"Hi, my name is Bella and my fanny is, um, happy?"
On a rainy Monday evening, I find myself making that statement
in front of a group of women I've never met before, as if it was
the most natural thing in the world.
I've slipped into the cosy little nest that is Sh! Women's
Erotic Emporium in Hoxton, London, and am sipping a glass of bubbly
while perched on a fluffy pink sofa.
Sarah Berry, who hosts the monthly Fannying Around workshop,
begins by explaining the rules of the evening.
No one needs to say anything, it is ok to sit in and listen; the
important thing is that whatever happens in Fanny Club, stays in
Fanny Club. I've got some reporting restrictions to consider but
the mood is set: anything goes.
"My fanny is hairy," one lady says.
"Newly waxed," says another, whilst a third says hers is ready
for some more action.
Glad I know that. After that initial ice is broken, conversation
flows. We discuss awkward/sensuous eye contact with your Russian
waxing lady, tattoos and piercings "down there", as well as how to
vajazzle your vajayjay. Then the evening's guest is introduced:
Only one of the participating ladies has actually had a child
and the questions are many. How can you physically push something
out that is the size of a melon?
As an answer, we are told to examine our own anatomy. Apparently
most women have little idea of what they look like down there and
therefore we worry.
"Does that go for lesbians, too?"
Jenny has a think.
"Probably not, actually," she says.
Childbirth is helped enormously when the pregnant woman knows
and believes in her own body and finds that inner faith to keep
pushing. With us lesbians knowing all about the power of the muff,
we might stand a better chance of finding that strength, Jenny
Question time continues.
How excruciatingly painful is it, actually? Will we all need
stitching up afterwards? How big an issue is poo? Will lesbian
partners be treated differently? (No.) And what's your vagina like
post birth? (The term wizard sleeve was mentioned, and denied.)
Many a detailed description, a few cringes and many a relieved
"phew" later, the heat is turned up a notch.
Erotic fiction writer KD Grace is one of the 11 women gathered
and after we've all gotten our glasses topped up, she reads out a
steamy section of lusty lesbian literature.
With flushed faces and hearts sped up, a debate on synonyms for
our bits fires up (read an article on funny fanny words here) and the
feeling that we've all known each other for years is spreading.
One of my newfound friends is Julie, 32, from France. She felt
Brits were uptight and missed the open French attitude towards sex
until she found Fannying Around. Since then she has been on more
than one adventure with Sarah.
Speaking of which, Sarah announces two future field trips:
fetish clubs and waxing salons are on the agenda. Oh, and our
homework is to go home and masturbate in front of a mirror. Cool!
Looks like my fanny will be staying happy, then.
Fannying Around is on every month at Sh!, entry is £5
(advance booking essential).
*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.