Oh My Hrithik: This platform by Mumbai-based students is encouraging dialogue on female fantasy
Seeing the stigma attached to self-pleasure or masturbation among young girls and women, in general, a group of five 19-year-old college students launched a platform that aims at normalising the conversations about body, pleasure, fantasies and experiences. Created in March this year by, the platform Oh My Hrithik (OMH) has generated quite a buzz in a span of few months and has over 8,000 followers on Instagram. As they take the campaign offline with interactive sessions in cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai, we learn more about the platform and the vision ahead from the founders Suparna Dutta, Vaishali Manek, Kriti Kulshrestha, Kevika Singla and Mansi Jain. Excerpts:
Q: Tell us the story of OMH. What's it and why did you name it Oh My Hrithik?
Vaishali Manek: Oh My Hrithik (OMH) is a user-generated content platform, which aims at eradicating the stigma attached to female fantasies and self-pleasure. Our purpose is to talk about our body, pleasure, fantasies and experiences, without feeling guilty, cheap or loose. And, the only way to do it is by talking about it.
We chose to use ‘Hrithik’ in the name of our platform because Hrithik Roshan is one of the most desired men and this will also give us a bigger audience. The idea came to us after watching ‘Lust Stories’ where comedian Sumukhi Suresh talks about female masturbation with Hrithik Roshan's reference. Owing to his desirability, we thought of Oh My Hrithik! Besides, we did not want to get into any controversy by calling it ‘Oh My God’. So, we decided to go ahead with the name of the "Greek God" Hrithik instead!
Q: What led you to start OMH and how long did it take for you to turn an idea into this platform?
Mansi Jain: We started the campaign after realising that self-pleasure is not accepted well among girls even though seeking sexual pleasure is as normal as any other aspect of womanhood. Besides, in our everyday lives, every other thing is a source of stress and anxiety while self-pleasure is a liberating act that is meant to relax you. Hence, we feel that it's after effects should not come back to give you guilt and anxiety. So, we decided to have a platform where girls could talk about their fantasies and the act of masturbation without any fear, aiming to make it an antidote to all the negative feelings that usually follow.
Q: What kind of activities/campaigns do you plan for OMH? How has the response been so far?
Suparna Dutta: Our campaigns aim at creating a digital community of like-minded girls, we plan and run our events and campaigns on the basis of what our audience feels like engaging in. So far, we have conducted three interactive sessions, one each in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai and people have been quite receptive of this idea. The response we received from our interactive sessions was exactly what we expected - the girls were hesitant to open up about it initially but by the end of it, we had quite a lot of girls sharing their experiences and willing to help us take it forward.
Q: Are you running it amongst yourself or do you have professionals as well to help you out? Who is taking care of the illustration part?
SD: We are a team of five 19-year-old girls pursuing Bachelors of Mass Media in Mumbai. For now, we are on our own and we do not seek any help from professionals. One of our teammates is good with graphics and designing and renders us creative help.
Q: From where do you source your fantasy facts? A lot of material available on the net isn't verified, how do you cross-check?
MJ: Our fantasy facts are picked up from various surveys like India Today sex survey and are not just picked up from the internet. Facts which are published again and again are backed up by a lot of research and we get to see how many people among our audience do actually feel positively towards a particular fact.
Q: How important was the shout out from Radhika Apte? How did you go about bringing her on board?
Kevika Singla: Radhika Apte’s shout out helped us a lot, it is very important to address that fantasizing is quite normal and such a known face sharing her first fantasy will automatically make people more confident. Through our college fests, we somehow managed her manager’s number and we contacted her requesting them to help us and she gracefully obliged and that’s how #My First Fantasy was born.
Q: Have you received any backlash? How often are you criticized/questioned?
Kriti Kulshrestha: We have received a lot of love and support from most people and we are very grateful for it. However, we did know that this would not be a subject a lot of people might want to hear about. A lot of people also seem to think that there are various other important issues to be spoken about and what we talk about is unnecessary or not needed in society.
Q: What's your vision for OMH. What's next?
KS: Our social media is open for content from all the users as OMH is an interface for actions as well as reactions. We are creating some good content that includes poetry and graphic arts. At some point, we want to give shape to an OMH book of creative content on the subject. Besides, we plan to do more interactive sessions and open mics so that the word spreads about the campaign but along with that, we also attempt to create awareness so that people actually talk about it amongst each other. That is our plan for the future. Going forward, we would want more support from the creative community, they are the opinion makers in our society. After our graduation, we want to be attached to this but we also want our juniors to carry forward the mission. It's pretty much like literary society or cultural society.