Random Hite Report #32

Hello, welcome again to one of my favorite segments on the SSL blog, Random Hite Report! It's simple really. I flip through the pages of the The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality  (or sometimes The Hite Report on Male Sexuality) by a one Ms. Shere Hite and copy the contents of the page where I land - no more no less. Anyone who reads my blog will know that this 1976 book is a fave of mine; not only because of its realistic and progressive insight about the female orgasm that is still shockingly relevant 40 years later,  but also because of its very touching insight into the lives of the women who took part in this huge, comprehensive survey. This is an under-appreciated and under-read book if you ask me - I suggest you buy it online (seriously, you can get them for like 1 cent) and read it.

 So, sit back, getcha a beverage, and enjoy a little...Random Hite Report.

The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality Dell. 1976.
Pg. 162 From the section Orgasm in the chapter "What do the stages of orgasm feel like" as answers to the question, "How did women describe the whole orgasm from arousal to contractions?"

...vix and perhaps the circular muscles around the cervix end of the vagina."
    "Orgasm feels like an intense drawing together sensation, located in my genital area (I can't differentiate in feeling my clitoris and vagina at that point), then my whole body tenses and the sensation is one of total involvement without any "will" or thought involved. 'It' takes over completely. The physiological sensation is best described by the word 'outrageous' in terms of its devastating total effect. It's over within seconds, but fantastic when it occurs. The only awareness I can state is a certain stiffening all over, in addition to the intense 'implosion' in the undifferentiable genital area."
    "I don't have orgasms like they describe in books. (Not skyrockets or total relaxation, etc.) What I have starts as a diffuse 'good feeling,' most strongly genital, but all over my body. This feeling gets more and more genitally focused, and I can predict the quality of the climax - if it is too focused, it's not as good an orgasm:the best climaxes seem to involve more of the body. the quality of the orgasm can vary from almost a frustration (the climax coming somehow before the buildup is complete) to a total release - waves of relief involving my whole body."
    "My thoughts tend to focus on myself - moving and positioning, so that I can feel the greatest stimulation. I become aware of a pulsating sensitivity in the area of my vagina. I have some anxiety about whether I can climax or not, and so attention is focused on completing the sexual act and not being 'left hanging.' Then there is a convulsive muscle activity, occurring in a wave-like  rhythmic cadence, which lasts about 4 to 5 seconds. Then, generally, a lot of muscle relaxations and frequently I feel very tender toward my partner."
    "First, tension builds in my body and head, my heart beats, then I strain against my lover, and then there is a second or two of absolute stillness, non-breathing, during which I know orgasm will come in the next second or two. The waves, and I rock against my partner and cannot hold him tight enough. It's all over my body, but especially in my abdomen and gut. Afterwards, I feel..." 


Come As You Are - A Book You Should Read

This Book, Ya'll
Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life  by Emily Nagoski

I've heard people talking about this book for a good while, and it's been on my list to read, but honestly, from the things people have said to me about it, I had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I was wrong though. Barring her, I would say problematic and scientifically incorrect, take on what orgasms are, all the worries I had were thoughtfully and much more subtly and complexly dealt with in the book. Actually reading it was way better than randos giving you their take on it - which is not actually that surprising, I guess.

In fact, it's an important book about sexual desire and how it works in an individual. It focuses on women, but much of the points are universal, and it's a truly useful read for men as well. But I think the issues of desire tends to feels more critical for the ladies. Many, many women (I would venture to say all women) feel like they struggle in serious ways with their desire at least at some points in their lives, and this book quite rightly points out many of the ways that these struggles are not related to personal 'brokenness' but to the very real context of our lives and our culture. This is so important because so many women feel they are broken when in fact we are all quite normal and sane. It is the stories we hear about how things should be and the expectations from our sexual culture that are broken. Nagoski does a fantastic job of step by step showing how one can become more conscious of their relationship to sex, desire, and arousal in order to heal in their own individual way where they need to heal. I recommended it almost immediately to one of my best friends and to many others since.

Points That Deserve To Be Shared From The Book
I'm going to quickly impart a couple of the main messages in this book. They are important and Nagoski wants us to share these messages with each other because, well frankly, we all deserve that knowledge and I appreciate Nagoski's activism on this front. Respect. Then, however, I will go ahead and talk about the improper way I thought the book treated orgasm...because I think that's important too.

1 Your sexuality, your desire, your arousal - it's all normal, even if it doesn't feel that way right now. Yeah, it sounds a little optimistic and naive - maybe even a little hippie-dippie, but she's right, and we women need desperately to really know that. We so often feel damaged or abnormal when it comes to these things, but truth is whatever your body or your desire is doing (or not doing) is really just a fairly sensible reaction to the situation at hand given your particular circumstance and experience. There's a great garden metaphor and a lot of talk about context and it's good, helpful stuff; stuff you need to hear, stuff you might otherwise have to work through with a good therapist. What I have here is a simplistic explanation. There's a lot to unpack on this topic, and it's worth reading the book and doing some of that unpacking because it can bring back a level of control and contenedtness with one's desire and sex life that may have previously felt impossible.

2 When it comes to arousal, we all have 'breaks' and also an 'accelerator.' Some things hit our breaks, others the accelerator, and we all have different levels of brake/accelerator sensitivities. You can encounter all the turn-ons in the world (which engage your 'accelerator'), but if something else is hitting your 'brakes,' arousal ain't gonna happen like you might expect - or at all. Noticing what is a brake for you, what is an accelerator, and how sensitive you are to each type of thing is key to understanding what's going on with your desire and why it actually makes way more sense given the context of your past experiences and your current situation than one might think. Maybe you get turned on really easily, but also turned off really easily...or maybe turned on really slowly and break really easily - you get the point. She speaks about this well.

*Okay, I'm gonna start my criticism a bit early. I love her discussion surrounding this. It's grounded in reality and helps visualize and unpack complicated feelings and scenarios of arousal. My gripe, though, is that it's missing what I see as the most glaring piece of context surrounding female desire. The book never specifically calls out how lack of consistent orgasm in previous and/or current sexual encounters over time could cause a person to code sexual scenarios drastically different than a person that has consistently orgasmed during sexual experiences in the past and present. Sadly, women more often than not fall into the first category and men the second - due to a shit culture for the clit and a fab one for the penis, but I digress.

Let me give an example for context: your partner rubs their pelvis against you as you get in bed ready for a good night's sleep, and it clearly means they want to fuck. For a person that has and continues to have consistent orgasms during their sexual encounters, that pelvis rubbing starts the 'accelerator,' bringing to mind a lot of arousing memories and expectations of an orgasmically satisfying adventure. However, for a person that hasn't been orgasming during fucks on the reg, well, that might easily trigger their 'breaks' because they don't like the frustration of not coming or maybe it doesn't really hit the break, but it does nothing for the 'accelerator.' It brings to mind memories of a fair amount of meh sex and expectations of not orgasming. Frankly, in this situation, something non-sexual like sitting down together with Netflix with a bowl of ice cream is sensibly more exciting. I think this is a desperately important part of how women's and men's desire and arousal can and often do diverge over time. Considering that penis owners (due to situational not biological differences mind you) tend to come almost every partnered sex act and clit-owners often don't is a fucking important thing to note when discussing the context surrounding how a person might experience desire.

3 Responsive and spontaneous desire - Some of the first things I heard about this book were people telling me that I should read it because it uses science to prove that some people have 'Responsive Desire' and some people have 'Spontaneous Desire' - like as in desire just pops up spontaneously for some people (i.e. mostly men) and for others (i.e. mostly women) desire is more likely to arise as a response to being physically aroused. That kind of annoyed me because it sounded to me like whoever wrote the book was just making up biological stories to ignore/paint over the much more complex and toxic problem of unequal damage our sexual culture spills upon women as opposed to men - damage that lowers sexual desire (see my above rant about how lack of orgasm during sexual encounters quite sensibly leads to a lesser interest in pursuing sexual encounters).

That annoyance still persists a bit after reading the book, but it is clear that Nagoski's points about responsive and spontaneous desire were much more complicated and thoughtful than the reader points I had been seeing. Firstly, I was happy to see that she was very clear in saying that no desire is actually 'spontaneous.' There is always a catalyst. It's just that for some people many, many more things are a catalyst, and she does admit that mostly men are in that category.  She was also very clear that this was not simply an innate biological difference - culture, experiences etc. have plenty to do with this. I appreciated that, but as you might expect, I think it's a real oversight to identify this thing that is obviously divided largely by gender without acknowledging that another known gender difference - the rate of orgasm during partnered sex - may have a strong relationship to this. I get it though. There is a time and a place for everything and maybe this book wasn't the time or place.

Although coming at it from a larger cultural perspective I find it problematic categorizing desire in this way, I think in a practical (maybe personally therapeutic) perspective, I can see this categorization as being quite helpful to an individual (i.e. tons of women and certainly many men as well) whose desire does not fit cultural expectations and are in need of some ideological scaffolding from which to build their understanding of themselves. So, from the aim and perspective of this book as, I think, largely self help, I understand why Nagoski categorized this way, and I see that it is useful in this context.

