Crazy Ex Girfriend S1 Ep2: The SSL Review

Crazy Ex Girlfriend 
My sister and my niece are watching this show, and they were all like, "You should watch this," and I was all like, "fine." And then I realized that this was the show created by/starring Rachel Bloom, a woman that gave a bad-ass Orgasm Equality, Cliterific rant on Twitter earlier this year. She's on the ol' Orgasm Equality Allies list, people. So, when I realized this, I actually for real decided to watch because I hoped there could be some stellar SSL Reviews.

I'm only on episode 4, so I don't have much yet. However, there has been 1 SSL Reviewable moments so far, and it will be getting a positive review. So, for a reminder, SSL Reviews only involve depiction or discussion of female orgasm and/or masturbation and/or the clit. I critique the realism (for instance, were the physical things happening to that women while she orgasmed things that could realistically cause orgasm for a woman? Did she come from getting her neck licked? - 'cause that's dumb and I will call BS) and also speak on what the depiction/discussion reflects from and adds to the larger cultural discussion around lady-gasms and female sexuality.

You can see all the SSL TV Reviews HERE (and as always you can find all the movie SSL Reviews HERE).

Season 1 Ep2: Orgasming Instantly
So, first off, it's important to know that this show is a full-on musical. The characters are always dropping into song, and they're all generally made for laughs as well as made to move the plot along or reveal inner feelings  - you know musical stuff. It's actually a pretty funny show when it gets going, and I do enjoy a musical, so I'm all in with binging this one.

Anyway, what's happening in this scene is that the main character Rebecca is in a yoga class led by a woman, Valencia, that her crush is dating. Valencia is fit and beautiful and great at yoga. Rebecca is not so great at yoga and also fears that Valencia is like perfection and could never be lived up to. So, during the yoga class, a musical number begins where Valencia is singing about how good at yoga she is, and it continues with her talking about all these other things that make her like a superior girlfriend.

One of the things she says is "I orgasm instantly!"

So that's it, that's the SSL Reviewable moment. The reason I kinda like this is not because it's a like progressive discussion of how women actually orgasm or anything, but because it is a realistic expression of what women fear about the orgasm capabilities of other women.

The song is clearly about all the ridiculous feelings of inferiority Rebecca has in comparing herself to Valencia, and although the song is through Valencia's voice, there's no question the song is really just an expression of Rebecca's insecurities.

Valencia says things like: "I'm so much better than you," "My father didn't leave me," "I do shit with my body that no human should be able to do," and my fave "Anal doesn't hurt at all. Most times I prefer it."

My Take (AKA the SSL Review part)
So, Valencia saying in this song that she orgasms instantly goes nicely with her admission of how much she likes anal. Both of them stem from women worrying that other women are sooooo much better in bed than they are (i.e. other women do and enjoy all the things we believe men love), and that worry, in turn, stems from the fact that our culture has an incorrect and confused understanding of female orgasm.

Let's break this down what I mean about culture's confused and incorrect understanding of orgasm, shall we? (*I do kinda break this down in lots more detail in the movie this blog expands on - Science, Sex and the Ladies - if you want more):
  • Intercourse is THE thing to do for hetero couples. It's expected, normal, accepted, and there is a general sense in our culture that it should be just as orgasmic for women as it is for men. 
  • Buuuuut....Intercourse is actually NOT as orgasmic for women as it is for men...and that's not because of bad technique or something like that. It's because women don't orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina. Seriously - there is absolutely no physical evidence of orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina in scientific literature...none. (ejaculation can happen this way for some, but ejaculation is not the same as orgasm - in men or in women). Women need outer clit/vulva stimulation and men need penile stimulation to orgasm. Only 1 of those things happens necessarily with intercourse. 
  • Not being able to orgasm from intercourse was officially deemed a psychological problem up until the 70's and women still often feel like failures and seek medical help if they cannot do this (and the professional medical community still largely goes about this problem like it is actually a problem instead of a normal thing that makes sense...which is insane. It's like seriously looking for a solution to a person who comes to you saying they have trouble blowing their nose through their ears. It's insane - did I already say that? ) 
  • Women in TV, movies, books, porn, jokes - they all orgasm quickly, and often for way too long than is physically possible, from a little in-out (this is rampant fictitious BS that we are force fed from birth)
  • Sex ed doesn't usually talk about the clit since it has nothing to do with reproduction - only pleasure. In fact our whole culture tends to ignore the clit...or only speak of it as merely one of a woman's many pleasure points, as if the vaginal canal, the nipples, or the back of the neck are as important to orgasm as the clit. People don't pull that shit with penises. We as a culture KNOW males need their penises messed with to orgasm. The outer clitoral glans is as important to female orgasm as penises are to male orgasm, but it's almost never treated that way. #Cliteracy
Okay, so given all that above, it really just makes sense that we women are insecure about how we experience/don't experience orgasm with partners because the reality of women's bodily capabilities rarely match up with the kinds of things we learn and see and talk about in our culture regarding lady-gasms. For instance, oh I don't know, have you EVER seen a woman in TV or a movies that reached down and rubbed her clit to orgasm while she was getting fucked by a man...or even one where the man reached down? How about a woman vibing her clit during intercourse without seeming to bother the male character in that scenario? Probably not, and if you have you can probably count it on 1 finger. Now that's some bull shit because females need outer clitoral stimulation to orgasm, yet people don't get to see women orgasming that way very often except for the occasional depiction of cunnilingus or masturbation (and even those aren't depicted realistically all the time). Realistic ways of reaching orgasm during hetero sexual encounters are rarely modeled for women the way we consistently see them modeled for men.

So, obviously, we ladies (and men too) are confused and misinformed about how exactly a female is supposed to reach orgasm. The expectations on how women should perform (and orgasm) during a sexual encounter are often extreme and more related to what would be easy and enjoyable to the male partner (orgasming instantly during intercourse, for instance?) than to a female's actual bodily abilities for orgasm, and all that makes us ladies scared and uncomfortable and certain that we are the wierd ones. It seems like other women must have an easier, sexier time orgasming in normal sexual situations...otherwise why would that be all we see out there in the world?

So, all that up there is what I hear when Valencia, embodying Rebecca's insecurities about how other women are better in bed, says she "orgasms instantly." That type of insecurity rings true to the female experience for all the terribly misinformed reasons we just talked about. I like seeing that female perspective, and I think seeing a woman on TV with that fear helps to expose its ridiculousness because it starts to uncover for the viewer the reality that other women feel that way too. It starts to reveal that most women feel alone and strange and lesser than these 'other' women who are better at orgasm stuff...and if most other women feel that way, then maybe this idea of 'other' women who are sooo good at having orgasms the way women are supposed to have orgasms - is just a big mythical pile of bull shit. That is what women speaking truths to other women can do.

TheVulva Rating
I definitely like that women-speaking-truths-to-other-women part about this SSL Reviewable moment in Crazy Ex Girlfriend, but it's not like way super progressive or anything. It's a little more like a solid moment of female perspective in the writing that I dug deep into. It's good, but it's not like 5 vulva rating good. So, I give the a 4 vulva rating. Good work, Crazy Ex Girlfriend team!


***So, the Crazy Ex Girlfriend Fan Club @bunch _of_fans were awesome and tweeted me the explicit version of the musical number discussed above. Turns out, the "I orgasm instantly" line was actually written (before censor-proofing) as "I come vaginally." Uh, I love it. That is exactly what I thought the intention of that line was, and it makes it even more bold and awesome. I am tempted to up the rating a 1/2 vulva, but nah - I think this show will have plenty of excellent SSL Reviews in the future! Thanks again for the tip @bunch _of_fans!


Playboy 2006 SSL Review - May

Why I have a stack of decade old Playboys that I'm SSL Reviewing
Long story short I took them from my parents house thinking I would review them for this blog and then didn't actually do that for over 10 years but now want them the hell out of my house because I hate clutter and don't know how I've not thrown them away all these years. Also, I thought I had all 12 months, but some are gone. If you want the longer story, check out the 1st 2006 Playboy SSL Review I did.

SSL Review Basics
An SSL review - as many of you know is a critique ONLY of discussions or depictions of female masturbation and/or female orgasm. I critique the realism and also what the depiction/discussion adds to our culture conversations on the topics of female sexuality and orgasm. I usually do these SSL Reviews for either movies or TV, but magazines are fun from time to time. This SSL Review will be a bit more relaxed and simple than most. I'd like to have a little fun here (but I will still give it a vulva rating).

So, please enjoy the full SSL Review of the Playboy Magazine from March 2006. I will review each SSL Reviewable item starting from the front of the magazine to the back.

