11.28.2012

The Entity of the "Female Orgasm" in Comic Form



Barnaby, who is always watching out for things that might be of interest to me for this blog, sent me the comic below (Originally posted here by Tom Tomorrow). It was a while back when he sent it, but I was just checking through my list of blog ideas, and saw it sitting there, so I thought I'd use it today.

It's a play on the abortion and birth control debates that have been bouncing around, and makes fun of the sense that it's largely men discussing and legislating these very specifically female issues. This time, though, these men are talking about the female orgasm.

There's nothing specific about the content that really strikes me. It's just a funny little comic with a strong political edge. What I want everyone to think about, though, is the idea of the "female orgasm" that exists not just in this comic, but in our culture at large. The "female orgasm" is often spoken of quite differently than the simple, physical, clearly defined, and clearly understood male orgasm. Our culture often discusses the "female orgasm" as something more like an entity than a physical response; a unique, mysterious, and in a weird way - kinda unreal entity. Yes, this "mysterious entity" feeling that surrounds the female orgasm is exaggerated in this comic for laughs, but it was only able to be exaggerated because it really does exist.

I just wanted to note that this misunderstanding of the female orgasm as something mysterious and vastly different than the male orgasm is so a part of our culture, that we rarely even notice. As I've said before many a time, the female orgasm is no less mysterious or less achievable or more fickle than the male orgasm. It only seems that way because we approach it so ridiculously in partnered sex. So, I guess what I'm saying is that since jokes about the female orgasm being a figment of one's imagination are still real enough to be funny, it means our culture still has a long way to go yet.


11.25.2012

This is something you learn to do.



I caught an article on BlogHer that I thought was pretty good. I thought I should start taking more time to look for and highlight things out there on the ol' interwebs that I think are positive contributions to the Orgasm Equality Movement, as I like to call it...it sounds official, doesn't it?

The article is by Lady J at Ladywanderlust and it's titled "Surprising Sex Issue That Shouldn't Exist." While talking with a friend, a cool, interesting lady, the author  finds out that her friend has never orgasmed. She can't believe that this is still such a problem in our modern world.
I don't know if I am naive, but I am a little surprised that in 2012 there are still guilt-related sex issues roaming around. We've had a Sexual Revolution, the PlayBoy empire, the birth of YouPorn.com, the Jersey Shore and Fifty Shades of Grey ... yet some women still carry guilt. And they don't talk about it: they just accept that maybe they can't/won't have orgasms. 
Now, of course I would argue that the 60's Sexual Revolution didn't do much for female sexuality beside allowing women more freedom to play the female role in the already established male sexual culture that already existed, and I would say it did very little in giving women freedom, opportunity, and information to help us become orgasming, fantasizing, sexual beings. I digress though. You can enjoy that argument more fully in the movie.

My point, though, is that it doesn't surprise me too much that women still struggle to orgasm even though we are perfectly physically capable to do so. I think she's right that guilt has something to do with it, particularly guilt about our right to masturbate and our right to do during partnered sex what we need to do in order to get our orgasm...but I think there is a larger issue about the cultural understanding we ladies get about what an orgasm is. It seems as though we should just get one from having sex with the right dude. We don't easily learn about our clit and its place in our orgasm. We don't learn about it in school, or in the large majority of porn, or in much of the cultural depictions of sex. That is where this article impressed me. I thought the authors advice to her friend was right on.
Now, I felt the need to step in: "This is something you learn to do, not expect to surprisingly happen. Everyone is different, so thinking the next person you sleep with will be able to guess exactly what you like will not happen. You need to tell him, or at least encourage when he's in the right direction. Think of yourself as a cheerleader, not a coach."

Olive was silent. But I knew she was listening. Maybe she was impressed I made a sports analogy.

"I think you need to figure out what you like on your own, first. Do not get paranoid. Lock your bedroom door, put some furniture in front of it, whatever. I think it will help ... do you understand the general idea of it?"

