There is a new Netflix original series out now. It's called Love and I am going to SSL Review this bitch. For those not in the know, an SSL Review is a critique specifically of depictions and discussion of female orgasm and female masturbation focusing on the realism (like, would that movement realistically cause an orgasm?) and what these depictions and discussions add to the larger cultural discussion and understanding of lady-gasms. It's rated on a 0 to 5 vulva rating (although I did give hysteria a -1 vulva rating once in my earlier more negative days). You can see all the SSL movie reviews HERE.
Love was created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Leslie Arfin. Paul Rust gets writing credit and also stars as Gus in it. Leslie also gets writing credit. Judd Apatow gets writing credit too, and you might know him as writer/director of things like Freaks and Geeks (which I've never seen but I know people love), 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up (both of which I've been meaning to SSL Review...and unfortunately I'm pretty sure they would get lower vuvla ratings), and director of Amy Schumer's Trainwreck (which got a sparkling 5 vulva rating). So, Apatow has been in the very sexual romantic comedy business for years. His work is well loved and popular, and he's influential in the business.
I guess to me that makes it all the more important to critique the stuff he puts out in relation to female orgasm. Things that are funny are influential. They could change ideas on this topic because 'funny' has a way of sneakily infiltrating past our bias and walls. On the other hand, 'funny' can also just strongly and like-ably reinforce old bullshit ideas.
Sadly, the SSL review for Love will be on the low end of the spectrum. I'm not doing this just to dog on him or anyone else. Honestly a low vulva rating doesn't mean something is intentionally or unusually bad. More often than not it just means it's status quo. It's just that status quo lady-gasm knowledge is generally heavily skewed at best and incomprehensibly wrong at worst. It revolves around penetration of the vagina, but (and I know this seems crazy given the way lady-gasms are largely spoken about and depicted) there has never been an orgasm caused through stimulation inside the vagina ever recorded or observed in scientific literature. I am not lying about this, and it's not like there were no experiments out there that could have shown this. There have been. There are no known g-spot, inner clitoral (stimulated through the vaginal wall), cervical, or vaginal wall orgasms on the books. There just isn't. There's a shit ton of orgasms caused through stimulation of the outer vulva/clit area on the books though.
This very strange disconnect between what is scientifically understood about female orgasm, and what people hear and see about the female orgasm in our media, from our friends, and even from scientists themselves talking freely, is large, and it both reflects and fuels a large cultural misunderstanding about females and sexuality. (Want more overview of these ideas? go HERE. Want to see how even BBC Science gets this shit way wrong? go HERE. Want to see a weird-ass, heavily researched movie about his? Go HERE).
I doubt ol' Judd nor any of the other writers and directors I SSL Review will ever read this, but I'd like to think that if they did they would understand that I am only critiquing out of love. I can't blame anyone for depicting lady-gasm in ridiculous ways because everyone does it. It's what people know. I hope, though, that my critiques might be ones they had never heard before, and maybe they could possibly see things from a different perspective...and then maybe, if my wildest dreams come true, they would consider the things in this SSL Review next time they are creating ladygasm stuff. It's just a hope, because like I said, people like Judd Apatow who are influential and funny could do more for opening eyes to orgasm equality in one line than I have done in my whole life.
THE SSL REVIEW
Now remember I'm not, like, reviewing this show. I'm reviewing only scenes where female orgasm or masturbation were depicted or discussed. That means just a sex scene with no orgasm doesn't technically count...unless I feel like it's important for some reason. I might need to pull on the show as a whole to get context, but I'll try to keep this simple and try not to give anything important away if you haven't seen it. I will go over all the SSL Reviewable scenes and then I'll give the overview and the coveted...Vulva Rating.
Cross-Cut Sex Intro Scene (Episode 1)
At the beginning of the first episode, both Gus (the main male character) and Mickey (the main female character) are having sex with their significant others. It sorta cuts back and forth between them.
Mickey's Table Bang
Mickey is bent over a table getting fucked really hard from behind. Her hands are sprawled out in front of her and his are on her hips. Nothing is touching her clit area. She is screaming things like, "Yes! Yes!," and responding with, "Yes you are!" to something he says that I can't discern (I am a warrior???)
