I started doing this categorized List of 5 movies thing where I showcase movies that were directed by women and that I have actually seen. It all started during the Directed By Women Worldwide Viewing Party in September, and it was pretty fun, so I've continued doing it from time to time. It's not usually about lady-gasms or anything like that, but I think it fits the blog because 1. this blog is also about indie movie-making, and 2. this blog is partially about getting the female perspective of sexuality into our media. So, to me, supporting female voices in our media - means we're creating more room for female voices to speak on all types of things, which sometimes will be sex, orgasms and sexuality. You can find all my lists HERE.
Today's will be Christmas Movies. So get some hot chocolate, some popcorn and enjoy these holiday treats.
1 Preacher's Wife - This was directed by the good ol' Penny Marshall. I was supposed to go see this movie on one of my first dates with Charlie, but we ended up making out in my car instead. So, I didn't actually see it till years later. It's a sweet one.
2 Mixed Nuts - This was directed by Nora Ephron. What can I say? A wacky ensemble Christmas movie. You may have forgotten about this one or never seen it, but remember it for your Christmas movie night festivities this year.
3 Black Nativity - This was directed by Kasi Lemmons. I'm a sucker for a good, kind, Christmas movie, and this one certainly delivered.
4 Frozen - This movie was directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. I'm counting this as a Christmas movie due to all the snow and the snowman and all that. I think it counts.
5 The Holiday - This was Directed by Nancy Meyers. Granted, I didn't give this one a good SSL Review, but I enjoyed the movie in general. SSL Reviews and regular reviews often don't match up - that's just the way of it. Seriously though, I highly recommend this one for a cool Saturday afternoon in December.
Searching through Twitter as I do, I found an article by Sarah Harvard called A Young Muslim Woman Details How Her Parents Avoided The Sex Talk: And Why That Needs To Change In Her Culture. It's a thoughtful read in Teen Vogue, and it's pretty funny too. Seriously - check it out and check out some of Sarah's other writing too.
She talks about her own familial and cultural experiences of silence (and when inevitably forced into their lives -awkwardness and shame) in regards to sex and puberty. But, she also talks about how the Qu'ran does not reflect this same silence and reminds the reader that young Muslim Americans' experiences in the future don't have to be like hers. The article ends with this:
Islam, like many other religions, is frank about sex. It’s a part of our livelihood as human beings, and while many of the older generations are culturally keen to sexual repression, it’s up to the next generation — our generation — of Muslim Americans to encourage a healthy, positive, and religiously compliant attitude towards sex. How can we do that? Easy — let's just talk about sex.
I love that she took time to write about this subject. She largely writes about politics, Islam, and world events (I've been creeping through all her stuff). She's creating important work about large issues with a fresh young voice, and I think it's poignant that this lack in her sexual education seemed important enough for her to discuss. This is the kind of honest and hopeful article that I love to feature in this blog, particularly because the author pointed out some specifics about her lack of education that I think is incredibly important .
As Wajahat Ali pointed out in The Guardian, Muslim Americans are forced to go 0 to 100 real quick when it comes to sexual activity. We’re forced to cover our eyes when there’s a kissing scene on television — despite the fact it’s an everyday occurrence in middle and high school. We're then expected to get married in our early 20s and 30s, and bear two to four children soon after without even knowing what foreplay is or how to find our clitorises. (For example, I didn't know what a clitoris was until freshman year of college.)The clitoris is the organ of female sexual pleasure. Stimulation of the clitoral/vulva area is necessary for orgasm, and intercourse is a terribly inefficient way to get there. The author mentioning that she didn't know what a clitoris was until college is both unfortunate, and at the same time, an extremely common experience. It's a poignant example of how much silence and ignorance about the clit and thus the female orgasm exists. It's not unique to immigrant Muslim American families. It's a larger cultural phenomenon, but I can only imagine that there is a strength, a depth, and a quality to the silence in that community that is quite unique. In fact, I imagine all different communities have unique hurdles and hang-ups when it comes to fighting the silence and ignorance on the topic. Happily married hetero people probably need to hear different things than single lesbians, and different religions and races and age groups and people from different parts of the world and of the country would probably find a more inspiring discussion of the subject, at least at first, with people speaking on it honestly within their own community. So, I love that Sarah Harvard spoke on it and has put the call out to her community to speak about it. It is a simple but an efficient way to begin change for the better
People like Sarah Harvard are exactly the types that will inspire Orgasm Equality change in a wider population. She's not a sexologist, internet sexpert, sexual health worker, or sex-positive advocate. She's just a woman talking honestly about her experiences and hopes. She didn't have to speak up, but she did anyway, and that's why I'm adding her to the Orgasm Equality Allies List. Keep bein' awesome Sarah Harvard.
***P.S. Sarah's last quote up there reminds me of Sophia Wallace's Cliteracy Law #30 "Terrorism is having sex your whole adult life, giving birth to 6 children and never experiencing an orgasm." Because, I mean that's a possible outcome of the situation she described up there, isn't it?...and that isn't any fun for a woman or the man she's making children with. I'm with Sarah - I think we can do better.
Um...I just saw the recent Saturday Night Live with Elizabeth Banks. You know how SNL kinda goes up and down? Well, I tell ya, I'm feeling good about his crew. They were killin' it. It was full of good shit...and then, like the light of sweet jesus engulfing my being into paradise, I saw the following skit:
It's called First Got Horny 2 U, and I just about flipped my lid when I saw it...Uh, depictions of teen girls with desire and sexual autonomy? Yes, thank you. Adolescent ladies masturbating in wierd awkward adolescent ways? Well yes, of course I'll have some of that too. Insinuations of insertion along with my masturbation? No, of course not, but you already knew that didn't you ladies of SNL?
That Skit is Revolutionary as Fuck
Seriously, it was so perfect. The masturbation was so awkward, but it was ON POINT. It was all about getting some friction on the outer parts of that little lady junk. It shouldn't be so amazing that the masturbation depictions were done with some actual realism, that there wasn't insinuations about cucumbers and self-finger-banging and stuff like that, but yet it is amazing because it's almost unheard of. This was a bad-ass, revolutionary little skit. It might not seem that way, because it's just one skit, but a lot of people saw it, and it's something that people just don't see. It will be remembered, and it will change things and inspire a different ways of depicting and talking about girls. It will change how girls see themselves and how boys see girls.
How many little 13 year old girls watched that in their pj's in their friend's basement and awkwardly laughed because it hit too close to home. That is important shit because it normalized the fuck out of all the things that have been traditionally stigmatized so harshly for teen girls - unabashed sexual desire, masturbation, and sexually touching yourself in a way that doesn't look like intercourse.
That last one is wierd, but important because we girls learn from early on that sex involves sticking things up our vag, which is super unhelpful for learning anything about our orgasms. If we did masturbate as adolescents, we probably felt wierd about it because when we really thought about it, our outer genital stimulation that we used during masturbation didn't quite jive with what we knew would happen one day when we actually started having sex. If we didn't masturbate, we never learned what actually made us orgasm, and continued not learning about our orgasm through all the PinV sex we would eventually have. Hell, it could've been years of doin' it before we ever orgasmed. EVER.
I can't even imagine how that skit would have affected my 13 year-old self. Rubbing up against my stuffed animal in my bed looked a lot like Cecily Strong wiggling on top of that pillow at the end, and I sure as hell never saw any depiction or insinuation about female masturbation that seemed anything like that until I was well into adulthood, and barely so even then. I mean I still masturbated...a lot...even without depictions to legitimize my choices, but what if 13-year-old me knew for sure that cool actresses understood my circumstances in the same way boys can be certain by watching any number of comedy bits, teen movies, and tv that cool actors understand their masturbation/horniness circumstances? That would change things...it will change things.
The Formal SSL Review
I'm going to do a formal SSL Review because this video has depictions/discussion of female orgasm and/or masturbation, so let's get into it real quick. I rate on realism and what it contributes to the cultural understanding.
In the skit Infinity + 5 is a 90's style pop group including Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Elizabeth Banks, Vanessa Bayer, and Aidy Bryant. The song is about the people who they first got truly horny to, and all 5 of the women tell their stories.
Not all the stories specifically talked about/insinuated masturbating, but 3 did, one with a mention of orgasm. The rest were just about how horny they felt.
1) Cecily Strong sang, "I got up on the couch and I knocked my first one out." And by god she did. She climbed on top, laid down with her legs straddling it, and grinded against it. Although she said she orgasmed, that part wasn't depicted. (This was right at the beginning, and I for real jumped up off the couch with my hands in the air when it happened). There was also an absolutely fabulous shot of her in front of her couch laying face down on the ground, with a couch pillow under her crotch area and moving side to side. She's watching Carson Daily on TV and her father causally walks into the background, sees her and promptly walks right back out - Gold, I tell ya GOLD!
2) Vanessa Bayer, had a shot where she was sitting with her magazine with Lyle and Eric Menendez (that's who her firsts were) on the edge of the tub, and she looks up to the removable showerhead, and I think we all know what that mean, amIright?
3) Then Aidy Bryant sang, "I would sit on my hands and scoot - to a man in a dinosaur suit." Hers was the cool son from Dinosaurs, and we do see her sitting on her hands and scooting, getting that awkward teen clit friction. It was fabulous.
This skit realistically, though appropriately awkwardly, portrayed masturbation through outer vulva/clit stimulation. Plus, for all the reasons I discussed above, it was daring, progressive, revolutionary, and funny to boot. Infinity + 5 gets a strong 5 vulva rating.
P.S. I'm going to add Infinity + 5 onto the Orgasm Equality Hero List because that skit is the kind of comedy that can really change things. I'm adding them as Infinity + 5 because I want to include all the writers and behind the scenes folks who were part of it.
I'm from Indianapolis. Indiana University is only about an hour from me. I know tons of people who've gone there. I've been there many, many times for a variety of different reasons, but I never knew where the Kinsey Institute was on campus. Granted I've never like done a big search for it or anything, but I know people who spent 4 years there who have said they don't know where it is either. It's a mysterious place, that much was clear.
But guess what?