4 Non-concordance - This is simple and important. People can and often do experience non-concordance between their body and their mind when it comes to arousal/desire. So for instance, one's body may become aroused (get wet or hard) but there is no real desire felt. There also may be desire, but the body does not react with physical arousal. It's normal and very common, and trying to make sense of your desire only by how physically aroused your body becomes (and vice versa), is problematic. There are relationship, personal, moral even legal implications to truly understanding this.

My Criticism of How Orgasm is Discussed
So, do go read the book, but know that I disagree with how she discussed orgasm in the ways I map out below, and I ask to just keep it in mind as you absorb.

Lady-gasm and desire
First off, I'll just reiterate what I said above about lack of consistent partnered orgasm being an important element of desire loss in women. I think it was an unfortunate oversight in the book.  Everything else Nagoski said about what kinds of things might affect desire and how one might work to adjust those things is completely valid and important, but I think it's incomplete without really diving into lack of orgasm's affect on desire.

Lack of definition for orgasm - aka orgasm is whatever you say it is
The problem, though, and I imagine part of the reason she doesn't get into the orgasm/desire issue, is that Nagoski basically cuts off any nuanced discussion by saying an orgasm is anything and everything. One cannot give any practically helpful advise about what affect lack of orgasm may have or how to include more orgasms in partnered sex if one cannot even pinpoint what an orgasm is. I mean - might as well say getting a clown to do balloon shows in front of you while getting railed could work for some people, because why not? Anything is possible with orgasms, right? And, the clown example may seem extreme, but it's not too far off from what she actually does say about orgasm.
Here's a small sample of the highly pleasurable orgasms women have described to me: orgasm from clitoral stimulation, orgasm from vaginal stimulation, orgasm just from breast stimulation, orgasm from having her toes sucked, orgasm when her partner penetrated her well lubricated anus with a finger while pinning her to the bed with her hair (the most erotic sensation, she specified, was his warm palm resting gently on her butt cheeks), orgasm when her partner slowly and gently stroked fingertips on her outer labia again and again and again (she said what started out as an appetizer turned into the main course), orgasm without any genital stimulation while she was giving her partner oral sex (she was so closely attuned to his arousal that when he came, she did too).
Really? She came from having her toes sucked? She sucked dick to orgasm? Tell me she found it highly pleasurable. Tell me she felt a sudden climactic high from it. Tell me it's her favorite ending to sex. Who am I to judge? But, calling it an orgasm and categorizing it in with the rhythmic physical release of pelvic muscle tension that is universally understood as orgasm, is deeply problematic. It's also the contemporary way to talk about orgasm - in the sex education crowd - to take a 'if you like it and say it's an orgasm, I can't disagree stance,' so I understand why Nagoski refuses to put fences around the word, but that doesn't make it less problematic. Her only attempt at definition is 'sudden involuntary release of sexual tension' but then she takes great pains to make it clear that means anything you want it to mean.
When you strip it down to the universal essentials, here's what you get. Orgasm is the sudden involuntary release of sexual tension. Notice how much is missing from that definition; genitals, muscle contractions, sexual behavior, pleasure, or indeed anything that mentions what it feels like or how it happened. They can happen from clitoral stimulation, vaginal stimulation, thigh stimulation, anal stimulation, breast stimulation, earlobe stimulation, or mental stimulation with no physical contact at all.
She goes on to say a variety of places they happen and how they feel. I will wholeheartedly agree that it is not sensible to define orgasm using pleasure or what it feels like - who can ever say what something feels like to someone else. I'm even completely behind not defining orgasm by what sexual behavior is happening during it or what is being stimulated.

There is a good marker for orgasm, though
The involuntary muscle contractions, however, I think we must use as a marker for orgasm. Nagoski admits that "Those rhythmic involuntary contraction are perhaps the most nearly universal physiological marker of orgasm," but she goes on to say "even that can't be relied on all the time." To back that up she sites a study where 11 women masturbated to orgasm. I reviewed this article in 2016 if you'd like more information, but here's the basics. The female subjects masturbated and each had a probe in their anus to collect the involuntary muscle contractions of orgasm. They pushed a button to tell the researchers when exactly they orgasmsed so the researchers could see what was happening with their pelvic muscles at that time. 2 of the 11 women said they orgasmed but did not exhibit the involuntary muscle contractions.  Nagoski asserts that this means that orgasms cannot be defined by muscle contraction alone. Maybe. It also might mean that the tools for recording those orgasms were not sufficient. It could also mean that those women did not have an orgasm. The authors of this study struggled with the meaning and did not come to such a clear conclusion of their research as Nagoski. In the article's conclusion, they wrote:

"Two of the subjects did not demonstrate the distinct muscular evidence of orgasm that the other nine did. During none of their orgasms did the initial series of regular contractions occur. Were these subjects interpreting some less pronounced change as orgasm? Should orgasm be defined by what is perceived or reported, or by physiological criteria? At this early stage in recording pelvic muscular activity, we are not yet prepared to conclude that physiological characteristics are more valid than self-reported perceptions for identifying orgasm. At least until more data are collected, especially of the ontogeny of contraction patterns, we will continue our analysis of physiological changed based on subjects' self-defined orgasm."

In other words they made the executive decision for the purposes of this 1982 scientific article to call an orgasm whatever their subjects said was an orgasm because they were not yet prepared to say a woman might say she's having an orgasm when she is not.

Definitions matter
But, does it really seem so crazy in this confusing sexual culture that a woman might say, even believe, she is orgasming when physically she is not? We can't account for this not so absurd possibility if we are unwilling to define what an orgasm is. Yeah, it seems nice and women-empowering to believe all women about their orgasms, but to do that we must accept that anything any woman says is an orgasm is in fact an orgasm.

That might seem cool because, like, who am I to yuck someone's yum (that's super hip for sex positive sexperts to say btw)? It's not cool, though. It's not helpful. It's not kind. It's not sex positive. It's not feminist, and it's not even very nice in my opinion. BECAUSE DEFINITIONS MATTER - for education, for understanding, for clarity, for practicality, and for goddamn sure - for scientific inquiry. An orgasm is not an orgasm just because you say it is and an old coke can is not a rock just because it's on the ground with rocks. Sure, we can decide to call everything that's laying on the ground in that size range 'rocks,' but if you want to study rocks, how they're formed, how they get where they are, what they tell us about our earth - then adding old coke cans into the mix will really throw off the study results. Same with studying orgasms.

Involuntary rhythmic pelvic muscle contractions are no joke
Most things we call and understand as orgasms include the involuntary rhythmic muscular contractions that Masters and Johnson identified as markers of orgasm in the late 60's. Certainly this is true for male orgasms (which also include a usually simultaneous ejaculation as well), but also for females. Unfortunately there seems to be a deep urge to act as though there are lots of 'orgasm types' women (but not so much for men) have even though the evidence points to women's orgasms largely being the same as males - stimulated by the penis/clit area, preceded by physical arousal, and marked by the involuntary rhythmic pelvic muscle contractions. And guess what? Contrary to popular belief and even with decades of research trying to prove that things like 'vaginal orgasms exist; most of the things Nagoski listed up there have never in all of scientific literature been shown to cause those pelvic muscle contractions -  not cervical stimulation, not g-spot or urovaginal space pounding, not stimulation of the vaginal barrel, not penile stimulation of 'clitoral legs' through the vagina during intercourse, not thinking oneself into orgasm / non physical, not toe sucking, nor sucking dick. Women have had orgasms plenty of times in a lab, just as men have, but only clitoral/vulva stimulation and nipple stimulation (for 3 women in the original M&J study, but it should be noted all had weak contractions compared to their vulva/clit stimulated orgasms) caused the muscle contractions we know and love. You might have heard about studies that say otherwise, but that's because people act like a few famous studies prove things they actually do not...I summarized some of these studies for your reading enjoyment: one supposedly about cervical orgasms, one supposedly about clitoral leg orgasms, one supposedly about thicker urovaginal tissue causing 'vaginal orgasms. Oh and also, since Nagoski incorrectly asserts that the distance from the vagina to the clit is the reason some women 'vaginally orgasm' and some don't, here's 2 articles that supposedly prove that, but do not. HERE and HERE

Definition doesn't mean exclusion, though
So, yeah, I guess it comes down to words. If you want to call anything and everything orgasms, go for it, but please at least discern between orgasms that cause the involuntary rhythmic muscle contraction marker (let's call them marker orgasms) and ones that do not. One is not the same as the other. Let's go back to the 'coke can / rock', 'marker orgasm / other orgasm' analogy for scientific inquiry. If one is trying to understand how and why orgasms happen in order to understand better how to advise for achieving them, how to therapeutically help lack of orgasm, or even to understand what is common and what is not, then willy nilly including other orgasms in with marker orgasms quickly creates a confusing heap of messy, shit data. Similar to data about rock formation that is forced to include printed pressed aluminium cans in the analysis, data about marker orgasms that is forced to include other orgasm will throw off connections that should be made if the research was willing to call a spade a spade. I'm not saying that non-marker orgasms are not valuable or pleasurable, but they are different than marker orgasms. They should be studied differently, discussed differently, advised about differently, and women should know that one is not the other. We as a whole are not aware of that though, and frankly that is exactly why it currently seems like the data is unclear about female orgasm, but again, I digress.

