Closing the Pleasure Gap

For the past two years, Listen has developed a thesis called “Better You,” which focuses on the factors that drive personal health and wellness — mental, sleep, nutrition, activity, livelihood, and relationships.

Closing the Pleasure Gap

This has been informed by our investments in Calm, Factor, Catch Co, and Slumberkins, and now shapes the way that we explore new categories and brands. The vertical that has most compelled us recently is relationships: self, friendships, family, sex, marriage, etc.

In digging deeper, we explored women’s sexual wellness and found a category that was full of stigma and restrictions, but one that is central to relationships. Moreover, sexual wellness is an entry point to broader women’s health and wellbeing and an important topic that impacts so much of our lives. Beyond physical intimacy, sexual wellness is confidence in and connection to your self, your body, your feelings about intimacy, sex, relationships, and your partner. However, women often struggle with a sense of shame around sex due to media portrayal, societal expectations, and personal experiences. The opportunity we see is revoking the need for permission and thereby shedding the discomfort.

Through our market research, we also learned more about the pleasure gap (specifically that women are 4x more likely to say that sex was not pleasurable) and it became clear that there was a cultural tension we needed to unpack. While the women’s health market is massive, significant gaps still persist — stemming from the fact that the market continues to suffer from consistent underrepresentation, lack of funding/research, and enduring stigma. Further, many of the female-focused sex-postive brands we spoke with have been restricted around advertising, while their male focused counterpoints seem to be able to market more freely. But where there is tension, there’s opportunity. And there are incredible purpose-driven founders who are challenging this very status quo and reimagining the female sexual wellness journey.

Closing the Pleasure Gap

Enter Dame — the sexual health platform we’ve been looking for to help enrich our relationships, our health, and our society and the newest addition to the Listen fam. Our thesis for making any new investment starts with the team; and Alex, founder/CEO of Dame has undeniable founder-market fit. She is a sex therapist and has led the charge on not only closing the pleasure gap but also breaking down category barriers, facilitated meaningful conversations about intimacy and relationships, and started to shift the way people think about sexual health and wellness. 

We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Alex and the entire Dame team to establish Dame as THE authority around the female perspective on pleasure and build the go-to sexual wellness brand. You can hear more about her story in her 2020 guest appearance on Listen’s podcast, Overheard. And if you’d like to help fight the pleasure gap, feel free to peruse Dame’s products here.

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