I’ve never told you much about my labia, but I guess now’s as good a time as any. I’d describe my outer labia as puffy, yet unobtrusive. My inner labia? Visible but modest. Usually, my labia don’t cross my mind often… but then the Dame Eva came along, and suddenly I was digging around in there like a raccoon foraging through the garbage.
Engineered with the wishful thinking that the vulva is merely a puzzle to be solved, Eva is a rechargeable vibrator with flexible arms that tuck under the labia to secure the toy to one’s vulva, against the clitoris. It’s sort of a modern-day, body-safe take on the laughably-bad strap-on vibrators of yore (see: “I am not easily embarrassed when it comes to sex toys, but this one is just demeaning. It says, ‘hi, I’m a purple gooey butterfly haphazardly strapped around your body. Yes, it has come to this'”).
Eva tries to keep your vagina accessible, open to being penetrated at all times. You know, so objects can slide into it. Or fly into it. Or plop into it. Whatever. I don’t know how you have sex. It does this because, ostensibly, all cis women are straight and all toys they use use during partnered sex must not get in the way of The Penis or The Man Body.1 They must require absolutely no assistance. They must be hands-free. As the thinking goes.
Priced at $105, the Eva is made by Dame Products, a newish company headed by two women. The toy is borne of a crowdfunding campaign, in which they did that thing I hate by labeling Eva “the first truly wearable couples’ vibrator” (uh, cock rings would like to call bullshit). Either this shit is rigged or people were deeply swayed by the concept, because Eva raised $839,282, over 1000% of its goal, making it the most financially successful sex toy crowdfunding campaign to date.
It’s an interesting idea — a hands-free vibrator which leverages the folds of the labia rather than the depths of the vagina for its staying power. If Eva worked as promised, then holy shit, that would be game-changing. Vaginas everywhere would start spewing confetti and guzzling champagne. But I kinda knew that would never happen, for one simple, unavoidable reason: anatomy.
This is a sex toy that desperately needs a disclaimer, because it’s so anatomy-specific it’s nearly impossible to determine whether it will attach correctly to your genitals, and even if it does… you might not want it to.
Eva looks so much like an insect that it has become a common joke. My boyfriend doesn’t know Eva is called Eva; he knows it only as “the bug thing.” I felt less mean when I learned that the creators acknowledge the toy’s resemblance to a beetle, but isn’t it sad when the easiest shorthand descriptor of your product is “the bug thing”? Especially a product that latches onto genitals. The only worse phrase would be “the spider thing,” I think, or “the centipede thing.”
At least Eva’s packaging is on point. No overzealous box or unnecessary materials, just the essentials: USB charging cord, USB-to-wall adapter, black satin storage pouch, manual, and a hilarious sticker that reads “#EVALUTION.” (Okay, sure, make that hashtag happen.) To charge Eva, you pierce the silicone with the charging jack. Because of this, it is not waterproof.
Eva’s settings are easy to sum up, because there are only three of them: ugh, ughhh, and UGH STOP. They’re all steady, all viciously buzzy and high-pitched. In fact, there’s a face that sex toy reviewers make the moment they turn on Eva. It’s half-wince, half-disbelief — the immediate unequivocal recognition of how terrible the vibrations are. I’ve seen it in my friends’ faces, and I know it’s the look that washed over my own. This vibrator sounds — and feels — like a wasp becoming increasingly angry.
What’s worse than a wasp, though? I’ll tell you: a wasp that hates lube. Eva already wants to fall off my vulva, but adding lube makes that an absolute certainty. Really? I’m offended both intellectually and physically. Lube is essential, number one, and number two, I can’t just confine lube to my vagina. When using a penetrative toy, I specifically require lube on my vulva to reduce friction. That lube is bound to migrate.
There is no way in which lube can peacefully co-exist with Eva. So dry off your vulvas, people. (I suggest a space heater.)
I gave Eva the fairest shake of all by making it the starter whenever possible. I refrained from using lube. I dug deeper in my labia than has ever been necessary, shoving it as far under as I could. I moved slowly, like a cat slinking by a foe, when adding a dildo to the equation. Yet every time, sometimes within 30 seconds of application, it would dislodge itself.
Even during the brief periods when it was attached to my body, it didn’t reach my clit… it just sort of hovered over it, like a flying saucer trying to abduct my genitals.
It’s a whole process, and the process sucks. Having to awkwardly hold it against my body with slippery fingers sucks, having to worry about knocking it with a dildo sucks, and never forget — those vibrations Suck with a capital S. After every session with Eva, I would think to myself can I be done with you? Forever? as I pried it off my vulva and wiped my sticky hands on a towel. Then I’d promise myself a better vibrator for my next orgasm.