Here's a truth. People don't always know what's actually happening in their body. Women don't get taught that much about their pleasure organ (clit) or their orgasms. We see more faked ones in the media than real ones. It's not crazy to think we might say and even think we marker orgasm when we have not, and the advise and information out there is so confusing that we may not know for years that there is a difference and that we haven't been having the type of physical orgasms that the men around us have probably been regularly having their whole sex life.

So, yeah, maybe whatever non-marker orgasm sensation a person has been having is pleasurable in some way, but again, it's not a marker orgasm, so it's physically different. Think about this. You have a pain in your chest. Are you having a heart attack or a panic attack? They might feel similar from what you understand about them, but the actual physical things happening and the results are drastically different. This is the same with an 'orgasm' that does not include the rhythmic muscle contractions that quickly rid the body of most of the built up sexual tension from arousal and an orgasm that does. When sex advisers, like Nagoski, so casually ignore the difference between a marker orgasm and other climactic experiences, they are robbing women of an incredibly important piece of sexual information.

Women deserve better information than we've been getting 
I truly believe that to act as though, for women, orgasm is just whatever you want to call orgasm is a disservice (men, lucky for them, don't seem to get this idea that lots of other things besides the rhythmic muscle contractions are orgasm forced upon them like women do, so take that as you will).

Women are not idiots. You can tell us that pleasure can come from anywhere, that a feeling of climax, even if it is not physical is a lovely thing to pursue if that's what you want. You can also tell us that when involuntary muscle contractions release the physical, sexual arousal that has built up, it's called an orgasm - or if you prefer marker orgasm. You don't need to place any value on it. It doesn't have to be the most pleasurable aspect of any sex act. It doesn't even have to be included in a sex act for it to be worthwhile. But we deserve to know what that physical experience is, that it is not something known in scientific literature to accompany vaginal canal, earlobe, thigh, or cervix stimulation, and that it is by far most likely to happen (and I mean almost exclusively - truly don't expect it to happen any other way) from clitoral glans/vulva stimulation - either direct or indirect. We can make our decisions about how to go about our pleasure from there, but without that information, it seems like porn is correct. It seems like an "orgasm" - the kinds men have way the hell more than we do in partner situations - can happen from just about anything (especially from intercourse), and that is categorically not true.

Thanks Dr. Nagoski - I loved the book despite my criticism
So, that's my hot take on Emily Nagoski's Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. I hope I sufficiently portrayed my deep respect and gratitude for the important things Nagoski is saying alongside my criticism of how she treated orgasm. My hope is never to hate on other people doing the hard work to improve the sexual lives of women. I have great respect for that and understand there are many avenues to get there. I do want to open the eyes of already thoughtful, smart people to a different perspective, to give resources and back up my statements so that maybe these smart, thoughtful people might adjust their work ever so slightly to incorporate the new perspective - because I think we get to orgasm equality and a better sexual culture faster if we all take the best from each other. It's a fine line, though. So, Dr. Nagoski, I hope I didn't offend.

I'll leave you with some of Nagoski's final words in the book because I think they sum up the spirit of sexual activism work, and I very much identify with it.
Why I wrote this book: Like many of you, I was taught all the wrong things as I was growing up. Then as I reached adulthood, I made all the mistakes, and I spent many years stumbling with unspeakably good fortune into settings where I could learn to get it right. Settings like the Kinsey Institute and one of only a handful of PhD programs with a formal concentration in human sexuality. I wrote this book to share what I learned, what has helped me and what I've seen help other women. I wrote it for my sister and my mother and for my sister's young adult step daughters, for my niece who is just approaching adolescence and most of all, for my students. I wrote it to share the science that taught me that I and my sister and my mother and my friends are all normal and healthy. I wrote it to grant us all permission to be different from one another. I wrote it because I am done living in a world where women are lied to about their bodies, where women are objects of sexual desire but not subjects of sexual pleasure, where sex is used as a weapon against women and where women believe their bodies are broken simply because those bodies are not male, and I am done living in a world where women are trained from birth to treat their bodies as the enemy. I wrote this book to teach women to live with confidence and joy. If you can remember even one of the ideas in this book; no two alike, brakes and accelerator, context, non-concordant arousal, responsive desire, any of them - and use it to improve you relationship with your own sexuality, you'll be helping me with that goal.


Some Stuff I wanted to Write While On a Layover

Hey my friends out there in the world. I know it's been about 2 weeks, but I'm still here, and I'm still working on SSL Reviews, and Journal Article Summaries, and all that. It's just way slower at the moment. I've been hoping for probably about 2 years now that things would begin to fall in such a way that I feel fine prioritizing writing in this blog, but things haven't. It will though eventually. It's kinda like life, ya know? You and the stuff around you changes. You change with it. You prioritize how you spend your time accordingly. Sometimes you don't spend a lot of time with your friends or call your family as much as you'd like. Sometimes you don't sleep enough. But...if things are important to you, you get back to it eventually. That's how I feel about this blog. I'll keep trying for a weekly post, but I'm not going to sweat it. I love this shit, and I'll move through all the posts I want to do as I can. One day, I'll get back to spending several hours a week on this. I look forward to that.

So, I have some time at the moment, but not enough to get into anything deep. I'm on a layover in an airport. My left eye is red as fuck (from lack of sleep and dryness, I think??), and I forgot to pack eyedrops. I just ate some really good dark chocolate, sea salt graham crackers. I just want to write something to get it up on the blog so people know I'm alive and still thinking about how to catch the Orgasm Equality Revolution on fire (maybe we could call it the clitolution? or the More-Clit-Less-Vag Revolution? or maybe the What-You-Think-You-Know-About-Sex-Is-So-Fucking-Wrong Revolution? - none of those are good. I'm open for more ideas. Write me).

Here's stuff I'm feeling good about right now

  • I'm halfway through a post about the book Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. Here's the basics. Highly recommend for those of us (I'm assuming every woman reading this) that has felt or does feel like their desire is problematic or broken. It's kind of like a self-help book for desire issues - great thought exercises to help you understand that you and your body are actually acting completely sensibly to the world around them. HOWEVER - it's complete shit when it comes to acknowledging that regular lack of orgasm during sexual interactions where the partner is not lacking orgasm can be a serious element to desire loss. Also, it's completely bonkers in (and purports to but does not have science to back up) how it discusses and defines orgasms (like, come on, sucking toes has never been shown to cause an actual physiological orgasm and saying so is irresponsible). Luckily, the orgasm part is not that much of the content and there really are important things in this book...just ignore anything she says about orgasm.
  • I have a lovely lady that  reads the blog. We talk online and she's passionate about this topic. She's quite a researcher sending me awesome articles and excerpts, and she's helping to keep me motivated right now. Dude, she's awesome, and I so love that she wrote me. I LOVE hearing from readers anyway - like, it straight makes my week when it happens - and then the fact that she's so engaged and helpful and smart is just the best of icing on top.
  • I have never watched the Kardashians before. It just happened that way, but I've seen a shit ton recently and there's some solid masturbation mentions. I appreciate that.
  • I have a really good system for noting media that can be SSL Reviewed (discusses or depicts female orgasm, female masturbation or the clit) now. I consume a lot of media, and in the past sometimes I would see something and then I completely forget it or I don't catch all the things in a TV series. Doesn't happen anymore...which means I have a huge ass queue of movies and TV that I need to do, but I'd rather that than miss something.
  • I'm rereading Human Sexual Response. I talk about it and use it all the time, but it's been about 6 years since I read and took notes on it. I thought it would refresh me and also i might have a new perspective on stuff in it given things I've read and discussed since then. I'd like to do a book review on it after I'm done. I'll be on a lot of planes, so I think I'll have time to read it too.

Okay the planes boarding. Talk to you soon.


Sex And The City S5 E1-7: A Retro SSL Review

 ***First, sorry for the delay in posts. Day job has taken priority lately. I still love you all though, and I love talking/reading/writing about ladygasms. Does anyone want to fund my life, no strings attached, while I read journal articles about women jerking off in labs and in MRI machines? It's gonna have to be enough to fund my movie theater and popcorn habit and also I don't cook as much as I should. I eat out a whole lot, and I'd also like to travel some, ya know, visit some friends in different cities - that sort of thing. I'm just saying I don't wanna change my lifestyle, but ya know, I would just like for someone else to pay for it. But anyway... ***

My new little segment is back for a another round (Here's the others). It's a modified, lazy version of an SSL Review. It's just me transcribing my notes, page by page, on all of the Sex and the City episodes. I watched them all - not necessarily in order - during 2007 and 2008, and I took notes on the depiction/discussion of female orgasm and female masturbation. It was my early attempt at this type of lady-gasm review stuff. Anyway, I never actually created reviews from these notes, but since they exist, I'd like to get them out there on the interwebs before they get burned in a house fire or something...thus this series.

