Vagina-Monologues-Blog-Post

Guest Blog: The Vagina Monologues

I read The Vagina Monologues for the first time at drama school, five years ago. Hannah Cecily, a fellow drama student, and feminist mentor, pressed the book into my hands one day.

‘You must read this,’ she said, an earnest passion shining in her eyes.

I took it home and started reading it that night. From the very first page I was gripped and transfixed and as I read, my eyes were opened. I laughed and I cried and I shook with anger. I felt empowered, enraged, reassured, appalled, joyful and sad, then I felt them all over again. Every story touched me so deeply.

Vagina-MonologuesIn Flood, an old woman explains that after getting sexually excited on a date with her high school crush and getting her dress and his car seat wet, she thought there was something wrong with her and never touched her vagina or got sexually involved with anyone for the rest of her life. I felt a deep connection to this woman and felt so sad for all the sexual pleasure she had been denied. I ejaculated for the first time during a masturbating session in my mid-teens. I was so shocked and ashamed of myself and wrote in my diary that I would never masturbate again as ‘I wet myself when I orgasm’. It was magazines, the internet, and my female peers talking openly about sex that taught me what female ejaculation was and that it wasn’t disgusting or wrong. I wondered, had I been born fifty years earlier with no access to any of that, if the woman in the monologue might have been me.

Again and again, the stories highlighted how disconnected women can be from their vaginas, as a result of rape and assault, shame they were made to feel by parents or partners, and fear of their (or our) own sexuality. I knew then how important it is that we take back ownership of our sexuality and reconnect with our vaginas (something that Sh! is helping with marvellously by the way).

When Hannah asked me a few months ago if I would like to co-produce a production of The Vagina Monologues with her I knew I had to do it. The play is as potent and relevant now as it was then and it will be relevant until sexual assault and rape cease to be, and all women feel utterly connected to their vaginas and sexuality.

The process of putting the show together has been incredible. The fascinating and in-depth conversations that have arisen at each rehearsal and the level of respect and trust between us all is so special. Every single one of our cast members and directors has brought such truth and passion to the project and the result is a powerful, funny, heart-rending, and heartwarming production.

All proceeds from the night are being shared between four amazing charities: RESPECT UK and DVIP (Domestic Violence Intervention Project), both incredible charities who are addressing the huge problem of domestic violence by running preventative programs for perpetrators and would be perpetrators, thereby stopping it at its root; Rape Crisis, who offer support, advice and information to survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, and any kind of sexual assault; and this year’s VDay Spotlight campaign, Women in Prison, Detention Centres, and Formerly Incarcerated Women.

We would love you to join us in supporting these charities and celebrating vaginas, at 7pm on Tuesday March 5th at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Amazing Sh! raffle prizes also up for grabs!

Buy your ticket for The Vagina Monologues here.


Together we can start to heal the wounds and one day make a safe world for our vaginas.


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Many thanks to Jacinta for writing this blog post.

Lesbian Class Blog Post

What to expect from our lesbian sex classes

If you’re keen to explore sex in an open, friendly environment where questions are always welcome, our educational sex classes are a great option for you.

Learning about sex and finding out the things that you want to can be intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be.

Read on to find out more about what you can expect to discover when you attend one of our lesbian sex classes.

Who are the lesbian sex classes for?

We know how scary (and empowering!) it can feel to be newly out or ready to take it a step further with a special someone, which is why we are here to answer any and all questions that you might have.

Just because the title is ‘lesbian sex class’, please don’t think you’re going to be refused entry if you identify differently. We endeavor for each of our classes to be all-encompassing, which is why whether you are bisexual, pansexual, fluid, or straight but keen to try something new, you’ll be warmly welcomed by our friendly team.

Cis woman or trans woman makes no difference – if you identify as a woman who is interested in getting hot & bothered with other women, this class is for you.

Oh, also – there is no shaming of any kind allowed in our classes. The butchest of all butches to the femmest of all femmes, and everyone in between, is welcome. (Swooning at dapper waistcoats or sparkly nails is all par for the course at Sh!)

What will be covered during the class?

You’ll be glad to know that throughout the course of this class, all of the important stuff will be covered.