I went there this week, my friends, and you know what? It's not really mysterious. It's in Morrison Hall, and it says "Kinsey Institute" on the big sign out front. It's close to Jordan Hall. I admit, we got kinda lost walking back to it through the woody pathed back way after lunch, but not really that lost. It was really pretty easy to find, and if you went there for 4 years, I kinda feel like you should have seen where it was at some point.
But wait there's more
Now, you'd think I'd be disappointed that the mystery was lost, but you'd be wrong. You see, it's on the 3rd floor, so we were being all cool about it and decided to use the stairs, but guess what? NO ENTRY FROM THE STAIRS!!!! (I'm using all caps to emphasize the thrilling intrigue of it all). We had to walk down one flight and then take the elevator up. Then, we talked to the very nice receptionist there, and told her we had an appointment for the library/archives ('cause YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT AND A RESUME AND PROOF THAT YOU'RE THERE FOR A REASON), and she told us we had to use the stairs behind us to go up to the fourth floor - BECAUSE I DON'T THINK THE ELEVATOR GOES UP THAT FAR!!!! Also we had to MANIPULATE THE DOOR A CERTAIN WAY SO THAT IT WOULD OPEN FOR US (This is my theory, actually. She gave oddly specific directions for how to go through it, and when we came back from lunch - a little late because we got a little lost - I did a quick test and made the conclusion above). DON'T DARE ASK! I WILL NEVER TELL THE SECRETS OF THE 4TH FLOOR KINSEY DOOR! Then, as we were heading up the stairs, CHARLIE SPOTTED A WEIRD 50'S BRIEFCASE IN THE STAIRWELL! We really don't know what it was for. WAS IT KINSEY'S ACTUAL BRIEFCASE THAT HE LEFT TO BE KEPT THERE IN MUSEUM-LIKE QUALITY, THE CONTENTS UNKNOWN TO THIS DAY??? Then we got to the fourth floor....AND THE GUY SHAWN THERE WAS SUPER HELPFUL AND NICE!!!! (That's kinda intriguing, right?...sometimes people aren't that helpful or nice).
But what's in it for you?
Anywho, that's what happened. It was actually super duper interesting and awesome. We spent the whole day there, and I didn't get through all the material I wanted to see, so I'm going back. However, I saw enough to start a little series called WHAT I FOUND AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE LIBRARY!!! Some will coincide with my Journal Articles I Read Series, Some will very weirdly coincide with the SSL Review series, and others will be just little interesting tidbits.
I'm so glad I got the chance to go. I probably should have gone while I was researching for the movie SSL. It wouldn't have changed much given my particular needs, but it would have been way cool, and made a few things easier. I was also a little less confident then. At some point a long time ago, I read something that made me think I probably wouldn't get permission to go, even though I was very likely wrong about that. Instead, I just read long-ass manuscripts of Kinsey Institute round tables and found my material elsewhere. None of that matters anymore though, I have reached a little slice of heaven there, and I will enjoy and utilize it fully from now on.
Now, I'm gonna break from regularly scheduled programming today because, well, I just want to write about these today. One is a downer. One is an upper. Let's get the bad shit out of the way.
1 Man, yesterday sucked real bad for a lot of people: shootings and suicide bombings in Paris, a funeral bombing in Baghdad, Earthquakes in Mexico and Japan, and a suicide bombing in Beirut. My thoughts are with all of them, and I hope all the outcry makes for more living and loving and less violence and hate.
2 UFC #193 is tonight headlined with a fight between Bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey against Holly Holm. I very recently wrote a piece defending parts of Rousey's recent off-hand sex advice in Maxim, and one of the reasons I did that was because I have a soft spot for Ronda Rousey. She is a straight-up feminist AND she's straight-up top in her field, in skill and in peer admiration. I think she gets marginalized as a feminist sometimes. She and all the women in fighting sports should probably get more props in the mainstream feminist community than seems to be the case. They are crushing it in a sport that is still so heavily male centric and machismo-filled. They are hard-core, feminist revolutionaries in a field many of the internet feminist voices don't care about, but it doesn't matter because with or without them these fighters are blazing important trails.
Also, I think it's important to note that the UFC itself is part of this trailblazing. In January 2011 UFC President Dana White said there would never be women in the UFC. In November 2012 he signed Ronda Rousey. In 2014, The UFC reality show, The Ultimate Fighter was the first one to feature women and was used to crown the first Women's Strawweight Champion. All those women on there looked and acted as bad-ass and skilled as the men. It was super sweet. Men and women all over the world who had never thought about women actually wanting to do a sport where they got punched in the face, much less excelling in it, got a strong dose of reality. These women are changing minds of people who are strongly immersed in that machismo culture. These women are important to the feminist cause.
Yes, Dana White and the UFC took action for women much later than they could have, and yes they needed too much pushing to get there, but they did it, and they are treating the women in their program with all the respect they deserve. And you know what, they are promoting the fuck out of them too because they are seeing all the good it has done - for the women in their program, the women in their audience, and their bottom line. A recent article has Dana White's:
“This whole women’s power movement that’s going on right now is crazy. Ronda has been the whole thing. Ronda is the one that launched this whole thing. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for Ronda. She’s the one that convinced me to do it, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” said White during Tuesday’s UFC 193 press conference.And of tonights events, he says:
“We’re sitting here in Melbourne, Australia, where the main event and co-main event are women with a possible 70,000-seat arena sellout. It’s never been done in the history of combat sports. It’s awesome. It’s powerful. It’s cool. I’m really glad to be apart of it.”
And now here's the reason I originally decided to write this post. The UFC created this promotion for the fight tonight, and it's pretty bad-ass. For whatever the reason, they are truly promoting their women and taking their fights seriously, and because of this, their fans will too.
Can we talk about Jenny Block for a minute? She's so fucking on-point, and I feel terrible I haven't written specifically about her yet on this blog. Honestly, I've been meaning to write about her for a long time. I have links to some of her stuff sitting in my random drafts of blog posts. She's deemed an Orgasm Equality Hero on the ol' list I keep, but the truth is I haven't delved into a lot of her stuff yet.
However, I recently had an email interaction with her where I contacted her out of the blue about something and she wrote me right back, and was super nice. So, it reminded me I should write a post, and as I started digging around on her, I got as over the moon as I was when I first came across Sophia Wallace and her Cliteracy work. Jenny Block is bold about telling women that vaginal penetration does not a lady-gasm make. Unlike way too many other sexperts out there, she is not kinda demure and wishy-washy about it either. She's not like, "Well, most women need clitoral stimulation, but you know, every woman's different," and then goes on to talk about how doggy style is great for orgasming because the g-spot getting rammed hard enough or something like that. She's very strong in her conviction that we need to change the way we understand sex and women's place in it. She's pushin' this revolution, ya'll! I updated her entry in the Orgasm Equality Heroes list too, cause I found even better stuff.
So, since there's so much great stuff from her, I decided to list out 10 bitchin' things that Jenny Block's done to contribute to the New Sexual Revolution, Orgasm Equality, Cliteracy, and generally better sexual times for the ladies!
1 This video that was created as part of the Huffington Post Interactive Cliteracy project.
I had seen her name before, but this is where she first really caught my eye. She's giving you the chapter of sex ed that you didn't get the first time around. One, she's a true blue collaborator with Cliteracy, so that's a plus. Two, quite accurate lines like:
"While the vagina is the female reproductive organ, the clit is the female sex organ."
Sex Education: The Missing Chapter from The Huffington Post on Vimeo.
2 She wrote a whole book about masturbation called Solo Sex: All You Need To Know About Masturbation.
I'll be honest. I haven't read it...yet...I only have so many hours in the day, but she had me at 'masturbation.' Anyone who advocates for masturbation is a friend of mine. It gets such a bad rap. And, there's not a lot of masturbation books out there. Betty Dodson created a kick-ass one back in the day, but not many since. So thanks, Ms. Block, for giving us a modern Masturbation bible.
3 This interview on HuffPost Live with Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani where Ms. Block debunks common myths about female orgasm.
It's a good one, and she says lovely things like the following:
"If you're just doing a little bit of the ol' in and out, you're probably nowhere near the clit., and so, sex that is designed to put sperm inside of the woman's body is not necessarily designed for a woman to have an orgasm, and yet we we keep having that sex and having that sex. And I get emails all the time from women saying, 'what's wrong with me that I can't come from penetrative sex,' and I say nothing, nothing, nothing is wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with the way you're having sex."
4 The fact that she was chillin' with the badest-ass orgasm equality hero and masturbation advocate lady I can think of - Betty Dodson.
5 This list of 11 Truths We Have To Start Accepting About the Female Orgasm.
I love it because she emphasizes external clit stimulation, but she also emphasizes doing whatever you need to do to get that orgasm.
"Having an orgasm is like going on a scavenger hunt. You look everywhere possible for it and you don't worry about how strange the places you need to look might be."She talks about how you should sound however you need to sound, move however you need to move, think whatever you need to think, and take whatever time you need to take. This is so important because, as she also discusses, the depicted female orgasms and sex we often see is unrealistic, and we ought not try to emulate those or feel bad if we are doing things that don't seem normal.
This is the kind of realistic advice I'd like to see more of.
6 For the flip side...this list of 11 Myths We Have To Stop Believing About The Female Orgasm
I particularly loved Myths 9 and 10. She got into the subtlety about why positions might matter to orgasm, and...be still my heart...she didn't pussyfoot around about 99,9% of women needing clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm.
Myth #9: Position makes no difference when it comes to female orgasm. Position makes all the difference when it comes to orgasm, but not for the reasons you might think. It is unlikely that a woman will come from penetration alone. If she does, it will be because everything prior to that was stellar, the penetration was well-timed, and the position allows for clitoral stimulation either directly or indirectly.
Myth #10: Penetration is the key for a woman to reach orgasm. Intercourse alone usually does not lead to orgasm. Twenty-five percent of women say they can consistently orgasm via penetration alone. Even that number may be high; most likely, those women who reported orgasm from penetration alone were experiencing some level of clitoral stimulation from the thrusting. I would argue instead that 99.9 percent of women need clitoral stimulation if they are going to reach orgasm. There are always the outliers. But we're talking about the rule here, not the exception.7 This interview with Josh Zepp at HuffPost live in which she lays this shit down, for real with quotes like:
"If the clit's not involved, no one's coming, nobody, I mean nobody...that's just how a woman's body works."and she also, quite rightly, keeps it sensitive, thoughtful, and non-blamey when it comes to the ambivalence and sometimes lack of interest displayed by some men when it comes to female orgasm...and points a finger at our deeply ingrained sexual culture
"you know, to be honest I don't really blame individual men for that. I sorta blame our overview of the way we've been treating sex all along. I mean considering what's thought of as being sex, which is intercourse - which doesn't really do it for most women in terms of orgasm - it's no wonder that we've gotten to this point."