Anyway, she seems to be coming in a classic, aggressively vocal, kinda pornish way. It seems to me that it's a scene meant to show how sexual and wild she is, and basically she's depicted as coming from just straight up banging. His dick up her junk from behind, going in and out is making her cum like a crazy woman. It's that. damn. good.
So, this is a common depiction, but it's so very unlikely that a woman could orgasm without anything touching her clitoral/vulva area. Even in the most uncontroversial of statistics only 15 - 30% of women even claim that this happens to them ever, but on top of that it's never been observed in scientific literature and it's not crazy to wonder whether our mushy language and the pressure and misinformation heaped upon women might cause some of those 15-30% say they orgasm this way when they physically do not. So if this type of orgasm happens at all, it's likely even a lower % than even that. Yet still, for some reason, this is like the #1 way we see women orgasm on the screen.
Gus is fucking his girlfriend missionary in bed. The covers are up to their waists, and his body is leaned down close to hers, so in all reality, there could be some clit/vulva against his pelvis touching that's going on during the penetration, but it's not particularly grindy, and her body doesn't seem to be particularly engaged in a way that would indicate she's grinding up on him or holding his pelvis close to hers so she gets that stimulation. It's not really in-out bangy either. It looks really comfy and normal - which I think is what they mean it to look like. Then he asks her a sweet relationship thing to which she agrees and they both get a little more aggressive and urgent. However, there is no clear cum at the end of that. It's more like both of them are getting really close, but it cuts before it actually happens. So, if I want to be real technical, it wasn't even an orgasm, so I can't SSL review it...but it is so close to one, I at least want to mention it.
Like I said, she could be getting outer clitoral stimulation in this position, so I'm not going to say this is unrealistic, but I will say that it is just another scene that has a dude fucking a girl until she comes (at least we assume she finishes). It's not helping the problem,
To be fair, ladies can get a hands free orgasm during penetration - by grinding that clit during it - which this gal might be doing, but the truth is, it isn't something one should expect to just happen simply because two people are fucking and all those parts are in close proximity to each other (if it were that easy the 70-85% of women who say they don't orgasm hands free during intercourse would have probably stumbled across this lucky meshing of parts during at least a few of the hundreds of times they've fucked in their lifetime). I think it's safe to expect that some type of concerted effort from her and cooperation from him is needed for her to really get the clit stimulation she needs, and that their mutual involvement with and acknowledgement of her clit would be at least a little apparent in a realistic scene. But maybe that's me being picky. She did get all concentrate-y in her face and seemed to sorta counter buck with him once she got more excited, and I do appreciate that she wasn't just laying there making orgasm sounds, but in the end it just looked like she got more aroused when he said what he said to her, but was still just a gal getting a good status quo dicking into lady-gasmville.
The Mickey and Dude's Mom Scene
This is a little after the the crosscutting. It's a different sexual event all together, but it's still Mickey with the same guy. They're on the bed missionary. She is on her back and he is propped up on his arms, pretty fully outstretched so he's up at a pretty good angle. There is a clear rocking of her body in the direction one's body would go if a dick's getting rammed in and out of it. There is also a quick shot of of him from behind and so we see his naked ass moving above her. It's a true in and out situation, and from both that angle and the one of their upper bodies, it doesn't look at all like his pelvis is close to hers - he's too upright. She's also not seeming to be moving her body up against him. She very much looks like his movements are jarring her around as opposed to her doing any significant moving. Also, her hands are definitely on his back not her own clit. So, my point is, this is another scene of a gal getting balled into orgasm. But, technically she doesn't orgasm.
Dude: "Oh shit"Clearly she doesn't come here, but she talks about it, and the insinuation is that if he wasn't trying to rush her so he can go out and meet his mom, then she would have come....from him banging her in her vagina with no clit stimulation.
Mickey: "What? What's wrong?"