You’ll learn how to practice safer sex, an area that we don’t think receives half the attention that it should when it comes to sex between women.

We’ll talk about the importance of smooth fingernails as well as the best ways to use lube to enhance all sex play. We’ll talk fingers and tongues, and how to work out what she really likes.

Do you teach people about the female body?

Vulva PuppetNaturally, no woman-on-woman sex class would be complete without a bright focus on the female anatomy. Expect to learn about juicy hot spots, with special attention being paid to the clitoris and the G-spot. This happens with pictures, diagrams and more hands-on teaching with the help of our plush vulva ‘Rosie’.

After all, these two spots can create intense magic, so it’s important you feel clued up on how they work! (We’ll offer each guest to feel for Rosie’s G-spot, but you don’t have to take part in this if it makes you uncomfortable.)

What about positions?

We want to ensure guests know that sex doesn’t have to focus on penetration in order to be enjoyable, and the positions we talk about are more about bumping & grinding together. Penetration with fingers or toys are optional and not necessary for a great time.

And talking about toys; we’ll show a cherry-picked selection of small size sex toys that you and a partner can have fun exploring together.

Rounding things up

As mentioned above, we like to ensure that our classes are as open as possible, which is why we encourage people to ask any and all of the questions that they want to. Common questions include “is it possible to have too much sex” and “why does she/I get so sore when we have lots of sex” as well as questions about whether or not you should shave your pubic hair off before getting intimate with another woman.

 

Open All Hours

My Vagina Writes a Tinder Advert

At Sh!, we discuss all aspects of sex openly and frequently, and recently we found ourselves sharing online dating experiences in general and Tinder experiences in particular.

For those unfamiliar with Tinder, it is a virtual wonder of swiping left & right until you find a suitable match – hot hookups made in smartphone heaven!

If you’re not looking to be swept down the aisle – or even off your feet – hookups are the way to go. Getting laid by a Tinder date is much like a shagtastic McD: quick, satisfying and instantly forgettable. It requires little effort and you can get up & go at a moment’s notice. What’s not to love?

Being the forward-thinking, feminist women we are, we all agreed we want our vaginas to experience first-class swiping only (with lube obv), so we decided to ask our muffs what they’re really looking for. They are, after all, an essential part of our torrid shenanigans…

Dear Vag, what are you looking for in a potential hook-up?

A classic tall, dark & handsome lover perhaps? Or maybe a career-focused individual with own tech-company and strong spending power? Or – oooh – a bedhead with a husky voice and well-developed vocabulary?

As it turned out, our vaginas are not so discerning…

One claims to be “Open 24/7!” and another is looking for a fine dining experience with “Likes Eating Out” as its hook…

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“Short-haired minx. Enjoys purring, licking and being stroked in front of a roaring fire on a winter’s night… No tom pics please.”

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“They say you are what  you eat and everyone calls me a pussy…”

Our vaginas are bold (bald, in some cases), brave & badass, cheeky mares demanding pleasure at the drop of a pair of panties – who even knew?!

We’d love to hear what your vag or peen has to say – drop us a comment below and we’ll share the best ones on Twitter!

 

Q&A: Is it safe to put food in my vagina?

Q&A: Is it safe to put food in my vagina?

Hi Sh!

OK, this may seem like the weirdest/dumbest question of all time, but is it ok to put things like fruit or chocolate in my vagina? I’ve played around with it before. But are there like guidelines? Would fruit have pesticides? What is safe for me to put in my vagina? I don’t even know who to ask.

Love L.

Hey L,

The good news is that there are no dumb questions!

In fact, any A&E nurse will tell you people put all sorts of things inside themselves, without first considering if they’re safe, so this is actually a great question. 

Admittedly, the main reason peeps find themselves at A&E is because they’ve lost something up their bum, as toys, fruit and household implements can get lost up there and cause harm, if not, ahem, ‘extracted’.

Using items from the fresh produce aisle vaginally won’t necessitate any pink-cheeked trips to hospital but you are right to be cautious about pesticides and chemicals.

