I Went To A Vagina Club To Cure My Catholic School Repression

Culture


Catholic school ruined me. It’s a familiar sentiment for many of us who were scolded by nuns for wearing nail polish, chased with a ruler to make sure their skirt was long enough, or forced (ok, strongly encouraged) to sign a virginity contract that pledged we’d abstain until marriage. Needless to say, I’m weird about some shit. Talking about sex freaks me out! It’s a combination of learned repression, inherent squeamishness, and a large heaping of Catholic guilt that likely stems from two teen memories: The sex-ed video that was screened in 8th grade in which a man with a snake tattoo ruined a woman’s life by seducing her, and the chapter in a religion textbook that equated heroin use and masturbation and called them immortal sins.

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So when I heard about a new sex-positive V. Club launching in NYC, I thought, ‘Here’s my chance to rewrite history.’ I would go to a sex class and learn what a diagram in a video from 2005 couldn’t teach me: to be totally chill about sex. Take that, Sister Sharon.

The V. Club, which opens today, is being billed as New York’s first modern health, wellness, and relationship education studio. The space is painted Tiffany blue and dotted with tufted deep blue chairs and glossy round cafe tables. I expected The Wing meets Glossier; millennial pink but make it sexy. This was decidedly more…bachelorette party for the timid gal. (There were no penis straws, but there was some framed art of a manicured hand delicately fingering a grapefruit.)

Courtesy of The V.Club

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The club offers masterclasses to women in the hopes of empowering them to live their best sexual life (whatever that means). It’s launching with three workshops: The Mature Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health and Relationships, Ladies Come First: Finding Your Sexual Bliss, and the deeply problematic Men by Design: His Body, Your Knowledge (more on that later).

Ladies Come First is a class that aims to help women have vaginal orgasms. Great. The Mature Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health and Relationships is targeted to the over-50 crowd looking to reignite their sexual connections. Something’s Gotta Give distilled for the classroom, essentially. Men by Design, meanwhile, aims to demystify how the male body works, but the pamphlet I received was just two dozen pages of hand job techniques: “Wringing the Cloth,” “Flip the Glass,” the triggering “Like a Prayer,” the “Sweet Shadow Puppet and the “Angry Shadow Puppet,” plus something called “The Spider Legs.” The pamphlet opened with a “quote” from JFK, “”If I don’t have sex every day, I get a headache.” JFC. An “after party checklist” asked if I had “made eye contact,” “give[n] him a sexy visual,” or “work[ed] with generous hands.” I…thought this was supposed to be about me? And my pleasure?

While I did not take part in the full classes, I got a rundown about each with the instructors. I also received all the appropriate class materials (See: “The Spider Legs”). Much to my surprise, most of the instructors were life coaches instead of licensed sex therapists. They emphasized their mission of creating a female-oriented safe space for women to discuss sex. When I pointed out the lack of inclusivity for all types of women, vagina-possessing or not, as well as ones in non-heterosexual relationships, they promised, unironically, All that is coming.

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Courtesy of The V. Club

If there’s a sex ed spectrum, the repressive Catholic school teachings of my youth are on one end, and the V Club is decidedly somewhere…in the past, treating women like they’re at a brunch with the ladies from Sex in the City set firmly in the year 2001. But we’re not all Samanthas! The V. Club is like if The Skimm was put in charge of sex education: appealing to literally thousands of women, but not really for me.

In addition to the night’s most important takeaway that apparently everyone should be doing kegels all day every day, I also learned that sex education is not one-size fits all. This particular studio didn’t feel inclusive in the way I’d want my sex education to be, but that’s not to say the Mature Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health won’t help a Diane Keaton type.

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Did I cure my lifelong Catholic school-borne repression? Absolutely not. Do I feel a little bit better about talking about sex, enough so to write an entire whole article about it? I guess I’d say I’m somewhere between a Sweet and Angry Shadow Puppet.



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