 1 Playboy Advisor

Thanks for publishing the question from the woman about having sex while high. I had been struggling with reaching orgasm, but when I smoked a little weed 2 nights this week, I had the biggest and best climaxes of my life. I had seen a doctor, switched my birth-control pills, masturbated - everything I could think of. Who knew reefer would be the answer?   -J.P., Chicago, IL
Glad we could help. Your assignment is to continue to search for other ways you could relax yourself to orgasm so you are bale to approach it from different directions (now we're starting to sound like a mystic.
I mean, hey, sometimes a gal's just gotta use a little something to get her mind to focus on the shit that's happening to her body, ya know...to let the pleasurable touches arouse her so she's primed to reach orgasm when the right stimulation come along.

Granted, this lady does not say what exactly was happening to her to get her to reach her top-notch orgasm. Was it some sweet manual or oral stimulation direct to the clit/vulva area, or maybe she grinded that clit the right way up against her partner while having intercourse? Who knows. I'm also not sure if she meant she was struggling to come for the first time ever...or just trying to come during intercourse - because honestly a lot of women talk about orgasm during intercourse as like the orgasm - and not having an orgasm that way often makes women think they're broken and they go to doctors and shit like this woman did (even though orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina is like not really a thing).

Either way, it's lovely she came, and it really does make sense that (as long as there is appropriate stimulation to the clit or penis area, of course) sometimes a person struggling with arousal and/or orgasm might be helped by getting a touch high. You see, getting aroused to the point of orgasm will just happen with appropriate physical stimulation, but (and this is a big but) the mind can halt that process for all kinds of reasons, so getting high might help a person keep their focus on the their body, their pleasure,and the present situation in a way that keeps the mind from halting the arousal process. Then again, for others, getting a touch high might make them paranoid as hell and put their minds on everything BUT the present sexual pleasures they are experiencing. 'Cause - you know -arousal is tricky and personal. You gotta figure out what works for you (and then if you want to actually orgasm make sure the clit is getting the attention it deserves while you are aroused enough to get there).

2 Raw Data

A pig's orgasm lasts 30 minutes
This was a fun fact on this page, but I'm skeptical. Looking internet stuff up on this, it seems this is only in relation to male pigs because there's just not data about if and how female pigs orgasm. It's also in relation to ejaculation not necessarily orgasm - because orgasm and ejaculation absolutely are 2 different things for both men and women, but in men they most often happen at about the same time and in women ejaculation mostly doesn't happen at all. The two words are frequently used interchangeably even though they shouldn't be.

So, not to the whole 30 minute orgasm situation. The physical part of an orgasm is defined loosely as the rhythmic release of muscle tension built up through arousal in the pelvic muscles. So, and this goes for all the BS talk of women orgasming for 30 minutes as well, you simply can't be releasing muscle tension for that long. There's only so much tension to release. You can be aroused for 30 minutes, but physically orgasming for 30 minutes just doesn't make any goddamn sense.

Anyway, it seems pigs do ejaculate (that is expel semen out) for an extraordinarily long amount of time, but there's no evidence they orgasm for that long.

3 Playboy Party Jokes

A man met a blonde in a bar, and after a few drinks they went back to her place and had wild, passionate sex. "I guess that was just about the best sex you ever had, " he said when they were done.   "What makes you say that?" she asked.    "Well," he replied, "while we were doing it, I couldn't help notice how I made your toes curl."    ""Oh,"she said, "that was just because most men take off my panty hose first."
I mean, honestly, as Playboy jokes go, this one was pretty solid because they are often less than humorous. Anyway, this kinda speaks about orgasm so I'm SSL reviewing it. I'm actually not sure what to say about it in a critical way. It's just a joke about how dumb men are about pleasing women, I think. I don't have strong feeling about this one, so I'll leave it at that.

The Vulva Rating
This was a pretty light SSL Review Playboy, and none of it was that problematic. It wasn't progressive or anything either. So, I'm going to give this one a bit better than neutral. The May 2006 Playboy gets a 3 1/2 vulva rating.



Bodybuilding Thread And The Clit: A Retro SSL Adventurepo

So, I posted this like 4 years ago, but I love it, so I'm reposting. Do enjoy....

It all began 3 minutes after midnight on September 3rd 2013, when HorseCawk created the thread to discuss the "gay chit" that people were posting on FB.

A little background. I googled "Cliteracy 101" a couple days ago and happen to come across a thread on the bodybuilding.com forum about just that...Cliteracy 101. I couldn't help reading the entire thread, and I just really thought you needed to know about it too. These particular body-building folk are what some call miscers. They are people on bodybuilding sites that only post on the miscellaneous non-body-building sections of the site, and they really just post to make the other people laugh or react, so it's usually dumb as shit. It might have enraged me, cause there was a lot of pretty backwards comments, but honestly, who cares. I do think it reflects the underlying current in our culture that keeps us resistant to accepting a realistic understanding of female sexual release, but that's a subject that goes far beyond the shit these dudes were saying. Plus, I was in their space. They didn't take their shitty comments to the source. They kept in their home - their very public home, but home none-the-less.

So, sit back and relax because I'm going to give you a run-down of this awesomely awesome 3 page thread. It was Sophia Wallace's Cliteracy 101 posters that HorseCawk had wanted to discuss. I, obviously, think Cliteracy 101 is on point as "phuck" (HorseCawk prefers phuck to fuck), but HorseCawk felt it was
gay as phuck and says things like "the clitoris is larger than a flaccid penis" women who are into this $hit are just so dense. finding a "cause" and getting behind it!! POwEr in our sexuality! "Penetration Is Not the Only Sex!!" "you shouldn't have to ask a man to rub your clitoris during intercourse!"
He didn't see why anyone would share such things with him.


DK91 quickly gave HorseCawk props for a strong username (I agree) and a strong post.

I'd like to point out that late in the thread, Nessa1 (1 of 3 women in this thread) came back at HorseCawk with: "You do realize that all of that is correct, right Opie?" to which HorseCawk replied, "its not you stuppid chit. u are misinformed" Bravo Nessa1 - 5 vuvla rating to you (!)(!)(!)(!)(!)

Quickly, everyone then got a bit riled up by the idea that a clit could be larger than a flaccid penis, retorting with things like richard noggin's "brb pulling on my cawk with pliers" and H34T's "4 inch flaccid checkin in. never seen a 4 inch clit before. also this is why I never would degrade myself by licking a snatch."

However, PoliciaLoco (inquisitive mofo) pipes in with the absolutely correct statement: "Most of a clit isn't visible as it extends into the body..." And then Musik85 quotes some internet lit supporting the whole big clit thing and includes links to more info.

HorseCawk comes back though and tells PoliciaLoco
this is debatable. the feminist hipsters promoting this "the clitoris so is vast" view are preaching that the labia minora as well as other pussy tissue is "the clitoris"
That big ol' HorseCawk actually has a point here. There are definitely people out there saying that all the "pussy tissue" should be considered "the clit" because it is all important in sexual pleasure. I, as you can imagine, take the side that organs should be called their correct name, because if they are not, it is both confusing and inaccurate, but that's another story. He is off base in this particular discussion though. I mean the clit really does extend inside the body, and it really is at least as big as a flaccid penis, so not actually debatable, HorseCawk.

HorseCawk's comments to Musik85 are a touch less poignant (and probably false on all accounts, although I don't know the status of Musik85's sexuality), saying:
nice scientific source dumbchit
 your statements are firstly false.
 secondly debatable in scientific literature
 and thirdly you are a homosexual.
On a side note Musik85 comes back at him with: "How many clits have you seen exactly? minus your mums on the way out..." To which HorseCawk jovially replies: "lmao" Sadly, Musik85 loses his earlier steely feminist/real-life leanings and finished up the exchange with "Who gives a fuk anyway? gona get mine then get out... don't care if some stupid sloot cums or not." PoliciaLoco loses his way also and concludes his postings on the 2nd page with: "The artist, Sophie Wallace shows her teddies on her tumbler. Just FYI."

There are also randomly distributed comments relating to one of my favorites of the laws - Cliteracy Natural Law # 14 which says "The vaginal orgasm is a myth invented by Freud in 1905" with richard noggin changing the topic as follows:
I would pay lots of money to see a 4 inch clit lmfao 
but.. girls do orgasm from their vaginas dont they? my girl does? am I a brodcaster status now?
richard noggin's avatar. 
and Stannis saying:
Girls can't orgasm from penetration? Not sure if srs..? I don't think she was faking. (hmm)
and ItsNerfOrNothin with:
Vaginal orgasms a myth? GF is in so much fuken trouble SRS
Gonna fight about this tomorrow wish me luck
Then lui9806 with the following comment and anime-rage gif:
So where just gonna let that "vaginal orgasm is a myth" go unchecked?

