After 5 months of repression, Skirt Club is back. And we have learned some valuable lessons having been cut off by our bank HSBC UK and our payment processor Stripe.

Sexual well-being companies like ours and those of many women in sex-tech, face prejudice and outright financial discrimination. Why are we perceived to be such a threat? We are pushed down by financial institutions and squeezed out by social media. I have stared right in the face of the patriarchy and felt first-hand its indifference towards women’s health.

Today we have found new partners who share our vision for the future. It wasn’t easy to find them, but there are good companies out there willing to support small, socially minded businesses like ours. Unfortunately on our journey we discovered many adult processors were only interested high fees from large revenues and we were declined from over 30 of these single-minded male-dominated processors.

Here are some facts as a woman consumer you should be aware of:

  • Visa and Mastercard control 60% of the UK market. We have grown so dependent on just these two ways to pay that, now it’s nigh impossible to operate a business without Visa or Mastercard approving you. Worse, legally credit cards can hide fees which are between 3% and 6% for credit and 0% for debit. Meaning consumers are unaware of what fees are and the fact they are constantly increasing.

“Visa and Mastercard are forcing up the cost of accepting cards without justification in order to boost their profits and they know that their cards are so widely used it has become near-impossible for merchants to refuse to accept them.” The Guardian

  • Equally the companies that process these credit cards are just a handful of global players; Stripe and Paypal predominantly, two same-same companies run by same-same tech geeks out in Silicon Valley. Why are these few companies allowed to dictate which businesses are legitimate?

We both know that Skirt Club is not a pornographic site, but these companies regard us the same way. For the same reasons Instagram and YouTube have quietened us, we feel our expression of sexuality has been shamed and discredited.

Is sex a crime?

You’d think so the way we’ve been treated. Cut off by Stripe and our assets frozen for over a year by HSBC, it would seem they’d like us to disappear. It’s not illegal to be attracted to another woman and engage in social events of that nature. And we’d much prefer to follow the laws of a country then be bullied by businesses with too much power and persuasion. A successful economy requires healthy competition and we have come across very little of that these past 5 months, during our research.

The hard slog

So how do you grow a business with no financial loans, no investors and higher fees to access common day processes like credit card transactions? I won’t lie, it’s been a struggle. At Skirt Club, we don’t have the luxury of receiving a leg-up from willing investors. The only money invested in building our community has come from myself and our members. So it means double the work, twice the sweat and some very disheartening moments. But we’re worth it. That’s what I say.

How you can help?

Firstly thank you for your patience dealing with membership and tickets being a longer, laborious process recently.

Once our payment system is back up and running, this should become much faster and easier for you. We’ll also be re-launching our membership tiers so keep an eye out for an email update in the coming weeks.

We urge you to be informed about the system you buy into. Every time you purchase a coffee, consider how you pay for it. Would a debit card have equally worked, good old fashioned cash or bitcoin? We are all feeding this bias system, every day with everything we buy.

Favour the underdog and support smaller growing businesses, social entrepreneurs care about the well-being of our society. Big business only favours the few; themselves.

Genevieve LeJeune
CEO & Founder of Skirt Club

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