Ramona and my SATC Notes

The fun of this will be that I will transcribe these as word for word as I can while still trying to make it be a sensible read. I'll post a pick of the notes for your reference. I'll do one or more episodes at a time - from the beginning of the notebook to the end. I may add notes for clarification or add my SSL-Review-style comments.

Hopefully the notes I took privately 10 years ago won't make me look like a dumb asshole. I will add them in the TV SSL Review Master List  (of course you are also welcome to check out the Movie SSL Review Master List as well). Here we go.

Sex and the City Season 5 Episodes 1-7

Season 5 Ep 1
Season 5 Ep 2
Season 5 Ep 3
Season 5 Ep 4
-Miranda - guy under covers eating her out - she orgasms. Same guy eating Miranda, but we don't see her orgasm becacuse she's worried about his face glazed with her juices.

Season 5 Ep 5
-Miranda missionary - he's definitely pumping . She's doing nothing - trying to orgasm, but baby cries and he stops.

Season 5 Ep 6
-Sam's "decided to reward herself for her day of R+R but unfortunately her favorite vibrator needed a little R+R." Her vibrator wasn't working.
- She takes "neck massager" vibrator back to Sharper Image. They say they don't sell vibrators. She says whatever - then gives vibrator advice to other 'neck massager' buying women.

Season 5 Ep 7
Miranda - It's times like this when I wish women could go to male prostitutes. Charlotte says women don't go to prostitutes because they don't think of sex that way. Other girls disagree. Carrie going to see Big to get laid.

Modern Day Me Comments
First things first. I am always supportive of and happy to see a female character unabashedly open about masturbating and using vibrators. As I always say, the more women we see that masturbate, the more masturbating seems normal for women, the more women feel entitled to masturbate. The more women actually masturbate, the more they orgasm. The more they orgasm on their own, the more likely they are to figure out how to orgasm with a sexual partner and the more entitled they feel to ask for and expect the physical things during sex that will give them an orgasm. So respect for that.

Secondly, I also like to see a woman enjoying oral sex, and an orgasm from that is physically realistic (unlike the incredibly physically unrealistic orgasms that are so often depicted as resulting from a penis moving in and out of a vagina), so I'm all for that as well. That's a mouth on her vulva/clit area, and that's, well that's, the good stuff. I'm not, however, into the the whole scenario in the episode (because I do remember these episodes) where Miranda doesn't like kissing him after he's done because he's got puss-juice on his face. A lady's got to just get over that. Sex is gross, and you got to take the mess with the cunnilingus. I mean, if you want him to do a quick wipe of the mouth first, I get it, but like, you just can't worry about it so much that you can't enjoy the eat out. That's just sad state of affairs.

Thirdly, and this isn't really related to an SSL review but I want to say it anyway, I too wish there were male prostitutes out there for women. I mean, I know there are, but certainly not as many as there are women out there for men, and probably not very many good ones - I want good ones, and particularly I'd like the ol' happy ending situation that seems to be fairly available to men who are looking for that sort of thing. Like, why can't there be some dudes that will give you a little massage and then throw a glove on and jerk you off, manually or with a vibrator - your choice?...and these dudes should be as experienced and knowledgeable about the clit as most lady-prostitutes are about penises. I think that's a simple thing to ask. So, let'e legalize responsible sex work and also make sure the ladies have sensible, actually orgasmic options, can we? That's all I'm saying.

Fourth, seems I wrote my name 3 times at the top of this page of notes. If I know myself and my hand writing, I'd say I was trying to make my cursive Ts as beautiful as my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Harvey used to write them. I've been chasing that my whole life and haven't yet succeeded.

Okay, that's it.


Game of Thrones S3 Ep 5-7 - The SSL Review

Game of Thrones
I watched this whole series. Friends were talking about it a lot, so I started watching it a couple seasons after it started. I liked it. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I kept up with it. I'm no super fan, but it had some good stuff - including a few interesting lady-gasm/oral sex/clit/ladybation scenes, which of course I love because that means I can SSL review it. Now, the really interesting ones I'm not going to write about here. I'll hit those up later. For now, I'm going to SSL Review something very simple. In fact, it's barely within my technical qualifications for an SSL Review because it's just a discussion of cunnilingus but not also of lady-gasm. I think it's worth noting though, which is why we're here. First  - a refresher on SSL Reviews.

An SSL Review
Only depiction or discussion of female orgasm and/or female masturbation and/or the clit are eligible for SSL Review. Nothing else counts (unless I deem it counts because I want to talk about it), including plain 'ol sex if it doesn't include anything listed above. I specifically 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?) 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).

Wildling Ladies Like Tongue
So, if you haven't watched this show and are planning on doing so later, there might be some spoilers, but not really important ones - just giving you fair warning.

Season 3 Episode 5
So Jon Snow hooks up with this wildling woman, Ygritte. (The wildlings are the 'free people' in this show). They hook up in a cave. She gets naked, and they stand together making out for a while until he start moving his mouth down her body. When his head moves out of screen to about her groin area, it's pretty clear whatever he's doing down there was surprisingly nice. We see her beginning to enjoy that for a couple seconds and then it cuts.

Later they talk about it a bit.
Ygritte: that thing you did with your mouth, is that what Lord's do to their ladies where you come from?
Jon: I don't know. I just wanted to kiss you there is all.
Ygritte: Hmmm
Jon: You seemed to like it.
Ygritte: Aye, I liked it some. Who taught you that?
Jon: There's been no one else. Only you.
Season 3 Episode 6 
Later Ygritte and Jon are talking about a past boy in her life.
Ygritte: He wasn't good to me the way you're good to me. He didn't do that thing you do with your tongue.
Jon: Can we not talk about that here?
Ygritte: (mocking him) Can we not talk about that here. I'm Jon Snow and I'm afraid of naked girls.
Jon: Did I seem scared the other day?
Ygritte: You were trembling like a leaf.
Jon: Only in the beginning.
Ygritte: (smiling) You're a proper lover Jon Snow
Season 3 Episode 7 
Another wildling is talking big around a fire, giving advice - it's somewhat in relation to teasing Jon and Ygritte about their hook-up.
Most men fuck like dogs. No grace. No Skill. A few dozen thrusts and done. You need to be patient. Give her time. Your cock shouldn't even go near her until she's slick as a baby seal and then you go inside, but slowly. Don't poke it in like you're spearing a pig.
My Thoughts
I love that the sex between Ygritte and Jon Snow focused on him eating her out. That was clearly her highlight of that encounter. I mean, if I didn't know better, I'd think that Jon's mouth got Ygritte straight sprung, and frankly that makes sense to me. Much like the wildling was describing in Ep 7, too much sex (and as it seems Ygritte's past experiences) are nothing more than roughly spearing a vag with a dick. A mouth on the clit/vulva area is not only just a lovely feeling, but it could very possibly cause an orgasm - something getting a dick jammed in you is incredibly unlikely to even come close to. Seriously clits are the organ of female sexual pleasure - not vaginas.

I feel like this whole Jon's mouth situation endorses to all the viewers watching GOT - and there are a lot - 2 lovely things 1. that a proper lover uses his mouth on a lady's naughty bits and 2. that sex girls really like can (and should) be focused on something other than the dick in the vagina.

As for the wildlings calling for some sexual sensitivity and for getting a woman aroused (slick as a baby seal) before poking her, I appreciate that. It's true. If you are going to stick your dick in something - make sure you take the time to get it fully ready. However, it also brings the focus back to intercourse as the central part of sex between a man and a woman - which I don't love. Intercourse is already #1 with no contenders on the cultural sex list. It doesn't need any help, and it isn't a sensible way for women to orgasm. Both those things mean we need more media discussion/depictions highlighting sex acts that stimulate the clit - women's organ of sexual pleasure - to get that clit some more cultural star status.

The Vulva Rating
I love the focus on and praise of cunnilingus within a sexual act. We need more of that - especially in relation to a 'first time.' I thought the dog-seal-pig discussion later brought focus a bit too much back to intercourse though. I'm going to give these episodes a respectable 4 out of 5 vulva rating.



The Good Place Season 1 and 2 - The SSL Review

The Good Place
A few people had recommended this show to me. It didn't immediately strike me as something I wanted to see, so it took me a while to try it out. I liked it though. They were right. I've only seen the first 2 seasons, because they are the only ones on Netflix so far, but I'm gonna get deep into season 3 when it comes out. Anyway, this is a network show, so there's not a ton of detailed sex stuff, but there were a couple of lady-bation comments. They were all from the same character. Point is - I can do an SSL Review.

