Who designed your sex toys? Men, probably. But that’s something that the women behind the sex toy company Dame Products are trying to change by designing toys that actually take women’s experiences into account. Today, they’re launching Dame Labs to make their design process even more inclusive by getting feedback from more people with vulvas, who can sign up to be testers online (people with penises are welcome too).
Anyone interested can take Dame’s survey to join the community, where you fill in information like your race, education, and relationship status. Then, Dame chooses testers based on these demographics to ensure they have a representative group of people. When it’s time to try out a prototype, the company asks for volunteers from this collective and mails you prototypes to try. After doing some first-hand testing, you send them back with your feedback on things like color choices, button location, and vibration speeds. Dame may also one day ask Labs members for new sex-toy ideas.
As part of Dame Labs, the company is also conducting its own study on what’s known as the “pleasure gap”–the gap between men’s sexual satisfaction and women’s, as shown by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. The pleasure gap is the driving force behind Dame Products’s dedication to getting people’s feedback on sex toys before manufacturing them. If women have better sex toys, the theory goes, they’ll be better served in bed.
Prototyping and feedback aren’t new to Dame Products, which has included more than 6,000 people in its product development process, including 400 testers. In 2014, Dame Products launched its first product, a couples vibrator, on Indiegogo, and launched its second, a finger-held vibrator, two years later on Kickstarter, becoming the site’s first funded sex toy. Both campaigns raised far more money than asked–suggesting just how much demand there is for these kinds of toys. And with the company’s product development process now even more open to people’s different experiences, Dame Products is betting that inclusive design will lead to better sex toys for everyone.