8 She wrote The book O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm:
Well, I haven't read this one yet either, but I will recommend it sight unseen given all the other writing she's done and the things she's said in interviews. Plus I appreciate the emphasis on women owning their own orgasm in the book blurb.
"No matter how much your partner is committed to your orgasm, you are the only one who can and should be responsible for your orgasm."9 This article giving Jenny Block's book a bad review...because it just makes me see more that I would probably love it.
So, the article is not complimentary of O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm, but the type of critique and what was critiqued only confirmed for me that this book is largely right on point and is strangely poignant about why advice like Block's is important and hard for people to hear. In fact, the main criticism is actually something I've found to be a favorite retort to any discussion about women being on an unequal playing field when it comes to our orgasms:
"I’m not sure how — given decades of Cosmo articles, sex manuals and the internet — Ms. Block has somehow convinced herself (and her publisher) that the vast majority of women are still walking around in total ignorance of their twats and how to use them."
I other words, this article dismissed the book immediately with: 'There is no problem. Women don't need anything more than we already have. Why are you even talking about this?' I hear that all the time in so many different ways, but the strange part is that actually, yes, tons of women are still walking around in total ignorance of their twats and how to use them, and if the writer of this critique can't see that, then she's clearly not seeing what I am seeing. She and I have a very different perspective, 'cause I would argue that things like Cosmo and internet advice are part of the reason women are walking around so ignorant. Those are not things that generally have the kind of accurate and honest information that could eliminated this problem, as the critic seems to suggest.
Like I said, this critic is not alone. I hear that comeback a lot, and it's hard because the orgasm inequality problem, for so many reasons, is kinda invisible, and it makes extra work to point out the problem before one can start in on solutions or be taken seriously.
I'm sure the author of this critique is a nice women with good intentions, and she probably has great and mutually orgasmic sex with her partner, but I think maybe the feeling that all women are like her got in the way of seeing that the advice in the book could help a lot of people. I think she was just turned off from the beginning, which is too bad, because I think it was pretty clear that she agrees that women deserve to be in orgasmic mutually satisfying relationships just like Jenny does. Maybe they'll get some common ground eventually, but for now, it made me feel like Jenny Block's book is rocking the boat in the right way.
10 Her article "If You Can't Orgasm, 'Female Viagra' Won't Help" which points out something that we need to be talking about more.
"You want to know why women aren't sexually satisfied? It's because they are having procreative sex for recreation. It's because they are getting a little bit of the old "in and out" and not having orgasms because the old "in and out" doesn't lead to female orgasm. It's because they have been participating in the same activity hoping for a different result but not getting it. It's the definition of insanity. Ask Einstein."
If every time you went to the ice cream store, you ordered, waited in line, were handed your order, and had it taken away before you could taste it, how many times would you keep going back before you would finally lose interest in going out for ice cream?
Women have lost interest in sex because the sex they are having doesn't take their interests to heart.and then a little later in the article
Yes, depression and aging and hormones and lifestyle all play a part in female sexual dysfunction. But before we start diagnosing everything else, before we start prescribing a pill, let's get to a little truth-telling first. Let's ask the real questions, the hard questions --FUCK. YEAH.
What are you calling sex?
How are you having sex?
When are you having sex?
How much attention is really being paid to her pleasure?
Is her clit 100 per cent involved, 100 per cent of time?
Are you both cliterate?
If, unlike me, you are not on constant vigil in order to see what's hot among the internet sexperts and feminist sex talk, then you might have missed Lubegate 2015. Here's the deal. Ronda Rousey was interviewed over at Maxim in the way one might be interviewed at Maxim. Some dudes wrote questions and she answered them. One question went in the following way.
Dear Ronda: What should a guy NEVER do in bed? What should a guy ALWAYS do in bed? (Asking for a friend.) - Jack, 36, Los Angeles
For what you should never do: Don’t bite my teeth! If my teeth are repeatedly hitting your teeth, then there’s a problem with what you’re doing. That freaks me out. I don’t like it. It’s terrible. I have a thing about my teeth. Even though I do a sport where I get punched in the face for a living, if your teeth hit my teeth more than a few times, I’m over it already. What should a guy always do? Take his time. In general, a girl takes a minute. He needs to get her ready. You should never need lube in your life. If you need lube, then you’re being lazy...and you’re not taking your time.Let's not talk much about the biting her teeth thing. She got some snarky shit about that too, but even though, "bite my teeth" is a wierd way to say it, teeth touching teeth in a kiss is a fair pet peeve, and you can't blame a gal for calling out her kissing pet peeve.
the reaction (i.e. shut up and fight, Ronda)
Lots of the heavy-weight progressive online sites had writers jump immediately to their feet to tell Ronda to shut up about sex and that her advice was downright harmful and anti feminist-lady-sex. The Frisky, The Huffington Post, Jezebel and The Thrillist all jumped in, and there was a particularly long one at Salon. In general they all held similar objections:
- Sometimes, even if a woman is aroused, she doesn't get that wet, and wetter is better
- Menopause, aging, certain medications, dehydration, etc. can all cause a lower amount of lube than is needed to have comfortable sex, and extra lube is required in those cases
- Anal sex and fisting and shit like that need lube
- Calling people who use lube lazy is mean and creates unnecessary shame and pressure
because maybe Ronda's kinda right...
Maybe all those bullet points up there are true, but Rhonda is kinda right too. Maybe Ronda's comments are actually kinda revolutionary. Maybe if we all calmed down and took her comments in context, giving this clearly non sex ed professional the benefit of the doubt, we could have created a teaching opportunity, a progressive and tough discussion, AND created a positive interaction with an outspoken, powerful woman that plenty of people listen to and look up to.
Ronda was responding to questions from men at a Playboy-like men's magazine. If we think about this as not some kind of let's-except-everything-and-everyone-in-a-non-judgmentally-way sexual education forum and instead see it as an in-your-face-as-fuck, sexual woman who knows what she prefers, giving no-nonsense sexual advice to a bunch of dudes, then well, maybe it's not so bad. She basically said that what men should always do during sex is make sure the women they are with are aroused. If they can't or don't care to do that, then they should go the fuck home 'cause they aren't willing to put in the time that the women they're with deserve. Is that sentiment really that backward?
maybe women need more people expressing that sentiment
I think we can assume Ronda's not an idiot. She knows your anus doesn't lube itself for anal sex and that there are medical conditions that might require some additional lube, but she wasn't being all nuance-y and sex educator-y here. She, I can only assume, was going from her own experience as a woman and making a bold, kinda progressive point. She was saying that sex shouldn't happen with unaroused women. Yes, yes, yes, I know you are saying that not getting wet does not necessarily mean a woman is unaroused, but you know what? Sometimes it does mean exactly that, and at this time in her life, it very well might mean that for Ronda.
And you know what else? I think her sentiment is one we should be taking more seriously, because sex with unaroused women happens more often than we'd like to admit. I dare say I think many women have had sex, consensual sex, where they were barely or pretty much not aroused at all. You can even find some recent writing by women about that HERE, HERE, and HERE. I'm talking about situations in which the woman could have been getting the kind of stimuli she needed and wanted but simply wasn't for whatever reason. It's a problem, a complicated problem, but I don't think it's a small problem or one limited to only a particular population. I think it affects a lot of people, and I think every time a woman has unarousing sex, it makes her body disassociate arousal from an impending sexual situations a little bit more.
maybe women deserve the same basic sexual courtesies we often afford men
Let's flip this switch and talk about the basics for a minute. For males and for females, one of the very first physical responses to arousal is extra blood moving down to the genitals. This gives men boners and it makes lube seep through the vaginal walls for women. I would argue that as a culture we are very aware (maybe sometimes too aware) of the physical signs of arousal in men and what they might mean to the sex act, but we are strangely ignorant of and dismissive of that for women.
When a man can't get it up in a sexual situation, it's often an 'all hands on deck' effort to make sure his body starts responding, and if it's just not happening, then maybe he's too tired or too drunk or stressed or on a particular medication or he's older and it doesn't get as hard as it used to. When a woman isn't getting wet, maybe too often the first response is, "get some lube and start going."
Now, you know you of course, so you do whatever works for you and your partner. However, maybe as a culture our first response shouldn't always be to get the lube. Maybe it should be 'all hands on deck.' How about if I put my mouth on it? Am I being too intense? Should we slow down? Should we speed up? Am I touching the wrong places? If it's not working, maybe she's dehydrated, or too drunk or on medication, or she's going through hormonal changes and doesn't get as wet as she used to, so either wait for a better time or feel free to break out the lube - whichever makes most sense. Hell, break out the lube at the very beginning if you want. If it helps with arousal - fantastic, but sometimes the focus is on getting the area wet instead of getting the body aroused. There still needs to be more attention paid to whether what is happening (including the use of lube) is actually physically arousing her or not.
The sad truth is men are not taught to or expected to really pay attention to the physical aspects of female arousal the way women are for male arousal. Would a woman buy it if a man who never got an erection at all suddenly orgasmed? It would seem unusual to say the least. However, women in porn often orgasm without their vulvas showing any sign of engorgement or discoloration related to arousal. And I assume that many a woman in her bedroom 'orgasmed' without ever getting wet and without her vulva ever engorging or darkening, and her partner never even thought twice about it because he doesn't even know what physically happens to ladies when they are aroused. We live in a culture that is not only ignorant about female orgasm but also about female arousal, so although there are plenty of reasons to use lube, there are also plenty of reasons to encourage men to care about and notice a woman's physical signs of arousal.
maybe Ronda's not such a bad sexual role model, actually
Maybe Rousey was saying some important shit. Maybe it's a revolutionary thing to encourage men to pay attention to whether their female partners are aroused. Maybe, saying that physical female arousal should be a non-negotiable part of a 2-sided sexual act is actually progressive as fuck and pro-female orgasm. Maybe as a culture we are a little lazy about making sure that women are fully aroused during sexual acts. Maybe we need to put a little more pressure on dudes to consider if what they are doing is actually arousing to the females they are with - because for the ladies, speaking up about what you like is one thing but also having a partner that asks, cares, and has a little basic knowledge is a whole other thing altogether. Maybe, just maybe, we should cut Ronda Rousey some slack on this.
