Business 08 August 2017
Introducing Pulse, a line of two personal lubricants and a warming dispenser that’s sure to get your heartrate up. Amy Buckalter, CEO and Founder of the line, was inspired to create the products when she first reached the onset of menopause. She started experiencing pain and discomfort during sex, due to vaginal dryness. This newfound dryness, her gynecologist explained, was a sign of perimenopause, and would soon be her “new normal.” Determined to not let this become her fate, Buckalter tried many commercial lubricants, but found them sorely lacking: they either didn’t moisturize adequately, were uncomfortably cold, or irritated the sensitive tissues.
Since she couldn’t find a lubricant on the market that met her standards, the trailblazer decided to create her own line of products. Pulse provides moisturizing personal lubricants made with all natural ingredients, delivered through a sleek heating process. The ingredients in the pods are all FDA-cleared, hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and condom-friendly. They come in two “formulas:” Aloe-ahh and H2Oh! Aloe-ahh uses a silicone-based formula that includes soothing aloe and vitamin E, while H2Oh! is a water-based formula containing chia extract, which is known for its hydrating properties.
Aloe-ahh and H2Oh! Lubricants
“No longer do men and women have to settle for trashy and cheap-looking bottles,” says Buckalter.
All the user has to do is open the pod chamber, insert the lubricant pods, close the chamber, and wait four to six minutes for the chamber to heat the lubricant. Then, with just a pass of a hand under the invisible activation beam, a precise amount of perfectly warmed lubricant is instantly dispensed.
The style of the dispenser is also very pleasing: it’s chic, modern, and portable. It also offers a mood-setting property: the dispenser has a mood light with six different color settings to choose from, and a slider to control the brightness of the light. Though the dispenser is a quality addition to the pods, the lubricants can be used separately, and independent from the dispenser. Each pod contains nine servings per bottle, and when the user gets to the eighth serving, the dispenser light turns yellow, alerting the user. After the ninth serving, the light turns red.
Lube Heating Device
Pulse products aren’t just on the market to satisfy sexual needs; it’s also a foot forward for female empowerment. “We want women to look out for their own sexual health and pleasure,” Buckalter asserts. “We are looking out for vaginal health. We don’t want women to be in pain without saying it.” A major purpose of the products is to empower both women and men to say more about what they’re feeling with respect to sex, which is often an under-talked and taboo subject.
Cindi Buxton is a naturopathic doctor that’s part of the Pulse team, working alongside chemists to create the healthiest formulas for the Pulse customers. “There is often psychological and physical distress involved in sex, and we want to help facilitate conversations about sex and relationships,” Dr Buxton says. “Sex enhances your dopamine, and burns calories. These are wellness products.”
Though lubricants often promote healthy sexual activity, there still remains a stigma in society to using them.
Males often interpret the use of lubricants as an indication that their partner is not physiologically attracted to them. Women, in turn, become hesitant to use lubricants, for fear of hurting or insulting their partners. “In many heterosexual relationships, women want to protect the male ego,” says relationship expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz. “Women often say, ‘I shouldn’t have to use lube, it should be natural.’”
But what many people don’t know, is that sometimes one’s sexual desires and their physical responses don’t align perfectly. One can be turned on by their partner psychologically, but their bodies don’t react in proportion to that attraction. There can be a myriad of reasons for this: some antidepressants have the side effect of sexual disinterest, some women are going through menopause, or some are simply experiencing immense stress due to life events – all of which can result in a lack of physical lubrication.
“With Pulse, we hope to take away the taboo that using a lubricant means that there’s less of an attraction to the partner,” Dr. Buxton states. “Women have often been taught that their bodies are just a way to please men.” That sort of belief clearly needs to change. With the Pulse products, the founders aren’t solely focused on bringing added comfort to sex, but also on encouraging the users to have more fun and enjoy themselves. Because women shouldn’t just view sex as an activity to please men – they should do it because they enjoy it just as much (if not more so!).
With the launching product so closely tied to the risque activity of sex, one might expect there to be some challenges in acquiring funding. Buckalter, however, claims that they faced little to no obstacles in obtaining advertisements and investors for her products. “There was no backlash, and we went right to the price rounds,” she says. “65 to 70 percent of the investors were women. The men, meanwhile, are also getting validated because of the comfort this product will provide for their partners.”
And ultimately, the Pulse team hopes to facilitate more constructive conversations around sex. “We want to bring sex out of the hidden drawer, and bring forth communication about sex in relationships.”
And with its line of aesthetically-pleasing and portable products, along with its promise of natural ingredients with no harsh preservatives, parabens, glycerin*, or petroleum (*less than .01 percent in the H2Oh! used for extraction with Chia), we’re sure that their mission would not only be accomplished, but will be met with the warm acclaim they deserve.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.