Jul 032017
 

Dame Fin, the finger vibrator from Dame ProductsBefore I talk about the Dame Fin, I need to talk about the company, Dame Products. This first section, while not being about the Fin per se, will still help give you some insight to what the hell is going on with Dame Products and help you determine if you should try the Dame Fin – or, even, bother supporting their next venture. Dame Products, the trendy, crowd-funding darlings du jour of the vibrator world, have funded and created their second sex toy aimed at hetero couples want an unobtrusive vibrator to use during PIV sex – the Fin.  Even though I really hated their marketing video for the Fin in their Kickstarter campaign, I began to have hopes that this time they could be better than their atrocious Eva.

This is some of the text from their Kickstarter page. Wouldn’t you, too, be lulled into a trusting sense of goodwill and hope? As a jaded reviewer I found myself saying “YES! THIS!”.

One of the main tradeoffs we identified was dexterity vs. power. If the product isn’t powerful enough, it isn’t worth using; if you can’t maintain dexterity, your movements don’t feel intuitive. Fin’s shape and placement between the fingers prevented the motor from interfering with testers’ natural movements.

We always test with women and couples from all different ages and backgrounds. If it doesn’t bring additional value to the sex lives of real people, we don’t put it on the market.

Vibrators worn on the hand have the potential to be great toys for first-time users, sex toy pros, couples or individuals. However, the market didn’t have a standout finger vibrator that balanced quality and ease of use with a reasonable price.

I thought about this market they speak of, the market of finger vibrators. They’re not wrong in saying that the finger vibrators on the market now are terrible – options include the weak-ass Jopen Key Aries or the pretentious and badly made Jimmyjane Hello Touch – that much I’ll give them. But moments before I was about to publish a different version of this review I read an interview with one of the Dame Products founders over at the NY Times and it changed my mindset. I went from forgiving, hopeful and respectful to “Wow, y’all didn’t do your research and this explains a lot“.  The interview starts off with this (emphasis my own): 

As a product designer, Janet Lieberman often finds flaws in everyday tech devices. This was particularly true when it came to vibrators, which she would spend hours shopping for on Amazon.

“I had always bought cheap vibrators and my bedside drawer was a graveyard for them,” said Ms. Lieberman, 31, who lives in Brooklyn and studied mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “You could replace the batteries but they still would stop working.”

After splurging on a pricey vibrator for a boyfriend’s birthday that also quickly died, she had an aha moment. “I realized there was a need for well-engineered sex toys,” she said. “There’s no real trusted brand and that’s what we’re setting out to be.”

Bone of Contention Number One: If you’re basing your entire opinion of the sex toy market from your experience shopping at Amazon? And mostly battery-powered vibrators, at that? You don’t know enough to make vibrators.

Bone of Contention Number Two: “There’s no real trusted brand” is the biggest line of bullshit I’ve heard in awhile. There are so many trusted brands who do actual good work in creating sex toys that work, and work well, and work for many. Brands that have been around for years. Ms. Lieberman just took a shit all over brands like We-Vibe, Je Joue, Vibratex, Doxy, Tenga, Tantus and even Swan/Jopen. I can’t trust a brand I can’t respect and I can’t respect a brand that tries to elevate itself by throwing everybody else under the bus.

Dame took the nearly $600,000 folks gave them during their Indiegogo campaign for the Eva and made a weak vibrator that failed to deliver on most of their heavy promises for many folks. Yet because people believe the hype and like the promises Dame Products make, Dame must have thought they were still on the right track. They used the nearly $400,000 folks gave them on Kickstarter and, after many prototypes and changes, could only come up with THIS. And THIS? This is not worthy of the $75 price tag. It is not worthy of the heavy promises they once again dished out. But I don’t think I should have expected much to begin with from a company that keeps erroneously, astonishingly, and with the unearned confidence of your average white cis man, making claims about the being first this1 and first that2, most of which is absolutely false.