In fact, I'm going to add her to the Orgasm Equality Hero's list. Yes, I realize all the things listed up there about lube that other people reminded us of, but Ronda Rousey failed to say, are completely true. I know that Rousey was more harsh and un-nuanced in her answer than I prefer when talking about this stuff, but you know what? She's one of the top martial artists of all time at the height of her career saying some off-hand shit for a slightly smarmy men's magazine. What other world-class fighter have you relied on to be gentle and nuanced in their words? She's direct and a little rash - so be it.
However, if you recall, I'm not interested in perfection or in people who are in complete and utter agreement with everything I stand for. I'm interested in common ground with people who are speaking in a unique, brave, sincere, progressive, and/or outspoken way about creating a better world for female sexuality and orgasm. I wrote a whole post about how we need to listen more carefully to each other and find points of agreement more if we are ever going to come together to start this new sexual revolution. Ronda Rousey and I have plenty of common ground on this.
She said some true shit that came from her own, honest experience as a healthy, young woman who thinks that the dudes she's with should be more than willing to do to her and with her what needs to be done in order for her to get and stay aroused. Fuck yeah, to that.
A better approach, maybe?
So let me suggest a better way to approach this Lube-gate thing. It comes straight out of the improv handbook: Yes, and...
YES, Ms. Rousey, men should always take the time to make sure that their female partner is physically aroused, and should care about that, and we do live in a society that is lazy about paying attention to whether or not women's bodies are physically aroused and also lazy about investigating ways to actually physically arouse women in partnered sexual situations.
AND...Lube is still fun, sexy, and arousing to use and necessary for all kinds of situations. Using lube is not a failure, but you're right, not paying attention to and not working to facilitate your partner's physical arousal kinda is.
So, now I'm just going to put up some gifs of Ronda Rousey because she does amazing shit.
|Ronda and one of her amazing throws against Miesha Tate. Found this HERE|
The entire Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis fight
Well, I don't usually get into regular ol' feminist not-having-to-do-with-female-orgasm things on this blog, but I am making an exception today in order to write about the fantastic article Stop Cheering for the ol' "Hands Off My Daughter!" Shtick by Mary Elizabeth Williams. The reason is two-fold.
One, I think this mindset that the article speaks about is a mindset that we need to eradicate if we are going to achieve Orgasm Equality.
Two, I think that this author was incredibly kind in her criticism, and I think it's important to highlight that kind of activism because I think Orgasm Equality activism will not succeed without it.
So let me go into a bit more detail.
Why this mindset is harmful to our lady-gasms
I would argue that the "hands off my daughter!" protective dad schtick is an early contributor to lady-gasm inhibition, and the Orgasm Equality Movement, as you might expect, is against lady-gasm inhibition. And, I'm not talking about lady-gasm inhibition during the date tonight kind of thing (as in the inhibition of things touching one's daughter's naughty bits on her date - which some may not see as a problem). I'm talking about life-long inhibition of a female's ability to feel sexual desire so she can become aroused and orgasm, like even as a future, happily married mother of 3, and I assume even a protective daddy bear would hope his little girl was orgasming uninhibitedly by that point.
You see, this whole protective dad thing is a reinforcing part of a pretty poisonous situation for girls. In a culture where it is clear that parents DO NOT want teens being sexual with each other, but acknowledges that boys' desire is somewhat uncontrollable and in need of reigning-in, there leaves very little room for girls' desire (well, at least a good girls' desire). It must be this way because if, as a culture, we accepted that girls have as much desire and sex drive as we (and all those protective daddies) believe boys do, then there would be no hope of stopping kids from getting it on. So girls must figure out how they fit into adult (and again, those protective daddies') expectations that they are more sensible and less full of desire than the boys they may encounter sexually. If they comply (or pretend to comply) to the expectation, then they become the gatekeepers. They are the ones to say no if there is to be any 'no' at all. They get burdened with the full weight of sexual decisions in a hetero relationship. If they don't comply, then well, we know what is thought about girls like them.
The repercussion of girls' desire seems incredibly scary in a way it doesn't for boys. Yes, since intercourse is so important to and equated with sexual interaction for the vast majority of people, everyone worries about STDs and babies (although, that hits so much closer to home for girls). However, for girls, being sexual can let their family down and embarrass them in a way boys never fully feel (how deeply sad and disappointed would daddy bear be if he knew his daughter was initiating sex stuff?). Girls also still feel the slut stigma so, so strongly in their social lives. Girls' desire exists, but the repercussions of that desire can feel as though it might ruin their future, their reputation, their personal relationships, and their parents' love and respect. We put girls between a rock and a hard place and tell ourselves it's just the way things are.
Clearly this is a very general view of how differently boys and girls are pressured in this regard. There are complexities and exceptions, and different girls feel and experience this predicament of their desire uniquely. But, here's the thing, there really is a predicament, and even the least affected of girls out there are still affected more than we care to acknowledge, and they all must find ways to navigate through it.
In a 2005 book called Dilemmas of Desire (that I HIGHLY recommend), the author, Deborah Tolman conducts a study in which she speaks with 31 different urban and suburban high school girls about their desire. What she found is that each one struggles with their own desire in varying degrees, but they all do struggle more than one would think. They seem to have few safe places in which to express it. Some only feel comfortable expressing their sexual desire in terms of a romantic hetero relationship, and some of the girls are so cut off from their desire that they describe their first time as an almost out of body experience, as if it just happened and they were not an active part. The one girl who seems pretty connected to her desire struggles with the perception that she is a slut (p.s. this girl has never had intercourse). Only 3 of these 31 girls masturbated, and only 1 without significant feelings of guilt (that one struggling with being a slut, actually). Unsurprisingly, although most of these girls were sexually active, almost none have had orgasms.
Now, you might not see a teen girl disassociating with her desire as a bad thing, being that a lot of people feel teen desire is scary as hell, but you'd be wrong. Without acknowledging one's own desire, all kinds of room is left for other people and substances to lead the way. Desire helps us say yes, sure, but it also helps us say no. Without a clear understanding about what we want (some kissing and some over-the-undies clit rubbing? sounds good!), we sure as hell can't be sure about what we don't want (unprotected PinV? No thanks, I'll just go home and rub one out instead!).
It creates situations in which sex things happen to girls instead of girls making choices about what they want to happen. It makes girls scared of their desire and unwilling to actively account for it in their decisions. It makes it seem easier to give over control. For instance, one girl in the book told a story in which she intentionally got drunk at a party so she could hook-up with a guy, blaming it on the alcohol instead of because she just wanted to hook up. Surprise, surprise - it was unprotected, even though she knew better. I don't think any daddy bear in his right mind would want to think that his daughter is putting herself in vulnerable situations just because she feels uncomfortable and conflicted about how to interpret and express her very natural feelings of sexual desire.
The other thing is that disconnecting with our desire is not just a thing that can be turned on and off when our parents think it's appropriate. If it gets stifled in adolescents, it's not going to magically appear again as a fully developed, experimented with, and comfortable entity in our mid 20's when we want to start creating a loving and full sexual relationship with someone. No, it won't be that easy, and it might be a long-term source of frustration and sadness in her (and probably her partner's) life. The worst part is we don't even realize we do this to girls. Parents and authority figures (including all those protective daddies) treat girls this way, often with the best of intentions and out of love and a need to protect. But sadly, all that love and interest in protecting girls just leaves them with little to no room to safely explore their very real, very new, and very important feelings of desire when they are young.
That's why I love hearing women like this author call out the bullshit. We need to start talking more about this and pointing out how these things we do to girls, even with the best of intentions, can hurt the sexuality of the women they will become. I actually think those sweet ol' protective daddy bears would take notice and adjust their protective techniques if they really saw that the "hands off my daughter" shtick was truly harmful.
Why I love the tone of this article
Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote an incredibly perceptive, thoughtful piece about why exactly that ol' 'hand off my daughter' routine is bad news without being shitty about it. Seriously, you should go read it - it's good. Her article was in response to a family's picture that went viral. The picture symbolized that ol' shtick, and news outlets all over were praising it. William's beef here was with the media, not the family. That is so important.
Activism is about getting people to hear you, and when you are mean or thoughtless or refuse to see nuance, the people you need to hear you, stop listening. She was none of those things, She took pains to make it clear that her criticism in the article is not a criticism of that family. She made sure people understood that this family was loving and in no way mean-spirited. In fact the father in that family is battling brain tumors, which makes her criticism extra tricky. I think she manged it well though; to separate the people that instigated her discussion of the issue from the issue itself.
"I hope that the whole family has as much fun and laughter in their lives as possible right now, and that they have many more happy memories to come. I also get that not every moment of joshing around is an act of oppression by the patriarchy."
"What one family does in the spirit of kidding around is, in context, no big deal. But a media endorsement — especially media aimed at teenage girls — of the notion that adolescent female sexuality is something to be guarded by daddy from outside invaders is actually creepy and gross."Activism around female sexuality and female orgasm is a special kind of hot mess because these are kinda embarrassing, often under-discussed topics that are so intertwined with very important personal relationships like husband and wife, parent and child. We often fiercely love and protect the other in those couples, and hearing what sounds like people criticizing how you maneuver within those relationships can really get a person's back up. Saying that sex in our culture is unequally tilted towards male sexual pleasure can sound as if an asshole with no idea about your relationship is saying to you that 'your husband is a bad person and doesn't get you off enough.' or 'you are an idiot and your wife thinks you're bad in bed." Similarly, saying that dads being overly protective of their daughters' sexuality hurts girls and deteriorates their agency and bodily autonomy, can sound like people are saying, 'Your dad's trying to damage you" or "Everything you are doing to protect your daughter is wrong and stupid." The topic is so emotional, and this kind of miscommunication happens all the time. People talk past each other and hear things that are not being said. The personal and individual gets confused with the cultural and general.