Wanting to divorce Eva from its hands-free aims, I found that I could tuck my pointer and middle finger under each arm of the bug to press the vibrating part against my clit. But this almost disheartened me more, because it perfectly isolated the thing that makes this toy so awful: the vibrations. The vast majority of my toys have better motors than this, which makes using Eva uniquely upsetting. It’s like being forced to eat broccoli while the smell of bacon wafts through the air.
I thought it would be worse during penetrative sex with my boyfriend, but ironically, that was the only way I didn’t hate it. We had to be in missionary, with his body pressed into mine enough to keep Eva in place against my clit. When I’m in the throes of PIV2 sex and have yet to use a toy of any sort, my standards for vibration are severely lowered. Any vibration is a welcome addition. Therefore, even Eva’s vibrations felt borderline pleasurable. Of course, when I tried to climb on top for cowgirl, I couldn’t get Eva to stay near my vulva to save my life.
Remember the utopia in which this vibrator blends seamlessly into the sexual experience? Yeah, that’s not a reality. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve thrown Eva down in disgust after it wouldn’t stay on my body. This toy does not simplify sex — it disrupts. I’d so much rather hold a good vibrator against my clit, knowing it will be in the spot I need it to be delivering the kind of pressure and sensation I enjoy. And if I want to go completely hands-free, I’ll use the friggin’ We-Vibe Dusk.
I can confirm, as well, that Eva looks pretty stupid on an actual human body. My friend Lorax tried mine while we hung out (as we do) and it looked like a bizarre genital adornment. Also, it kept falling off their vulva mid-sentence. Until they wiped the lube off, that is. “Now that I have no lube and zero arousal level,” they narrated, “it’s making better purchase with my body.”
My girlfriend, Aerie, was able to secure Eva to their vulva better than anyone. We even nudged and flicked the toy to test its stability, because #us, and I was able to finger them without it falling out of place. But Aerie knew they weren’t going to be able to come from the vibrations, and when they turned Eva past its first setting they made a horrible (and appropriate) stank face.
I can’t make sense of the disparity between my experience and theirs. We both have fairly full outer labia, which should be the most important factor for attachment. But my inner labia are small, while Aerie’s have been described as “devastating” in their prominence. Maybe, somehow, this matters?
For a while, Aerie’s success3 with Eva was making me re-think everything, but then I gave myself a stern talking-to. I can’t test this toy on every set of labia I know, as much as my neurotic brain wishes it could. I can’t be the everyvulva. I can only say that for me, this vibrator fails miserably, and as a human with completely normal labia (because all labia are normal labia), that matters.
Labial variety aside, though, I want to reiterate that the vibrations in this toy are a fucking joke. So buzzy, and they’re even more unpleasant with no lube to buffer them. These are the kind of vibrations that lead me to think, maybe an orgasm isn’t worth it. Maybe I’ll just stop. You know it’s bad when abstinence starts to sound appealing.
Innovation is great; making things easier for people is great; women-run companies are great. What’s not great is the prioritizing of a hands-free experience over an actually, um, fulfilling experience, and utilizing buzzwords to seduce people into buying your product. Most people didn’t need a hands-free sex toy until we told them they did, and I’m starting to think we never should’ve told them. Now slapping “couples” or “hands-free” onto your packaging instantly makes cis hetero couples feel like clitoral pleasure is within reach, when — let’s be real — it’s still a struggle for most to achieve satisfactory clitoral stimulation during PIV sex.
I don’t want to downplay the fact that women made this and it’s a unique and valid and ambitious idea. The creators of Eva seem articulate and understanding of the nuances and obstacles involved in their work as designers. I am certain they are the reason this toy is comfortable and not pinchy, teal and not pink,4 why it doesn’t come in a box the size of Mt. Rushmore and isn’t named something like LadyHug. But… and I can’t believe I’m saying this… women aren’t everything. Women have invented some amazing things, but this is not one of them. At least if we’re judging by execution rather than concept.
Because a sex toy is not hands-free if I have to keep picking it up off the floor/bed/chair, dusting off the cat hair, and applying it to my body all over again. It’s not hands-free if I have to manipulate my labia, coating my fingers in vag goo, in an attempt to affix it to my genitals. It’s not hands-free when every orgasm I’ve had with it (not many, because no) has been with my fingers physically holding it against my body.
I am so tired of giving Eva ninth, tenth, eleventh chances. The turning point is not coming, the silver lining is not there. Transcendental pleasure is not possible, and I knew that long ago, but now I believe even mediocre pleasure is not. They wanted me to tuck this toy under my labia, but there’s only one place I plan to tuck it now: deep in some rarely-opened bin in my closet, somewhere I’ll forget.
- Seriously. Eva’s creators even said, “We set out to design a wearable clitoral stimulator that would enhance the lady’s pleasure without penalizing the gentlemen.”
- By which I mean, the fact that it attached to their vulva and actually stayed there.
- Although it does come in a dusty lavender.