Olive snorted, "Yes, I think I know how to do that. I just get nervous about my fucking family running around without boundaries."

"I laughed. "Ok, maybe you should get yourself some help ... of the battery operated variety?"

Olive laughed, "If you can't come right out and say it, how are you going to help me?" (the range of my word prudeness is vast, and most of my friends know and make fun of me for it. Bastards)

"A vibrator. Go buy one. You don't even have to do it in person. Go to adameve.com and order one, to come to your house, in discrete packaging, and then figure it out. Some woman can be very picky. Try different positions, fantasize, don't give up because it's taking awhile. And don't put it on the highest speed because you think that will work the fastest -- you will vibrate your clit off." 
I particularly like the statement, "This is something you learn to do, not expect to surprisingly happen." It's true. Her advice is simple. Basically, she told her to masturbate, but if more of us were friends or had friends like these two women  - who were brave enough to talk about this issue plainly and honestly - then we'd all be better off.

Thanks Ladywanderlust!

11.21.2012

A Thanksgiving Video Repost




Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm re-posting the very special Thanksgiving video that we made last year as part of our Kickstarter campaign (our successful Kickstarter campaign, I might add). I think this video will be an SSL Turkey Day tradition. I mean, it's got pumpkin pie and the word "binner," so it's pretty much the best intersection of Thanksgiving and female sexual response out there.

I'd also like to mention that as I'm writing this, Charlie, Barnaby (my fellow members of AnC Movies and fellow SSL directors), and I are having an AnC meeting, and I asked them to list off some things they are thankful for. Number 1 is clearly gossip, and don't you dare judge us; you know you love gossip. Number 2 is cats (there are 5 between the 3 of us). I guess that pretty much sums up us as a group; shallow, gossip-hungry, and cat obsessed.

Enjoy the video and have a fantastic Thanksgiving day - however you happen to be spending it.


11.17.2012

Sex Help Books...Why Do I Still Have Hope?



Chillin' and illin' at a bookstore this fine weekend, I was drawn towards the Sex and Relationships section as is my tendency. For years, while researching for this movie, I've always checked up on this section. I figure I should check up on what the current advice is the ol' s-e-x. Actually I'm not that super interested in most of the info in those books - most of it is probably fine. I'm just always quite interested in the part about intercourse and female orgasms. Specifically, I wanted to see was if any of the authors will let their lips flap enough to outright say that there is no physical, recorded evidence for orgasms that result solely from stimulation of the inside of the vagina (yes it has been shown to cause ejaculation in some circumstances, but not orgasm). That means intercourse is pretty crap for female orgasm, and nobody seems to want to say that outright. I know there might be some disagreement from my readers about this assertion, but if you want to get my full explanation of this, check out THIS POST I wrote.

Honestly, though, these authors are supposed to be experts in the field of sexuality and orgasm, and I would like to expect more from these books. Being that there is a specific set of physical events that define an orgasm, and that there is no evidence that simply stimulating the inside of the vagina has ever caused those specific events - doesn't it seem odd that books on sex and orgasms never seem to mention that? The clitoris is the organ of female sexual pleasure as much as the penis is the organ male sexual pleasure. That should be a clear theme in these books. Now, I will say these authors often give a gentle nod towards this truth. They will talk about how important the clitoris is and may accurately describe how one might achieve an orgasm by stimulating it, and they may even take pains to point out that the majority of women don't seem to orgasm during vaginal intercourse (in surveys only about 30% of women say they can). But do they ever mention that an orgasm (not some oo-y goo-y spiritual definition of an orgasm - but the real physiological definition of an orgasm) has never been recorded as a result of purely vaginal stimulation (that means no additional stimulation of the clitoral glans)?  Many a women have claimed casually and not so casually that it's happened, but it's never been recorded. I think that's important thing to inform readers about, but it's as if the sex researchers and sex advice guru's are just not bold enough to say it.  It's like it's okay to downplay intercourse's part in female orgasm a little bit, but not too much. The boat can't be rocked that hard. Even if they emphasize the importance of clitoral stimulation for female orgasm, there is also always at least a little section on what kind of intercourse positions help with female orgasm or that hit the g-spot best. There is always a sense that lucky, awesome women, or women who are sexually adventurous, or sexually confident enough can just have an orgasm from a little in-out action. It's like they all just keep saying, "You, you frigid, pathetic, barely sexual, freaks just have too many sexual hang-ups. You haven't been in the right position with the right man, with the right music on, and just don't have the right mindset or something. Keep trying."