Like I said, it's a hot mess, and I think it needs even more tenderness and more understanding and more explanation than most activism. Yet, so often and with the best of intentions, activists overlook the importance of being extra thoughtful and of taking pains to separate the larger picture from an individual one. Mary Elizabeth Williams did not overlook this, and man, I give hella respect to her for it. Hers is a great example of gentler (and I'd say much more effective) ways to talk about these types of issues. She's helping us enter the new sexual revolution, by golly!
I now pronounce you, Mary Elizabeth, an Orgasm Equality Hero...which means you are on the ever-growing Orgasm Equality Allies master list.. Keep on doing your thing.
I came across this post called Vulva Owners Unite!. It was in the Daily Californian by a woman named Taylor Romine . From what I can tell, she has fairly recently taken over the Sex on Tuesday column, and come on, you know I can't resist a fuck-yeah title like Vulva Owners Unite!
She begins with
"I have something embarrassing to admit. I am 21 years old, sleep with women and regularly write about sex — but I didn’t find my clitoris until recently."And she ends with
"This is a call to action to all vulva owners out there: Explore yourself. Look at your vagina in a mirror, figure out which pieces are which, and make sure you understand what the fuck is going on. If I, the infamous sinner and sexual deviant — the Sex on Tuesday columnist whose printed exploits weave Reddit threads longer than a fuckboy’s attention span — doesn’t know where her clitoris is, there might be a problem."Now in between those statements she points out that she masturbates and that she felt fairly well educated, but that somehow the actual location and look of the thing got past her somehow. It's a good read, and you should check it out. Now let me, real quick, just discuss the 3 things that I think are most important about her piece...
1 Hell yeah! We need more honesty like hers.
Hers is not an uncommon story. I've had more than one smart, college educated, grown friend ask me where their clitoris was. Imagine how many more women are never quite sure, but are too embarrassed to ask someone. I think I may have told this story before, but although I had masturbated by grinding myself against pillows and stuffed animals since almost before I can remember and prided myself on my openness and education regarding my body and sexual things, I too had a mind-blowing clit realization. I realized one day after I was in my 20's that my clit was not where my pee came out of. I had always thought it had. In fact I had pushed boys hands away from it because it kinda stung when they touched it. I assumed it stung because it's my flippin pee hole, and touching your pee hole would sting, right? However, the real problem was that they were just too rough and too direct. Think of all that good clit petting I missed out on because my proper education was lacking, and the un-proper education like porn, movies, and jokes failed me too.
Confusion about our genital anatomy is not uncommon by any means (there was even an Orange is the New Black episode about it), but we all feel like grade A idiots when we realize how confused we really were. That's some bullshit right there, though. Our culture sets us up to fail in this regard, and we're the ones feeling like dumb-asses? Hell no. We oughta feel smart as shit and lucky as all get out when we break through the bubble of our crap education. That's not an embarrassment, it's a triumph, and the more we ladies speak honestly about this, the more we'll realize our failings aren't personal ignorance. It's the result of large-scale, all-encompassing cultural bullshit that needs to be changed.
2 I second her call to action. Get that mirror. do some exploring. Chances are good that you're still coming from a background of a shitty sex ed; that you'll continue to be bombarded with incorrect, confusing information online; and that you're bound to only find terribly unhelpful diagrams of our junk...So...you honestly might still get some surprises later on. But, hey, even if you've been using the wrong names for your anatomy, at least you'll be familiar with your own lady-junk and know what feels like what down there - and that's a darn good start.
3 She's correct - there is a problem. Boys know what needs to be rubbed to induce orgasms, where their pee comes from, what basically all that stuff is called, and where it is located down there. They can collect knowledge about that pretty easily through a combination of formal education and insinuations and depictions out there in the cultural.
Now, I know all their stuff is just more 'out there' than ours, but come on, it's not the Bermuda Triangle down there. As much as people would like to make lady parts out as wildly diverse and wholly mysterious, it's just not that hard to figure out. The look can be pretty different from one vulva to the other, but they all have the same parts and those parts all have the same basic capabilities. That women are not easily able to figure this stuff out from formal education and cultural clues the way boys do, means we need to change things. I'm not saying it will be easy to do that, but I am saying it needs to be done. And frankly, if one really thinks about this situation, it's absolutely appalling that it's our normal. Men and women both suffer because of this.
So, I am fully and completely with Taylor here - Vulva Owners Unite! Be pissed off that we have these kinds of basic revelations when we are too old to be having them. Speak about it so other women know it's not just them, and be loud so that people begin to see the scale of the problem and realize that this goes beyond individual ignorance. It is bigger and deeper than that.
Being honest to other women about our own experiences is the first and most important step in identifying the problems that we as women (and not as individuals) face. The kind of stuff Ms. Taylor Romine spoke about takes bravery and a sense that this is important territory. She did good work here, and so she goes right on the Orgasm Equality Allies List. Keep on speaking truth during the rest of your Sex on Tuesday reign and beyond!
It's Halloween (well the day after...time got away from me), my friends, and that means it's time for the annual SSL post about costumes. This year I'm going in a different directions. I won't be encouraging you to use your sexy costume to get your lady bits licked or encouraging dudes to wear the sexy costumes this year.
No, this year I will be simply talking about vulva costumes. I got the idea because, and yes, I know this is odd, but I regularly search the word 'clitoris' in Twitter to see what people are saying. A LOT of the tweets are in Spanish, and A LOT of the tweets are porn, but I find some pretty funny ones that I favorite and retweet, because, by god, we don't use the word enough, and I think I should be encouraging its use. Anyway, point is, I started seeing versions of this picture below, and then @ZODIAMMGC tweeted this one out, and I thought it was just the sweetest thing I ever did see.
HE WAS! HE WAS THE CLITORIS!!!!!
So, I went and googled to see where it came from, and it was the Try Guys. They were trying on perverted costumes, like dicks and stuff. You can find it HERE. I'm giving that guy in the picture up there super thumbs up for thinking about and speaking the name of the clitoris. It is so often forgotten. :(
So then I got inspired to find more stuff about vulva costumes, and found this article where a gynecologist rates 5 different vulva costumes. I'll be honest. It was a little disappointing because I was hoping for some funny, overly detailed banter, but her comments were a little more generic than I hoped. Go check it out though, it was a generally fun read none the less.
**Here's my big SSL rant: Everyone I refer to in this post calls them vagina costumes, not vulva costumes, even though they are clearly vulva costumes. I get that it's easier to say vagina, but like this lovely article points out, saying 'vagina' instead of vulva' helps to erase the most important organ of female pleasure (the clit) out of our vocabulary and emphasizes the female organ most important to male pleasure (the vagina). It does matter, and if you hate the word vulva because it sounds stupid and boring like a Vulvo, then pussy, cunt, lady junk, lady lips, or anything thing else that connotates more than just the hole will do okay too.**
Okay, that's it. Maybe a vulva costume might be the right thing for you next Halloween???
Okay – So, this is the 4th part in a debate between myself and Ed Clint, a writer at Incredulous and Grad student of Evolutionary Psychology. I would like to thank Ed Clint for putting the time and energy into doing this. This is not his specific area of expertise, but he finds the topic interesting and has been a thoughtful partner in this. I have found this whole experience well worthwhile. I feel like it has pushed me and there have been some important and interesting topics brought into the discussion. Please check out the prior writing for context:
Ed's original post
That said, here we go.
He originally began by going through existing writing I had done and creating the following resolutions to debate:
The Statements to be Debated
1. Masters & Johnson’s (1966) book Human Sexual Response provides the best scientific description of the definition and nature of orgasm.
2. Orgasm is caused by direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoral glans/vulvar area in women.I signed off on them but at the same time added the following clarification to Resolution 2 through email which Ed also included:
Orgasm is caused by direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoral glans/vulvar area in women, in the same way that orgasm is caused by direct or indirect stimulation of the penis in men. There is no physical scientific evidence for stimulation on the inside of the vagina, by itself, causing orgasm in women. Although there is no reason to completely rule out the possibility of other physical and mental avenues for men and women (besides clitoral glans/vulvar area and penis stimulation) the lack of physical evidence for other avenues indicates these are at best quite rare indeed. As it is now, the word orgasm is often used in our culture for physical events that are not in fact orgasms, and this can cause confusion when discussing, teaching or learning about female orgasm.The structure of this reply and last
So, when I replied I began by outlining my support for these statements while keeping in mind his objections, and put the specific and detailed rebuttal of some particular objections into the appendices. He found it puzzling.
"I find this odd as well, because the whole point of this debate is… the debate, and an appendix is usually where you put important, but secondary, material."Well, right or wrong, I felt it most important to my argument to detail out my support for the statements since most people hadn’t read my writing and my points had been boiled down to 2 resolutions, giving little room for nuance, BUT at the same time, I also wanted to incorporate and speak upon Ed’s points that I found intriguing and worthwhile for discussion – like M&J's own findings that seem to contradict resolution 2 and Ed's worries about psycho-social elements not being involved in the definition of orgasm. I actually spoke to all his objections in detail, but put the details about the objections that I felt seemed less interesting to the discussion in appendices. I thought that it made the whole thing a lot easier to read, while still having more specific arguments, background and detail available for those who were interested. This is a complex topic, full of nuance, and that is the way I discuss it, but it does get a bit long in the tooth.
In the end, I think we have both said our piece, and I think my arguments in my original reply are a generally good representation of my stance, although as you will see I have gladly made some concessions – particularly in regards to my language around defining orgasm. I very much appreciate this debate and Ed for a different perspective. So let me lay my reply out this way. First I’ll respond directly to Ed’s kinda big finale argument at the end. He believes important statements I make cannot live together. Then I’ll talk about where I stand on Resolution 1, cause I think Ed made a good argument in a particular aspect of this. Then I would like to finalize this with outlining areas of agreement and disagreement.
Ed’s big finale point - can these statement live together?
