I recently signed up for the Kim Anami Vaginal Kung Fu course. I was initially really excited to start it, and curious what it would entail. The promises were just so big, boasting of creating everything a woman could desire of life, everything from gushing post-menopausal wetness to material wealth to transformative orgasms.

I wasn’t actually totally sold on the way the marketing was presented, since it seemed to rely on shaming women for their “problems,” and it was heavy-handedly commercial. But I thought, well, maybe that’s just something she feels she needs to do to get interest in her course.

The course wasn’t really explained except in some pretty broad terms beforehand, so I was initially disappointed to discover that it focused almost entirely on traditional Taoist practices that are available outside the course, many of which I was actually already doing or had done. I knew we would be working with the jade egg, and I already had three of various sizes, but since Kim is an “expert” I thought she might have some more advanced tips and it would be worth it. We actually didn’t start with the egg right away; we focused on the microcosmic orbit, guided meditations, and several other exercises designed to prepare for work with the jade egg. The idea was to tune into your sex organs and clear them of any trauma first. Become friendly with them. Love them. Always good advice.

Then, a week later, we began doing work with the egg. I was very keen to start this, but doing it Kim’s way with the egg she sent, versus the more traditional way with the egg I already had, actually gave me a bladder infection. I’m guessing this was because the string was attached higher up, more through the center of the egg, and the pulling and squirreling around caused some friction. Although I’d cleaned the egg, the string Kim sent was not sterile, and I didn’t think to rinse it beforehand. I noticed in the Q&A that another woman mentioned she got a yeast infection from working with the egg, and asked if this was because she hadn’t washed it well enough. Kim’s answer was that no, it was an emotional block, because when you put penises and hands in vaginas they don’t get sick from the bacteria on them.

I had no idea who this woman was, but I wanted to tell her: no, that’s not accurate. You can get yeast infections and bladder infections when your vaginal flora is disturbed, particularly when you’re rubbed too hard in conjunction with it (and yes, you can get them from penises and hands also). The soap you used could be a factor, the string could be a factor… there’s no need to assume this is just in your head and you have some kind of emotional barrier to working with the jade egg.

This brings me to the two things that bothered me most about Kim’s course: her approach to “science” and her approach to “personal responsibility,” which to her meant that, basically, distilled down, every sexual problem you have is in your head. Can’t have multiple squirting orgasms seven days a week? It’s because you haven’t explored yourself and “taken responsibility” for whatever emotional block is getting in your way. Are there any scientific or physical reasons you might not be able to achieve this? No, there are not! At least, not real ones!

If this kind of thinking is tempered with compassion and understanding (and actual medical data), then I believe it has a place, because it is true that the mind is a powerful healer, and it’s also true that being present to yourself and your own power can be hugely beneficial. Tapping into your feelings and physical sensations about a complex thing like sexuality? Wonderful. Exploring different regions of your sex organs through touch and mindfulness, and observing and working through any negative emotions that come up? Very much needed. Giving yourself permission to be all and everything your body is capable of? Heck yes! But twisting this to mean you should judge women as morally inferior or emotionally blocked because their sex life doesn’t look like yours? Or because they get a yeast infection when they start putting something new into their vagina? Not cool.

This came out in some rather alarming ways, although it was subtle enough I’m not sure everyone would have noticed it. According to one offhand remark Kim made at the beginning of the course, you don’t need to carry mace if you’re fully realized in your sexual power, because your sexual power will protect you from assault.

This in particular was triggering to a friend taking the course; she wryly remarked “that didn’t work for me.” This friend is deeply into energy pathways and manifesting desires. This, taken purely by itself, has actually left her open to sexual assault — she was raped a couple of months ago by a guy she had predetermined was spiritually evolved, even though she didn’t know him at all. If you’re convinced that you can create whatever you want, out of whatever situation you want, and a bigger, stronger person decides not to play along with what you want, then you can end up severely hurt. And if you’re being told this was somehow your fault for just not emitting the right kind of energy, that’s further damaging. If you’re additionally being told that your PTSD over the incident can be cured if you just “take responsibility,” that sounds a lot like victim-blaming. Top it off with dictates about how hormones are horrible and you should be able to just will your body into getting pregnant or not, and you won’t even take the morning-after pill (and my friend didn’t).

If in the name of “personal responsibility” you’re actually discouraging personal responsibility and personal compassion, that’s not ok, in my book.

In general, the whole course was more judgmental than I was expecting. Aside from the Taoist practice, it focused a lot on what not to do: don’t have clitoral orgasms. Don’t eat anything that’s bad for you (Kim is a “vegan” who also consumes select animal products such as colostrum). Don’t have sex or masturbate in order to relax (sex is supposed to give you energy, not relax you). Don’t take hormonal birth control. In fact, don’t use any birth control other than the Billings method. Unless you’re engaging in risky sex; then probably you should use condoms, but most of those are bad too. Don’t use tampons or pretty much anything other than organic pads. Unless you’re trying to get pregnant, don’t have a period every 28 days; that’s a waste of energy — will your body into having a period only when you want one by doing ovarian breathing. Don’t use lube. If you’re not wet enough, it’s because you haven’t cleared your own trauma or the trauma of your ancestors. Or you’re not aroused enough. Yes, including if you’ve passed menopause.

