m sticking my finger up to those who think fair skin is superior to dark skin,” said Raj. “Perpetuated by the marriage market, the beauty industry, Bollywood and Miss India pageants, this prejudice demeans nationals with darker complexions and leads to lower self-esteem and fewer professional and personal successes.”

Meanwhile, Victoria is sticking her finger up to transphobia. “It’s time society accepted trans people as sexual beings,” she said. “A happy and healthy sex life is something every woman deserves, no matter their culture, gender identity or racial background. I’m a transgender woman from the Philippines and I’ve never felt sexier.”

The other activists give a well-deserved middle finger to homophobia, ableism, body shaming, and ageism.

The ads may not have been displayed all over the Big Apple as planned, but with the help of local street artists, they are on display at one Downtown Manhattan location. And the campaign has gathered steam online, with thousands of people using the hashtag #ShowStigmaTheFinger to give the virtual finger to the stigmas and stereotypes they’ve experienced in their own lives.

Happy to #ShowStigmaTheFinger @HotOctopuss today. I am showing the finger to CONVENTIONAL SEXUALITY! As a disabled teen I spent so long looking for validation and acceptance & to be viewed as a sexual person. I’m showing the finger for all kinds of sexuality, bodies & abilities! pic.twitter.com/kg5XxmGTi7

— Kelly PerksBevington ♿️ (@KellyPeebz) October 29, 2019

#showStigmaTheFinger My body has been fused, stitched, stapled, and pinned. And my body can still experience pleasure. I'm showing the finger to stigma related to sex and disability Join me along with @HotOctopuss to show stigma the finger: https://t.co/bRH6nG4ZYL pic.twitter.com/1WKNzOytMu

— Leandra Vane 🎀 (@Leandra_Vane) October 29, 2019

The campaign is timed to tie in with the launch of Hot Octopuss’s latest product, the gender neutral finger sex toy DiGiT, which is described by Margo as “our most exciting toy yet.”

It’s not the first time this British brand has caused a stir on the streets of New York. In 2016 they brought their “stress-relieving” GuyFi Pleasure Booth to the city, and the following year it was the turn of The Changing Room: By the Queen Bee, which gave women the chance to meet sex therapist and “orgasm stylist” Diane Barone—and even take home a free vibrator.

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But 2019 is all about the DiGiT, which has five speeds triggered by a simple flick of the finger. What’s more, 10% of profits will go to charities close to the hearts of the six activists. Human Rights Campaign, Little People of America, SAGE, Race Forward, Project HEAL, and National Center for Transgender Equality and Human Rights Campaign will all benefit if you buy the DiGiT. And yeah, it sounds as if you will too.

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