 And bossavery with:
are u kidding me? women saying vaginal orgasms aren't real? pretty sure ive got girls off multiple times by fingering/massing that G spot and the girls werent frauding. 
fuk this ghey world
BushrodButtram gets a bit more investigativey on the subject and writes:
All this "women can't climax from intercourse" stuff is greatly exaggerated and is supposed to delegitimize normal sex. Some proponents basically think that all straight sex is basically unpleasant for women and that men like it that way:
BushrodButtram then links a kinda stream-of-consciousness post from a self-described radical feminist in which she talks about the dichotomy that exists for women about wanting too much or too little Penis-in-Vagina sex and the sense that P-i-V sex is THE only type of sex. (Her whole post is  HERE. Granted, it is a too obsessive with terror-of-pregnancy and also too blamey for my taste, and it's written a bit aggressively, but if you shake off all the dirt, it honestly has some thoughtful points....could be good for a future post). Anyway, BushrodButtram is kinda pissed about it and finishes his comment with:
Therefore, from their point of view, of course women should insist on "cliteracy" since women's collective sexual self-interest is best served if men don't want to have intercourse, seeing it as an inferior and ineffective form of sex.
I mean, let's be honest, as lady-gasms go, intercourse is an inferior and ineffective form of sex, but that's neither here nor there. Bushrod clearly has his Buttram in a bunch because the whole issue gives him too much feels. He feels the whole Cliteracy 101 thing comes from some crazy motherfuckers thinking intercourse sucks for women and that men want it to suck for women (and I'm sure Mr. Buttram doesn't actually want sex to suck for Mrs. Buttram - seriously. I really think he doesn't and it is offensive to him to think women would think he does). I hear ya Buttram, I do, but sometimes things must be said that are hard to hear, and we all need to listen - no matter whose fault it is.

Synth1230 chimes in with:
i like how all the slogans are presupposed to make it the man's fault. If you get off on clit stimulation then rub your fuking clit you pleb. Not to mention that going down on these chicks is impossible cos of the 10 coks theyve taken earlier in the day.  
The Quality of Women is going down yet their standards become higher and higher. If youre a good women ill gladly eat you till the cows come home and rub your clit during penetration but you better give me a blowjob when i tell you to.  
 vaginal orgasms are infact real or rather orgasms for simple penetration are.
Simplistic as it may be, Synth1230 has a point about rubbing one's fucking clit - I mean just do it, right? But I suspect he may not quite understand how strangely not easy that is to do in real life...I mean sometime our culture can get aggressively anti-clit...ya know? He is likely wrong about how many cocks the average women who asks him to go down on her has had in the 24 hours prior to asking, but I'm not him, so I won't pretend to know his circumstances. If this is true, then yes, I think a shower would be appropriate before any eating out, but it's not technically impossible. Let's be honest here. No one wants the disease of 10 other men's ejaculate on their tongue or the taste of 10 latex condoms. Plus, she's probably dehydrated at this point and would do well to just go home, take some time off and drink some water....although on the other hand, after taking 10 coks in 1 day - and likely not orgasming (cause Cliteracy Law # 14 is actually pretty accurate), doesn't she deserve a good eating out so she can finally get the fuck off? As for orgasms from simple penetration being real, as you know, I stand by the statement that there is no evidence of that being true.

EDcellent let everyone know about his experience too:
*Finger banged a girl and she squirted crew* checking in. Not a single part of her clit was touched that night. 
Or any other night.
Thanks EDcellent, and true story. Fingerbanging is actually a pretty good way to get a girl to squirt. It's called an ejaculation, and if the clit wasn't touched, definitely doesn't include an orgasm...but maybe EDcellent's girl isn't into orgasms anyway. To each her own.

LikeAMachine didn't like the idea of saying the vaginal orgasm was a myth either:
A myth? lol ok, right 
fukking hipsters rustling jimmies
Two ladies got into the discussion too. Staberella just wanted to get practical:
LOL this is silly. Instead of making a big fukking deal over their man sucking in bed to the world, they should let their partners know what they like in bed. No need to make it public.
It seems she is gently acknowledging that dudes who bang with no clit game suck in bed (even the toughest of body-building chicks like that mouth on that lady junk, am I right?) , but fair enough, Staberella - keep that shit to yourself.  4 vulva rating to Staberella for her subtle insinuation (!)(!)(!)(!).

CallMeOniichan was quick to get to the real issue, though, when he replied back to her, "I don't think the artist is into guys." Classic move CallMeOniichan.

and conceptions, well she didn't really care much about all this, but she was a bit better informed than most of the dudes so far about the vaginal orgasm is a myth thing. She says:
I think that claim comes from the belief that the nerves etc of the clitoris extend into the vaginal walls/g-spot, so they're all clitoral orgasms. No. 4 on the list in one of the pics seems right. I don't get what all the fuss is about.
The Cliteracy Law #4 conceptions speaks of is, "The clitoris is not a button. It is an iceberg" So she's got sense about her in that she's acknowledging that there is an inner, larger part of the clitoris. She's also right that there is a going trend that believes orgasms from penetration are due to the inner legs of the clitoris being stimulated to orgasm during penetration - so that even "vaginal" orgasms are clitoral. However, there is no scientific evidence of orgasm ever actually happening from stimulation inside the vagina, so there isn't really a "vaginal" orgasm to speak of at all, and thus speaking about what causes it is not useful since it doesn't really exist (at least in scientific literature). She gets 4 vulvas (!)(!)(!)(!) on her comment though, cause it's kinda thoughtful at least, and she tried to calm the fire. *No one cared though, I guess, because there were absolutely no comments to what she said.

A few other brave comments worth mentioning...theRealGriNC was just honest:
Does anyone else mess around with the clit or is it just me? I didn't think it was such a big deal.
It is a big deal - because it's not done enough. Thank you, theRealGriNC. Also, solidus2k3 kept his comment simple, but effective with: "Pussy eating crew" Different "crews" are always checking in. For instance, InfraRed407  said "can navigate the clit crew checking in" Yes sir, please do check in.

 Hmmmm. I'll give a final word to richard noggin who added this toward the very end of the 3 page thread:
alright boys lets all just admit it the clitoris is a myth, a made up fairy tale that was conjured up by feminists to scare little boys before bed. Has anyone seen this so called "clit"? no. no one has ever seen one because it doesnt exist. that dangly thing down there is just the bull**** that feminists are full of trying to escape.
Wait no. I want to give the last word to snowyowl, who actually made a top notch 5 vulva rating post  (!) (!) (!) (!) (!).  Bravo to him...and he never said anything super ass-holeish....and he had the hottest pic.

snowyowl's avatar 
 I'd rub my clit all over those abs. Here's his post. It was simply the juxtaposition of the 2 memes below.



Twitter Lady-gasm Truths: Rachel Bloom Is An Orgasm Equality Hero

Rachel Bloom Schools Twitter on Lady-gasms
I just started watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend. I'm on episode 3, and I already have an SSL Review to do for it (which will be positive). However, before I started watching this show, I caught some buzz about the creator/star's epic rant earlier this year on Twitter about basically all the shit this here movie and blog are about. So, what I want to say about that is fuck yeah, Rachel Bloom!

So, she basically saw a CNN article about the the Orgasm Gap (i.e. women are orgasming much less than men during sex), and she was pissed that it didn't even mention the clit until halfway down. For real, the article was all like,
'geez-oh-pete guys! What could possibly be causing women to orgasm less than men???? Could it be evolution making women have variable abilities to achieve orgasm?? Could it be women are so darn nervous about their bodies?? Could it be stigma against women initiating sex?? Could it be our clits are too far from their vaginal openings?? Golly gee - why oh why can't women just come from getting fucked up the vag hole like we want them to?? I guess there's no possible answer.' 
She, rightly, pointed out that this article, like most on the topic, was deeply focused on women's ability to orgasm during intercourse...because that's apparently the only way of lady-gasming anyone cares about. She also rightly pointed out THE CLIT. Seriously, women need their clit stimulated to orgasm, so if we live in a world obsessed with penises-in-vaginas and rarely depict, discuss or engage the clit in sexual situation, could it possibly be that - oh, I don't know - the main reason women aren't orgasming more during sex is because WOMEN'S CLITS DON'T GET STIMULATED MUCH DURING SEX. Just a little ol' thought. I mean, men need their penises stimulated for orgasm as much as women need their clits stimulated, and wouldn't you know it, their penises are pretty much the focus of any sexual activity they are a part of. and guess what?!? Men don't seem to have a group orgasm problem.