You can remove the chemicals and pesticides that are so freely sprayed over our fresh food these days by soaking in a vinegar solution (10% vinegar/ 90% water) and then rinsing again in fresh water.

It’s never a good idea to risk disrupting the delicate PH balance of your vagina and whilst rinsing is likely to remove all vinegar residue, fruit & veg have their own inherent alkaline and acidity levels, so there is a safer and easier option to ensure your lady garden blossoms rather than wilts, with culinary attention.

Fruit and vegetables are probably the first sex toys known to women and certainly the smooth, cool shape of a cucumber has caught many a women’s eye, so we’d say cover with a condom and go for it!

via GIPHY

Food as ‘foreplay’ is clearly a brilliant love triangle of mouths, taste and sex (who can forget the 9 1/2 weeks food scene) and we carry a whole range of edible delights such as body paint, massage oils and even candy nipple tassels to satisfy this.

Body paint, barring any allergies (they are likely to be made in factories that also work with nuts, so best avoided if you’re sensitive to this allergy) is safe for use on external areas, especially if it’s going to be licked off quickly (though not too quickly- eh!?) rather than be allowed to linger.

But you’re right that you have to be a bit more careful when it comes to what you put in your vagina.

Acidity in some foods can also be a problem and cause irritation. And it’s a bad idea to using anything spreadable because it might be hard to remove… When you start looking into it it seems like food may not be the safest thing to put in your vagina after all.

There are issues around putting anything sugary inside your vagina because sugar, including natural fruit sugars, can upset the natural balance and help create an environment where yeast infections such as thrush can spring to life.

We guess the best, most simple advice is to differentiate what goes on your body and what goes in.

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Body paint, whipped cream, honey or whatever you fancy can make for some sensational fun, but be cautious about putting anything on the delicate skin on your vulva and clitoris.

Anything going inside, either cover with a condom or stick to sex toys made of non-porous, body safe materials, such as silicone and ABS plastic, glass or metal (check out or advice about using sex toys safely too).

Thanks for the thought provoking question. If anyone has any questions about sex and relationships please contact us at advice@sh-womenstore.com.

Hope that helps!

Best Wishes, Team Sh! 

GWoV Talk

Talk & Book Signing: Jamie McCartney on The Great Wall of Vagina

Meet Jamie McCartney, the man behind The Great Wall of Vagina! Make the most of this rare appearance by asking him all your burning questions about women, vulvas and his wonderful art. Jamie will be at Sh!, talking about his epic sculptures and what – or rather who –  inspired him to create The Great Wall of Vagina. He will also sign copies of The Great Wall of Vagina Book – the official book of the project, complete with photographs. Copies of the book, along with other fun GWoV merchandise such as mugs and postcards will be available to purchase on the day.

Date: Saturday 2nd April 2016

Time: 12.30pm

Adress: Sh! 57 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB

Tickets: FREE

Jamie McCartney, a revolutionary wih a bucket of plaster, cast 400 vulvas for his 5-year long project The Great Wall of Vagina. The volunteers included mothers & daughters, identical twins, trans women as well as pre-and post natal women, and a woman pre- and post labia plasty.

From 18 to 76, the women volunteered to have their labia immortalized by McCartney and the work has been exhibited all over the world. Select pieces from The Great Wall of Vagina can now be enjoyed at Sh! The exhbition is free, and open Monday – Sunday 12-8pm until the end of April.

It’s an amazing exploration of human variety.

 

Display from Great Wall of Vagina

Would you get a labiaplasty? Our Survey results are in.

InfographWe hope you took the time to fill in our love your lips survey, the competition is now over. Our Winner was June Russel, if you missed out this time watch out for our next giveaway!

We’ve been crunching the results and they make for pretty interesting reading.

17% of the women we asked said they either had considered or would consider getting surgery to shorten or shape their labia.

That’s more than one in six women who would or have felt so insecure about their vulvas that they were willing to go under the knife. Risks of labiaplasty can include scarring, bleeding and infections. There is also a risk that the surgery will cause increased or decreased sensitivity or pain during sex. You might feel less self conscious but that’s not much use if it’s harder to enjoy yourself.

