Ep. 99 - It’s a Business Doing Pleasure! with Alexandra Fine

“Pleasure was a part of what it meant to feel good in life. Sexual identities are important that these things are worth investing and understanding.” —Alexandra Fine

While male sexuality is frequently encouraged or normalized in mainstream culture, female sexuality and pleasure are often negative and stigmatizing. As a result, women face barriers in openly discussing their bodies and experiences with sexuality. This leads to women’s health being politicized and their access to information and tools related to pleasure being restricted. However, perspectives are gradually shifting as more voices advocate for women’s rights to explore their sexuality freely and pursue fulfillment in their intimate relationships without shame.  

Alexandra Fine is a sexologist and the co-founder of Dame Products, a company that designs tools specifically tailored to help women explore pleasure and reclaim their sexuality. Through her work at Dame Products and as an advocate, she aims to have open discussions around female sexuality and empower women.

Tune in as Debra and Alexandra share insight into navigating sexuality, childbirth, and parenting while challenging stigmas around female pleasure. They also discussed societal attitudes towards female pleasure, the challenges of promoting healthy views of sexuality, how vibrators can be used for pain management during labor and birth, and more. 

If you would like to Positively Prepare for Birth – check out our Pleasurable Birth Essentials online classes.

Episode Highlights:

04:14 The Business of Pleasure

09:30 The Journey: Childbirth, Parenting, and Sexuality 

15:39 Societal Attitudes Toward Female Pleasure and Sexuality

20:51 Vibrators for Pain Management

Listen Now!

Prefer to Watch?

About Alexandra:

Alexandra Fine is a lifelong student of sexual health. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dame Products, a credentialed sexologist, and a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018. She Co-Founded Dame Products, a sexual health company that designs innovative tools for sex and starts necessary conversations to help women reclaim pleasure. 


After earning her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Colombia, she decided to lend her passion and expertise to the world of sex tech. Since 2014, Dame Products and its meticulously engineered vibrators have been met with critical and popular acclaim earning praise and outlets, including the New York Times, Forbes, Wired, BBC, and The Today Show. 



We are a proud pleasure affiliate /partner: https://dame.com/?irclickid=V0vxatWNnxyPW6iTXRQi9Tg%3AUkH1xC3WNzE5Tg0&irgwc=1 


You can also connect with Alexandra and learn more about DAME through social media accounts:


Facebook: https://facebook.com/dameproducts   

X: https://twitter.com/dameproducts 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/dameproducts 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandrafine/


Full episode transcript can be found at the bottom of this page


Debra Pascali-Bonaro: What do you think about when you hear good vibrations? Are you smiling? I remember the first time I went to a birth as a doula shortly after our documentary Orgasmic Birth was released, and my client was using some really good vibrations to ride the waves of pleasure and did not feel any pain. At the prenatal visit when I asked her if there was anything she and her partner wanted to know, wanted me to know, she said, the sounds at her birth might be new to me. Well, the midwife and I smiled. We had been at hundreds of births, and I shared that everyone sounds unique and primal. And I love them all. She smiled and said, mine will be different. And I said, what do you envision them to be? And she said, and I remember I smiled and laughed, and just thought, why hadn’t I thought of this? She went on to have one of the most orgasmic bursts and inspired me to share and learn so much more than I was doing before in preparing parents for birth. So if you’d like to positively prepare for birth, one, you’re gonna love today’s episode. But also check out our online childbirth class pleasurable birth essentials. And if you’re a doula and you’d like to learn more about pleasure, take our free pleasure challenge, see all of that in the notes below. 

But my guest today is here to talk with us about the business of doing pleasure. I even love the title, full of oxytocin just knowing what we’re going to be talking about. Hi, I’m Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Founder and Director of Orgasmic Birth, and host of the Orgasmic Birth Podcast. My guest today. I’m so honored to have joined me is Alexandra Fine. She’s a lifelong student of sexual health. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dame Products, a credentialed sexologist and a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018. She Co-Founded Dame Products, a sexual health company that designs innovative tools for sex, and starts necessary conversations to help women reclaim pleasure. After earning her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Colombia, she decided to lend her passion and expertise to the world of sex tech. Since 2014, Dame Products and its meticulously engineered vibrators have been met with critical and popular acclaim earning praise and outlets, including the New York Times, Forbes, Wired, BBC, and The Today Show. And I have to add that I’ve done a lot of research around pleasure. I have fun as I’m around the world, and Dame is one of my personal favorite companies. And that’s why I have to say that I am so looking forward to our discussion today. 