Some of this stuff was not new. I am personally not a fan of hormonal birth control or (most) tampons either, and am about as careful with animal products as Kim (although I would never call myself a vegan; if you’re eating “high grade” animal products you should have the guts to go hunt your own meat or at the very least realize that distancing yourself from it by consuming it from a can doesn’t change its origin). Nevertheless, so many “don’ts” seemed like they would be quite limiting (and stressful) for the average audience.  A cascade of rigid restrictions seems totally counterproductive in the quest to get women to become friendly with their sex organs. But I tried to set aside my own judgments of what she was saying, and learn what I could.

I started asking questions about things Kim had said that didn’t quite make sense to me. I described how the jade egg doesn’t slide out when I’m standing even if I’m relaxed, and she responded (in her live Q&A) that some women’s vaginas are actually too tight. She didn’t elaborate, so I wrote in a question for the next week: ok, so if my vagina is too tight, is there anything physically I can do to make it not quite so tight? Should I be using a larger egg, for example? She edited the question down to “should I use a larger egg with my tight vagina?” and responded that no, actually, I should be using a smaller egg. Again, she didn’t elaborate. This literally made no sense, until I realized that she’d ignored the context and just reframed the question to be about the appropriate egg size for differently-sized vaginas, so my actual question, which was “how do I make my apparently-too-tight-vagina a normal tightness?” went unanswered.

It seemed like nearly every question I was asking got reframed like this. Half the question would get ignored, and it would be re-written to be about something else, which would then get a pat answer in line with Kim’s talking points. I wasn’t sure if she was re-writing the questions or if her assistant was, since her assistant was reading the questions to her on-air. Either way, it seemed weird to be paying $1,000 for a course that consisted of publicly-available Taoist practice presented in slightly-dated videos with cheesy-sexy background music and graphics that were too small to read, if the live Q&A calls with the “expert” were going to be so glib. I noticed that for some of the questions Kim got, she’d say something like “Oh, I cover that in another course” and just move on to the next question.

After four weeks of this, I wrote in to say I was frustrated that my actual questions were not being answered and frustrated that the course wasn’t going more in-depth. I’d asked a question regarding epigenetics and ancestral trauma, and Kim had basically taken half the question and insisted that I didn’t know what epigenetics were, that I was using the word wrong and that I was not taking responsibility for myself. She entirely missed the point of my question, which was: if you have inherited sexual trauma from generations of women, coming out as abnormal tics manifesting in an otherwise robust sex life, and you’re working hard to clear this inherited trauma and “switch on” different genes, doesn’t it make sense to be compassionate with yourself if the results aren’t instantaneous? Given how many lifetimes these traits have already encompassed? After she completely missed the point and delivered a live Q&A lecture about how if you believe something is genetic it means you’re choosing not to change it, I wrote again and attempted to clarify what I was saying. Her assistant wrote back with this gem: “Kim — and epigenetics, i.e. “science” — are telling you that no matter your circumstances, you have the power to change them. In this lifetime and right now. If you choose to go at a slower pace, then that is your choice.”

Right now? Ok, women, here you have it: according to Kim Anami, if you can’t heal yourself “right now,” no matter your circumstances, just by willing yourself to, then it’s because you’re choosing to stay traumatized. And this is “science.”

This is such a California-first-world-faux-vegan-faux-guru way to look at things that it makes my head spin. It’s great that women in positions of extreme privilege can conclude that every other woman in the world who finds herself in an unfortunate circumstance has just not tapped into her own power. The Syrian refugee, the Somali mother, the Vietnamese girl born with no legs. Is this the sin of the child, or of the mother?

The assistant concluded: “Kim is telling you that you have power. If that idea is supremely offensive to you, as it seems to be, perhaps you’d be better suited to a different teacher?”

Yes, clearly I’m “offended” by being told I have power. That’s exactly it.

The thing is, I don’t need Kim Anami to tell me I have power. I know I have power. And I don’t have power because she tells me I have it. I have it because it is my birthright.

I’m highly sensitive to energies in the real world, and have done specific spiritual practices to go back and heal things for my foremothers. I’ve gone back into the womb, back to the beginning of time into the darkness, and existed, waiting and absorbing the pure love of that maternal darkness.

So when I offer critique it’s coming from a place of deep personal exploration. I listen to myself, to my soul, to my body, to the divine recesses within me, and I speak. I know what it is that I offer and if you do not, I can only conclude it is because you are not curious or open enough to find out.

After yet another email in which I attempted to clarify my position (without going into my annoyance at the pseudoscience of co-opting an emerging field of scientific study) and expressed concern for the sexually traumatized women who were taking the course, as well as my disappointment at this dismissive method of customer service, the assistant wrote back saying I was “not a good fit for Kim’s teaching style” and said I had been kicked out of the course. With a refund.

I mean, it’s nice to have the refund, but it seems like really bad business practice to treat customers that way. Not to mention, I was curious if anything in the remaining half of the course got more in-depth, and I’d expended a lot of time and energy doing the exercises, journaling and generally following the course.

If you’re interested in serving women and answering their questions, you’ll pay attention when someone is engaged and is saying something doesn’t quite answer what they’re really asking. If you’re just interested in making money or being praised by fawning devotees, then this won’t be a very high priority.

I know there are a lot of women (and men) who have benefitted from Kim’s courses and talks, and that’s wonderful. I would just encourage her to dig a little deeper and be a little more compassionate in her responses at times. Realize that she needs to be clear in what she presents, and come to every question with an open heart and an open mind. And calling something “science” doesn’t actually make it so.