What I Like About the Dame Fin

I was feeling generous when I wrote the other version of the review. I tried to tone down my salt. While there’s a lot about the Dame Fin, and Dame Products, that angers me there are some aspects of the Fin that I like. The two colors are interesting choices: Jade green and Coral orange which is more Dreamsicle orange than Coral. They’re not gendered colors but from what I’ve learned from seasonsed sex toy manufacturers, they’re not popular colors, either. Also lacking in gender: Most of the language on their Kickstarter campaign. Really happy to see that because this Kickstarter garnered a lot of attention and it showed a lot of muggles something about gender and language.

The underside of the Dame Fin The Dame Fin with the finger holster in place

I also don’t mind the shape of it. One side has a nipple for more pinpoint precision while the other side has a somewhat squishy bit that feels okay.  It is easy to hold and it will be fairly unobtrusive during PIV – something that is really important to a lot of people – so they did pretty well with the design in that aspect. Changing the power levels one-handed though is damn tricky without removing one finger from the sides of the body or swapping fingers. 

Holding the Fin between the tips of your fingers does work a lot better for me as a “finger vibrator” than something like the JimmyJane Hello Touch; it lets me use the same finger motion I’d normally use for manual stimulation. The finger holster helps to keep it between your fingers without fully relying on maintaining a strong finger grip, although it’s removeability feature means it can dislodge easily from the power button it hugs.

This is where I stop being polite, and start getting real. Cue the we’ve-heard-a-noise-in-the-basement-and-we’re-both-goin-down music.

The Dame Fin Is Noisy as Fuck

This is just insulting. This project was crowdfunded to Timbuktu and back; they received nearly $400,000 in pledges, far exceeding their original goal. So I cannot find it in me to understand, and be okay with, the cheap-sounding cringe-worthy rattle.  Lest you think I am exagerrating I recorded this video and can assure you it sounds worse in person. The other vibrator to compare it with is the Crave Flex which is a bit more powerful in use.

 

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And yes, I wondered if mine was defective but then Grace told me hers sounds exactly the same. Sad trombone. It’s noisy when I’m holding it in various positions and then gets noisier still when you apply any pressure to the softer side of the Fin’s body. You cannot predict which way to hold it to lessen the rattle. It’s like a fun game! Wait, no. I don’t like that game. The bottom line here: A $75 vibrator shouldn’t fucking sound like this. Hell, a $49 vibrator shouldn’t sound like this.

But Is It Powerful?

Dame Fin has three power levels and blessedly no patterns. I mean, holy fuck, can you imagine the noise level on PATTERNS? You’d end up wondering if somebody snuck up behind you with a maracca. The first level is very mild yet rumbling; my hope (still intact by this point) grew because it feels like the beginnings of rumble – nay, the whisper of rumble. The second level kicks it up just slightly while remaining rumbly; my hope continued to grow. Could it be? Could it be rumbly? I had visions of the Fin reaching the first level of the Tango in terms of rumble and intensity. And then, folks, I reached the 3rd and final level. My face fell. My hopes were incinerated. A song was immediately stuck in my head; “Didn’t we almost have it allll my friend?”. Indeed. We almost had it all. The third level of the Fin, you see, suddenly changes. You can still feel an undercurrent of rumble so it’s almost like there’s a second motor in there and this second motor is like a ghost of girlfriends past – I’m reminded of the Eva. I could swear that they just put the Eva motor in there. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem possible yet I’m at a loss for another way that I could be feeling both buzz and rumble like this.

I know that powerful is subjective. And the Fin is definitely more powerful than the Eva.  I’ve felt worse, many times over. I have no doubt that some of you will find that the Dame Fin is powerful enough for you. And you know what? It’s technically powerful enough for me – I say technically because I did orgasm. That one honestly shocked me. But it apparently lives in the gazebo with the Vesper – between the natural movements of my finger doing the rubbing motion plus the pinpoint precision I was able to weild, a surprise orgasm snuck up on me. I didn’t enjoy using it; it was kinda awkward and physically uncomfortable because of my reach issues.