Welcome, Alexandra. It is just beyond a pleasure to have you join us today.

Alexandra Fine: I’m just really trying to soak in the experience of being here. Thank you so much for having me. I just feel so seen and so appreciative. Wow. Wow. Thank you.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: You’re welcome. Truly, your products just have been top of my list. And I really do have fun. I go around the world and teach. And when I have a free day, I say, it’s my pleasure to go exploring the products and the ways that that particular country’s culture kind of really embraces female sexuality and pleasure. And so finding you just several years back when you began, I said, one, a female designer and own company was number one. You’re in my backyard. Listeners know that I’m in northern New Jersey. You’re in New York City, right? You have so much to offer us, but I want to hear first. I always like to ask my guest, you’ve given birth, you gave birth to a company, you’ve given birth in all kinds of ways. Can you share a little bit about your personal journey?

Alexandra Fine: Oh, my god. Yes. Before I do that, I just want to really quickly tell you that I love this idea of day ons. So in our company, we have a day off. I encourage our team every now and then to have a day on where we work, but let pleasure guide you. So it’s a pleasurable day at work so you don’t have to do anything. And it’s just about getting inspired, or to let pleasure lead you. So I felt like your travel day of pleasure really spoke to something similar, I don’t know, I just like a similar way of walking through the world. But yeah, I would love to tell you about my experience of birth and labor. So I’m 36. I had two children over the past three and a half years. My oldest is two and a half. And my youngest is half. They have the exact same birthday, two years apart. 

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: That’s amazing.

Alexandra Fine: They’re all amazing. Oh, yeah, I think it’s amazing. I think they will eventually appreciate it. To be honest, my experiences have still really left me. I think I might cry, because I do cry. They’re just such tender and powerful experiences, and I learned so much of it. And I think we did a really great job of holding space for it being whatever it was going to be, because that is true. I really wanted to have an unmedicated natural birth. I had a vision of myself going through the full experience of what it would mean to birth. My daughter was breached. So my first was belly birth. And even though I had it planned, I still actually went into labor before it was planned. So I got to experience labor a little bit. It was really cool, especially knowing that it was going to last maybe two hours of active labor was maybe what I did know. Probably even less. But I got to experience it, and it really was really scary. Going into an operating room is really scary. It’s so bright. I was so afraid of not really being numb because you can still feel pressure, but you can’t feel pain. I was really scared about my ability to feel pressure. I just thought that I would feel pain. And I remember the nurse looked at me and she was like, they’ve cut into you and you would be screaming right now. And I took out this. It was the funniest, most relaxing thing anyone’s ever said to me. I immediately calmed down. So that was my first. 

And then my second, my water really broke like in a movie. On the ground, peeing through the hospital. Not peeing, but like just leaking my way through and swaying. I threw up from the pain in the car ride there. But then smiling and making fun jokes with the nurses when I got there. And then put it on my back and was just really struggling to get off my back, and just decided I wanted an epidural and got an epidural. Which honestly was a great experience. I really like it. It was still really hard. I still did it. I did have a levity towards it because I wasn’t in as much pain. I don’t remember that I bit my husband. I don’t remember biting him like I was trying really hard to say like, President with the suffering and the experience, and like I was somewhere else, like I don’t remember biting, for sure. And then a few hours after they moved me at the ward, and when they came around for the second time to see if my uterus was contracting, a huge clot shot out of me, and I started hemorrhaging, and my midwife was gone. I had to go to the OR, and they could not figure out where I was bleeding. And I had a tear on my cervix, and it was a scary experience.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: I hear that. And how brave and strong you are. We always say, you never know what birth is going to ask of you. And when it’s something different than you envision, you dug even deeper to bring your children. We always say our side here with such strength and love. I can feel that love.

Alexandra Fine: I love them. And I love that I gotta go through the experience. I’ve been working on myself, I’m so excited to chat with you and to learn more. I don’t know if I’ll have another kid. I don’t know if I’ll get to try again. It just brings up so much for me. And I know that my experience was the perfect experience for me. I also still find it so amazing that people do this unmedicated. I still think that that’s badass, and very, very cool. I feel inspired by it. I’m trying to figure out how, maybe that’s just not me. And that’s okay too. And there’s other ways that I’m still a badass. I’m nervous because I can tell that I still have regrets. What if I didn’t get that epidural, could I have held on for longer?