Under the topic of Resolution 2, Ed says the following:
"At this point, I must stop. There were other points I made that Trisha replied to, but it is not necessary to continue. Trisha must concede that this resolution is unsupportable. If her own source material can be ignored in lieu of an ad hoc story without any evidence, then there is no longer any tenable expectation to be bound by that source material. If the evidence is binding, then the resolution fails. If it is not, then both resolutions fail because that is a critical basis of both. Trisha has made these three statements:
Masters and Johnson’s description of the physical markers of orgasm are what I believe the scientific definition of the word orgasm should be based upon.
Orgasm is caused by direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoral glans/vulvar area in women, in the same way that orgasm is caused by direct or indirect stimulation of the penis in men.
The M&J accounts of both the intercourse and the breast induced orgasms were observed and recorded in the lab.
It is logically impossible for these three statements to be simultaneously correct. One must be given up."yeah, I think they can live together
I mean I get where he’s coming from because they seem to contradict each other, but I believe these 3 statements can live together. In fact, I took pains during my discussion of Resolution 2 in my last response to describe why those last two statements can and do live together. I’ll recap it all here though because I can’t help feeling that Ed didn’t really read what I had to say. For instance – he incorrectly remembered using an argument I actually gave him.
“My first argument against this resolution was that M&J themselves recorded orgasms caused by penis-vagina intercourse and by breast-touching.”Well, he did mention the penis-vagina intercourse, but he didn’t mention the breast-touching. I mentioned that.
“Like Ed mentioned about good ol’ Master’s and Johnson’s 1966 book Human Sexual Response, they did record orgasms in women during vaginal penetration with no additional stimulation. I would add that they also found 3 women (all of whom could additionally orgasm through clitoral glans area stimulation and through intercourse) who achieved orgasm through breast stimulation without additional clitoral manipulation.”So, I actually gave him what I believe to be the best argument for another stimulation trigger for orgasm besides the clitoral/vulva area. I did this because I talk about both those things all the time in my other writing, and because these things are true, and because I believe they need to be hashed out.
He also, I feel, mischaracterized how I speak about this – taking away all the nuance that I was so careful to include.
"Trisha has said that M&J is the definitive work and 'gold standard' on what constitutes female orgasm because of the use of objective, physiological measurements. However, she here claims we should disregard that same evidence and gives no reason why other than that it does not agree with her interpretation of what orgasm is."I certainly hope it didn’t seem like I claimed people should disregard M&J’s seemingly contrasting evidence with no reason. I mean, I gave reasons. He might not like them, but I gave reasons, and I was careful to discuss why this data was not as problematic as it appeared.
intercourse induced vs. vaginally induced orgasms
Firstly, M&J themselves described the intercourse induced orgasm they observed as being caused by indirect clitoral stimulation - the penis pulling on the labia which pulled on the clitoral hood which gently rubbed against the clitoral glans. M&J said this, not me, and frankly, they were the ones with slow-mo cameras down there, so I’ll take their word for now since that’s the only physiological data we have on this so far. And let me be clear here – cause this gets confusing. Intercourse induced orgasms (that M&J verified) are different from vaginally induced orgasm (that have never been verified in any other study – even the one’s Ed tried to point to in this debate), and the distinction really does make a difference. It might be intricate and complicated, but it is not trivial.
The first is orgasm caused by indirect stimulation of the clitoral glans during intercourse. The other is orgasm caused by stimulation of something that is reached from inside the vagina, like the vaginal wall, the cervix, or the clitoral legs through the vaginal wall. You see, if orgasm is caused by glans area stimulation, then moving something in and out of the vagina can be seen as a pretty round-about way to go about lady-gasms, and would indicate that intercourse coupled with steady stimulation on the clitoral glans, attained however one can find to attain it, is the best way to go about orgasm during intercourse. If it were found that orgasm during intercourse happens due to the way the penis stimulates something in the vagina, then intercourse with no additional involvement of the clitoral glans might seem a really good way to go about achieving orgasm. Quite different modes of action during intercourse would seem to be needed to get that orgasm, and whether the clitoral glans is involved or not makes little difference.
This is important because lots of women want better information about how they can orgasm with another person, and these details are crucial. There is also the fact that people do surgery in that area, including general reproductive surgeries, FGM reconstruction surgeries and gender reassignment surgeries where understanding those seemingly minute details about where exactly is being stimulated when women orgasm during intercourse is not insignificant at all. So, M&J’s findings about intercourse orgasms make this complicated, but they don’t contradict that 2nd statement up there.
fantasy orgasms, M&J quotes and other contradictiness??
Ed continued his criticisms of my contradictiness and insistence that clitoral/vuvla area stimulation be required.
"M&J did not expect clitoral/vulvar stimulation to be required. While they did not observe it, they wrote, orgasm resulting from fantasy also would produce the same basic physiologic response patterns, and cited 8 other papers about fantasy-to-orgasm, no Rube-Goldberg effect required (p. 132-3). She suggested that the breast-stimulation orgasms might somehow be the clitoris being stimulated by some indirect movement of muscles or something. This is wild speculation from someone who repeatedly insisted that we must only use direct, objective, physiological measurements to reach conclusions about what causes orgasm."First off M&J were just speculating that if fantasy-to-orgasm ever happened, then it would also include the physiologic markers we've been talking about here - because they were pointing out how integral those physiologic markers are to every orgasm they have ever seen in their research. The 8 other papers are just old papers talking about hearsay of these fantasy-to-orgasm things. Just like M&J, no other study then and up through today has recorded physiologic markers of orgasm in relation to non-physical fantasy. However, M&J did find that the physiologic response pattern (ie physiologic markers) they discovered were always a part of orgasms...so, as they postulated above, it should theoretically be part of a fantasy orgasm too.
But Ed's right, M&J never said outright that clitoral/vulvar stimulation must be required for orgasm. It's just that M&J found that it almost always was required. I was the one that took that general stance going from their data and subsequent physiologic orgasm research.
But let's get back to the clitoral/vulva stimulation almost always required thing.
So, breast stimulation. M&J gave no explanation for the mechanism, and I did wildly speculate, but I didn't pretend it to be anything but speculation.
"As for the breast stimulation, this is up for debate and hopefully more study. I once put forth a thought on my blog that maybe, during the breast stimulation, some muscle tensing in the vulvar area, once the women had become highly aroused, moved everything around down there just enough to get a touch of clit stimulation and set off the orgasm. Who knows? It’s merely a guess that goes along with the pattern of really indirect stimulation giving less intense orgasms."Hell, I’ll also throw out another wild speculation. Maybe, given that nipple stimulation is associated with uterine contractions (as I think many a new, nursing mother would know), that in a highly aroused state, the nipple stimulation could set off uterine contractions which kinda triggers the whole rhythmic release of pelvic muscle tension and blood congestion down there. Who knows? It too is just a guess.
I was clear in my conclusion that there was “some debatable evidence for a direct connection between breast stimulation and orgasm.” I don’t think I was all disregard-y of M&J's evidence there, but I admit I was a bit snotty about it for joke sake, continuing with, “but those studies were done 50 years ago and reported in the M&J study that Ed thinks is not quite up to par, so take that as you will.” I think Ed might have taken that as disregard-y, so I apologize, but I didn’t mean it to be. Breasts are the only other area of stimulation besides the clitoral/vulvar area that seems to cause orgasm.
However, whereas there was tons of evidence in M&J and in studies after M&J corroborating that clitoral/vulva stimulation caused orgasms, this is far from true for breasts. There was only evidence from 3 women (.7% of the women in the study) who could orgasm through breast stimulation, and as of yet, no physical evidence in later studies to corroborate.
statements 2 & 3 existing together? sure.
I stand by calling it debatable evidence. I have always been quite clear, including in my original clarification for Resolution 2, that I am not saying that other trigger points for orgasm could not exist, but instead that if they do, they seem to be quite rare. The striking lack of evidence for other non-clitoral/vulva area routes to orgasm, as opposed to air tight proof of their non-existence, leads me to say what I say.
So yes, even with the breast and intercourse data from M&J, I do assert that as much as we can say the penis needs to be stimulated for males to orgasm, we can also say the stimulation of the clitoral glans/vulvar area is needed for females to orgasm. These are both the heavily dominate way that orgasm has been observed in either sex, but there might be very rare exceptions for both. I mean, we cannot be positive that some men’s claims of things like anal and nipple stimulation orgasms or thought orgasms are patently false either.
what about the 1st statement?
The 1st statement up in that trio is as follows, "Masters and Johnson’s description of the physical markers of orgasm are what I believe the scientific definition of the word orgasm should be based upon.” I appreciate that Ed chose this statement. It is the line I crafted to begin my support for Resolution 1, and it reflects my sentiment better than Resolution 1 itself. I’m actually ready to admit defeat on the actual Resolution 1 because the wording created messiness I didn’t fully realize at first, but I'll get to that in the next section.
In the meantime, let me say that M&J did create a good description of the physical markers of orgasm, that are still respected, widely referred to, and haven't been debunked in the 60 years since they released it. Their data has been expanded upon; new tools for checking pelvic muscular activity and vasocongestion have been have been created, but physiologic data on arousal and orgasm attained since then has stood on M&J’s backs as opposed to crushing them, and the definition of orgasm, if not completely based on these markers, should certainly include them. I’ll get more into this later, but for now, I’m generally okay with this I don’t see this statement as being incompatible with the other 2.
with a little nuance this can work
So, again, I actually do believe all 3 of those statements can stand together, but only if we are willing to have nuanced discussions. With all honesty, if Ed chose to use Resolution 2, which is worded much more black and white, instead of a sentence from my clarification for that 2nd statement, then he’d definitely have a technical win. However, he didn’t do that. He listened to me and used my clarification, which I really appreciate. I don’t want this to be an either or. I want this to be a discussion that gets complex and tries to untangle this mess. All of those 3 statements above tell a truth, and together they begin to paint a more robust picture that can help to explain and understand female orgasm more clearly.
1. Masters & Johnson’s (1966) book Human Sexual Response provides the best scientific description of the definition and nature of orgasm.
So here is the concession. Resolution 1 is worded badly for what I wanted to support, and although I didn’t actually write it, I signed off on it and didn’t see the problems it brought with it – not really until I read Ed's last response. He called me on that, and I will gladly concede that statement. I actually appreciate the insight that Ed and this debate have given me into how I speak about Masters and Johnson and how I use words like definition, etc. in regards to orgasm. However, I continue to hold a slightly adjusted statement – that, I think, you will find makes sense if you read my original support of Resolution 1.
adjusted resolution 1
The physical markers of orgasm, specifically the rhythmic release of muscle tension and blood congestion, first discovered by Masters and Johnson, should be used as the marker of orgasm.