Why I Do So Love Her Rant
1 I love this because she says as boldly and clearly as anyone I've seen speak on this (and this includes most progressive sexperts and sex educators) that women would be orgasming more if we all just collectively realized that women orgasm from clitoral stimulation and penetration (because for real - no scientific research has ever shown that women orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina).

2 Can I just say again how much I love Bloom's rant. I love how specific and bold she is about the need for clitoral stimulation, because even well meaning, sex-positive, feminist stuff often demurs and really just kinda reminds that the clit is also important...as opposed to outright saying the the clit is THE important part and without understanding THE sole importance of the clit to female orgasm, orgasms ain't gonna happen. It reminds me of an article by Annamarie Jagose (I discuss it HERE) that really digs in on this issue, warning us that we'll be in a never ending cycle of worrying about the orgasm gap but never really fixing it unless we fully accept that intercourse on its own is not, has never been, and never will be as orgasmic for women as it is for men because it doesn't necessarily include external clitoral stimulation in the same way it necessarily provides clear penile stimulation. That is correct, Ms. Jagose, and although it is truly rare to hear people speak the truth on this, it really gives me hope to see these rare, but I venture to say increasing, bold statements from people like Ms. Rachel Bloom.

3 I particularly love that Rachel Bloom is really open and honest about this in her life personally. She admits that even being a feminist, progressive, and sexually aware women was not enough in this culture to give her the correct information about her body and her orgasms. She felt bad for many years that she had to have clitoral stimulation to come. She struggled with the cultural expectations of her orgasmic capabilities versus the reality of her experience. Her saying that is so important because it:

  • informs us that coming from clitoral stimulation alone is actually not wierd. It's as normal as a man who can orgasm only from penile stimulation (sadly though, that piece of knowledge is not something we learn...ever)
  • lets other women know that we all struggle with this bullshit that we really shouldn't have to struggle with, and
  • points out that this problem is larger than just sexually progressive vs. non progressives because the cultural misinformation goes way deeper than that, and none of us are immune - even if you were raised by hippies and got a degree in sexology - these truths of the clit are still buried.

I also love that she is addressing this AND she actually has some power over depictions of sex that she intends to use for good. In this Mic article by Anna Swartz that has a follow-up interview with Bloom about the tweets. Bloom says...
"We need to educate women about how every woman's body is different," she said. "In movies, when you see a couple having a love scene ... you never see the woman reaching down and stimulating her clitoris, or a man reaching down." 
Yes, you lovely women, YEEEEES! She is so correct, and I know that for sure because I specifically critique that exact thing in tons of movies and TV for SSL Reviews. The article goes on:
The second season of Bloom's show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, recently ended, and it's been renewed for a third. The show airs on the CW, which means that, as Bloom said, she's limited in how much she can show in sex scenes. But she and the other writers try "as much as possible to show what sex is really like ... people coming up from going down on Rebecca, we've shown Rebecca coming up from going down on other guys," Bloom said. "We try the best we can to capture what we know to be true."
Bless you, Rachel Bloom. That gives me so much hope and joy. It's the small things that will change this culture. It will take time, but I feel like I'm seeing things happening. It's a writer for Cosmo Sex Position Lists opting for inclusion of clitoral stimulation instead of incorrect references to how 'hitting the G-spot' will make a position orgasmic. It's Bridget Everett singing a hilarious song in her comedy act pointing out that ladies don't need the dick, They need mouth stimulation on their clit. And by golly, it's Rachel Bloom and the other writers trying their darndest on an extremely accessible over-the air network TV show that sexual activity, including intercourse, can and should include external clitoral stimulation (seriously, this never happens, so if I see it in Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I will flip my lid).

Go get 'em Ms. Bloom. You have officially made it onto my Orgasm Equality Heroes list. Good on ya, my lady.


Retro Author Interview: Miriam Reumann and American Sexual Character

A Retro SSL Post for this most American of Weekends!
Since it's almost the 4th of July, which is very American, and since this blog is about female orgasm, I thought to myself, 'what is the best combination of these two things?' And almost immediately I thought of the Amazing book American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports by Miriam Reumann. I cannot recommend this book enough. I used a lot of info from that book in the movie from which this blog sprang, Science Sex and the Ladies. 

Science, Sex and The Ladies from AnC Movies on Vimeo.

That part in the trailer where a dude from the 50's is doing his wife - that's inspired by info in this book, and where there's a family from the 40's at a table and where there's 2 types of 50's women standing around a man on a couch, and where there's a dude and his wife grilling hotdogs - all inspired by info in this book. I love this book. Read it. 

Also, in October of 2011, I was lucky enough to interview the author of this book, and I'm re-posting that here for you now. Enjoy.

The 2011 Interview with author Miriam Reumann I will not mince words here. I like Miriam Reumann's book. I've read a fair share of long dry books as I was researching for this movie. Yes, many were quite useful, but honestly Reumann's book was one of the most useful and most informative, and it was not a bit dry. It was fun, and quirky, and tells a unique story about an iconic time in American history. In fact this is such a well-researched and interesting book that as I was looking through it to find questions I wanted to ask her, I found it a little hard to come up with any. I kept reading a few lines and thinking, "wow – that’s so interesting," but there just wasn’t a question because the book was so thorough. It’s just a really great read. 

This book, American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports  is actually the main inspiration for a section of the movie. Part of the story Reumann tells involves America's "discovery" of the female orgasm in the period after WWII, and she does a fantastic job of discussing the expectations, worries, and talking points  surrounding this new idea that women (married women of course) could and in fact should orgasm. The middle section of our movie Science Sex and the Ladies, considers the impact of this cultural shift on our current understanding of female sexuality (here's a clue - surprisingly little has changed). The historical point of view I was able to take from this book  really helped me illustrate the stark differences between the status quo perception of female sexuality and the perspective of female sexuality that Science Sex and the Ladies promotes.

However, as I said before, this book is chock full of great info, and it tells many other stories too - about marriage, masculinity, and homosexuality among other things. The larger idea in the book goes something as follows: The cultural climate after WWII facilitated a unprecedented public discussion of sex, and in fact, sex became a matter of American "character." How Americans dealt with sex was often discussed as related to the very core of what America was like as a country. Although there were disagreements among experts at the time (were Americans too repressed or too promiscuous?), there was widespread agreement that these questions were utterly important to the American way of life. Screw the 60's. This was the real American Sexual Revolution. 

I thought it was important to interview Reumann in this SSL interview series, because, outside of the fact that aspects of her book have added unique insight into the movie we've made, I also appreciate that her work is an intensely researched and incredibly innovative look at America’s relationship to sexuality. Deeply held assumptions about gender, that she clearly reveals to be important influences on the cultural discussion of sex, are as pervasive today as they were in the post WWII period. Her discussion is progressive, thoughtful, and relevant to a more realistic understanding of female sexuality.

I contacted Miriam Reumann earlier this year and was happy to find that she was funny, engaging, and happily open to an interview. We eventually worked out a time, and I conducted an interview over email. I wrote a question. She answered. Then I wrote another question. The email thing was her idea, and I loved it. I am 10 times more relaxed writing than talking, so I had a great time, and I think she did too.

How did you get interested and started in the type of research you did for American Sexual Character? 

In grad school, when I started thinking about dissertation topics my parameters were pretty broad: I knew that I wanted to do something in the early or mid 20th century, and that I was interested in gender and sexuality. One of my professor/mentors, Anne Fausto-Sterling, said in passing one day that there was very little work on Kinsey, so my interest was piqued. I knew the general narrative about the Reports (huge, shattered common perceptions, important and controversial, etc., etc.) but realized that I’d never actually read any of either Sexual Behavior in the Human Male or Female, so I checked out incredibly thick and heavy copies from Brown’s library. Now, I wish I could say that looking at them filled me with exciting and original ideas, but the reverse was true – I found them so incredibly dull that I instead wondered how on earth anyone had ever seen these studies as remotely sexy, or threatening, or even readable! 

That, as it happens, wasn’t a bad question, and so as the dissertation research – and later the book – evolved, my central concern remained how they were USED, as opposed to what they actually found, or meant. That turned out to be useful in keeping me focused, since it meant I didn’t have to get mired down in the kinds of debates about accuracy or representativeness that Kinsey’s biographers cared about, and it also meant that I got to look not only at sources like serious journalism but also wacky popular culture – for years, I looked at every Kinsey artifact that cropped up on ebay, and lots of them, like cartoons or film posters, made it into my research. That said, I also got pulled in lots of unexpected directions, like when I discovered foreign policy analyses from the 1950s that focused obsessively on American sexuality as a key to our success or failure in the Cold War, and the central concept and title just flowed from there.  

