Alumni design vibrator for women

by Emilia Baldwin | 2/23/16 7:31pm

After hearing about her midwest conservative upbringing, one might be surprised to learn that Elizabeth Klinger ’10 created Lioness, a company focused on creating a vibrator for women, with her business partner James Wang ’10.

Wang said that the market is not geared towards women because the niche emerged as a result of men deciding to incorporate vibrators into their sex lives during a lull in a long-term relationship. He also pointed out that many of the current vibrators on the market have features that men think women want.

“These things are loud and a lot of the time have a bunch of different vibrations, which, if you walk into a sex shop, are things that you might think you want, especially if you don’t know a lot about the topic,” he said.

Both Klinger and her partner explained that the Lioness vibrator began as a quest to make a typical vibrator with the best materials.

The vibrator then evolved to feature sensors which track the preferences of the user, Klinger said. The vibrator also connects to an app which keeps track of the experiences of the users. The two have raised $77,460 of a $50,000 goal on their Indiegogo campaign with a month left to go.

Klinger has always been interested in women’s sexual health, she said, but went on to work for an investment bank after graduation. After leaving that job, Klinger decided that she wanted to explore her interest in female sexual health and spoke to many women in the New York tri-state area about their sexual questions and experiences.

She said that women from all different backgrounds had several questions about their own sexuality.

“I wanted to create a forum in which women could explore their sexuality and have their questions answered,” Klingen said.

Both Klinger and Wang explained that the Lioness provides a platform for women to not only use and enjoy the product, but also for women to learn more about their preferences and their own bodies.

On their website, the company has features such as a question of the week, with this week’s question exploring how the Hitachi Magic Wand, one of the most popular vibrators since the 1960s, works.

Klinger also said that she felt women’s sexual health was not talked about enough at Dartmouth, especially when comparing her time at Dartmouth to her time at Wellesley College, where she spent her first two years of her undergraduate career.

“Wellesley has always been an all women’s college, and Dartmouth was the one of the last Ivy League schools to let in women,” she said. “The culture was very different.”

She added, however, that her time at both schools only played a small role in her passion for sexual health.

Jessica Jolicoeur, founder of Athena Home Novelties, a company that distributes sexual novelties in a home-party setting, said that vibrators and other toys aid both male and female sexuality. Jolicoeur said that her company’s familiar setting ­­— private consultations within a home — helps women open up about their sexuality and their fears regarding new experiences.

“People often open up about their previous sexual abuse, or sexual dysfunction, and you see these women actually wanting to try something new and reconnect with their sexuality,” Jolicoeur said.

Jolicoeur highlighted the fact that the people who attend her home-parties are not sexual deviants or particularly provocative.

“It’s just a lot of normal people, none of us are dressed like strippers or anything like that,” she said.

The goal of her parties is to educate and help people who are interested in using toys or other sexual novelties to enhance their experiences, she said.

Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and relationship expert, said that she dislikes vibrators and other novelties’ description as toys, because she feels it discredits the need some women and couples have for them in order to have a pleasurable sexual experience.

Both Jolicoeur and Levkoff agreed that the discussion and use of vibrators and other novelties has become much less taboo in recent years. Levkoff cited a “Sex and the City” episode in which a rabbit vibrator was mentioned, saying that since then it has become much more common for sex toys to be brought up on television. Jolicoeur says that since her time starting in the industry in the 1990s, people have become much more overt about their use of toys in their sexual experiences with themselves or with a partner.