An SSL Review
As you know, only depiction or discussion of female orgasm and/or female masturbation and/or the clit are eligible for SSL Review. Nothing else counts, including plain 'ol sex if it doesn't include anything listed above. I specifically 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?) 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).

Mindy St. Claire
I don't want to give away a bunch of spoilers, but I think I can tell you that Mindy St. Claire is in a place similar to purgatory, and she's the only one there. If you haven't seen The Good Place, it's about a kind of heaven-type place, but according to the show the different religions only got about 5% of the afterlife correct, so they don't use 'heaven or hell.' It's the Good Place or The Bad Place.

So, Mindy St. Claire is a lady from the 80's that liked 2 things - making hella money and cocaine. Right before she died, on a coked up bender, she had the idea for an amazing charity, took out all her money to start it and that's all she wrote. Her sister took her plans though and started it. It is an amazing charity, and thus Mindy put both good and bad into the world. She's in The Medium Place.

It has her favorite beer, but it's always warm. Canonball Run II is the only movie. It's a real medium existence, and she's alone. Lucky for us, some characters from the show visit her, and we get to meet this treat of a lady. She's selfish but kind, funny, bold, and also lucky for us, likes to unabashedly masturbate a lot. Let me describe the scenes real quick.

Season 1 Episode 12 
Mindy St. Claire's guests are about to leave after a bit of a stay and she starts taking off her jacket. She says to her guests:
If you'll excuse me, it's my masturbating time.
To which one of the guests says:
When isn't it?
After they leave, she heads towards the couch starting to take off clothes. She shakes out both her wrists like she's preparing.

Season 2 Episode 2
Her house guests are back. She tells them some things about past visits that they have forgotten including a bit about why they have left before:
Sometimes you leave because you walk in on me masturbating. Sometimes you leave because I walk in on you while I'm masturbating.

She Don't Give a Fuck
When I was searching around to find Mindy St. Claire's name (which is a great name) before I wrote this, I came across a fab article by Mur Lafferty about Mindy St. Claire and the lack of male gaze on her in the show. It's a nice article, and if you don't mind show spoilers, check it. She talks about how unabashed Mindy is about owning her time and her pleasure and her sexuality while still being an interesting, generally nice character. It's sadly uncommon in female characters, and Lafferty is correct. Mindy truly is a treat.

On an SSL Review level, I am always supportive of any lady-character that admits she masturbates. That in and of itself does simple and important work. It normalizes the idea of a woman masturbating. And the more lady-bation is normalized, the more ladies will feel entitled to masturbate. The more ladies masturbating, the more ladies are orgasming, and when a woman orgasms on her own, she at least has a fighting chance to later see past the cultural norms out there lying about how we're supposed to orgasm and maybe, hopefully, figure out how to orgasm with a partner. That's important. Too many woman don't figure it out in no small part because women often try to do the figuring while having partner sex in the culturally sensible ways we all assume are orgasmic for men and women alike, but are absolutely not. Our culture gives us shit ideas about how our lady-bodies and our lady-gasms work. The truth is the vaginal canal is not the pleasure organ. The penis doesn't give lady-gasms, and intercourse ain't a great way to lady-come. Seriously, for real, for reals. Point here is that sex and the norms of our sexual culture are not conducive to lady-gasms, but the body-focused, self exploration that the solitude of masturbation affords is. So, truth is if women aren't masturbating then women are unlikely to be orgasming at all - and my movie and this whole damn blog and pretty much all my thoughts and activism are about getting women to the point where the world is equally as hospitable to lady-gasms as it is to guy-gasms. That ain't gonna happen until women feel entitled to masturbate in at least the same way men do. So, way to normalize lady-jerking, Mindy!

All that said, it does kind of matter which female character is doing the normalizing. I will take any mention of women masturbating in media, because we simply need more of it, but when that woman seems like a normal person instead of a freak of nature, it's probably better advertising. Mindy is a little of both really. I mean, that's why she's in The Middle Place. She's not your average lady. She's a no hold barred 80's business lady that likes the fast life. However, she's also just kind of a person, and her unabashed, outspoken adherence to a masturbation schedule makes a lot of sense given she's been completely alone for 30 years and needs to fill her time. So, what I'm saying is Mindy's masturbating isn't bad advertisement for clit jerking and I appreciate that.

I also appreciate that Mindy's love of masturbation is not merely depicted as a sad last resort in place of 'real sex'. Yeah, she hasn't seen anyone for 30 years, but when she does see 2 great looking fit men and an attractive woman in her house, she doesn't drop her old friend masturbation for a chance at partner sex. She might tape them having sex for porn to use later during masturbation, sure, she definitely likes doing that, but she appreciates - no prefers - masturbating, and I say cheers to that.

The Vulva Rating
Mindy's depiction normalizes and even elevates a woman's need to and enjoyment of masturbation. That is major because women need to feel that orgasm is a normal thing for them to do in order to feel entitled to do it, and women need to masturbate if we're ever gonna get to orgasm equality.

Respect to that coked out lady with a great name. I give this show's season one and two 5 out of 5 vulvas.



Random Hite Report #31

Hello, welcome again to one of my favorite segments on the SSL blog, Random Hite Report! It's simple really. I flip through the pages of the The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality  (or sometimes The Hite Report on Male Sexuality) by a one Ms. Shere Hite and copy the contents of the page where I land - no more no less. Anyone who reads my blog will know that this 1976 book is a fave of mine; not only because of its realistic and progressive insight about the female orgasm that is still shockingly relevant 40 years later,  but also because of its very touching insight into the lives of the women who took part in this huge, comprehensive survey. This is an under-appreciated and under-read book if you ask me - I suggest you buy it online (seriously, you can get them for like 1 cent) and read it.

 So, sit back, getcha a beverage, and enjoy a little...Random Hite Report.

The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality Dell. 1976.
Pg. 74 From the section Masturbation in the chapter "Feelings About Masturbation."
...gasm, what I find pleasurable. It has made it easier for me to tell what feels good, has made me like myself more, and given me insights into the depths of me."
    "Masturbation gave me the knowledge I could achieve orgasm. Now I know what it feels like and know I'm normal."
   :It's a way to explore and learn about your body without depending on a man to show you. The first man I slept with assumed I'd never had an orgasm before - that I needed him to show me how. Of course I wasn't supposed to assume such things about him."
   "It taught me a lot, mainly how to reach orgasm. Up until January 1973 I thought it was dirty. Now I know how wrong that idea is. I've learned to enjoy many aspects of sex since then and I feel masturbation helped a great deal."
   "I'm convinced auto-erotic stimulation is essential to most women - it may be the only adequate introduction to their bodies they receive."
   "Through masturbation I can learn how my body can feel and how it wants and likes to feel."
   "It's important in finding the stimulation points of your body, discovering your own body."
   "It's a way to explore one's sexuality without the self-consciousness of having anyone there." 
Some women also felt masturbation helped them have better sex with another person.
   "Masturbation teaches you to know your own body and to gratify it, which leads to increasing you sense of independence and may also increase your ability to relate to someone else; being able to tell someone else what gives one pleasure can do a lot for a relationship."
   "If you feel guilty about touching yourself, you can't be very free in giving yourself to another, or touching someone else."
   "How can you love or satisfy someone else if you can't satisfy your won self?"
   "Masturbation develops one's sexuality, because you learn how to touch yourself and therefore others. Perhaps the danger is that you can make it too good, be-..."


Tame Impala Video - Getting Ate Out Awakens Female Sexuality

Tame Impala, for those who don't know, is an Australian group that's been pretty popular the last few years. They have a song called "The Less I Know The Better" that has a pretty bad ass video.  I had seen it a while back and really liked it, but when I saw it again a couple days ago, it felt like it had a clearness I hadn't seen in it before. I think the first time I watched it, it was just a lot. I mean there's a lot going on in this video. The second time I was more prepared for what was going to happen and it just sat with me differently.

All that said, I'm not so sure that the intention behind the video is really the intention I'm seeing. Chances are it's not, but I see something in it I really like, and I wanted to write something up quick about it. Plus, it's a fun video - and I appreciate that. I couldn't do an SSL Review because there isn't any actual depiction or discussion of female orgasm, female masturbation or the clit, so this is just a plain and simple talkin'-my-thoughts-out post.

It does have a young woman enjoying some mouth on her clit though.
I mean really enjoying it - not in some loud, showy, porny way - more like in a revelatory way, and that my friends is why we're here. Let me set the scene.

The video starts with a high school girl watching a high school guy in the gym. He's a basketball player and she's maybe a cheerleader of some sort. There's only ambient sound so far - no music. Then the camera moves through the inside of a locker, with vague animal ambient noise, and out into the locker room where the girl is setting on a locker room bench in the same t-shirt and skirt she just had on. Her feet are on the bench with her knees up. She's facing the camera as it's leaving the locker, and the boy is kneeling in front of her with his head between her thighs in that oh-so-special mouth-to-vulva situation. She's breathing quietly and intensely in a way that seems like she's very aroused and allowing it build organically. Her hands are as intense and slow, rubbing through his hair until we see her forefingers and thumbs come together in a heart shape on the back of his head (btw - I like to think the heart is not for him. It's for what she's feeling, but he never gets that).