None of these stupid books ever just say, "hey if for some crazy reason you can have an orgasm through intercourse without ever getting any kind of even the tiniest stimulation of the clitoral glans...awesome. You should call a researcher and go physically record the first ever. For all others, you're going to have to figure out how to stimulate your clitoris while having intercourse if you want an orgasm during intercourse in any sort of regular way." Simple.

With the exception of 5 Minutes to Orgasm Everytime you Make Love, which was written in the 1998, the only books I've ever seen that really say that (The Hite Report on Female Sexuality by Shere Hite and For Yourself by Lonnie Garfield Barbach are the two of my faves) were made in the 70's; after Masters and Johnson;s groundbreaking studies about female orgasm but before the G-Spot. In about 81 The G-Spot and Other Recent Discoveries about Human Sexuality by Wipple, Ladas, and Perry came out and introduced the G-spot to the world. We haven't been able to give up on the vagina giving us an orgasm ever since, but I keep checking the new advice books just in case one of them has enough labe to just say it out.

11.12.2012

Random Hite Report 2



You are in for a treat, my dear readers...more RANDOM HITE REPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the second in the series so far. You can see the first one HERE. I do love the sweet, interesting, sad, lovely, intriguing look into the women's lives who were brave enough to pour their sexual self into Shere Hite's detailed survey. I can't recommend this book enough. It is still relevant almost 40 years later.

The page you will be reading is a bunch of women's answers to a question about if they felt frustrated when they were about to orgasm but didn't because of removal of stimulation or something similar. Spoiler alert: they did. Anyway. Remember this is only one page so it gets abruptly cut off at the end.

Enjoy.

Pg. 148 The Hite Report Dell. 1976.
"Yes, I feel furious and insist my partner continue. It is the ultimate in frustration. It makes me feel like I could commit murder."
"I feel frustrated and disappointed and sometimes physically ill, and hurt and rejected emotionally. However, I usually hold my emotions together by trying to reason with myself."
"If the stimulation has been sufficiently long and strong, I feel discomfort in my genitals and down the back of my legs. Then I'm uncomfortable for hours."
"This happened repeatedly during the early part of my marriage before I turned myself completely off as a means of survival. Now I'm somewhat resigned that this is what happens with men, and don't expect to climax. So, it's not too bad. I haven't gotten to that 'just about to' point for a long time."
"No orgasm is frustrating and worse than no sex at all. It makes me feel depressed and discouraged. I would give up a partner I didn't orgasm with."
"If I am really aroused, and don't have an orgasm, I am frustrated to tears."
"It's okay without sometimes if I am mentally into it. Otherwise, not having an orgasm is disastrous, disgusting, and depressing."
"I feel a great frustration when I don't have an orgasm, which destroys all other pleasure for me. Especially if I am very aroused, and still don't have an orgasm, I often cry as an alternate form of release."
"Not having orgasm hurts."
"In the beginning of my sexual experiences I didn't mind, but after a while, after a few experiences with guys who just cared about their orgasms, or were ignorant enough to believe all women would just come at the sight of their penis, I got disgusted, and now it makes me feel extremely frustrated. I hate the man and will never see him again."
"Yes, frustrated, angry, frightened, insecure, and humiliated."
"Frustration comes in the form of abdominal cramps, I don't know whether in the uterus, ovaries, or where, but around there, but it also involved bitchiness, Irritabl-..."

