How to make the world a better place – one vagina at a time

The last couple of years has seen a surge of gender-inclusive and beautifully designed sex toys and Dame Products is leading the way. Founded by sexologist Alexandra Fine and MIT-engineer Janet Lieberman out of Brooklyn, New York, they had a crystal-clear vision in mind. As Alexandra explains: ‘Our goal was to help close the pleasure gap (according to findings by Dame cis men have 20 to 50% more orgasms as heterosexual cis-women in partnered sexual encounters) for people with vulvas, so we engineered products to encourage self-care, advocacy, and healthy lifestyle, starting with sex and pleasure.’

Why did you feel the need to start Dame in 2014?

‘I have truly always been interested in sex. As far back as I can remember, it seemed like something natural to be curious about. That curiosity sparked my interest to build a career around it. Originally, I was pursuing a career as a sex therapist, and I earned my master's in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Columbia University. I soon realized that I could make a bigger impact and reach more people by starting a company, so that’s what I set out to do.’

I read that for your sex toy line you started out experimenting with silver coins in foil in your own kitchen?

‘That’s right. To be more specific: I started making vibrator prototypes in my kitchen with silver-dollar coins and plastic wrap. I joined forces with an MIT-trained engineer (co-founder) Janet Lieberman to make my kitchen experiments into real-life products. The two of us eventually launched Dame Products with our first product called Eva: the very first truly wearable couples’ vibrator.’

You speak of a sexual wellness revolution. What does this entail?

‘It’s important to understand the pleasure gap fully. This refers to the disparity in pleasure heterosexual cis women experience in comparison to their cis male partners. In fact, The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (2010) showed that women reported "less satisfaction with sexual activity than men with less pleasure, less arousal, and fewer orgasms.” That’s significant. Our mission at Dame is to close this pleasure gap by creating tools and resources to help people honor their sexual pleasure and health. As well as to open the doors for more people with vulvas to explore sex with clitoral touch as a focal point – with or without penetration. 

There’s also a history of stigmas around female masturbation. At Dame we aim to normalize, destigmatize, and champion pleasure for people with vulvas. To lean into pleasure because we feel that’s such a vital element to one’s holistic health and wellness. In addition to educational tools, we believe that a welcoming community and environment can help people who have previously experienced shame around these topics explore intimacy in a safe environment.’ 

What’s your view on gender-inclusive sex? Because you design sex toys that are explicitly for all genders.

‘Non-binary and gender-nonconforming people often find they are left out of mainstream information relating to health, wellbeing, and sex. Shining a light on gender-inclusive sex and wellness is extremely important. At Dame we do this by creating safe spaces and opportunities for transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse individuals. Of course, our product variety therefore also answers to this. Meaning, there’s something there for every body and every sexual experience someone may be looking to improve.’ 

How do you feel about the new Instagram guidelines censoring sex education accounts?

‘To be frank, we at Dame feel it is unconstitutional for sexually-oriented companies or educational accounts to be placed in a prohibitive space. A space that silences the experiences that we as human beings all go through which includes sex. Talking openly and being educated properly about sex improves our overall well-being. What this says about our society? These restrictions are indicators that we still have a ton of work to do to continue to inform individuals of the importance of sexual pleasure and wellness. We’re not discouraged by it though; at Dame we have seen this before and we won’t back down. It’s the reason we have protested in front of Facebook’s HQ and settled a lawsuit with the MTA around advertising discrimination. We are constantly fighting for our experience to be valued and celebrated.’

You launched Dame Labs for people-centered research around sex and pleasure. Tell us more?

‘We are one of the few sexual pleasure companies to incorporate human feedback to our engineering process. That makes all the difference because it creates a safe space to host honest conversations that help people explore sexuality, health, anatomy, and much more. To name an example: for our new vibrator Com we offer a wider range of vibration strengths. Many wand users reported that sometimes the lightest setting of other wands is still too strong. With this feedback in mind, we made sure to overlap our lightest Com setting with our strongest Arc (another pleasure toy) setting so anyone who has used an Arc will know exactly what they're leveling up to by using Com. This new kind of wand, Com, also offers maximum comfort, our most powerful motor to date, and whisper-quiet vibrations. We really listen to our community of testers, providing in-depth, people-centered research. Better serving our growing community with products that also offer qualities like being lightweight and following the natural curves of the body.’

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