Then there are a lot of quick cuts. One is guerrilla hands, similar in intensity and motion to her hands, moving on her butt. It's shot from behind her as she's in a sort of kneeling 'child's pose' (like in yoga). Another is her in the same position as in the locker room, but on the basketball court, and it's not his head between her legs but a basketball that she pulls in closer. Back in the locker room, still gripping the back of his head, she lets her head fall back, mouth open and lets out another slow breath that might very well make one believe she's very close to coming. It cuts to the boys face lifting up from between her legs, and he says a little dope-ishly and sincerely in a deep slow-mo voice, "I love you."

It cuts to the girl pulling her head up from how it had fallen back in pleasure and taking a sharp exhale as she looks directly at the camera. The music starts, and we see that this time she is in a wildly colorful cheerleader outfit. She begins to dance and we see other cheerleaders dancing around her with ribbons.

Okay, from there it gets weirder, so let me just quick tell you what that first part felt like to me. It felt like a sexual awakening. It felt like a young woman getting her pussy ate to orgasm for the first time, and realizing that she was a sexual being - that she had a wildness in her that colored her life.

But let me describe further:
At first the boy is happily watching the girl in her bright outfit, dancing around joyfully with the other cheerleaders, but then when she gets thrown into the air, a bunch of dark, animal hair falls from the sky into his hands, and he's bothered.

And that's when a guerrilla comes into the picture. We sees her eagerly and happily jump into a giant guerrilla hand. She and the other cheerleaders have bananas and guerrilla's hands around their waists when they're dancing. It dunks basketballs and does flips down the HS hall. They gleefully writhe against each other and hop around like monkeys do together. She lays luxuriously in a room of guerrilla fur. She swings a guerrilla fur blanket around her and it becomes the guerrilla twirling around with her in his arms triumphantly smiling and waving her hands in the air. She's having a downright joyful time with this guerrilla, and the whole time the boy is watching - mad and sad and jealous.

I mean, it's not completely straight forward. I wouldn't pick the details apart too much, but I felt like this was about a girl that found her sexual joy and wildness (it was the guerrilla ya'll! - that's mothafucking metaphor) and the boy just couldn't keep his shit together about it. Instead of being joyous too, he was hurt and threatened. At one point he goes to the toilet to puke and the puke is red paint, which along with a bunch of other paint colors, covers the statue of a woman in a highly sexualized pose (which maybe represents his feelings of wishing she were a quiet, unmoving sexual object for him and him alone...I don't know ya'll - just throwing it out there). Point is this is a trippy video and he can't deal with her autonomous sexual vibrancy. In fact at the end of the video, the boy angrily throws a basketball at the exuberant guerrilla (her sexuality) and knocks her/the guerilla back, putting a hole in the chest that a bunch of other rainbow basketballs fly out of. Now, I don't know what the rainbow basketballs mean, but I feel like that whole thing was the boy attacking and ultimately damaging the girl's sexual joy and autonomy.

This also might be just a weird, adolescent video (there were a lot of male-gaze, ass-focused shots in here) about Tame Impala's hurt feelings from some girl he got with in high school that hooked up with a dude named Trevor while he thought she should have been with him (The lyrics do have a girl cheating with a guy named Trevor and the Guerrilla's jersey does say Trevor on it).

I like to think it's about what I think it's about though, because I like that shit. I like that this was not a girl getting banged for the first time that got her sexuality sprung (because getting banged don't orgasms make, ya'll) - it was getting ate the hell out (because stimulation on the clit/vulva area does!). I like that she was joyful with her guerrilla/newfound sexuality, because that shit is godamn joyful. I like that the dumb boy looks like a shitbag for dumping on her awesomeness, and I appreciate showing how his inability to cope with her not-connected-to-him sexuality forces him to damage her in the end - because that real life. It happens to women too often - both inside intimate relationships and also to women as a whole in a male-focused sexual culture that doesn't make room for authentic female orgasm.

That's my story of this crazy-ass video, and I'm sticking to it. Watch the video below. Tell me I'm wrong.


The Americans Season 5 - The SSL Review

The Americans Season 5
As I've said before, I LOVED the Americans. Unfortunately the series is over now. It ended as well as I could imagine though, so it still stands as one of my very favorite TV series. Plus, although not always perfect, it went a bit above and beyond in my opinion with how it depicted female orgasm, sexuality and gender.  Anyway, there were no SSL reviewable scenes in Season 6, but there were 2 in Season 5 - both in episode 5.

As you know, only depiction or discussion of female orgasm and/or female masturbation and/or the clit are eligible for SSL Review. Nothing else counts, including plain 'ol sex if it doesn't include anything listed above. I specifically 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?) 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).

The lady-on-top
The scene begins with Philip having sex with a woman. It's spy stuff, so he's just getting the job done. Normally he's pretty damn focused on these types of tasks, but in this we see he's particularly disengaged. We see a bust shot of him above her in missionary clearly pushing his dick in and out of her. We can't see what's going on with their bodies much below the shoulders, but it's clear that there are no hands doing any work near the clit/vulva area.

We also see her as he's banging her. She has her eyes closed and seems to be enjoying it - although I wouldn't say she is being depicted as near orgasm. Philip is looking down on her with such lack of interest in what he is doing that it seems almost robotic.

It then cuts to a memory of him as a child. Clearly he is poor and starving and his dad brings home what appears to be 3 rocks (for real - I really don't know what this food thing is) that his mom heats up and gives to the family to eat.

It cuts back to Philip and the woman in bed, but this time he's on his back. The camera is looking down on him and immediately the woman falls forward into frame with a quick orgasmic yelp as if in the last moment of her orgasm. She then rolls off him and breaths into recovery next to him. Clearly time had passed and they had changed positions during the Russia flashback, and she was riding him cowgirl style when she came.

My Thoughts (the SSL Review)
There is not enough shown to see where all 4 hands were or how she was having intercourse with him. Was she laying so her pelvis was pressed close against him so she could grind the clit/vulva area against his pelvis while he was inside her? Was she or he using one of their offscreen hands to rub the clit? I don't know. Now, Philip does still look very disengaged the moment before she slumps forward in orgasm, but if you know his character, he doesn't need to be engaged with this kind of thing to be doing the right thing to get the right results (stimulating her clit to make her come). There's no indication he was doing that, but no indication he wasn't either.

Anything could have been happening. In one way I appreciate that this was not a depiction of a lady-gasm during intercourse that was clearly unrealistic. It wasn't a classic scene where a woman just gets banged, where we see for sure there was no additional clit/vulva stimulation - either through hands/vibrators or deliberate close grinding of the clit/vulva against something. So I can't knock the scene. There truly could have been clit/vuvla stimulation we didn't see.

On the other hand, nobody in the world thinks as deeply and rewatches scenes like this so closely for that kind of information except me. Most people probably just see this scene as a woman that came while bouncing on top of a dude, and that's not exactly the progressive lady-gasm depiction I hope for.

And honestly, people have a weird idea about lady-on-top intercourse because sexperts, and especially feminist ones, often say that lady-on-top is the best sex position for the female orgasm because she can control the movements.

That's kind of true, but it misses the point. Getting an orgasm during intercourse is somewhat about being in control of the movements, but only because the heart of it is that the clit/vulva area gets consistent, appropriate stimulation and being in control of the movement helps achieve that. That very integral part of why a woman needs to control the movement is left out and so it is confusing, and I think sometimes misleading. People often think about it as the woman being able to control how the penis moves inside her against her vaginal canal - and that's maybe nice for her comfort and fun, but stimulation inside the vaginal canal - however you're doing it, is not going to cause orgasm. Point is - because as a culture we simply don't get that a woman needs clitoral/vuvla stimulation to orgasm and think that a penis moving inside the vagina can cause a woman to orgasm - it's sensible to assume that a woman on  top during sex can 'get her orgasm' by controlling the way a penis moves in the vagina. However that's unrealistic BS.

What we should really be saying is that any sexual position that allows a woman to control how and when her clit/vulva is getting good, consistent stimulation, is a good position for female orgasm during intercourse...you know, to be clear about what's really going on.

The Vulva Rating
I'd love to give this a better rating because I love this show and because I want to give it the benefit of the doubt based on past depictions, but I shouldn't. In reality this was a depiction of a lady-gasm with very little context of how it happened except that they were having intercourse and she was on top. It's not bad, but it's also not good. There is nothing progressive from this depiction and if anything it just reinforces basic cultural assumptions about women being able to come from intercourse alone.

I'm giving this a 3 vulva rating for keeping it status quo, but with no ill intent or depictions that were specifically unrealistic.