It’s similar, but without the insinuation that the book as a whole is the, like, only place to go for understanding the definition and nature of orgasm. I never intended that to be the case, and I think Ed and I talked past each other a bit because I didn’t at first see that insinuation in the resolution. First off, it’s the physiological discoveries in that book that are important, respected, and relatively stable as scientific insights - not every aspect of psycho-social discussion or insinuation in the book. And, although M&J discovered these physiologic qualities of arousal and orgasm, they are not the only ones who have done research on them. Further research has corroborated and also expanded and updated their findings and methods. This process of research building on research is clearly important and I never meant to disregard it. In fact, the fact that later studies were able to corroborate and expound upon M&J's physiologic studies is a major part of why I hold their work in high regard. I speak about these markers as M&J’s physiologic discoveries because their study was the first, the largest, and still remains fundamental, but I can see that invoking their names alongside the markers they first described brings baggage to the conversation that might not be useful.
Also, my adjusted Resolution 1 doesn’t get into wishy-washy words like 'nature' that encompass so, so much. I’m really by far most interested in digging through the physical part of the orgasm, which, if you read my writing at all, is probably pretty clear My intent with advocating about physical definition of orgasm has always been to create ways to discern what people actually mean when they say 'orgasm,' so that researchers, advisers, and experts are not saying things that mean something completely different depending on who is listening – which is largely the case with female (but not male) orgasm now.
why the physiologic markers matter so much
Whatever words and definitions are used, it’s simply true that having an ‘orgasm’ that includes that release of arousal induced muscle tension and blood congestion (the marker I put forth), is a different thing than an ‘orgasm’ that doesn’t include that release. Call the other one(s) not an orgasm or call them a different kind of orgasm – with yet to be found markers, but I would argue that we need to start making that distinction. In the end, I don’t care the words used, and I have no problem with orgasm defined as an “experience,” as Ed rightly points out that it often is. I just think that the physical markers of orgasm should be involved.
Otherwise, an ‘orgasm’ has no worthwhile meaning. Without these markers, if a person says she has had an 'orgasm' then she had one, no questions asked – even if the ‘experience’ is a feeling with no physical markers, an ejaculation, a nonphysical climax, or a heightened state of arousal. As always, I’m not knocking those experiences, but if they are all lumped into the same definition of ‘orgasm’ just because we refuse to limit the scope of the word using physical parameters, then it is a useless definition indeed.
but Ed was right, my definition was too limited
But back to what I was proposing as the definition - Ed was right that dictionary definitions of orgasm often say something about the whole experience of the thing. Although I took pains to be clear that I fully understood orgasm had all kinds of psycho-social elements along with the physical element, I was wrong to try and assert that the physical part is the definition of orgasm. And he is also right that Masters and Johnson would have defined the female orgasm (just as they did with the male orgasm) with the inclusion of the psycho-social elements of the experience.
but still, the physiological markers should be included
And speaking of M&J's definition of orgasm, Clint quotes quotes their definition with, “For the human female, orgasm is a psychophysiological experience…” and I will continue their quote, “occurring with and made meaningful by a context of psychosocial influence. Physiologically, it is a brief episode of physical release from vasocongestive and myotonic increment developed in response to sexual stimuli. Psychologically it is a subjective perception of a peak of physical reaction to sexual stimuli.”
So, using big-ass words, M&J defined orgasm both by the physical markers of orgasm (the release of blood congestion and muscular tension) and the psychological reactions to those physical events. So I was off from M&J definition by being too focused on the physical part of the definition, but the physical part was still a part. Other places do use very similar definitions to M&J, including the physiologic marker as part of the total experience. So when I said that the definition I first proposed is respected and widespread and Ed asks “where? by who?” These kinds of things are what I meant. I apologize that my meaning was muddied by my limited scope of the word ‘definition,’ but I think it’s at least somewhat fair to say that definitions that include these markers are widespread and respected.
"An Orgasm in the human female is a variable, transient peak sensation of intense pleasure, creating an altered state of consciousness, usually with an initiation accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature, often with concomitant uterine and anal contractions, and myotonia that resolves the sexually induced vasocongestion and myotonia, with an induction of well-being and contentment." -Women's Orgasm A Meston CM1, Levin RJ, Sipski ML, Hull EM, Heiman JR. nnu Rev Sex Res. 2004;15:173-257.
"Orgasm is a subjective experience accompanied by involuntary muscle contractions."Even Wikipedia and dictionaries use the physiologic markers as part of the definition.
-8-13 Hz fluctuations in rectal pressure are an objective marker of clitorally-induced orgasm in women. 2008 van Netten JJ1, Georgiadis JR, Nieuwenburg A, Kortekaas R.
Arch Sex Behav. Apr;37(2):279-85.
"Orgasm is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure." - Wikipedia
"The highest point of sexual excitement, characterized by strong feelings of pleasure and marked normally by ejaculation of semen by the male and by involuntary vaginal contractions in the female." -American HeritageSo I hope my intention and meaning as I was talking about Resolution 1 are more clear now. As I said before, I appreciate this debate and how Ed pressed on this issue because it helped me see another perspective of my language that wasn't really clicking for me. I feel I can be more precise about what I want to say, and get my point across better.
Agreements and Disagreements
I’d like to just go through some of the topics discussed in our back and forth and see where we align.
Ed pulled these bits of agreement out in regards to female orgasm for his first post of this debate, and it's still true. "We agree that there is a long history of apathy, disregard, and politically-charged misinformation which continues to this day...We agree that miseducation on the facts has negative consequences for the mental and sexual health of women and men, and that these are therefore important issues to talk about and to educate about."
limitations of Masters and Johnson’s research
Ed and I both agree that, as he puts it,
“Masters and Johnson made major contributions to knowledge about sex”but he goes on to say.
“However, the idea that the scientific understanding of the clitoris, orgasm, and female sexual response crystallized 5 decades ago thanks to a non-refereed publication based on a few experiments with tiny, unrepresentative samples in artificial, ecologically non-valid circumstances is preposterous on the face of it”So, I think we can also both agree that the scientific understanding of the clitoris, orgasm, and female sexual response did not crystallize 5 decades ago. I certainly never meant to assert that - only that their discoveries about how the body reacts during the sexual response cycle is fundamental and still quite relevant even though, but more appropriately because, later research has expanded on and corroborated their work. I’m all for even more physiological research. Bring it on, please.
I think it’s clear that we are actually not far off on this topic, but Ed listed out problems with their research including a tiny sample size, use of sex workers, sex in a laboratory, no replication, and WEIRD participants, and we talked about them a fair amount with some interesting things being said, so I’m going to go over them quickly. However, given his last reply, I will emphasize that I don’t want to insinuate that he disregards their study or their discovery of physiologic data because of this. He says,
"Trisha said that I object to aspects of the study 'in an attempt to discredit their findings about orgasm.' This is incorrect."He goes on to say all studies have issues, and he seems to be saying that he only has a problem with me asserting that this one study can be the end-all, be-all of sex research. If that is the problem then we are on the same page. Again, like I said above, I never mean to seem as though M&J is the only reigning authority on orgasm.
the flaws Ed described about M&J 1966
Tiny sample size:
*(Ed has agreed through email correspondence to update mistakes made in his last reply on this subject, but at the time of posting it has not been changed)* (**update 10-30-2015 Ed has updated the post, but kept in something I thought he might change. He says, "In the case of intercourse, orgasm was, in every case, inferred from self report and physiological metrics Trisha has discarded as insufficient, such as blood pressure and heart rate." Actually every case of intercourse induced orgasm M&J reported on was induced through a a clear dildo with camera inside, and the women controlled the speed and depth of the in-out motion. There absolutely is data reported about vaginal activity and pelvic muscular activity during orgasm gathered from this method. Ed may be thinking about man on women intercourse - M&J could not get direct recording of the pelvic muscle activity during orgasm, and that's why they adjusted their camera techniques in their clear camera dildo to deal with the movement while still taking clear movies. This innovation was a hallmark element of their research.)**
Ed said in his original reply on this topic that pelvic muscular activity was only directly observed for
n=0 women during coitus and only n=6 women during masturbation out of the 382 active participants described by M&J. There is no basis for these numbers, and after email correspondence between us, Ed found that he had received inaccurate data and agreed to update that section (I think what I will do is rewrite this part and characterize the sample with the degree of specificity I am sure of, which is n = 70-382 or so in which some sort of measures of pelvic floor contraction were used, but the effective sample size is on the lower end because a comparative sample has to be controlled such that they are in some sense a random sample, given the same experimental treatments... - email correspondence by Ed Clint 10/27/2015).
The sample size in this study is the largest of direct observation of the body during arousal and orgasm that yet exists. This is not really disputed (even with n=70, the low end of what Ed is proposing). Granted, as Ed points out, just because it is the largest study doesn't necessarily mean it has power to generalize, but this is an important fact none the less and nothing to sneeze at.
Neither of us actually knows the details about the actual raw data for that study, only what is described in the book. The raw data was by all reports destroyed many years later by Virginia Johnson. Just the fact that that there is no raw data is a mark against a study, but I think Ed would agree that there is no serious allegation that this data was made up or that M&J seriously misrepresented their data in any way.
Besides speculation about raw data we cannot get answers for, we don’t disagree in any serious way here. **(except that Ed seems to believe that there is no physiologic data recorded from intercourse induced orgasms. We'll have to agree to disagree on that because data about both timing and amount of pelvic muscle contractions at orgasm during intercourse, as well as the changes in the vagina during arousal and orgasm caused by intercourse are clearly available in their book.)**
Use of sex workers
I don’t see any real problem here. Ed may or may not.
We both agree that later studies have substantiated M&J’s study. I believe Ed just wants it known that one study taken on its own is not enough, and I fully agree.
