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Women mostly use vibrators to masturbate. So why are so many of those vibrators designed to resemble penises, when most women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm?
That’s why Dame Products, a female-led sex toy company, created a flexible, handheld vibrator that looks more like an ovular blob than a penis and is designed specifically for the clitoris. Called Pom, this vibe was designed based on women’s feedback–not a man’s idea of what women want.
[Photo: Dame Products]Pom’s design process began with a survey: Dame asked hundreds of people with vulvas from its product testing community what their favorite vibrator was, and why. The overwhelming favorite? A handheld clitoral vibrator, with 56% of the vote, not an internal vibe, which only got 15%. And if people had to choose between one or the other, 85% preferred a clitorially oriented vibrator.
Based on the feedback, the Dame team created a handheld vibe with an organic form that had both a pointed area and a broad base for different types of sensations. Through beta testing with 100 users, the Dame team found that women were most interested in a vibrator that was flexible, rather than the hard ones that dominate the market.
“I think a common way most women masturbate is with their fingers or rubbing on something,” says Alex Fine, Dame’s CEO and cofounder. “The product is able to move with your fingers or your hips, unlike a rigid tool.”
That proved to be a serious design challenge. Most vibrators have a hard internal casing to protect the electronics. Pom’s motor and circuit board don’t need this casing, which enables the vibrator to flex. Janet Lieberman, Dame’s CTO and cofounder, was able to protect the wires connecting each component with rubber so they could be suspended in the silicon and still be resilient to wear and tear.
[Photo: Dame Products]
Dame is trying to re-brand the vibrator as a wellness product, positioning masturbation as a natural, fun, human activity that shouldn’t be considered shameful. That sentiment might fall flat coming from a male entrepreneur trying to use empowering language to sell women on design that might not be centered on their input. But Pom’s thoughtful and inclusive design process supports Dame’s goal. By asking women what they are looking for, Dame is showing that sex toys and their users can benefit from the same user-focused design principles that other, less stigmatized products receive.
“What the world needs is better designed, more thoughtfully designed vibrators,” Fine says.