Comparing Measurements of Female Sexual Dysfunction - An Article I Read

Welcome back to An Article I Read. In this series I read a peer reviewed journal article that relates to female orgasm, and then I write a summary of it for you. I do my best to be thorough, but I also try to make it shorter and more comprehensible than reading the actual article. I do way too much googling and re-reading in my attempt at achieving that, but still this is by far my favorite series in this blog. I wish I had more time for these. I will also give you my opinion about the article, but when I do, it will be clearly marked under a heading ('My opinion' for instance might be one such heading) or I will put them into these brackets [me: ] so that you know it's my opinion and not something in the article. Otherwise, everything I write will be as best a summary of something said in the article as I can do, and all things quoted are from the article.

What is the "true" prevalence of female sexual dysfunctions and does the way we assess these conditions have an impact?
Hayes RD, Dennerstein L, Bennett CM, Fairley C. J Sex Med. 2008 Apr;5(4):777-787.

My opinions about why this is being studied
Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) has a history of being a bit of a contentious thing - from hysteria to Freud's clitoral vs. vaginal orgasm ridiculousness to modern concerns about if drugs can help with FSD. The particular contentiousness I want to point out in relation to this article, though, is one that's gained a lot of traction in recent years. I'll summarize it as I understand it:

Are we defining Female Sexual Function based on our understanding of male (and not female) sexual functioning? Particularly, are we assuming that the sexual response cycle of desire - arousal - orgasm - recovery that's been used for years is as accurate for females as it is for males when it may not be?

some background
Now this article I'm summarizing is really about seeing if the way we measure the percentage of women suffering from FSD will change depending on the method that is used. However, I think the interest in researching this (outside of simply being a fabulous and I would say necessary type of scientific investigation into anything one is studying) is that there has been a slow push in the field to consider that maybe women are just naturally not going to "automatically" have desire pop up that induces physical arousal the way men are. There is a growingly popular idea out there - that some people's (but mostly women's) sexual cycle tends to be different, where desire more arises from physical arousal than the other way around. There's a whole book on this that people love, but the gist I'm getting at here is that if women aren't really going around with a bunch of sexual desire and arousal the way men are, then maybe that's not dysfunction - maybe that's normal.

So in this article I'm summarizing here, one of the ways that the researchers use to determine FSD is with a questionnaire that only classifies a woman as having FSD if she has low sexual function and sexual distress. So whereas traditionally questionnaires (and all the methods tested here to look for FSD in these women are types of questionnaires) tended to look merely at low sexual functioning (i.e. not feeling sexual desire, not being able to get wet, not being able to orgasm, sexual pain during sex), they included one that found out if a woman also had distress about the lack of desire, wetness or orgasm or pain during sex. If she wasn't distressed about it, she wasn't classified as having Female Sexual Dysfunction (SFD). When that extra criteria is added, and the American Psychiatric Association does now say that criteria should be added, the % of women identified as having FSD is much less.

It's a little subtle, but important. If women aren't distressed by their sexual functioning, why would we call it a dysfunction at all? Why doesn't it make more sense to adjust our understanding of FSD than to force women into dysfunction who don't feel dysfunctional (think how psychiatrists used to think about gay people. It was a dysfunction because they said it was - not because it necessarily felt dysfunctional to the gay person).

I'm just giving you some background and context as I understand it because I think it's interesting. I actually like the thinking out of the box here that this type of consideration brings. I think we should continue to deeply consider in what possible ways women's sexuality and sexual function is being measured and researched and judged based more on our understanding of male experience as opposed to the reality of female sexual functioning.

That said, I also want to throw in that I worry a little about settling with the idea that a lot of women's desire tends to be 'different' from a lot of men's in that it doesn't happen quite so often or spontaneously and that desire often follows physical arousal rather than preceding it. I applaud backing away from tagging women that don't meet our traditional understanding of how and when desire arises as dysfunctional if they don't feel dysfunctional. However, I do think it's worth considering more deeply why there might be this tendency in women.

I think stepping back a bit and saying, 'why might women's desire tend to follow this pattern and men's tend not to?' is important. If we don't step back and consider that, I think it'd be easy to assume it's just a innate biological difference, and I imagine that is what a lot of people believe at least to some degree. I also imagine there is comfort in believing it is an innate difference because it seems non-problematic if it's 'just our nature.' However, there's lots of reason to assume that how women experience our sexual culture deeply affects how we express and understand our desire, arousal, and orgasm.

I mean, it's a cold hard fact that women don't orgasm during sexual interactions nearly as much as men - and not because women's bodies are less capable of orgasm than men (They are not. Women can orgasm as quickly and reliably as men during masturbation). So, that really simple reality alone gives me pause about attributing female desire patterns to our innate qualities. I mean, clearly many past experiences of sexual encounter + orgasm (a lot of male experiences) are WAY better at training you to be aroused when considering the possibility of a future sexual encounter than sexual encounter + NO orgasm (a lot of female experiences). Also just consider for hetero folks how much more common it is to see a woman sexualized vs. a man. Life itself is just kinda less sexy for hetero women in general.  My point is, I don't want this very important inquiry into how we define sexual dysfunction in women to also act as a way to cover and sanitize a very nasty reality; that female orgasms are at a disadvantage in our culture and the effects of that ripple out and negatively affect all aspects of sexual culture  - including women's ability to feel desire.

In short, lots of women have particular patterns of desire and arousal different from men and it doesn't mean we are lesser or wrong, but it very well might mean that we were forced to develop our desire in the way we do because we existed in a shitty sexual culture that ignored our clit for our vag-hole. We ladies are making lemonade out of lemons, but maybe we can use this knowledge to just give the next generation of ladies pre-made lemonade instead of giving them lemons and telling them it's just as good as getting the lemonade already made.

So that was a lot of background. I think it's interesting though, so I wanted to touch on it before I summarized the article. BTW - enjoy the summary below.

  • The true prevalence of  Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is contentious. Studies have tracked it at anywhere from 8% to 55%. Although these differences could be due to the different populations studied, it also very well may have to do with differences in how FSD is studied.
  • For instance, when researchers ask for only longer lasting difficulties in studies, FSD rates tend to be lower
  • Also "the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder fourth edition stipulates that both low sexual function and sexual distress need to be present in order for a diagnosis of FSD." However validated measures of sexual distress were only created recently and a lot of previous studies don't include it, so there is a problem with lack of standardization in FSD rates.
  • Previous research indicates incorporating sexual distress measures in these FSD surveys shows a lower prevalence of FSD.

To compare in detail the results of 4 different surveys on the same group of Australian women in order to determine if the differences in the surveys help explain the differences in FSD rates. The surveys used will help determine the impact of multi-item instruments (meaning questionnaires), simple questions, different recall periods, and the inclusion of a sexual distress component.

  • The questionnaire used for this study was the 2005-2006 Australian Study for Understanding Women's Sexuality and Health (ASUWSH).
  • Self-administered questionnaire to collect information on sexual function and sexual distress along with demographic and risk factor data
  • 1002 randomly selected women ages 20-70 with basic English literacy, and registered to vote (in Australia 98% of people are registered) received a package with a cover letter, participant info sheet, the questionnaire, brochure about related medical services, and a return slip.
  • Participant details were included on return slip but not questionnaire, and they were returned separately so that the questionnaires remained anonymous but researchers could identify who completed a questionnaire
  • Participants had option of receiving a cinema ticket and/or a report of the study's final findings
  • Those that didn't wish to participate indicated on the return slip and were not contacted further
  • If they didn't receive a return slip within a month a 2nd package was sent. For 100 women who hadn't responded to 2 packages a 3rd was sent, but the return rate was so low, they didn't send a third to any others that were not heard from
  • Packages sent to 102 randomly selected women also included a delivery confirmation to see how many packages did not make it to the destination.

Main Outcome Measures
The survey included a variety of sub-questionnaires with question styles that are typical of questionnaires in previous FSD studies. These are the styles included in the Survey (followed by the reasoning for including it in parenthesis)
1. Questions asking participants to report sexual difficulties that happened within the previous month (to represent simple questions where respondents are asked to report 'problems' or 'difficulties' within a recent period of time)
2. Questions asking participants to report sexual difficulties that happened for at least a month within the previous year (to represent simple questions where respondents are asked to report 'problems' or 'difficulties' but within a longer time frame)
*both 1 and 2 asked if participants had experienced any of the following for each of the time frames
lacked interest in having sex
had trouble with vaginal dryness
were unable to come to orgasm (a climax)
experienced physical pain during intercourse
3. Included an 18 question abbreviated version of the Sexual Function Questionnaire (SFQ), a "validated, self-report, multi-item scale that employs a cut-off scale to determine if women have experienced low sexual function in the previous month" (to represent a multi-item scale questionnaire used to measure sexual functioning that classifies those scoring low sexual functioning as having FSD)
4. Included the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS) questionnaire, a "validated, multi-item scale that employs a cut-off score to classify women with sexual distress experienced within the previous month." (This combined with the SFQ, together they call it SFQ-FSDS, represents questionnaires that only classify women experiencing both low sexual functioning and sexual distress as having FSD.)