Participants are all of a Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) society
I said that WEIRD or not, ladies all over all have the same basic lady parts – Clits and dicks exist all over the world. Ed came back with some thoughtful points about things like possible hormone and microbial differences between groups, but I think Ed and I would agree that those considerations are important in terms of building on and understanding deeper complexity in the basic physiologic discoveries of M&J as opposed to negating the fundamental information we have gained from these discoveries.
I would like to also mention (because I think at first glance it might seem that this is in relation to all of M&J data) that the worries Ed pointed out from M&J themselves about the limitations of their sample population were specifically in relation to the surveys taken about the psycho-social elements of these people's sex lives. As M&J specifically pointed out, in comparison to Kinsey's survey data, theirs is meager at best. They were categorically not speaking about limitations of their physiologic evidence there.
We can both agree that although M&J did have the largest study of physiologic sex research, it does not mean that there isn't more knowledge to gain from physiologic research on more varieties of people.
Sex in a lab setting
We both agree that sex in a lab setting might be different than sex in private and that this is a bias all sexual studies must struggle with.
Robert King’s paper contradicting M&J’s physiologic data
I mean, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about whether a study analyzing women’s descriptions of orgasms and using those description to create categories of orgasms is a study that is able to contradict the physiologic data M&J presented. I understand that Ed is not saying this paper is perfect in and of itself either, but he does still say it is contradictory to their work. I’ll add both of our full comments about this in Appendix A and let the reader decide for herself.
I agreed with him in my first response that bringing up the fact that there is less nerves in the vagina compared to the clit and vulva is not a useful argument against the possibility of a vaginally induced orgasm (I have used that in the past but no longer). However, I think he would agree that inversely, having sensitivity in the vagina is not proof for vaginally induced orgasms. To me we agree here, although he wrote in his last response that,
“The internal anterior surface of the vagina has been documented to be more sensitive and important to female sexual response than the others (Komisaruk & Sansone,2003; Komisaruk et al.,2004). King et al. have suggested their methods may have prevented discovery of this fact because the Ulysses appliance and specula may have covered it in order to produce recordings (King et al., 2010). This, in turn, could bias their findings in favor of the supremacy of the clitoral glans.”It does certainly seem the lower anterior wall of the vagina is regularly regarded as the most sensitive part of the inner vagina in studies, but again, sensitivity on a body part does not mean stimulating it can produce orgasms. I imagine it’s possible that M&J methodology biased against fully investigating this area as a possible trigger point for orgasm, but plenty of other studies since have not. If this area has been neglected, it is no longer. Still, though, not one study has observed the physical markers of orgasm in relation to stimulating this area (although ejaculation has been observed).
So, I imagine here we can agree that the lower anterior wall of the vagina is clearly a sensitive area for many women and an interesting area for further investigation into female orgasm.
proof for vaginal orgasms?
As of yet Ed has not found a study that observed the physical markers of orgasm (rhythmic release of pelvic muscle tension and blood congestion attained during arousal) caused by stimulation of something inside the vagina; or from stimulation of any other body part besides the clitoral/vulva area; or through thought alone.
He hasn’t even found any other study (besides M&J) that have observed orgasm induced through intercourse (and stimulating the clitoral glans indirectly). The papers he put forth about infibulated women, women with spinal cord injuries and his pointing out that lesbians buy dildos have not had that kind of data in them, and they do not have any positive proof that vaginally induced orgasms exist. I’ll throw in my critique of a BBC article too since it includes even more studies that are often used to try to prove vaginally induced orgasms, yet do not have the data needed to do so. It’s not surprising to me that he hasn’t found one yet because I’ve been looking for those types of studies for years. (Please shout it out if you can find one).
He and I may differ on:
- whether we believe that it is good methodology or not to accept a woman’s claim of orgasm without checking for physiologic markers of orgasm.
- whether an elevated heart rate or respiration can be considered useful enough to mark an orgasm (I certainly do not given that M&J and plenty of others have found that those two measurements spike during very high levels of arousal and so are not unique to orgasm).
- whether certain brain activity can be a marker for orgasm (I do not given that there is no clear understanding about; 1. whether the brain activity found so far can be culminated into a single or even a few ‘orgasm identifier(s)’; 2. whether the brain activity recorded so far does actually happen whenever a certain climactic sexual experience takes place and if it can be discerned from other similar brain activity; 3. whether the brain activity recorded so far is reliable and identifiable in a variety of people; 4. if any of the brain activity correlates to orgasmic release of muscle tension and blood congestion in women; or 5. whether any of the orgasmic brain activity recorded so far can mark anything physical has happened at all).
But I dare say we can agree that neither of us has found a study with observations of stimulation inside the vagina causing the rhythmic release of pelvic muscle tension and blood congestion attained during arousal; and also no other studies indicating stimulation of any other body part besides the clitoral/vulvar area or thought alone causing those physiologic markers of orgasm.
A Quick Conclusion
So, I have enjoyed this debate. I hope it gave readers something to chew on, and if Ed would like to make any more contribution, I would be more than happy to engage him, but if not, I think we have had a good run.
Ed's original point
Evolutionary psychologists have also investigated possible psychological mechanisms involved in sexual response—
Men’s masculinity and attractiveness predict their female partners’ reported orgasm frequency and timing. [Link]
Are There Different Types of Female Orgasm? [Link]
Genetic influences on variation in female orgasmic function: a twin study [Link]
Sometimes producing findings that directly contradict M&J, such as Robert King et al. 2011:
Fundamentally, these data would seem to contradict the Masters and Johnson (1965) view that masturbatory orgasms are the same as those achieved through intercourse, especially in terms of pleasure and sensation.The full Robert King, et al 2001 quote added in here by me just for reader reference:
"Not only did it prove to be the case, as common sense would lead one to expect, that on average, orgasms achieved with partners scored more highly in terms of pleasure and sensation than orgasms without partners but, far more interesting, perhaps, was that this was not entirely the case. Recall that those two types of orgasms (I,II) that could be regarded as evidence of “good sex” consistently outscored solitary masturbatory orgasms on nine of ten composite measures of orgasm experience, clearly showing them to be more pleasurable. But, at the same time, orgasms type III and IV scored lower on nine of 10 adjective ratings than solitary masturbatory orgasms. Appearently, at least in terms of the orgasm experience itself, sometimes sex with oneself is more physically pleasurable than sex with a male partner, even when the latter provides sufficient sexual arousal to generate an orgasm. Fundamentally, these data would seem to contradict the Masters and Johnson (1965) view that the masturbatory orgasms are the same as those achieved through intercourse, especially in terms of pleasure and sensation."My response
"Sometimes producing findings that directly contradict M&J, such as Robert King et al. 2011:
Fundamentally, these data would seem to contradict the Masters and Johnson (1965) view that masturbatory orgasms are the same as those achieved through intercourse, especially in terms of pleasure and sensation."This quote boldly stood out to me, back when I read this particular article, as fully inaccurate, so it’s unfortunate that it was picked to prove there is data contradicting M&J’s work. “These data” that the quote is discussing are ones that show (they thought somewhat surprisingly) that a good number of orgasms with a partner were subjectively rated lower than masturbatory orgasms by women in their study (another group of partner orgasms were rated higher, but they found that less surprising).
Anyway, that’s not contradictory at all to M&J’s findings. Although M&J were clear through the study that the basic physiological elements such as spasmic release of muscle tension were universal to all orgasms, including masturbatory and those had during intercourse, they never held that they were the same in terms of pleasure or sensation. In fact, the surprising finding from the study above is specifically supported. M&J reported in terms of both the objective intensity of muscle spasms recorded and the subjective reporting of the woman, that masturbatory orgasms were ranked highest, followed by partner manipulation. The lowest rated orgasms were those achieved during intercourse (Masters 1966 p133).
M&J clearly claimed that the physical markers in orgasms during masturbation and intercourse were the same, but never claimed that any other element of these orgasms including intensity, length, meaning, or subjective pleasure were the same.
1.6 Contradictory findings (e.g. King et al. 2010): Fundamentally, these data would seem to contradict the Masters and Johnson (1965) view that masturbatory orgasms are the same as those achieved through intercourse, especially in terms of pleasure and sensation.
This quote boldly stood out to me, back when I read this particular article, as fully inaccurate, so it’s unfortunate that it was picked to prove there is data contradicting M&J’s work. “These data” that the quote is discussing are ones that show (they thought somewhat surprisingly) that a good number of orgasms with a partner were subjectively rated lower than masturbatory orgasms by women in their study (another group of partner orgasms were rated higher, but they found that less surprising). Anyway, that’s not contradictory at all to M&J’s findings. Although M&J were clear through the study that the basic physiological elements such as spasmic release of muscle tension were universal to all orgasms, including masturbatory and those had during intercourse, they never held that they were the same in terms of pleasure or sensation.The quote is not inaccurate. M&J wrote, the maximum physiologic intensity of orgasmic response subjectively reported or objectively recorded has been achieved by self-regulated mechanical or automanipulative techniques. . . .The fundamental physiology of orgasmic response remains the same [whatever the mode of stimulation] (p. 132, emphasis mine).
The authors collected data on subjectively reported physiological responses including muscle spasms and engorgement, but they found that the type of stimulation did matter and that, per the data, the orgasms may not be all physiologically identical. Not only is this contradictory of M&J, but the paper also expands in new, important areas that M&J didn’t really touch, such as reported emotional intimacy. This paper also published multivariate statistical analysis and used validation tools. Did M&J properly characterize their observations? We have no idea. They did not publish the data. The point I am making here is not that this one paper by King et al is the superior replacement for M&J, but to illustrate that many papers, like this one, do not necessarily accord with M&J, use a more sophisticated approach, and use modern tools and ethical standards permitting real investigation to happen. In many ways, these new sources of data are far superior and do not rely on M&J methodologically or theoretically.
1. Masters, W and Virginia Johnson. Human Sexual Response. Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1966.
2. Meston CM, Levin RJ, Sipski ML, Hull EM, Heiman JR (2004). Women's orgasm. Annual Review of Sex Research, 15, 173-257
3.Van Netten JJ1, Georgiadis JR, Nieuwenburg A, Kortekaas R. (2008) 8-13 Hz fluctuations in rectal pressure are an objective marker of clitorally-induced orgasm in women. Arch Sex Behav. Apr;37(2):279-85.