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: So good that you’re processing here and being vulnerable so listeners can hear too, because I’m sure so many other people are in that same place. One thing I always say to parents in preparing for birth is you prepare your vision, but you only get 50%. That baby has 50%. You have little ones, they don’t always listen to us. They have their own mind, and they don’t listen in labor. You can tell them this is the birth I’d like. But look, your first one was breech, like decided. Hey, I’m walking out here. So they’re going to determine a lot of the birth. And I think it’s hard for us sometimes to realize that by being a parent, we’re already sometimes giving up our desires for our baby’s safety. And so I just want to say that you are a badass. And not only birth, but so many other ways. You’re gonna tell us and people here today, but also to really know that the other thing I say, and we’ve done several episodes about epidurals. Epidurals are such a gift and no one should suffer in childbirth. And when pain becomes suffering, they are the gift that you need. And we never know when birth pain will become suffering, whether physical pain, emotional pain. There are so many ways to experience it. But every birth is a unique gift of a journey to learn something deeper about yourself. And I encourage you to keep processing because there are just so many lessons in there for you no matter what birth asks of you. And I want to say that you’re amazing. Alexandra, thank you for sharing.

Alexandra Fine: Oh, thanks for giving me that space to share.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: And I want to invite you, you birth a company. Sometimes people think of birth only as babies, but it’s a lot of labor to get a company going. Probably more than nine months, and you’re still raising it. So can you tell us about what inspired you to do that?

Alexandra Fine: It really inspired me. It’s so funny because I went to college, I did art and then I ended up deciding to actually major in psychology. I minored in Women’s Gender Sexuality studies, also got a minor in fine arts and in business. And my mom was like, what are you doing with all of those things? I was like, I have no idea. I’m just really interested in all of these things. And they just so perfectly came together in the labor of creating my business, DAME. And I would say the most real interest is around this idea. There was so much I learned growing up. I think especially in a female body around sex that just felt confusing and wrong, and we were shrouding it in mystery for not my safety, for sure. In fact, at the detriment to my safety, I was very confused as to why we weren’t talking about it more. And I think that from a very young age, when I was six, I met some drag queens. My aunt brought me to a cool New York City party when I was six, and I met drag queens who answered so many questions for me and showed me how to strap my stuff. In fact, nobody taught me femininity better than these drag queens, and answered so many questions and really blew my mind. I brought that back to show and tell. I explained what it meant to be a drag queen versus what it meant to be transgender. And I got sent to the principal’s office so I think that that is like the beginning of whatever the spark is for me and in this conversation. I also was interested in sexual pleasure and experiencing slut shaming and felt again like, no, no, I’m pretty sure that what I’m doing is okay. So that’s just kind of where it comes from. 

When I was studying psychology, it was so apparent that pleasure was a part of what it meant to feel good in life. That our sexual identities are important. That these things are worth investing and understanding. And that to me meant that there was a huge opportunity in the consumer space to acknowledge that there was no company started by and founded by a woman at the time, and I was able to come up with some pretty interesting ideas very quickly. Our first product is Eva. It’s a handheld vibrator that tucks in between the labia, and you can wear it while you’re having penetrative sex. So it’s really unique. I partnered up with an MIT engineer who brought it to life. We launched on IndieGoGo and raised $575,000 in pre-sales. And that was how we got the business off the ground. I know the rest is history. And then we’ve done so much since then that has been unbelievable. The experience of also running this business and championing pleasure openly in the world is challenging and fraught with people who want to diminish my voice, everything from not being able to run advertisements on Facebook. I’ve been denied leases, I’ve been denied government loans. We’re often treated as if we make firearms, which is really literally like firearms and adult toys. And which is wild because I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do for good because I so believe that having a healthy relationship with our bodies and our sexual pleasures helps us live better lives. I also specifically feel like we’re centered on the vulva bodied experience. I think those are the people that are told often over and over again to put other people’s pleasure in front of theirs. And our message is really, let’s find some time for just you. And that’s really helpful.

Alexandra Fine: Thank you for sharing. It’s so sad to hear the way pleasure is put down. We run the same issues of being shut down on platforms because we’re talking about pleasure in pregnancy, birth and parenting. So why do you think society has so much trouble, especially when it’s women centered vulva, centered pleasure? Talking about the way we can love our bodies and find pleasure in them.