I'm impressed you read through both the Kinsey reports. I have looked a tiny bit through them, but really couldn't bring myself to do any more than skim slightly and to read books like yours - that were about them. From reading American Sexual Character, it really does seems as though you went though an insanely immense amount of resources. How long were you researching and what were some of the most surprising or interesting things you came across?

I'm sure there are still large sections of both reports that I've never actually "read" - very few people then actually read them either, just pulled out whatever numbers and statements seemed most relevant or helpful to their beliefs.

   On the "immense amount of research" issue, I plead guilty - and you should be glad that the book version is much more streamlined than the dissertation, which had to be bound in 2 volumes because it was so embarrassingly long! I probably could have written the same basic dissertation in a year or 2 less if I'd trusted more in my own observations and felt less commitment to look at as much as possible. Some of that simply reflected that this was my first big intellectual project; it is probably also relevant that I did my grad work in an interdisciplinary program (American Studies) and was very conscious of having to make sense of how these different conversations (between sociologists, physicians, clergy, politicians, etc., etc.) linked up. At the time I thought that meant citing endless sources; nowadays, I trust I have a much better sense of when enough is enough. Lastly, of course, there simply was a huge amount of stuff on Kinsey, and a lot of what I used was things that I stumbled across rather than being able to find through, say, the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, since they didn't index pulp magazines and the like (again, hooray for ebay, one of a pop culture historian's best friends).

   I spent about 8 years on the dissertation, and, as noted above, it was probably longer than really needed (although I was about average for my department in terms of time to completion). There were certainly times when I researched less and wrote more, put the whole thing aside to work at side jobs for more money, or - more than once - got overwhelmed and just disengaged. As for sources, some of the most helpful material came late in the process, when I finally got to the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, which didn't happen until I was revising the dissertation into a (different and much better) book. By that point, I could use it more to support my sense of where I was going rather than as brand new ideas. Most surprising was probably the cartoons I featured in the book, which did a fabulous job of crystallizing many of the kinds of fears and reactions that I was finding in much more "serious" sources. Also, I ran across a number of material culture items that I couldn't feature in the book because they were so ephemeral, my only access would have been to buy them (and, really, who needs a Kinsey toilet paper holder, or bobble-head? Okay, maybe I regret not purchasing the bobble-head

You really should have purchased the bobble head :) 

Marie Robinson pops up in the book several times. She seems like an interesting character, and I’m sure you’ve read a lot from her. What is your personal take on what kind of person she was and what kind of figure she was to that era?

  I’ll ask the same question of Paul Popenoe, and if you don’t mind, could you comment about what you know of Abraham Franzblau (“...It is as though the broad plateau of ecstasy can be reached only after climbing over the top of a high hill. In a happy marriage, the female lives up near the top and can reach the peak with ease…")? We actually had actors play all 3 of these people to convey some of their quotes from your book on frigidity and marriage. The one who played Franzblau was curious about him, and I didn’t have much to go on, so I thought you might be able to help out.

 I didn’t do a ton of biographical research on commentators, even though some of them popped up a lot! Those three are each fascinating, and each also, I think, speaks for a particular niche.

  Marie Robinson, as a female MD, probably had a pretty hard time positioning herself as an expert in postwar debates on sex, and to me that helps explain the way in which she authorized her writing as a maternal act, based on concern for young women who could easily make a sexual mistake that would doom their lives. That was, of course, still largely true for the middle-class young white women who were her subject and the target audience for her books (well, their mothers would have been the main purchasers). Despite writing books that sold well and reached a wide audience, she never quite appeared in the top category of sex experts of the era, who were overwhelmingly male and usually had university scientific credentials. But her work quite possibly reached more people, through being excerpted in places like the Readers’ Digest. So, I see her as an interesting example of the “type” of the concerned yet educated/professional mom, who was called on to speak for many women.

  As for Popenoe, he – and the legacy he left that continues through his son – was and is much more widely known, and has been discussed by a lot of historians (Wendy Kline’s book, Building a Better Race, is good on his popularization of eugenics, along with the work of other historians of medicine). He, to me, usually was called on (in regard to Kinsey’s work and mid-century sexuality in general) to fill the role of the good cop/bad cop, predicting to the public that Behavior A will result in happy marriages, healthy children, and good mental health, while Behaviors B through Z will not.

  Franzblau has been much less well documented. Like you, I find his theory of sexuality as a marathon in which women are located in the home stretch (Heartbreak Hill?) hilarious, but my memory of his other ideas isn’t vivid after all this time. I think he represented a very Americanized and partial version of Freudianism, which is a big theme in much of the heated negative psychiatric response to the Reports. (I just pulled up my long-ago notes on his book The Road to Sexual Maturity, and see that he did a lot of arguing with deBeauvoir on female nature, and also described any interracial couple as an example of “blemish mating” and maintained that women who steal other women’s men are actually repressed lesbians. There may be a reason I’ve blocked my memories of his work). Franzblau, who also wrote on modern Judaism, also raises the issue of religion and its place in the postwar sexual debates that I chronicled in the book. In retrospect, I think that I didn’t pay enough attention to the really wide range of attitudes towards Kinsey’s work and sexual change in general that there were – it was easy to bring in some of the fire-and-brimstone voices, and I did note that many mainstream Protestant pastoral counselors, among others, were cautiously in favor of greater sexual information and education, but there is a much more complex and interesting story there waiting to be told.

 Am looking forward to seeing/hearing these voices appear in the movie! 

"Blemish mating," huh?
 If you don’t mind, could you tell us a little about the research relating to sex studies of the 20s/30s that you are currently working on? 

 Yeah, "blemish mating" is just . . . words fail one.  

 Sure, historians love to talk about that! While finishing the Kinsey book, I got interested in what had come before him: Kinsey was invested in seeing his own work as utterly original, and so downplayed American research prior to his as poorly done, inadequate, etc. At the same time, though, it was increasingly clear to me that he relied on earlier work in human sex research and also on a network of supporters that included many of the advisers who had conducted it, mostly in the 1920s and 30s before he really got going. So, I thought it would be interesting – perhaps just as a brief article-length piece of research – to examine these studies, some of which were funded but never published.

 As I got going, I discovered a lot more examples than I had known of, and was lucky enough to work with an archivist who dug up a collection of sex histories taken in that period by Dr. Adolf Meyer, head of psychiatry at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins, and known as probably the preeminent educator in psychiatry at the time and also very active in the mental hygiene movement).

 So, I’m currently working on this generation of sex researchers, from the well-known, like Robert Latou Dickinson, to the forgotten, like Meyer, who has become the center of my work. The material is so rich and complicated that I’ve been working very slowly (teaching 4 courses a semester as an instructor doesn’t help with that). Meyer’s sex histories, taken primarily from his students, range from a few sentences to close to 30 detailed pages, and cover everything you can think of – the subjects’ upbringing, sex ed, fantasy lives, education, various kinds of experiences, moral beliefs, etc., etc., etc.

 I’m still figuring out where they fit, but do feel clear on two main things. First, there was a big struggle in the early 20th century between 2 groups of human sex researchers; those who wanted to focus on quantitative evidence and count acts (as in Kinsey’s eventual approach) and those who distrusted numbers and preferred to privilege narratives, stories, collected through individual life histories. Secondly, the sex histories that Meyer collected, which he hoped would bridge this divide by allowing him to correlate individual studies with larger numbers, speak to the post-WWI era as a really confusing one for the middle- and upper-class young men (plus a few women) whose histories he collected. The transition between what you might call Victorianism and modernity was fraught, with distinctly different values systems and behaviors coexisting among men in the same cohort, as the histories feature men who boasted about their varied sexual conquests (including a great deal of same-sex activity, especially during wartime) right next to those who were deeply conflicted and others who denied any sexuality whatsoever and railed at the modern expectation that they should exhibit desires at all. So, fascinating stuff, but slow going, in part because it involves actual individual participants rather than the broader social and cultural patterns I was looking at in the first book.


 ***Thanks again to Miriam Reumann. I really appreciate that she took the time to do this. If you get a chance, and you like history or fun or books that are good, check out 
American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports.


SSL: 1977 Hustler Review Series #4: Kinky Korner

Why I'm SSL Reviewing a 1977 Hustler
So there is a fab lady named Jill Hamilton. She made it into the Orgasm Equality Allies List a good while ago for her various writings. She's awesome and she's goddamn funny. She writes the blog In Bed With Married Women, which you will not regret reading, and she's revo-fucking-lucionizing the classic Cosmo Sex Positions lists.

