Valentine’s Day during COVID will be… a little different. For couples, in-restaurant meals might be replaced with take-out or delivery, while those with children won’t be able to hire a babysitter or hand youngsters off to a relative or family friend for the night. Date night on February 14—like any other date nights this year—is most likely to take place in the same kitchen as, well, every other night.
And for singles (or couples who are celebrating long-distance) the opportunities for IRL intimacy, as for much of the last 12 months, might be lacking. But while many may not be able to indulge in more casual physical encounters, there are more ways than ever to find pleasure at home—particularly for women.
A number of women-centric brands have launched in recent years, aimed at dismantling the stigma that surrounds female pleasure—and, of course, providing tools, toys, and tips to help women explore their sexuality. Here are five of our favourite brands that are empowering women through pleasure.
Founded by Eve Goicochea, a former legislative aide, Maude creates products for all bodies—including an extensive line of personal lubricants, massage candles, and compostable compressed towels, for post-play cleanup. Built on a mission of inclusivity and simplicity, Maude is distinctive in its beautifully subtle branding. In 2020, Fifty Shades of Grey actor Dakota Johnson joined as an investor and Co-Creative Director to help propel the brand into a market leader in sustainability, education, and “modern intimacy.”
Must try: Rise, Maude’s ultra-thin condoms, are vegan, made of natural latex, and contain no fragrances or spermicide. They’re a gentler, more environmentally-conscious way to practice safe sex.
The New York-based Dame was founded by two women—Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman, a Colombia-educated Sexologist and MIT engineer, respectively—who are looking to “close the pleasure gap:” according to studies, men are more than 50 percent more likely to report always achieving orgasm during sex than women. In 2019, the company sued the NYC subway system, claiming the MTA violated the company’s right to free speech in rejecting their ads—and perpetuated a sexist double standard since ads for erectile dysfunction medication are permitted to run.
Must-try: The Eva II, a cute-but-powerful external vibrator with flexible “wings” that hold it in place.
Unbound’s entire executive team is composed of women who create and market products that are inclusive, powerful—and, frankly, extremely beautiful. The company’s online blog not only provides detailed information and cheeky how-tos about their products, but also covers topics such as queer-friendly medical care, racism within the sex-tech world, and user guides to various sex toys for trans women who have chosen to transition.
Must-try: The Bender, a flexible internal vibrator that can be tailored to your anatomy.
MysteryVibe’s mandate is allowing couples and individuals to continue to find joy and pleasure in sex even after major life events such as childbirth and menopause, or in the face of health concerns such as erectile dysfunction and dryness. The company combines medical data and community input to develop its inclusive, therapeutic products.
Must try: The Ohnut, a stackable silicone sleeve made for those who experience pain during penetrative sex. The sleeve, which comes with four rings that can be used separately or together, controls the level of depth without sacrificing pleasure for either partner.
This company makes one thing: a vibrator that learns from your personal biofeedback to deliver, data to a smartphone app, which helps you understand your pleasure. The Lioness app, using data delivered directly from the vibrator, can tell you how much intensity, what types of rhythms, and what kind of motion you enjoy, then combine that information with other health data—such as exercise and diet—to build a full picture of your sexual wellness.
Must try: Well, the Lioness, obviously! The company also offers a subscription to (S)exsplore, which provides content and interviews surrounding health and sexuality.