Dude: "We just gotta go quicker"
Mickey "Why?, what the fuck?" (Her face and body language completely changes to not aroused at all here, but the dude is still fucking her exactly the same, but a little faster)Dude: "My mom's here."
Mickey: "What the fuck? Why's your mom here?"
Dude: "Just go quicker. Come with me, come with me" "
Mickey: "No, I can't just do that."
Dude: "Ahhhh, ahhhh" (that's him coming)
Masturbation Talk! (Episode 3)
She's watching an exercise video with her roommate. It has a lot of muscly guys in it. The roommate says it looks like a good one and maybe they could do it, and Mickey says something like, "No, but I'll masturbate to it later." You know I can't be mad at that. Anytime a woman talks about masturbating, and it's not ridiculed, I give big props. The more normal masturbation seems for women, the better!
Mickey is having sex with a dude for the first time. He is standing. She is face to face with him, her legs (at least 1 leg) around his waist. He seems to be supporting her weight. She's on the dick, and her body is moving sorta up and down on it. The have the following convo.
Dude: "Say something about my dick"She sorta pushes them forward so they fall onto the bed behind him still with the stuff inside the stuff. He's on his back, and she's straddling him leaned completely forward. There's sort of animosity talk between them while she is, well, fucking him. Since she's leaned forward, and we can't see much past the waist, it seems like she could be rubbing her vulva forward and back continuously against his body while it's going in and out, if ya know what I mean. Then, though, she starts to get towards orgasm, and instead of moving along his body, she starts bouncing up and down more excitedly until she comes. It's in a way that she's sitting more up, and her clit area would likely lose contact with his pelvis. Then he says.
Mickey: "Your dick feels so good. Yes." (Breathy)Dude: "It does right? It does feel good, right"
Dude: "You came."She does the exact same movements she was doing when she came, and it got him off in a few seconds. I'll give this some leeway because she was on top, controlling the movement and at first she looked like she could be getting some stim on that clit, so those are all good. I was sad , though, when she went into the classic bouncy up-down thing where it seems to be all about the dick stimulating the inside of the vagina.
Dude: "Well, I haven't yet, so..."
That she came, and he didn't was a plus though because, honestly, when it comes to intercourse the motions that get a woman off might not be as great for a man and certainly vice versa, so simultaneous orgasm isn't as common a thing as it seems in the ol' movies. All in all though it ended up being another scene where a woman takes the dick train to orgasm. The whole thing was kinda realistic, but to me it was like if a dude was pumpin' in a lady and getting close to coming, but then when he got real close, he pulled far out and just wiggled his hips so the tip of his dick dragged back and forth across her stomach. If he came that way, I mean...I guess?...but it's weird, right? We can see that weirdness when it comes to how men would likely orgasm, but we just don't have the cultural tools yet to see that same kind of weirdness when it comes to how women orgasm in media.
Vibe Masturbating (Episode 5)
Mickey's masturbating because she's bored and trying not to drink, so after a montage of her trying to get into doing all kinds of other things around the house, we see her laying on her bed. She's on her back, with overalls and she has one hand in there. There is a buzz sound, and there's a cord coming out. It's clearly her using a vibrator on her outer vulva area, so it's realistic and I do so love it. In the end she doesn't finish because she's just too distracted to focus on anything (her cat licking itself particularly distracted her) but again, I love anything with a lady masturbating. Bravo.
Why All the Vibrator Hate? (Episode 7)
Mickey's straddling Gus on the chair, and she's really moving those hips. I'd almost say she could be grinding, but her body's not pressed particularly close to him. Then she asks him to wait a minute and says, "ow." He asks if she's okay, and she says she's cool, just a little sore from earlier (they also had sex earlier in the day - strictly penetration of course)), then asks if they can move to the bed.
So it cuts, and they are laying on their sides facing each other (fun note: the sheet is pressed down in between them very neatly so, I assume, the two actors are not actually touching bodies). Then she says, "Would you mind if I use my vibrator?"
