Something exciting is happening in the Dame-iverse: Our founder and CEO Alex Fine is pregnant, due in Cancer season! Lucky for us, she has lots of thoughts about it. Just in time for Mother’s Day, we talked to Alex about pregnancy and motherhood—and how they both affect her sexuality, identity, and job running a sex toy company.
So, how’s your pregnancy been?
It’s annoying and it’s beautiful. I think, Wow, this is so cool. If you tried to set a KPI for the company like, “Let’s make a human in 9 months,” we’d be like, “Whoa, we don’t even make a vibrator in 9 months.” I can’t believe my body just knows how to do this, that sex is how you do this.
I don’t know if it’s because I work or because of who I am, but it’s been mostly really easy. It’s annoying on my body (I get cramps every now and then) but I have a friend who feels like she has to take a nap every day. I’m not feeling that way. It’s either great, or I’m really bad at checking in with my body—it’s one of those two, I haven’t decided. I’m naturally very go-go-go and like to be high energy, so sometimes I really need to be intentional about slowing down.
You’ve been very open and transparent about your post-partum plans with the rest of the company. What thoughts have you had about motherhood and work culture?
Because of the pandemic, I felt more prepared to put together a plan because I’m now so much more comfortable making plans based in total uncertainty. What I learned is that providing clarity doesn’t mean a plan is 100% going to happen; it’s just that we’re on the same page about what’s going to happen right now. It made it so much easier to approach a parental leave plan. I don’t really know how I’m going to feel, and that’s okay.
I go back and forth between feeling like I’m gonna want to come right back to work, and seeing images of mothers with their children in a field and being like, “I just want to do that and not work.” Maybe my priorities will really change, and I’m excited about that. I put so much of myself into this company, and it gives me so much satisfaction and feedback, that it could be really nice to have a constant reminder that work is not life. Work can make me feel like a worthy person, but now there will be another way to feel that worth.
How have you felt about your sexuality while you’re pregnant, and how does that relate to Dame’s message?
It’s been such a reminder that there’s a biological component to our sexuality—there are so many thing that impact our desire, our interest in sex. All that has really fluctuated this past year, both because of the pandemic and pregnancy. But even before being pregnant, I remember feeling like, “Well, I run a sex toy company, I need to be having sex at least once a week, or I’m a fuckin’ fraud.” [That kind of self-policing] is stupid, obviously, but I’m also really intentional about my sexuality and I do feel that sexual pleasure is important. So I have been trying to prioritize what that means for me.
I’ve mostly had a lower libido [during pregnancy]. People say the second trimester you have a super-high libido, and I was so excited for that, and I just didn’t feel it. I haven’t had cravings, or any of these more intense pregnancy experiences, which I do feel a little sad about. I heard somebody describe a craving experience that sounded so erotic: I wanted peanut butter so badly, and I didn’t have it, and I had to go out in the world and search for it, and when I got a lick of peanut butter, it was sooo satisfying. I was like, that sounds amazing, I want that whole journey, and I haven’t had that. For me, it’s just been a reminder that [desire] fluctuates over time, and all of that is natural and normal, and there are so many ways to have a fulfilling sex life that may not include lots of sex.
“I haven’t wanted to do all the people-pleasing things you’re supposed to do when you’re pregnant. I’m not connecting with any desire to become more docile.”
I’ve cried during sex recently. It was after I had a miscarriage scare and I couldn’t have sex for a little bit, and Perry [my husband] and I went to go have sex after 2 or 3 weeks. It was not good, it was painful, I couldn’t get my mind into it, but I was so determined to have sex that I wouldn’t let him stop even though I was crying. I just felt like I wanted to prioritize this, I wanted to access this mental space, I could breathe into it. If I just relax, I will get there. And that happens a lot, but what was going through my head was: What if this is what sex is like for me now? What if sex never feels good again? What if I’m losing my love for this thing that I’ve shaped my whole life around?
Sometimes sex is a thing we have to allow to happen to us, and it has been harder to tap into it, and I’ve been looking at that as an opportunity. There are so many people where that’s just their reality, so that’s an opportunity to connect with those people and understand where some of my customers are coming from. I tell myself, This is gonna be okay.
I’ve definitely been masturbating a lot more, because partnered sex has been harder but solo play has been easier. I’ve gotten way kinkier in my fantasies, and I can’t tell whether it’s pregnancy or COVID.
You wrote on Instagram that you feel like a “non-binary pregnant woman.” Tell me more about your relationship with your gender identity now that your body is, in your words, “doing the most female thing it can do.”
I’ve felt like this for a long time. If I’m asked to check a box for biological reasons, I have no problem checking a box and saying, “I have a vagina and I’m female.” I’ve always loved having the name Alex and getting to be neither gender. I really related to a controversial New York Times article that suggested we all start with “they” when we meet people. I’ve just been thinking a lot about motherhood and what that means for me, but I think [being able to claim a non-binary identity] has more to do with the cultural climate right now rather than pregnancy. I’m doing this really female thing, and I do really feel connected to my womanhood right now and excited about becoming a mom, but I also just feel really put off when people put things on motherhood that I don’t want.
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I don’t relate to nesting, to switching my life to be centered around motherhood. I’ve had weird feelings around people touching my belly. I haven’t wanted to do all the people-pleasing things you’re supposed to do when you’re pregnant. Like all these restrictions on your body—there are so many food restrictions, and I won’t do them. I went skiing, and I’m going to still take risks, because I think my body is strong. And again, this could easily just be a different version of femininity, but I’m not connecting with any desire to become more docile. I really want to go back to work quickly, and that feels more masculine to me.
I had a heated conversation with my husband the other day, where he was like, “Don’t you feel like you’re not expanding the concept of womanhood by saying you’re non-binary?” And I was like, “Some people can do that, and that’s great. But I like the concept of being non-binary because I still feel like being a woman boxes me in. If I was born 20 years from now, I might feel different.”
What excites you about motherhood?
It’s actually been hard for me to express my excitement to friends and in more public spaces. My therapist would say that has to do with having trauma as a little kid and always wanting to seem self-sufficient and not showing my vulnerabilities. But I am really, really excited. I’m excited to see this kid that is hopefully something like me and something like my husband, and be able to help guide them in the world because we understand each other. This isn’t going to happen for like 13 years, but I can’t wait to find out what I do that really annoys my kid. Hopefully I’ll be able to listen and not be offended. I’m sure it’ll come out in a really nasty way from my kid’s mouth, but I think I’ve been able to see patterns in my parents that they haven’t.
I’m excited to breastfeed and see what that’s like. I’m also nervous because I know it’s not always a nice experience, but I just think it’s so cool and I’m so amazed by what our bodies can do. I’m excited for them to smile and to get to know who they are. I’m trying to really catch myself from saying hopes and dreams for them, because I don’t want to project onto them.
I’m also excited to feel my feminine energy, and really lean into that. I’d like to feel the power in that, and to continue to find ways of being a slutty mom, or a slutty pregnant lady, and continuously explore gender and sexuality and the way it changes with time.