Now here's where Hustler comes in. She had a give away on her blog, and we readers had to comment and tell her what we wanted so she could pick randomly and ship shit out to us. I saw she had a vintage Hustler, and so I asked - nay begged - for it. I promised to SSL Review it cover to cover, and here I am doing just that.

An SSL Review is a critique specifically of discussion and/or depiction of female orgasm and/or female masturbation in media (usually I do this for movies or TV not magazines, though). I particularly pay attention to the realism and scientific accuracy of the depiction/discussion and how it fits within the larger cultural conversation about female orgasm and female sexuality.

Feel free to check out the previous SSL Reviews of the Advice Column and the Porn Movie Reviews and Bondage article.

"Long-Distance Love" by Diane Newtone in the Kinky Korner section
This is one of those erotic stories one finds in nudey magazines. This one is an absolutely beautiful story about a sex-loving hetero couple (Randy and Diane - this is first person so Diane is the author Diane Newtone ...who is probably some dude that works for Hustler) that move apart due to Randy's new job but still want to keep their sexy love life. They agree that they won't ask each other to be exclusive and will meet up one weekend every couple of months. Something awful crazy happened, though, the first time they talked on the phone after Randy's move. Diane, just out of the shower of course, laid down in her bed to talk on the phone.

"My free hand strayed down to my cunt  and, as we talked, I began to masturbate. I came twice , without letting him know what was going on."
You are a naughty young lady, Ms. Diane. It seems his voice was just too sexy to concentrate on anything he said, and uh oh, it happened the next time they were on the phone too.
"I imagined that he was reaching his exploring fingers under my panties, stroking my pubic hair and caressing my throbbing clit. I pulled the panties down over my hips, kicked them off and jammed the vibrator into my dripping slit. I came almost the moment I turned it on...."
 This time, poor dear, her moans let ol' Randy in on her secret. She was so embarrassed, but who would guess? He was soooo into it, and starting jerking as she told him dirty stories about what she would be doing to him.
"I took the vibrator away from my breasts and mouth," 
I mean she was talking about sucking his dick, so she had to put something in her mouth!
"and jammed it into my cunt, imagining Randy's finger squishing in and out of me."
Then dirty ol' randy Randy chimed in with some dirt stories of his own.
"'Your cunt's practically sucking my fingers into it," Randy whispered hoarsely. "I'm reaching farther into you than I ever have before. My thump is on your clit. I'm going to come. I'm coming so fast that it's squirting out the sides of your mouth."
mmmmm - fingers poking abnormally far into her internal organs and so much ejaculate in her mouth it spills out! Diane - you lucky girl you! This really gets her there.
"I flicked the switch on the vibrator and I came too. My back arched and my pelvis started flying faster and faster. Finally I let go of the vibrator so I could grab my tits and squeeze the nipples. My contractions popped the vibrator right out of my cunt."
Her and Randy laughed about her vibrator projectile story. Later, she made her first visit to Randy and they decided they should hook up with other people and then tell each other about it on the phone. They very much enjoyed this, and ended up with some game side-folk who were into doing a 4-some phone sex where couples on either end of the line 69'd while Diane and Randy talked and fantasized it was each others mouths on their junk.
"When the phone rang, Jack and I were already in the 69 position. Jack was sucking gently on my clit, with a thumb in my cunt and an index finger up my ass." 
The ol' 2-finger clit suck. I won't fault a gal for enjoying that! Many more happy adventures to you, Diane!

SSL Review Discussion
Straight away, I like that the clit was mentioned in this article, 3 times to be exact, and that Diane masturbated and Randy was more than okay with that. Positive depictions of female masturbation normalize it, and that's good because we ladies as a whole need to start masturbating more so that we understand how we orgasm.

Her first masturbation seemed to make sense. It's described as her putting her hand down there, and that makes me assume she is just rubbing her outer junk - the clit/vulva area. That's the area, like the penis for the male, that needs stimulated to orgasm, so that is quite realistic. However, the second and 3rd depictions were closer to porn fantasy than reality. 1. She has a vibrator, but she sticks it in her vagina to come?? :/ mmmm I don't know about that. And 2. She comes instantly upon putting the vibrator up there? Really???

As I am always quick to say, I am not opposed to a vibrator up the vag. It can be a lovely and pleasurable thing. It can even, I dare say, get a gal real aroused, like REAL aroused. But, man, I also dare say, a gal's likely gonna need at least a touch to the ol' clit to get her over the edge to that orgasm. Now, although there is no physical evidence in scientific journals of stimulation to something inside the vagina causing orgasm, that doesn't mean a lady can't come while something is inside of her. In fact, she might prefer something in there while the clit is worked. It is also true that the vibration, even when a vibrator is in the vagina, could rumble things just enough to rumble the lips, which rumble against the clit or rumble the clit hood which rumbles against the clit, and there could be a come from that, but let's be honest. It's secondary vibrations, which although great for arousal, is probably not great for coming.

But really the most BS part of these insta-gasms by insertion is that it really does insinuate that the inside of the vagina getting touched is what makes women orgasm. Ol' Diane's 2nd and 3rd orgasms were clearly triggered by the insertion of her vibrator, and a reader might very well assume it's because something inside her vagina needs to be touched to push her over the edge. That straight up doesn't make sense with scientific understanding of female anatomy and doesn't jive with physical orgasm research in peer reviewed scientific article.

The Vulva Rating
So this is a mixed bag. Anytime the the clit is brought up in relation to women orgasming, it's a win because frankly people just don't talk about it very much. Anytime female masturbation is depicted realistically, that is also a win because too often women are depicted as coming from things that wouldn't realistically make a woman come. And there's the rub (that's maybe a pun, I guess). Diane masturbated 2 more time, and they weren't very realistic, kinda porny-fake, and focused on the vagina for orgasmic stimulation instead of the clit. That's bull. The clit is the organ of female orgasmic stimulation just as the penis is for the male. So, 1 outta 3 is actually not great. I give this a mere 2 1/2 vulva rating.



20th Century Women: The SSL Review

20th Century Women is not The Edge of Seventeen
I saw a trailer for 20th Century Women in the theater, and really liked it - made a note to myself to see it in the theater when it came out. So me and Charlie went, got some popcorn, and I started watching the movie, and I was all like, "dude this is not what I was expecting at all." So I waited wondering when it was gonna change, and then I slowly realized I clearly had the name wrong in my head. It was not called The Edge of Seventeen. So, all that to say I saw The Edge of Seventeen in the theater by mistake because of this movie. It was an okay enough movie, but I was severely disappointed given my original intentions (popcorn helped make it okay though).

I later did see 20th Century Women in the theater though, and loved it. I wanted to write an SSL Review ASAP, but things happen and I didn't. I think luckily I ended up not getting to it until I could do a home re-watch and get all the quotes down perfectly.

An SSL Review
Here's the deal. This may be the the most overtly Orgasm Equality infused movie that exists out there. Like for real. I've never seen a movie - except for maybe mine - so we'll say never seen a movie of the fiction genre- that is more specifically pointing out that 1. women need outer clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm and 2. lots of women just plain go through life not orgasming during sex because sex ends up mostly being penises pumping into vaginas. This movie makes no bones about this. It is bold and correct, and it will be getting a stellar Vulva Rating.

An SSL Review, for those new to the blog, is a critique specifically of depictions and/or discussions of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. I am particularly looking for how realistic the scene is (Does it give incorrect anatomical info? Does it show a woman orgasming from something ridiculous like a butt slap? Those get low vulva ratings), and also for what the scene adds to the larger cultural conversation about female orgasm and sexuality. A list of all my TV SSL reviews are HERE and my movie SSL Reviews are HERE.

There's a lot of SSL Reviewable moments in this movie, so I think I'm going to give some background first then talk about this movie's lady-gasm storyline as a whole before I critique and rate the SSL Reviewable moments. I think it will be easier that way.

Background for the importance of this movie's setting (the golden age of the clit)

The Summer of '79
The  thing to know here is that this movie takes place in the summer of 1979. From my perspective, this is the golden age of reality-based lady-gasm cultural information. It was just over 10 years after Masters and Johnson came out with their large, groundbreaking research (Human Sexual Response) that showed the clitoral glans is the center of female orgasm just as the penis is for the male. They found no evidence, in all their many looks at people doing the nasty, for this vaginally stimulated orgasm that so much of the world for so much of history, including Freud, believed in. I repeat. There was no evidence for such a thing as a vaginally induced orgasm. From this new base of scientifically backed lady-gasm knowledge, feminists started writing and talking and surveying about actual female orgasm experience, and doing sexual therapy based of actual scientific evidence instead of what professionals always assumed about female orgasm.