11.09.2012

Boogie Nights - The SSL Review



Charlie and I recently got on a Paul Thomas Anderson kick. We re-watched all his movies before we headed out to see his newest one The Master. It was enjoyable because we both do enjoy a good P.T. Anderson flick, and as luck has it, one of his movies met the criteria for an SSL review. Boogie Nights made it, unsurprisingly, since it revolves around the porn industry of the 70's. As an overview, I like this movie a lot. It's long - as most P.T. Anderson movies are - but it has great characters and keep the audience fully engaged throughout. I do recommend it. The SSL review is more mixed.

An SSL review, as you know, critiques the depictions and discussions of female sexual response. Boogie Nights was an interesting case. There was 1 depiction and then there was a speech that struck me yet really doesn't have a depiction or discussion of female sexual response, but I'll talk about it none the less.

The one depiction of female orgasm is a tricky one to critique. It was during a porn scene between Marky Mark (and yes, I will always call him Marky Mark) as Dirk Diggler and Julianne Moore as Amber Waves. It's his first on-screen scene. She's a boss. He comes in for a job interview, and well, they start doing it. She obviously has a sweet spot in her heart for Dirk Diggler, and she's very encouraging and nice. They get to the intercourse after some kissing, and she is laying on her back on the desk, and he is standing between her leaning forward. She never seems to be obviously grinding against him, so any orgasm would seem to come from just the ol' in and out. She moans and vocalizes like a porn star (as expected), but easily turns that moaning on and off when she has to deal with the technical realities of acting in a scene on film, so I feel like that gives the clue that she is not really orgasming, and reinforces the idea that women fake in porn.

However, I think there are more complicated messages here. As the two get into the doin' it, the sense is that this is a little more pleasurable for her than most porn shoots. I say this because of subtle things like little looks she gives him and because in the end, she tells him to just come inside of her, even though the plan was to pull out and come on her breasts. He does this, and if you know anything about porn, you know that this is a bit unacceptable. Almost all porn has the "money shot" where we actually see the ejaculation. She, being a veteran porn star, knows this and yet intentionally wanted this intimate act of him releasing inside of her; presumably because, for whatever reason, she was particularly enjoying herself with him.

So, she's liking it. Why she's liking it is the question. Of course, one reason is he's a cute, fresh-faced, nice studmuffin, and she's just taken a kindly liking to him. I think that's one part, but I think the scene was used to point out some other things out about ol' Dirk Diggler. Specifically that he has all the qualities a man who sexually pleases women is supposed to have. The movie already established early on that he has an extraordinarily large penis, so that's #1. In this scene, he screws her for what we are meant to perceive as a long time. While they're doing it, the film runs out in the camera. The crew seems like this is unexpected, and it's a bit of an odd inconvenience to have to switch out film reals during the sex act. We see he has staying ability, so that's #2. Then after he comes inside Amber Waves, the crew gets a bit worried because they don't have the money shot, and they are discussing how they can work this out, when Mr. Dirk Diggler speaks up and simply says something like, "If you guys need the money shot, then I can just do it again." The crew seems surprised, impressed, and pleased, and the scene ends. So, he can go again and again with little to no recovery period, so that's #3.

This scene is about a sort of "faked" sex act, so deciphering what it insinuates to the audience about female sexual pleasure is not straightforward. However, I think to some degree it reinforces the idea that men are able to "give" women orgasms through fucking, and the qualities that help them do that are big penises, the ability to screw for long periods of time, and the ability to start again right after they come. These are also just good for the aesthetics of porn. Plus, the staying power and the going again and again is good for the technical realities of shooting a film where the star needs to have a hard on for long periods of time (especially in the pre-Viagra days of the 70's). So, it also just shows he's an ideal porn star. However, I also think it dually works at keeping up the lie, so much a part of our culture, that women orgasm through stimulative friction in the vagina (which a big, filling dick is assumed to help out with) and long extended periods of intercourse (which staying power and back to back sexcapades is assumed to help with). Truth is we simply need clitoral stimulation, people, but I digress. 

