This is my second in the WHAT I FOUND AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE LIBRARY! series. This time I'll be talking about the film made by Masters and Johnson called simply, Female Orgasm (and can I say that this title was in lovely, kinda bubbly font with a bit of a glow - very enjoyable). I'm super excited about this one, because it's a pretty cool piece of history. Close-up detailed films like these were what M&J used to make their observations. They could pause, slow down, and really look at the details of contractions, size changes, color changes and all that. Eventually their team would create technology to film the inside of the vagina during the sexual cycle using a steady clear dildo, and then later that technology would be adjusted so that the dildo could continue to film while moving in and out at the woman's whim (It was mechanical and they called it Ulysses). Anyway, they were always tight about their raw data and later in her life Johnson is said to have destroyed it all, from both their research and their long-running couple's therapy institute. This is just an exhibition film and not really a look at their raw data, but it's as close as one can get at this point, I guess. So, pretty cool, still.
It's no more than 15 minutes, and it basically shows research footage of 1 woman (the woman in the genital parts may be different than the one in the non-genital parts, but I can't be sure, and there are no faces) as her body moves through the sexual response cycle. In between sections of the research footage, there are somewhat long written explanations about what the viewer will see and what part of the response cycle the woman is in.
|pretend Virginia Johnson (from Masters of Sex) looking at some research footage|
Now, to say that we watched a film is not right. We watched a DVD that was, just that day, transferred from a VHS tape that had at some point (likely during a time that VHS tapes were popular) transferred from film. So...as is to be expected, let's just say it wasn't the best quality. Particularly the color was terrible, and there was a fair amount of discussion in the movie about color changes that I could maybe barely see.
Okay, so after the title card, was written the following:
"The investigation of the anatomical and physiological changes associated with artificially induced orgasm in the female subject has been undertaken by the department of obstetrics and gynecology of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri."With "artificially induced orgasm" meaning masturbation. Kind of an annoying way to put that, but M&J were always very intercourse focused, even when their research showed clearly that women need outer clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, and intercourse was a terrible way to get it...but hey, they did good research despite their over zealous interest in intercourse.
The non-genital footage
Anyway, the first part focuses on the breasts, torso, neck and back. A dude narrates during the footage, and I assume it is Masters, but again, I can't really know. The woman is shown sometimes from front, profile or back, and her face is always off camera. It focused a lot on the flush that emerges, but like I said, the coloring of the video didn't allow me to see that very well. I will also point out here that this was a fair white woman and most of M&J research was on white people, so their discussion of skin coloring changes in their book came from that point of view. That lack of darker skinned participants, I would say, was a weakness in their descriptions of the "sex flush" color change situation.
Anyway, I think the coolest thing I saw there was how much her breasts filled out during the arousal process. I probably wouldn't have noticed if it weren't pointed out because it's gradual, but man they really swelled. If I remember correctly from the book, M&J actually found that the swelling of the breasts was more prominent in women who had given birth...or it's the other way around...but it's generally more prominent in one group over the other.
The genital footage
Then the coolest part is at the end where we are looking close-up at the vulva. The clit and the hand that was stimulating it in a circular motion the whole time is out of frame and so is the anus below. The screen is mostly encompassing the vaginal hole, being held open with a speculum. We are eye to eye with the vag looking right into it. I'll be honest, all the pinks and reds of this area were just running together. The picture had become soft over the years and transfers, and it was not easy to see things that were being pointed out. For instance, the vaginal lubrication appearing on the vaginal wall in a "sweat bead" like situation was not really easy to see and the elongation of the vaginal barrel was also hard to see. However, when she came, the rhythmic muscular activity around the outer 1/3 of the vagina was clear as day, and that was pretty cool to see.
Then it ended, and I wish there were more of their research videos in existence, but 'tis not the case.