As the mental health stigma is slowly being broken down with individuals’ shifting attitudes toward the subject, so too is the stigma surrounding female pleasure and empowerment in the bedroom. Amidst this long overdue cultural shift, Gina Gutierrez co-founded Dipsea with Faye Keegan, a platform and subscription service where women (or anyone) can listen to erotic audio stories, learn how to deepen sexual practice, and grow in their sexual relationships.
Each story on their app is carefully crafted by voice actors and writers, and creates a blueprint for a scenario that a listener can imagine exactly as they like it. Dipsea wants its listeners to “feel more alive, better understand themselves, unlock confidence, and enhance intimacy.” Their library of 180+ auditory experiences was originally designed with women in mind, but Dipsea describes their platform as “a place for all perspectives, preferences, and genders.” After all, arousal is not confined to any single gender identity.
Prior to starting Dipsea, Gina, the company’s CEO, worked with various well-known brands including ThirdLove, Facebook, and Momofuku. She nurses an insatiable curiosity about human behavior and desire.
Recently, Gina’s work was highlighted in the New York Times and she was named Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media with her co-founder Faye—an undeniable and clear signal that the world should brace itself for an erotica revolution, led by Gina and Faye.
Given that Dipsea is tackling the mental side of sexuality, we were excited to chat with Gina about her mental health experiences, and Dipsea’s role in the broader mental wellness space. Read more of her thoughts on the subject below.
A Conversation with Gina Gutierrez, Co-founder and CEO of Dipsea
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your work with Dipsea. What were your motivations for starting a tech company focused on elevating the female sexual experience?
I’ve always been really interested in the psychology of sexuality. I remember having conversations with friends in college who hadn’t had an orgasm yet. Of course, their 20 year old partners probably still had a lot to learn about giving pleasure. But my intuition was actually to ask, “What are you thinking about in bed?”
Years later, no one seemed to be addressing the mental aspect of female sexuality. Faye and I thought it would be groundbreaking to take a mind-first approach with erotic content. Our immersive stories act as blueprints for listeners’ erotic imaginations.
What does mental wellness mean to you? How has your feminist work in women’s sexuality factored into your personal definition of this term?
I imagine everyone has a very personal definition of mental wellness. I find it easier to define what can hold us back from a state of wellness than what the state itself is. Shame, the fear of being unacceptable or unlovable because of something that is true to who you are, is such a painful state. Shame obviously directly relates to sexuality, but also to societal ideals that we fear we aren’t living up to, like having an impressive career path or a perfect partner.
I fundamentally believe that being able to call up and access your sexual feelings is a source of power, and a means to accessing your whole self. Shame has held us back from that power source for far too long. It’s clear to me that healthy sexuality should be in the same sentence as meditation and exercise when we talk about a whole and happy life.
Founding a company is inherently stressful. How has your mental health been affected by your role as an entrepreneur?
My co-founder Faye and I talk a lot about hustle culture and how detrimental it is to mental health. It’s all too easy to feel bad that you’re not doing enough, because there’s always more to do! I used to carry my laptop to the park on Saturdays, just in case. Faye would sometimes cancel plans with friends to work, and then spend the day feeling frustrated about that choice and actually not work at all.
Being an entrepreneur has definitely taught us the value of regenerative time away from our computers. It’s been a forcing function to prioritize what needs immediate attention, and decide what can wait. And it’s grown our resilience. As Faye once said tongue-in-cheek, “If we treated every crisis like it was a crisis, we’d be dead!”
How, if at all, has therapy (in the traditional sense) figured into your life?
I feel very lucky to have been able to see a therapist for much of my teen and adult life. Therapists definitely don’t have all the secrets, and the process can feel slow and the progress hard to quantify. But what a gift to not just grow by living your life, but by having someone with whom you can reflect on it with.
How do you think Dipsea’s diverse storytelling and meaningful, empowering sexual experiences affect listeners’ mental health and wellbeing?
It’s important for media to reflect and represent reality, and we take that seriously at Dipsea. For people of all backgrounds, preferences, and interests to hear themselves in our stories has important implications far beyond the bedroom.
Like mental health and therapy, female pleasure faces social stigma—how do you envision the conversation shifting in the near or distant future?
We’re in the middle of a zeitgeist around female empowerment. Women are demanding to be respected inside and outside the bedroom, for autonomy over their bodies, and advocating for the importance of their own pleasure. That advocacy has made quick work of dismantling some pretty ancient taboos. The work isn’t close to over, but change is happening fast and it’s exciting.
Tell me about your mental wellness regimen outside of therapy. What do you do for self-care?
I’ve started going to Kirtan and breathwork classes, which are more accessible ways in to a meditative mind state for me. I take time for myself away from work, and see friends who make me laugh as often as I can.
About Gina: Prior to starting Dipsea, Gina bridged business and design as a brand & design strategist. She directed the approach of two agile teams of graphic designers and interior architects in the creation of meaningful brand experiences at Rapt Studio (clients included Google and DoorDash). Before that, she led the development of positioning and brand strategy for early-stage startups and established brands alike at Character SF (clients included Facebook, Reebok, ThirdLove, and Momofuku). She graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in psychology.
Photos courtesy of Dipsea.
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