I have about 15 blog posts rolling around in my mind that I would like to write. However, I can't seem to find the time to do any of those right now (sorry about the almost week between this and last post by the way...). The day job and some other things are taking priority right now. So, I am posting something here, but it is actually something I recently wrote for our online press kit for the movie. We have a section in there called Q&A, where we answer some commonly asked questions about the movie.
Let me just say that the responses we have been getting from this movie have all been positive, I know that sounds ridiculous, but let me explain further. Some responses are super positive through and through, but others are mostly positive but with some concerns. The concerns always come from the most controversial part of the movie, so I get it. There is a lot of content in this movie and most are things that are hard not to get behind. It's that whole part about us saying that the stimulation of the vaginal walls has never been shown to cause orgasm that gets some people. However, it's the part I think is most important. We as a culture have ignored this issue for far too long, and I think that's part of the reason we're in the situation we are in now.
So, I figured we needed to talk more about this part of the movie in the press kit, because I know it really does strike nerves - sometimes hurtfully and sometimes refreshingly, and I think responses to it can be guttural and emotional, so I think it's important to clearly reiterate what exactly the movie is saying and to keep it in perspective. So here's that little section of our Press Kit Q&A.
|still from Sciences, Sex and the Ladies|
Do you really think that vaginal orgasms don’t exist?We knew that discussing the vaginal orgasm in the way we do would be controversial. However, this discussion is a fundamental elements of SSL’s argument, and we believe it opens up important conversations that our culture must engage in if there is to be any real change.
What the movie actually states is that an orgasm caused by stimulation of the vaginal walls has never been documented. Given the media omnipresence and the cultural importance of women attaining orgasm merely through the penile/vaginal penetration, and given that there are women who clearly say that they do orgasm this way, this statement could seem overly bold and even harsh. Yet, it’s a true statement, at least as true as we can tell. Of course, one never knows what may pop up in the literature, but we do keep up pretty well on the research.
There are some popularly cited studies used often to give credit to the idea of this vaginally activated orgasms (VAOs); studies involving the close proximity of the inner clitoral legs to the vagina, brain scans of women claiming (although not physically verified) to have experienced VAOs, instances in which arousal is recorded or pleasure is reported due to g-spot/vaginal/cervical stimulation. However, we have yet to find a study where there is a causal link between vaginal/ g-spot/cervical stimulation and a verified instance of orgasm (orgasm being the universally accepted description documented by Masters and Johnson). In fact the only physical sexual release related to vaginal stimulation that has been recorded is ejaculation, which is physically quite different from an orgasm. It may seem like VAOs should exist, but if they do, the scientific community has yet to document them.
13. So, are you calling women who say they have vaginal orgasms liars? The movie speculates that most women who claim to orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone – actually may not be orgasming in this way. Shaming women by calling them liars is certainly not our intention, and we hope the movie reflects this. Name calling and blaming is of no use to such a nuanced and important topic, but clarity and honest discussion most certainly is.
It is uncontroversial to say that the vast majority of women do not orgasm through vaginal stimulation. Most surveys would put that number at 70-85% of women. However, to speculate about the accuracy of the vaginal orgasm claims of the remaining 15-30% is quite controversial. Yet, the fact remains that there is a discrepancy. There has never been a recorded instance of orgasm caused by vaginal stimulation, yet some women claim these happen. Something has to give, and we argue that of those 15-30% of women, some may actually be ejaculating and calling that an orgasm, or having some kind of spiritual/emotional climax and calling that an orgasm, or attaining a high level of physical arousal and calling that an orgasm, or simply claiming on a survey that they orgasm this way when they do not.
We understand that women have traditionally had explanations of their own experiences ignored far too often, and we know that second guessing a person’s answers may strike some as condescending. We get that, but we don’t think it does women or the scientific understanding or orgasm any good to blindly slide past this hard issue.
We would argue that given the saturation of vaginally stimulated orgasm in our media, given the cultural importance placed upon orgasm through penile vaginal stimulation, given that our society often leaves women and girls ignorant about their orgasm functioning and genital structure in ways it does not for men, and given that even sexual advisers and researchers, when speaking about women, are known to use the word “orgasm” in relation to things other than the established definition of orgasm (such as ejaculation, emotional/spiritual climax, and high levels of arousal) - given all of that, we don’t see why it would be such a leap to wonder whether the last 15 to 30% of women might not actually be experiencing orgasm.
As opposed to seeing this inquiry as a means to call women liars and creating a harsh hierarchy of female orgasm, we see this as a means for giving women the accurate information they are craving and for creating a clear vocabulary for which women can speak about their sexual experiences. We believe women are fully capable of moving forward in this way without judging each other or themselves for the way all women have had to rather blindly negotiate their way around this confusing sexual landscape thus far.
If you’d like to read further about these ideas, check out the following posts on the SSL blog.