Published February 2020, Hour Detroit and hourdetroit.com.
Self-pleasure is nothing to be ashamed about
By Emma Klug // Vanessa Cuccia photograph courtesy of Lyz Olko
Vanessa Cuccia has set up shop in Detroit. Last year, the musician and owner of Chakrubs, an online brand that sells a variety of sex toys made from crystals, moved to the city from New York. Since then, she’s started teaching classes at Santo Santo yoga studio and established a headquarters for her business, which launched almost 10 years ago, after the end of an unfulfilling relationship led Cuccia to explore women’s self-pleasure and the power of crystals.
In the past decade, Cuccia has published a book, Crystal Healing & Sacred Pleasure, with Fair Winds Press, and landed coverage from publications including O: The Oprah Magazine and Vice, and was nominated for Toy of the Year by a sex industry news source called Xbiz. She spoke with Hour Detroit about the intention behind her products and about embracing female sexuality.
Hour Detroit: What makes Chakrubs different from typical sex toys?
Vanessa Cuccia: Because they’re so beautiful, unique, and they’re natural, a lot of people feel good about using Chakrubs instead of something designed by men. A lot of sex toys are made from the male gaze. [They] still [have] that aspect of certain sexual fantasies of seeing a woman pleasure herself with this brightly colored pink or teal vibrating thing, which is fine. But I think women taking something like this into their own hands, and it being so appealing aesthetically and meaningful, shifts this idea of shame associated with self-pleasure and turns it into something that you’re proud of.
What are some misconceptions about female sexuality?
There’s still this misconception that anything that a woman does is to attract a man. If a woman is wearing makeup or certain clothing, a lot of men think that’s to entice them, when no, this is an expression of self. That is seduction, but it doesn’t always have to do with somebody else. There’s a misconception that women don’t like sex as much as men, which is not the case. Sexuality is a spectrum and people have many different libidos. It goes both ways, because there are many misconceptions about male sexuality as well — that men want sex all the time. That’s not the case either. And that women don’t masturbate — that’s a major misconception. Lots of women masturbate.
Why is it problematic that women are taught to feel shame around their sexuality from a young age?
Our sexuality is the most intimate part of who we are, and if we’re ashamed from a young age to explore what brings us pleasure, we’re never going to feel connected to anything. There is this massive disconnect that happens with so many people who haven’t really taken the time to explore why they feel shame surrounding sexuality.
To me, it’s a very spiritual thing because pleasure brings me to a place of gratitude for having a body and that brings me gratitude for life. When anybody feels shame surrounding something that’s natural, it’s going to affect every part of life. Women who are fulfilled are able to give so much more of themselves, and when we understand and appreciate that, it crosses over into everything. Connecting to our children is better when we feel fulfilled. We do better in our work when we’re fulfilled.