The other point of discussion I'd like to get into is a little more philosophical. I think this movie, in some ways, is about the hope, excitement, and even the purity of the porn industry of the early 70's. The movie gives a sense of some truly good intentions and a hope that the kind of freedom and education that porn can provide could change the world. Dirk Diggler gave a speech that summed that up and stirred something in me when he won a porn award in the height of his career and during the height of the porn industry optimism within this movie.  
Wow. I don't know what to say. I guess...Wow. I guess the only thing I can say...is I'll promise to keep rockin' and rollin'...and making better films. It seems we make these movies, and sometimes, you know...they're considered filthy or something by some people...but I don't think that's true. These movies we make, they can be better. They can help. They really can. I mean that. We can always do better. I'm going to keep trying if you guys keep trying. Let's keep rockin' and rollin', man.
When I heard it, it reminded me of the kind of optimism we feel towards porn in our movie (Science, Sex and the Ladies). Just a ol' Dirk said, I think porn has the potential to help. We discuss in the movie how porn never received the kind of level headed feminist criticism that other aspects of our culture received during the 70's (things like school sports, places of work, education, etc). Truth was, feminists as a group were split down the middle on how they felt about porn so heavily that even speaking about it was hugely divisive. It made the topic of porn so hot-button for feminists that there simply was no progress, only in-fighting. In our movie, we discuss the possibility that we can still make porn better through thoughtful feminist critique and strategic pressure. This very influential part of our sexual culture could lead the way in creating realistic depictions of female sexual release. As it is now, the depictions of female orgasm and pleasure in porn are almost always faked and terribly unrealistic. It is a roadblock in the trail towards orgasm equality, when it could be a leader. I know it may seem weird to see porn as so hopeful, but Dirk Diggler's optimism reignited the hopefulness I have; the kind I hope is reflected in our movie. Let's keep rockin and rollin' man.

I give this movie 2 1/2 vulvas. It's pretty status quo. Nothing really progressive, and it could be scene to reinforce some of the main misconceptions about female orgasm and men's part in female orgasm. On the brighter side it made me feel kinda hopeful, so that's why it's got an extra 1/2 vulva.

(!)(!)(!

11.05.2012

VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!



I usually write about female sexual response; how we learn about it, what the media insinuates about it, how we can improve societal understanding of it - you know, that sort of thing. Today I just want to encourage all my American readers out there to vote tomorrow. I feel pretty damn strong about my responsibility to vote. I sure hope you are registered, and if not, please get registered for the next election. If you are registered, please make the time to vote.

I know there is a lot to be disillusioned and cynical about in our various levels of government, but come on - what the hell do you expect, perfection? It's a small group of people trying to make governing decisions that could work for a large country full of people with hugely diverse ideas and visions. It's gonna be messy. Some parts of our government have gotten better, some have gotten worse over the years, but it's still here and there are still a variety of avenues for creating change in areas you disagree with. So, please, please, please don't spout off that all politicians are the same and that you truly don't care. You do care. You care about something...or you're severely depressed - and in that case get some professional help to see you through it...or you are a complete anarchist, and in that case, start putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak , and stop paying taxes or something truly indicative of your type of anarchy.

About 40 to 50% of eligible Americans don't vote, and if you are one of these non-voting Americans, you're doing a great job of letting the worst, most cynical of our politicians know that most Americans don't pay attention, don't affect elections, and ultimately, don't really matter. So, vote, people, vote. It is, quite literally, the very least we can do to participate in running our country.

I just want to reiterate that I've written a blog that does not once say the word "clit" or "clitoris," and that, my friends, is how strongly I feel about you voting.

11.02.2012

The Sessions: A Guest SSL Review



This post was created by Barnaby, one of the co-directors of Science, Sex and the Ladies (the movie on which this blog is associated). He happen to see this movie and couldn't help himself from writing an SSL Review. I, of course, love when others get involved in critiquing depictions and discussions of female sexual response in the media, so I welcomed the guest post. Here it is. Enjoy.

