Dame products is a company that aims to design and sell “well-engineered sex toys, to heighten intimacy, and to openly empower the sexual experiences of womankind.” We carry a few of them in our online store, and we’re fans of co-founders, Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman, who are trying to uncouple sex toys from the provocative and erotic—the “male gaze”—and toward an everyday tool that actually works for women.
This summer, they encountered a roadblock that’s pretty telling about where we are at as a society on sexual pleasure for women. When the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority refused to allow ads for Dame products in subway stations, Dame filed a lawsuit against it for sexism and violation of “free speech, due process, and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Dame had done multiple rounds of revisions on their ads, working in good faith that, if they integrated feedback from the NY MTA, their ads would be acceptable. But the MTA ultimately rejected them, calling Dame a “sexually orientated business, which has long been prohibited by the MTA’s advertising standards.”
But the MTA has allowed ads from other companies that could also be considered “sexually oriented,” including some that sell condoms and erectile dysfunction medication. Alexandra Fine, Dame’s CEO, told BuzzFeed, “I do think that there’s a really implicit and subtle bias to feeling like men need erections. It’s a health concern if men can’t get an erection, but it’s not a health concern if women aren’t having pleasure.”
While this was making headlines over the summer, it came to mind again for us in recent weeks, as we’ve attempted to navigate online advertising and to be accepted at exhibitions. We need recognition that women are not the same as men, and are equally deserving, whether in medical research or of sexual health and fulfillment. We applaud Dame’s efforts to fight gender bias.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.