It all started with fabricating vibrator prototypes out of silver-dollar coins and plastic wrap in the kitchen. Columbia-educated sexologist Alexandra Fine had always been fascinated by sex, as part of our overall wellbeing, but found that sex toys were neither aesthetically pleasing or gender-inclusive (also answering to the needs of people with a vulva). Back in 2014 she therefore founded Dame Products with MIT-engineer Janet Lieberman. Making an impact ever since, inside and outside of the bedroom. They changed the game with for instance hands-free couples vibrator Eva and finger vibrator Fin. And they advertised all throughout New York City – after settling a dispute with NYC subways – with the thought-provoking campaign ‘Get in Touch with Yourself’. Yet how to get in touch with yourself when you’re navigating the sex toys realm for the first time? We chat to Alexandra herself.
Let’s start with the basics. How to find the right sex toy?
‘First, it's important to consider what type of experience you’re looking for. If clitoral stimulation is your focus, a vibe that mimics the feeling of oral sex could be your best option. If penetration is more your thing, you'll want a bigger vibrator with internal stimulation features. We believe pleasure products can enhance what people already enjoy, so a great starting point is getting to know yourself and identifying what that looks like. Then you can consider these options:
- Suction toys: suction toys like the Aer help maintain focus and get you to an intense peak quickly, especially if you’re riding solo.
- Partner vibrators: Partner vibes, like Eva, are becoming big sellers as users can enjoy them without or with a partner during intercourse. They enhance partner play without getting in the way.
Zooming in on the tech behind your toys. How did your bestselling toys like Eva and Pom come about?
‘Each Dame product is thoughtfully crafted to be a tool and resource for all your pleasurable needs. We found that Pom, Arc, Aer, and Eva, are our best-selling products because they offer functionality, versatility, and beautiful design. Using feedback and insights from our Dame Labs community, we design our products to encourage exploration. Not to mention, they offer an experience that allows us to be better partners, better lovers, and ultimately, happier humans.’
Why is self-pleasure important?
‘Sexual pleasure and wellness are part of our broader well-being and health. It affects both physical and mental wellness. In turn, physical and mental wellness affect sexual wellness – they’re symbiotic relationships. We experience all of these within our bodies and minds, which means that they’re all deeply ingrained parts of who each of us are. To give you a strong example: research shows the health effects of masturbation including lowered anxiety, better sleep, pain relief with oxytocin, immune system enhancement. The key benefit is really giving yourself a chance to get in touch with your own body.’
How have the tumultuous last few years worldwide influenced our sexual wellbeing and relationships?
‘Covid-19 has really shown people the importance of intentional self-care. Which includes taking time to pleasure ourselves – physically, emotionally, and sexually. I believe this trend will carry on for the rest of 2022 and beyond, as more people continue to focus on self-care while we begin to reopen our communities. More people are beginning to see how sexual pleasure, including pleasure products, is simply part of our general health and wellness experience. The pandemic has also empowered communication between couples, for better or for worse. This includes conversations about sex and pleasure. Sex is becoming a more public part of everyday conversation. This really helps to shed light on high-quality products within the industry. Other than that, we’re seeing a more open discussion in pop culture as well. This helps validate and sanction products that were once shamed. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re absolutely making progress.’
Talking about sexuality and wellness: you mentioned once before that BDSM can be a great tool for mindfulness. How so?
‘Within the BDSM community, many discuss being transported into a new state of mind and flow. In the act, you are completely focused on what is happening at that very moment. This is something that links directly to the aspect of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps people become more aware of their body and their desires, and it enhances sensations. This awareness in BDSM and the proven health benefits around mindfulness offer a holistic sexual experience.’
You offer tried and tested sex toys to enjoy solo or with a partner. What’s your advice to keep lust alive when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time?
‘I really believe communication is key. I think we say this all the time, but it really is a huge part of a relationship and intimacy. The more you talk about the mundane things in your life, the easier it becomes to talk about everything else – including your needs and desires. Making communication a priority will help with intimacy and your overall wellness within the relationship and for yourself.’