In trying to find something small and similar in power, I looked at Crave brand. The Crave Vesper is just a bit more powerful; nay, more rumbly. The vibrations I think are deeper and that makes it seem more powerful in comparison than it probably is. The Crave Flex feels a notch or two more powerful in hand. Fin isn’t quite the surface-buzzy bullshit that we saw in the Eva but if the best I can say is “Meh, I’ve felt worse”? I can say it’s not bad but it cannot be called “powerful” – just maybe “powerful enough”.

Dame Fin vs Jopen Key Aries

When asked about how this compares to the similar Jopen Key Aries I decided to pick up an Aries and try it out. Both have a t-shaped finger wedge for resting between two fingers, both are small, etc. The Key Aries is powered by 1 AAA, the body is a little bigger and the button is at the front/back depending I guess on how you hold it. The t-shaped grip is soft, pliable silicone. Compared to the Jopen Key Aries, Dame Fin is a goddamn gem. That’s how bad the Aries is. The surface-buzzy vibrations aren’t worth $15, much less $25. The squidgy silicone finger gripper doesn’t give as much support, and overall it’s less ergonomic. Hey, it’s quiet though.

Dame Fin Needs Work

At this point I’m fed up with Dame Products and I realize this is going to be an unpopular opinion3. I’m not sure why I expect better vibrations simply because both of their crowdfunded projects have been excessively backed, but I do. If the vibrations were better – not utterly useless on the first level and deeper/more intense on the third level – it would raise my opinion.

I keep wibbly-wobbling on which fault is more glaring – the noise or the intensity so we’ll call it a draw. I could deal with the fumbling to change the setting if those two factors improved. I’ll only recommend the Dame Fin if they fix this terrible noise and if you, dear reader, are dead set on the design and don’t need powerful vibrations. Then, and only then, can I be okay with this.

Until that happens I’m gonna point you to the Tango, the Touch, the Flex, or the Jopen Lust L2.5. Or I’ll extol the virtues of repurposing a g-spot vibrator into a PIV-sex clitoral vibrator because the handle keeps your hand farther from the pubic bone and recommend the L’amourose Prism V, the Minamo for something less bone-shaking, or hell even this ultra-affordable egg-on-a-stick.

Thanks to SheVibe for providing me with the Dame Fin in exchange for my honest review.

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  1. Eva is the “first hands-free strap-free” vibrator for PIV sex. Nope, that’s the We-Vibe
  2. I’ve seen interviews where they talk about being the first by-women-for-women company, and nope. Definitely not
  3. I have heard from a number of industry folks who’ve met the duo that they’re lovely and nice, they have ideals and morals we’re not quite yet used to seeing, etc
  • m

    > from a company that keeps erroneously, astonishingly, and with the unearned confidence of your average white cis man

    That random attack didn’t improve the review. :(

  • “There’s no real trusted brand” is such a problematic thing for a new company to say – casting yourselves as saviors of an industry or product category while at the same time indicating that you’ve seemingly done little research into what already exists.

  • Zeke Graysex

    respectfully i’d like to say that personally, i wouldn’t say it’s random nor would i say it detracted from the review. it’s a fair and decent point, and an issue that deserves attention.

  • dcx_2

    Agreed. Disappointed to see such sexism on an allegedly sex-positive web site – guess it’s only sex-positive if you aren’t a white cis man, whose average confidence is a lot lower than Lilly gives them credit for.

    I signed up for Lilly’s newsletter because of the excellent articles she posted on sex toy materials. I shall unsubscribe from her newsletter because I don’t need to read articles that leave me with contempt for myself because of the genitals I was born with. Thanks for that =/

  • There’s literally no correlation between misandry (what you’re calling “sexism”) and being sex-positive. They’re two vastly different things.

    If that part negates, for you, every single other “excellent article” I’ve written, and has caused you to unsubscribe? You do you, bro.

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