As far as Dame founder Alexandra Fine is concerned, her company doesn’t operate in the ‘adult’ space. For her, it’s firmly in the sexual wellbeing category. For some that might seem a minor difference, but as Fine points out, the language we use around sex-related products can have a lasting impact on our attitudes and perceptions.
“The concept of adult, or novelty, tends to focus on the shallow, sinful side of sex that we’ve made up as a society,” she explains. “Seuxal wellness reminds us that sex is something we view as part of a healthy life.”
Fine set up Dame – which sells a range of vibrators for couples and solo use – five years ago, as a way of addressing the stark difference in attitudes towards men’s and women’s sexual wellbeing. While erectile dysfunction is recognised as a health concern that men can seek help for, Fine points out that women’s sexual wellness is often downplayed. “The way that plays out in the marketplace is that erectile dysfunction products can advertise, with messaging that’s centred around the health benefits of these products,” she says. “It creates this vicious circle, because we’re validating more frequently to people that men should have erections and feel sexual pleasure, or are entitled to it. But we’re not giving women the same messaging, or letting them know about the tools that can help them have a more fulfilling life.”
According to Fine, recent research carried out by Dame backs up her claims. It showed that, in comparison with men, women reported less enjoyment of sex, as well as less interest in improving it. “We really wanted to create a brand that helped close that gap,” she explains. “We wanted to get out there and create products and content that helped. When people hear closing the gap, they think women helping women, but I don’t view it that way. If we have such a systematic difference between two identities around how they’re experiencing pleasure, and there’s not a really good biological reason for it, that’s something we can change.”