Trisha usually does these reviews but she was out of town this week so I thought, what the hell, I’ll be the Dave Davies to her Terry Gross.  Anyway, I got free passes to the new movie The Sessions and decided to bring my friend Lindsay along.   The Sessions is a movie based on a true story about a man named Mark (John Hawkes)  who has been paralyzed from the neck down since childhood.  Mark has never had sex or any sexual contact with any person but he does have feeling in his whole body and can achieve an erection.  Through his work as a writer and poet, he is assigned a story by a local newspaper about sex and the disabled.  While researching the story, Mark decides that he should try to pursue his own sexual identity.  He hires a sexual surrogate, Cheryl (Helen Hunt), to enable him to begin to explore his sexuality.  As part of her sexual surrogacy, Cheryl performs a wide variety of sexual acts upon Mark, but more as a form of informative therapy than just straight prostitution.  The rest of the movie centers around their sessions (get it The Sessions) and their relationship.

As far as the movie itself is concerned, I think its fairly good.  Though he cannot move and is stuck in a prone position throughout the movie, John Hawkes gives a great performance as Mark.  He is in a pitiable position, but we don’t pity Mark; we root for him.  We want him to be able to enjoy sex.  Helen Hunt is also good as the surrogate, relaxed, professional but also conflicted about her growing feelings for Mark.  I also like the non typical way the movie resolves itself though I won’t spoil it here.  However there was one major problem with this movie.

I mean what the hell?  Why does that 60 year old man look like he has the hair of a teenage girl?  You’re a priest not a member of Hanson, I mean really, not ONE gray hair?

Now let’s talk about the sex, because there is a lot to talk about.  One of the central themes of the movie is that everyone, no matter what their disability, should be able to enjoy sex.  Mark is a Catholic and conflicted about having impure thoughts and participating in sinful acts.  To his great credit, Mark’s Priest (William H. Macy) basically tells him go for it, God will understand (I guess that is why the long hair, so that we see he is a sensitive, progressive priest, but sheesh!)  The movie is an interesting exploration of male sexuality.  Mark is very green when it comes to sex.  His parents didn’t discuss it with him and his religion made him avoid it.  It just isn’t a topic that came up a lot in his life.   He is starved for any type of sexual contact but, like most men, he sees intercourse as a passageway to manhood.  Again, this movie is mainly about Mark and his male sexuality but that sexuality is irrevocably linked to female sexuality and female orgasm, and this is where the movie becomes INTERESTING and definitely eligible for an SSL review.

Does this movie portray female sexual response in a realistic way?  I DON’T KNOW!  I say this because every time female sexuality is talked about in the movie the statements can be taken two ways.  Let’s get into the specifics.  Early in the movie, Mark is working on his article about sex and the disabled.  He interviews a woman in a wheelchair.  She talks about how she and her partner have sex.  She says that they can only have intercourse in a position that she calls lateral sideways reverse cowgirl and that even then he can’t get it in that far, but she gets just as excited maybe more so with just nipple stimulation.  Ok, ignoring the obvious limitations that she has being confined to a wheelchair, let’s break this down.  She says they can have intercourse but he can’t get it in that far, implying that if he could get it in further, sex would be better.  On the other hand she says that she gets just as excited from the nipple stimulation which suggests that intercourse is not the end all be all of sex.  This isn’t the only time that intercourse is diminished in its importance.  In another scene Mark is talking to one of his male helpers about intercourse.  The helper says that intercourse is overrated but then says that it is what makes doing it, doing it.  So on the one hand the movie portrays intercourse as just another sexual activity but it also glorifies intercourse as what makes sex, sex.  And it’s fair enough because this is a story from the perspective of a sexual novice and for most men and women the idea that intercourse is sex is widely accepted.  They never say that intercourse is orgasmic for women but they never deny it either.


In another scene, Mark interviews a man in a wheelchair, about oral sex.  He says that he smokes pot to kill his taste buds to help his endurance which is important during cunnilingus.  Where to begin on this one?