Alex Fine is on a mission to get everyone to stop tiptoeing around the topic of sex.
“We make toys for sex, and our whole mission is to help humanity’s relationship with sex, love, and intimacy evolve,” she says. “We think that it’s obviously a little repressed.”
Fine is the co-founder of Dame Products, a Brooklyn-based company that makes next-level sex toys “by and for women.” In other words, instead of just assuming women want toys that mirror male anatomy (which has pretty much been the norm for a long, long time), they engineer products that specifically address how women experience pleasure, and they have real women test the products extensively before releasing them.
Part of Fine’s inspiration to start Dame came from learning about a phenomenon that’s often referred to as the “orgasm gap” or “pleasure gap.”
Essentially, it refers to the fact that women often report being less satisfied by sex than their male counterparts. One survey from 2009 found that only 64 percent of women said they climaxed during their last sexual encounter, compared to 91 percent of men. Another study on college students found an even bigger discrepancy: 39 percent of women said they usually or always experienced orgasm during sex compared to 91 percent of men.
Of course orgasm is far from the only way to measure pleasure during sex. It’s more than possible to have a great time in bed without having one (or three?), but the stats suggest there may be an overall gap in how many women are generally satisfied by their sex lives compared to their male counterparts.
This matters because we know that a satisfying sex life is tied to better health in so many ways, from happiness to maintaining a healthy weight.
So what does Fine think we need to do to begin to chip away at the pleasure gap?
Let’s Talk About Sex
The first step is admitting it’s a part of our lives and that no, that’s not a problem.
“When we don’t acknowledge that sex is a healthy part of life, we don’t study it. We don’t think about it. We don’t understand it,” Fine says. It’s why destigmatizing sex talk is such a big part of what Dame does. When you get a conversation going, she says, women start to get more comfortable talking about what makes them feel good. And that’s a huge step in the right direction.
“Once I bring it up, I’ll often take down a boundary for somebody and they just can’t wait to tell me all these things,” she says. Which brings us to…
Acknowledging Our Differences
There are some overall trends you can point to, sure, like the fact that the vast majority of women report needing clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm (which is why both of Dame’s current products focus on that realm).
But the range of what makes people feel good is pretty broad. “I can definitely tell you—because we do testing—that when it comes to sexual pleasure, it is diverse,” Fine says. “People like different things.”
Which means you may need to experiment a little before you figure out what really works for you. I mean, that doesn’t sound like the worst assignment ever, right??