Alexandra Fine: Here’s my take on this. First of all, of course, there’s history. There’s a lot there. I have answered this question differently in the past. Right now, I feel like men still make a lot of these policies, make a lot of the rules. And to them, they can’t possibly see anything else besides (inaudible) pleasure, I guess. That’s part of it. It’s not all of it. I think religion, there’s so much there. But I can’t tell you how often I feel like, no, the message of pleasure, healthy sex should feel pleasurable. When you say that sentence, most of them are people with vulvas, who feel like, really, is it because it doesn’t for me. And those people mostly have vulva’s. And I think men who are making the decisions don’t realize that. And they feel like, well, obviously, sex is pleasurable. And if we’re acknowledging the pleasure, it’s just hedonism. To champion and honor pleasure to them is like, this is hedonistic. This is bad. But we have no problem encouraging video game use, or so many other things that I think are detrimental to our society, or can be depending on how they’re used.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: And think about this like, that’s the general society about pleasure when we’re not thinking about pregnancy or birth. And then when we bring it into pregnancy and birth, you have taboos about pregnancy and birth. And then we collide with multiple like, boom. So what do you think about finding pleasure when you’re pregnant, pleasure in birth and pleasure as new parents? You’re a new parent with little ones.

Alexandra Fine: I do mostly subscribe to the idea that we can find pleasure in every stroke. There’s a saying, I love it. I think it’s from Orgasmic Meditation or OneTaste, which I believe turned out to be a cult. But still great saying, and the idea of finding real pleasure in the experience of labor feels really challenging to me. This is a place where that feels really hard and scary. You said it towards parenting, and it is the approach. I was so excited to bring my kid to the airport for the first time. I was like, you know what? Going into the airport, it’s never been more exciting. It’s a stressful experience. There’s a lot of things that you do all the time that all of a sudden, you have a kid. It’s hard literally leaving the house. I remember the first time we tried to leave the house with our daughter, it took us like 30 minutes, like we weren’t sure. That can be so frustrating, or it could be so exciting. I have found that more easily in parenting than for me in my labor experiences. I’m curious to know more about how people really access that.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: Well, I would say your products play a big role in how they are said. So yes, I highly recommend it. And so I’d love to ask you this question for our listeners because people are using your products in labor, and we know that pain and pleasure travel the same pathway. So if we’re stimulating pleasure, I love that pleasure in every stroke. We’re seeing people that are really enjoying the birth I just opened up with and started with. Honestly, she wanted an orgasmic birth. And instead of a baby shower gift, her friends, everyone had to give her a vibrator. And so she opened up one of her drawers, and she went on over here. It had so many vibrators. I was like, oh my goodness. She goes, my friends just flooded me with them. But so many of them were not ones I think really would bring her a lot of pleasure, and certainly weren’t ones that she could use in labor. And you have some products that are perfect for labor. Do you want to share if you were to pick one to enjoy some pleasure when you’re in labor, what would you pick?

Alexandra Fine: There’s two that come to mind that are very different. I would say Com. Com is really great. If you have a Com and Arc, both have like power on a stick to some ends. So they’re long. So they’re going to extend your arm. And when you have a thick belly, it can be harder to reach your vagina. So both of those products are great. I also would think Fin, which you can wear on your fingers and really touch yourself. So if you are in the right position where you can touch yourself, it is really nice to get that feedback to touch yourself. It’s really great to touch yourself. I remember touching my head and being like, oh, my god, this is what’s happening. I found feedback and mirrors helpful.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: Yeah. And you named products that I recommend all the time. You have some of the best products for our listeners so I know everybody’s listening going, okay, where do I find these? You just told us, so can you tell them your website, any of your offerings and how to follow you on social? You guys are just rockin it.

Alexandra Fine: Thank you so much. Yeah, you can go to dame.com, and that is where you can find our products. We’re also @dameproducts on Instagram. That’s our social handle, pretty much everywhere. And then me, personally, I was honored. I am afinehuman, because I’m Alexandra, my last name is Fine and I’m a human being. So afinehuman. I’m mostly on Instagram.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Alexandra. I hope all our listeners that you’re enjoying and quickly going over to Dame, checking out their products. All the links are in the show notes. So if you’re walking, driving or listening somewhere, make sure that you go back and look at the show notes there. So you can click over, we’d love to hear your feedback so please send us a message. Tag us both on Instagram. We’re Orgasmic Birth, of course, and we really love to hear from you so please reach out with your thoughts. And thank you listeners for joining us. We really value and appreciate you, and hope you’ll join us for the next episode of the Orgasmic Birth Podcast. Thank you Alexandra.