Granted, it was in no way like the world suddenly 'got' the female orgasm and how it had been so mischaracterized and misunderstood for so long, but from what I can tell from the writing of the time, things seemed to be slowly pulling that way. I was merely in my mother's womb during this summer of '79, so I of course did not experience this 70's lady-gasm golden age nor did I see it come to a halt in the very early years of the 80's. I'm only assuming this is the story of things from an outsider looking back at the writing and research of the time. Either way, what happened in 1982 - not 3 years after this movie was set- was that the G-spot was 'introduced' to the world in a book that did 2 big things.

1. It correctly (and with a small amount of physical evidence that has since been expanded upon over the last 40 years with physical scientific investigation), brought the idea of female ejaculation to the culture and connected it to the 'female prostate,' which could be felt through the vaginal wall as a raised area. They called this the 'G-spot'. Sadly, though, the idea of female ejaculation and its connection to the G-spot/female prostate was quickly forgotten and largely ignored in pop culture, staying more in the fringe topic area of female sexuality even to this day.

2. Strangely, the book also asserted that the 'G-spot' was sort of a magic button in the vagina that when stimulated gave women an amazing, full-bodied orgasm. They had absolutely no physical evidence for this, and no scientific investigations in the almost 40 years since have found evidence for there being anything in the vagina that can be stimulated to orgasm - much less the 'G-Spot.' However, this assertion from the book, baseless as it was, was quickly eaten up and taken for gospel in pop culture - in everything from women's magazine puff sex articles to progressive sex education. I assume the prior decade of people awakening to the truth that women came from the outer clitoral glans instead of from penises and such stimulating the inside of the vagina had been pretty stressful and confusing, and a lot of people didn't know how to process that or adapt their experiences to that truth. So, when a book with baseless assertions about how (guess what!?) there is something in the vagina that causes orgasms was published, it blew the hell up. I've always imagined it was easy to let one's self fall back to believing p-in-v intercourse, with no additional clitoral stimulation, could be as orgasmic for women as it is for men. That belief was just too damn comfortable and familiar to let go of as a culture...and we still are white-knuckle gripping the hell out of that hopeful assumption to this day.

Like I said, this book didn't give the fact-based reasoning for vaginal orgasms (although in this book they called them uterine orgasms), but it did break the truth of female ejaculation to the world and that must have given it enough credit to believe anything it asserted. Plus, and I think this is even more important to its success and the longevity of its assertions, people desperately wanted any reason to validate their previous beliefs about female orgasm. So, to me this was the end of the golden age, and from then on, all these feminists who were literally just talking and writing about the clit and female orgasm from a scientifically investigated viewpoint, were slowly edged over to a sort of extremist place in history, as if their clit based discussion of female orgasm was a polar opposite of the equally extreme vaginal based discussion of female orgasm from the Freud era. It's revisionist history, forgetting that one of these 'extremes' is (still) completely un-backed by scientific investigation, and the other is completely based in scientific knowledge. However, still to this day, there is the feeling that feminist of this era talking about the primacy of the clitoral glans were extreme and reactionary..like, it was okay, nay cool even, that they talked about how important the clit was, but for some god-forsaken reason, pointing out that vaginal orgasms had no backing in science and were probably just made up was just. too. fucking. extreme. even though it was completely true.

So the 'extreme' feminist writing in question is front and center in this movie. The main character is reading and reacting to it in a time before 'The G-Spot' mangled and confused the cultural knowledge of what scientific investigation has actually showed us about female orgasm. Not that this was a Utopian time, but it was a unique time that allowed for a critical mind to get more unencumbered, accurate information about female orgasm. Soon after this, I think, it becomes much harder for a thoughtful, critical person to filter through the info. I mean, honestly, as a working class midwestern gal born in 1980, I had to get deep into researching for my movie Science, Sex and the Ladies, before I even became exposed to these 'extremist' feminist viewpoints - and even being exposed, I had to figure out for myself that their viewpoints were not really 'feminist' as much as scientifically accurate. Anyway, that sort of hidden circumstances of that particular era in regard to female orgasm knowledge makes the timing of this movie's setting intriguing to me.

The other thing is that this is a movie about a teen boy in 1979, his Depression era mother, and the people that surround them. This, again, is at a unique time in which feminist theory and influence had been steadily rising in status for over a decade. It, to me, is an incredibly subtle and thoughtful look at what feminism meant to the 3 women and 2 men that make up the main cast - and about what being a woman or being a man means to them. They are of different experiences and different generations, and the truth is that their relationship to feminism, to their own gender, and to the opposite sex is pretty complicated. It's both hopeful and sad and strangely familiar to us even though we're almost 40 years in the future.

And here's the thing, this was written and directed by a man. Obviously, I love the idea of women telling stories of women, and I believe there are things maybe only a person from a group can really tell well about that group, but I also believe that sometimes an honest and thoughtful telling of a story about people you know very intimately can give an outsider perspective that is real and important. It seems like this writer/directer was writing about his own experience and about his close-contact understanding of the women in his family. I think he does it well, and outside of the Orgasm Equality elements, and the general top-notch quality of the acting and movie-making, it's a big reason I loved this movie.

The Lady-gasm Story lines in 20th Century Women
So, here's some basics. Mom (Dorothea) wants help teaching son (Jamie) to be a man and enlists a 20-something woman (Abbie) who rents a room in their home and her son's female BFF (Julie) to help her.

Abbie's reading material story line
Abbie is already teaching him about punk rock, but she also gives him feminist reading. He's in his room reading. We see the following title:
Title: "'Politics of Orgasm' Susan Lydon 1970"
The following is a voiceover as he reads the book:
"Women's sexuality, defined by men to benefit men has been downgraded and perverted, oppressed and channeled. Anatomically all orgasms are centered in the clitoris, whether they arise from direct manual pressure applied to the clitoris, indirect pressure resulting..." (fades into silence)
So, he learns that the clit must be stimulated for a woman to orgasm (which is fucking true as shit), and that plain ol' intercourse won't get it done. Then he puts this knowledge out there in a skateboard park with another dude.
Dude: I fucked Heather so hard last night. She came like 3 times.
Jamie: How did you stimulate her clitoris? 
Dude: with my dick. 
Jamie: Women need direct clitoral stimulation, like with fingers or a vibrator or something. She probably faked it. Women fake it all the time. 
Dude: (seeimg Jamie's shirt) Talking heads are a bunch of fags. 
Jamie: Actually there's a girl in the band, and she's dating the drummer, so... 
Dude: Your name's Jamie, right?(Dude starts beating Jamie up)
He was totally and completely right in this scenario. Women do need clitoral stimulation, and she probably was faking it. Yet, clearly, this knowledge is and was not widespread, even in what I called above the 'golden age of clit knowledge.' And that, my friends, is some reality that I appreciate this movie's dropping.

So then we see him at home getting his wounds tended to.
Mom: So what was the fight about?
Jamie: clitoral stimulation
Mom: Why do you need to fight about that?
Jamie: I don't know. I want to be a good guy. k? I just wanna be able to satisfy a woman.
kinda confused, frustrated, weirded out, and unsure what to say) Kid, I'm sure you will (walks away quickly)
Later he's sitting with Abbie and she says:
Abbie: The next time a dude tells you a sex story, you just have to agree with everything he says and act like it's right, even if it's not because they don't want to be contradicted. They just wanna live in their fantasy lands.
Abbie knows he's right, but instead of this being some grandstanding moment of being right, she just tells him to shut up because it's easier. I mean, I like this because it's just real. That's what women do all the time when it comes to sex and our orgasms. We just go along; because it's easier, because we don't know how to say what we want to say, because we don't want to offend or rock the boat, because we don't realize there's other options. I like the sorta defeated realism in this scene. It highlights how ingrained those misconceptions about how ladies orgasm really is, and how not straightforward change is. In fact it points out something important - some men are so sensitive and angry about this kind of information that they would beat someone up rather than have their pride hurt at all. However, I also like that this scene doesn't back away from acknowledging that Jamie's understanding of female orgasm is correct either.