The SFQ was first in the survey, followed by the FSDS, and then the two versions of the simple questions. Demographic and risk factor questions were dispersed throughout.

  • The SFQ employed both arousal-sensation questions and arousal-lubrication questions, but the sets of simple questions only included vaginal dryness questions in relation to arousal disorder. So, the arousal-lubrication questions in the SFQ were used for comparison and the arousal-sensation questions were ignored.
  • All women were asked to answer all sections of the questionnaire even if they had not had any sexual activity (sexual activity includes masturbation) during the period in question.
  • Women with no sexual activity during the period could be classified as having a desire problem but could not be classified as having arousal, orgasm or sexual pain problems. The exception to that is women who had no sexual active because of sexual pain worries. These women (if they didn't have desire or pain problems) were kept in the study and classified as free of FSD instead of being classified as missing data points.
  • prevalence estimates (the percentage of women displaying these FSD sub-catagories) and 95% confidence intervals produced by each questionnaire style for the following: hypoactive sexual disorder disorder (HSDD) aka low sexual desire, female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) (using vaginal lubrication answers as indicators), female orgasmic disorder (FOD), and dyspareunia aka sexual pain problems.
  • The SFQ-FSDS results (results that used both low sexual functioning and sexual distress to classify a woman with SFD) were compared to the other styles of questioning in all the above categories. The SFQ-FSDS was used as a 'gold-standard' to compare against because it has been well validated and also reflects the current recommendations for diagnosing SFD.
  • If a question related to one of those categories was left empty on an otherwise completed questionnaire, it was simply not used, which lowered the answer rate for some categories, but never lower than 95% of the total number of questionnaires included in the study.
  • The 2 types of simple questions, each employing a different recall time range, were also compared
  • In addition, the previous month recall version of the simple question was compared with the SFQ (which also employed a month recall). Both of these did not include questions about sexual distress

  • The researchers were able to estimate the number of women that did not ever receive their packages (due to out-of-date address, lost mail, or recipient being deceased), by investigating the package fate for the 102 random women that were chosen to have Postal Service Delivery confirmation. From this, it was estimated that 756 women actually received their package 
  • Based on above estimate, 45% (356) of respondents completed and returned the questionnaire 
  • The table below (table 2) shows the results for prevalence estimates (%) among the respondents across the 4 types of questionnaires for each of the different sexual dysfunction types studies: hypoactive sexual disorder (HSDD) aka low sexual desire, female sexual arousal disorder (using vaginal lubrication answers as indicators), female orgasmic disorder (FOD), and dyspareunia aka sexual pain problems. 
  • It also shows the 95% Confidence Interval in the parenthesis next to the Prevalence % 

  • The SFQ-SFDS questionnaire showed lower prevalence % estimates than the other types of questionnaires for all 4 types of sexual dysfunctions. 
  • Comparing the 2 versions of the simple questions indicated that questions asking to recall if something occurred during the previous month showed lower prevalence % estimates in all 4 of the sexual dysfunction categories than if asked to recall if something occurred for 1 month or more from the previous year. 
  • Comparing the simple set of questions with a 1 month recall vs. the multi-item scale questionnaire (SFQ) which also had a 1 month recall, the multi-item scale showed higher prevalence % estimates for low sexual desire, low arousal (lubrication), and female orgasm disorder, but not for sexual pain. 
  • In total, 32% of women with low desire, 31% with low arousal (lubrication), 33% with orgasm difficulty, and 57% with sexual pain were also sexually distressed. 
  • [Me: the researchers also report kappa statistics, negative and positive predictive values, specificity and sensitivity statistics when employing the SFQ-FSDS as the gold standard questionnaire against the other types of questionnaires. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough about stats to speak much on them, but you can check it out in Table 3 below.]    

  • "This is the first time that this range of instruments, frequently used for assessing FSD has been compared directly in the same study."
  • Including "sexual distress" as a necessary element for diagnosing Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD), as in the FSQ-FSDS questionnaire, reduced the prevalence estimates of FSD by 2/3 or more for all 4 categories. "In additions, these results indicated that only a portion of women with low sexual function (31% -57%) experienced sexual distress."
  • "Changing the recall period from the previous month to one month or more in the previous year approximately doubled the prevalence estimates of all sexual disorders investigated."
  • When comparing the FSQ-FSDS, the questionnaire that incorporated both low sexual function and sexual distress with the other questionnaires, the FSQ-FSDS "displayed a broad range of sensitivities and specificities across the different domains of FSD."
  • "positive predictive values indicated that less than 60% of women classified as having FSD by alternative instruments [me: questionnaires] were experiencing FSD according to our gold-standard instrument (FSQ-FSDS)."

Limitations of the study
  • The true gold standard of FSD is a clinical diagnosis, but with these anonymous surveys, that could not happen.
  • The FSQ-FSDS was used as the gold-standard because it's well validated and reflects current definitions of Female Sexual Dysfunction (which includes having sexual distress). However, "the FSQ-FSDS is based on a current models of FSD," and "debate regarding which model best represents female sexual response and what constitutes FSD continues in scientific literature."
  • The FSQ was validated on women age 19-65 but the abbreviated version (used here) was only validated on women age 19-49. 
  • The FSDS has not been validated on Australian women with FSD.
  • "The America Foundation of Urological Diseases divides FSADs (Female Sexual Arousal Disorders) into genital, subjective, genital combined with subjective, and persistent sexual arousal subtypes. [me: see Puppo's take on the naming of persistent sexual arousal disorder] In our analysis, we only included the genital lubrication aspect of FSAD (as opposed to subjective arousal or the arousal sensation domain of the SFW). This was performed to allow us to make valid comparisons between instruments [me: questionnaires] as the simple questions we investigated (that were based on the questions from a frequently cited study by Laumann et al.) only asked about this particular aspect of sexual disorder. Not including subjective sexual arousal is a deficiency of both that earlier study and the present comparative analysis."
  • "A further limitation is that the order of the instruments [me: questionnaires] used to measure FSD was not randomized. As all the instruments we investigated were included in one questionnaire, it is possible that participant's response to one instrument may have influenced their response to another. This may have artificially increased the correlation between instruments. Consequently, the true difference between these methods of assessing FSD may be even greater than our results indicate."
  • Response rates for sensitive topics always tend to be low and seem to be decreasing over the years, but the overall response rate and prevalence estimates for FSD using the simple question section was comparable to previous studies of Australian women using the same simple question survey.

Strengths of this Study
  • There was a variety of questionnaire types used that showed the impact of question type, recall period and inclusion of the sexual stress component on prevalence estimates
  • The population was randomly sampled and the questionnaires employed have been extensively validated.
  • Included all women in the sample, not just women who were currently sexually active
  • These types of comparative studies for FSD diagnosis questionnaires are rare. 
  • Previous studies show that prevalence estimates are lower when the time period for a sexual difficulty is raised (for instance asking about a particular sexual difficulty that lasted for at least a month vs asking about that same sexual difficulty but only if it lasted for at least 6 months). "Our data indicate that in addition to the duration of sexual difficulty the length of time over which women are asked to recall sexual difficulties also affect reported prevalence."
  • That the inclusion of sexual distress in an FSD diagnosis has an impact on prevalence estimates is supported by previous research.
  • The type of questions, the recall time employed, and the inclusion of things like sexual distress in the questionnaires that researches decide to use have important impacts on the results. "Consequently, reported associations between risk factors and FSD may also change depending upon the instruments researchers employ to measure FSD."
  • "The absence of a standard, generally accepted, convention for determining the presence of FSD represents a major limitation in current research." However, there is still a lot of debate about what constitutes FSD and how to appropriately diagnose it, and researches would do well to keep this all in mind for future studies and as the definition of FSD evolves over time. 
  • "We envisage that this investigation will alert future authors to bias that may be introduced by the instruments they employ when conduction their own research. Also, we would like to make clinicians and researchers aware of the impact of instruments used to assess FSD when drawing conclusions based on published literature in this area."

Everything said in here was basically also said in the discussion.

[ME: As always, I'd like to point out something that should be way more obvious. Some (I'd venture to say most) Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) probably has to do with the fact that people don't truly realize that the clitoral glans area, and not the vaginal canal, is the female organ of sexual pleasure, just as the penis is for the male. And, because of that, way, way too many females are literally not getting sexual stimulation focused on the correct area of their bodies (like if males were mostly getting ball, not penis, stimulation) *and btw any penile or clitoral related organ on a body is the organ of sexual pleasure, so it's really no different for intersex folks that carry an organ more in between clit/penis.* Also, I'm just gonna throw this out there too - maybe some women don't describe themselves as distressed about their lack of orgasm, arousal, or desire because they live in a shit sexual culture that tells them and demonstrates to them all the time in all the different ways that women are less sexual, less capable of orgasm and harder to please - and maybe those ideas get internalized to a point where a woman might think that's just the way things are, so she settles into it...again, making lemonade out of lemons.]