The rise in labiaplasty, which was first recorded as a purely aesthetic procedure in 1984, partly corresponds with the rise of the internet and accessible porn.  Mainstream porn can promote a very specific aesthetic and is something people are increasingly exposed to from a young age. However, unrealistic depictions of the female body are not unique to porn. Everywhere women look they are bombarded with photoshopped images and it seems that no area of the body is exempt from scrutiny. With that mind it’s perhaps not surprising that so many women feel insecure about how they look.

23% felt judged or were concerned about being judged by a partner on the appearance of their labia.

This might also help to explain why so many women were willing to consider surgery. We have to consider where this feeling of judgement is coming from.

Interestingly only 12.5% of lesbian identifying women felt judged or worried about their labias compared with 20% of straight women and a worrying 30% of bisexual women. Bisexual women were also the most likely to have considered surgery.

We’re really interested in why that might be. It seems like judgement or the fear of judgement might be more common in women with male sex partners. This might be because women with male partners have seen a less diverse range of vulvas or because women feel men are more likely to be comparing them to porn.

Straight identifying women were also the least likely to love their lips (43%) .

Whereas bisexual women were the most likely (54%) so it does seem like taking some time to appreciate the beauty of all vulvas is good for your body image.

If you’re interested in seeing some very real, very diverse images of vulvas come and take a peek at the Great Wall of Vagina. There will be pieces on display at Sh! until the end of April. Find out more here. We think it’s important for more women to see more images of real vulvas, at any age it’s an education. Labiaplasty is becoming increasingly common among very young women and we’d like to see more efforts to let young people know that vaginas come in all shapes and sizes and that they are all beautiful.

Let us know what you think on Twitter or in the comments.

Vaginal Health

Sexual Health Week: Vaginal Health

When we googled the word “vagina”, we found more than 1000 euphemisms. Beaver, clam, ladygarden, cock-sock (really?) and muff are a few. Being the forward females that we are, we quite like pussy and the dreaded c-word too, but we realise those words aren’t for everyone so we’ll stick with vagina.

Keeping your vagina happy & healthy is essential – an itchy muffkin is no joking matter. Any woman who has ever had thrush knows what we’re talking about: thrush is a yeast infection, causing itching and soreness around the vaginal opening, alongside the dreaded cottage cheese-like discharge. It’s easily treatable, but it’s an absolute bugger if you are unfortunate enough to experience a bout.

  • Vaginal Discharge

A healthy vagina will produce around 700ml of mucus each month. The mucus will change throughout your cycle, and this is perfectly normal. Your mucus will be transparent and stringy during ovulation, which is a useful hint if you are trying for a baby.

  • Vaginal Smell

The vagina has a slight odour, but it’s not unpleasant. Diet, sexual arousal or ovulation can change the smell slightly, but it should still smell fresh. A strong-smelling vagina could indicate an infection and should be investigated.

  • Vaginal Bacteria

The vagina produces healthy bacteria called lactobaccili. Good bacteria inside the vagina should flourish and outweigh any bad bacteria. For this reason, you should not douche the vagina, or wash with strongly scented soaps. It may seem as if you’re giving yourself a “deeper clean” but in actual fact, you’re upsetting the natural pH and you’re likelier to end up with a vaginal infection.

  • KnickersVaginal Cleansing

The vagina is self-cleansing, which means you needn’t scrub it out. Washing the labia folds with gentle soap and water is enough – the inside takes care of itself. The vagina is clever like that.

  • Bacterial Vaginosis

Every so often we meet women who say they have developed an vaginal infection for no apparent reason. When we ask for more details, we can often help pin point what has caused the bout of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).

Very hot baths, or bubble baths, are lovely to sink into, but they don’t do vaginas any favours. The hot water and scented bubbles will dry out the delicate vaginal membranes, and too many of these lovely baths will cause an imbalance in vaginal pH, and before you  know it,  you’ll find yourself with a sour-smelling, watery discharge that needs seeing to. Strong washing powers may also cause BV, as can douching (flushing out the vagina with water). Showers are more vagina-friendly, plus that shower head is always fun…

If you suspect you have BV or any other vaginal infection, it’s time to book an appointment with your GP.