He is taken aback and kinda stutters out, "Oh,...no, that's cool. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead." So she gets a big ol' Magic Wand style vibrator with a cord out of her nightstand drawer, plugs it in, and gets back into bed. She turns it on and places it in the vulva area and then turns toward him for more kissing. Then she starts turning away and getting pretty close to orgasming with the ol' vibrator. At some point as she was turning, he must have stuck it in because he seems to be doing her from behind. He says to her, "Is this okay?" and she says, "Yeah," and then she starts to orgasm.
As she does this, poor ol' Gus gets all forlorn looking. He kinda stops fucking her as she's coming and just sorta looks around like he's so darn sad this is happening. And it is a travesty, isn't it? I mean when a girl chooses not to come from your dick banging inside her, it's probably because she doesn't like you anymore, and you're not good at sex, right?
|Love, annoyingly show poor, poor Gus lose his lover to a vibrator :(|
This scene is so annoying to me. I hope this isn't true, but it really seems like the use of the vibrator is meant to show that she just isn't that into him anymore, and that's some bullshit. Women need clit stimulation to come. Period. Him being all weird when she asks is some bullshit too. I mean he didn't say no or anything, but it was clear that he was really surprised and not in a good way - more in a let down way, like when you find out you didn't get a job kind of way. And then the show sorta supported his reaction, because as she's coming it goes to a dramatic close-up of his face all sad and let down and shit, and then it cuts to some melancholy indie rock credits music.
It's like we're all supposed to feel the disconnect this damn vibrator has brought on. Now, maybe its the turning away we're supposed to focus on, but honestly, have you ever tried to work one of those big-ass magic wands between you and a dude trying to fuck you? That is some cumbersome stuff, Turning away was a good option. He's getting some sweet tang encompassing his junk, and she's getting hard core vibe. Everyone should be happy.
I get that the awkwardness and complications that happened in their relationship just before this sex does play into this scene, but even if the intention to mock the use of a vibrator was not there, it happened anyway because we see the use of vibrators or hands on women's clits so rarely that when they are used, the connotation is impactful, and the connotation here was that it separated them and saddened him.
Witch Sex (Episode 8)
Gus is having sex with a woman, who I guess we're all supposed to see a little fake and a little stupid, but super cute. It's a quick scene, and he's on his back on the bed. She's riding him cowgirl style, torso straight up and down. No hands, vibrators or pelvises ('cause her body is so upright) are touching anywhere near her clit area, and she is saying wierd kinda creepy stuff that she means to be sexy.
She's rolling her hips super sexy on his dick, but he looks a little freaked out. Her voice and the way she changes it when she talks to him seems like she's super faking the sexy, but she is clearly way into the whole thing. Like, she's totally all in. Right before it cuts, she leans her head back and starts to orgasm.
To me, it feels like a scene meant to show a fake woman in bed, and my assumption is that she was meant to seem like she was faking an orgasm. However, I also think it could be seen as a crazy bitch being crazy and coming from the crazy shit she does. I just don't know if the orgasm part would consciously register as fake to everyone. I think it's still a scene in which a woman (crazy or fake as she may be) rides a dick to orgasm.
Love, in the end, was a show that heavily reinforced all the misconception about female orgasm and stagnant status quo ideas of sex that I would like to break through. The sex in this show was always intercourse. There was no oral or handies or dry humping, and all the women seemed to be fine and completely orgasmic with just the ol' in and out. I will give it props for showing a lady who likes masturbation and depicting the masturbation in a realistic way (no-one was doing it by ramming a dildo up their junk :), but when masturbation was brought into a couple situation, it was not looked upon kindly. So to me this show continues the long-standing tradition of equating sex with intercourse, of assuming women just come when dudes fuck them with their penises, and my very favorite tradition of all - stigmatizing the inclusion of clitoral stimulation (vibe or hand) during intercourse (even though external clitoral stimulation is literally what women need in order to orgasm).
It's sad because there is so much untapped humor to be had in the realities of female orgasm that could surprise people with hilarious and progressive depictions. Seriously, it's so untapped. Check with Amy Schumer if you want some ideas.
This movie, I'm sad to say gets 1 vuvla (because ladies masturbating always get at least 1).