Julie's orgasm story line
Later, he's walking with his BFF who is his own age. They've been friends for years, and he's grown to like her romantically. She likes him a lot as a friend but is very clear that she does not want to get sexual with him. She often sneaks into his room and sleeps (just sleeps) with him. She does get sexual with other guys pretty regularly though -  including some that are super assholes. It clearly bothers Jamie that she would have sex with other dudes but not nice ol' him (I think there's a good storyline in here later about Jamie's feelings of entitlement to Julie sexually, but that's not specifically SSL Review relevant). They are walking and talking (this is after the fight above), and Julie is holding the feminist book he's reading.
Julie: I can't believe Abbie gave you this book.
Jamie: It's interesting. What's it like...for girls?
Julie: What?...sex?
Jamie: orgasms.
Julie: Do you really wanna know what it's like?
Jamie: yeah.
Julie: I don't have them.
Jamie: What?
Julie: None of my friends do.
Jamie: Then why do you do it?
Julie: There's other reasons. You know, like the way that he looks at you, or the way they get a little bit desperate at some point, and the little sounds that they make,  (
She closes her eyes and mimics a guy grunting - Jamie laughs) and their bodies - 'cause you don't exactly know what they're gonna look like or smell or feel like until you do it. But yeah. Half the time I regret it.
Jamie: Well, then why do you do it?
Julie: Because half the time I don't regret it.
This is everything to me. I love this scene because this. is. real. This is the reality for so many girls (and women as well). Penis-in-vagina intercourse is the most common, acceptable way for a girl to engage in sexual activity, yet it doesn't necessarily include the organ of female sexual pleasure, the clit, so it often doesn't include orgasm. That female orgasm should not be expected from intercourse is not something we learn - in fact we all grow up believing quite the opposite, and it wreaks havoc on female sexuality.

I don't think people really put thought into what happens when a person has a bunch of sex but no (or too few) orgasms. Julie listed those other reasons why she has sex, and those all make sense. There are other reasons to have sex, but without orgasm, sex is not like we expect it to be from depictions and stories we see all around us. Those are from a male point of view that takes orgasm as a given in sex. Just as Julie describes, there is adventure and a sense of intimacy in sex that is super interesting and exciting. Boys feel that too I'm sure. But again, boys most often have an orgasm. If the girl a boy has sex with turns out to be a bitch or her breath stank, or she was too rough with him - those are annoying maybe, but at least he came. Something made it worth while.

But what if the boy a girl had sex with has stank breath or was shitty to her afterward, or was too rough or demeaning, AND he came, but she didn't? It's a completely different situation. It can make a girl feel shafted, used, regretful - real quick. So, without orgasm it's nice when it's nice - in all the ways Julie describes above like the smells, the surprise, the feel, the arousal.  However, when it's bad, it's really bad and can pretty quickly verge into feeling mean, violating or violent. That is something we don't consider about girls and sex, but we see this on Julie in the movie. She seems harmed by some of these interactions - like when a guy said he would pull out and doesn't. Her immense sense of adventure and wonder and arousal that leads her into these sexual experiences are probably not different from the adventure, arousal, and wonder that would lead any given boy on those same sexual adventures. So, it's sad that, because we live in a world that miseducates everyone on how women orgasm and reinforces incorrect understandings of lady-gasms, women and girls get fucked over subtly and not so subtly in so many ways that boys don't as a result of this very natural sexual experimentation.

Anyway, I think Julie's story has the sadness, the sweetness, and sense of adventure that an actual young woman in her situation might have. I like that she is not portrayed as fully tragic nor as a stereotype of wild female sexuality as so many depictions of girls like her tend to be. She is more complicated than that, more real.  Also, I think it's poignant that again, even in this golden age of clit knowledge, this girl and her friends are out there having a bunch of sex and no orgasms - a situation that is still quite common today (See the 2009 book Dilemmas of Desire). Her answers to Jamie's questions are raw and real and reflect the truth that the way our culture tends to have sex (without clitoral stimulation) leaves women and girls without orgasm and vulnerable to harmful sexual interactions.

Mom, feminism, and orgasms
This is an interesting twist that brings his mom into the story a bit. She is at her vanity, and he is sitting on her bed reading this to her. It titles as he reads.
Title: "'It hurts to be alive and obsolete :The aging woman' Zoe Moss 1970" 
"I am gregarious, interested in others, and I think, intelligent. All I ask is to get to know people and to have them interested in knowing me. I doubt whether I would marry again and live that close to another individual, but I remain invisible. Don't pretend for a minute as you look at me that I am not as alive as you are, and I do not suffer from the category from which you are forcing me. I think, stripped down, I look more attractive than my ex husband, but I am socially and sexually obsolete, and he is not. I have a capacity now for taking people as they are, which I lacked at 20. I reach orgasm in half the time, and I know how to please. Yet I do not even dare show a man that I find him attractive. If I do he may react as if I have insulted him. I am supposed to fulfill my small functions and vanish."
We see clips of his mother that would lead us to believe that this paragraph does reflect aspects of her experience.
Mom: Wow. What do you think of all that? 
Jamie: I don't know. Maybe I'm a feminist. (He smiles)
Mom: So, you think that's me? 
Jamie: (He becomes embarrassed and apologetic) Oh, I don't know. 
Mom: So you think you know me better because you read that? 
Jamie: I don't know. 
Mom: Then why are you reading it to me? 
Jamie: I thought it was interesting. 
Mom: (somewhere between mad, frustrated, and defensive) Okay, well, I don't need a book to know about myself. 
Jamie: I'm sorry. (his words are barely audible. He gets up and leaves)
Soon his mom is talking to Abbie.
Abbie: It's helping him.
Mom: Helping him what?
Abbie: It's helping him become a man. It's what you were talking about.
Mom: Learning about female orgasm is helping him be a man?
Abbie: Well, what man do you know that cares anything about that...I mean that's a miracle.
Mom: Look, he's just a high school kid okay. It's too much. I'm telling you.
Abbie: I think he seems really okay with it.
Mom:  You know you don't actually know what you're doing with him
Mom leaves frustrated, and Abbie seems resigned.

It is clear in this movie that Jamie's mom, Dorothea, is a very open-minded progressive, feminist lady. She made her career in a male dominated field long before the feminism of the 60's and 70's swept the nation. Yet...she is incredibly uncomfortable with the sexual feminism of this era. It very likely is relevant to her life, because the truth is orgasm is a subject relevant to any sexually active person, but it doesn't feel like the kind of feminism she wants to associate herself with. She is an older mom and was of the depression era. That may be part of it, and I like seeing the relationship to different feminist ideals in different generations and genders, but I don't think that's it.

What I like about these scenes are the very palpable feelings of pride and indignation that we see from Dorothea. I think those are feeling that all women can relate to when it comes to not only certain aspects of feminism, but to sexuality and orgasm in particular. Orgasm is private and thus naturally embarrassing, but it is also soaked with social expectations that are confusing or contradict personal experiences. For women throughout the ages, admitting to our orgasmic realities, whether it be admitting to orgasming or to not being able to orgasm or to not orgasming in a particular way, had and still has consequences to one's standing in society, one's sense of self, and one's romantic relationships that can be quite severe. So being guarded and private, prideful and in denial are to be expected. This makes it hard for feminism surrounding orgasm to take off. Women have a lot to gain but also a lot to lose from rocking this boat...just as men do. Anyway, I like how the difficult and complex nature of feminism and orgasm activism is reflected in Dorthea.

The Vulva Rating
Like I said at the beginning of this post, 20th Century Women is the most unabashedly Orgasm Equality Revolution-style fiction movie I have seen. It not only straight up quotes important orgasm-related feminist writing of the 70's, but it also portrays a realism in the women characters' experiences of orgasm, sex, and feminism that are rare in movies and TV. The setting of this movie in the summer of 1979 gives it a uniquely perfect opportunity to speak on female orgasm from a perspective of sound scientific knowledge before our culture is flooded over so fully, not 3 years later, with a bunch of wishful, regressive information - in a way that buries the ability to really find good solid information on female orgasm even for quite thoughtful, critical people. So all that is awesome.

There is also a clear statement inside this movie that the clitoris is the organ of female sexual pleasure; that it needs to be stimulated for a woman to orgasm; and that plain ol' intercourse alone will likely not get the job done. It doesn't back away from that statement either. Even when the movie quite realistically shows Abbie advising Jamie to outwardly back away from his truth-telling in front of other men, she still acknowledges it is truth-telling. The harsh punishment Jamie receives for putting those ideas out there to other men is also a poignant reminder that the feminist writing Jamie references was (and still is) deeply revolutionary.

This is just about as good a movie as one could get for Orgasm Equality. I can't imagine how many people seeing it today are literally exposed to that kind of feminist writing on female orgasm for the first time. 20th Century Women is not just realistic, but also what it adds to the cultural conversation on female orgasm and sexuality is incredibly important and progressive. I love it.

20th Century Women gets an unprecedented 5 1/2 vulvas out of 5!