A Seinfeld SSL Review
Charlie's been randomly watching old Seinfelds during his lunch lately, and I happen to be around during a particularly SSL Reviewable episode, Season 5 Episode 1, "The Mango."
As my most of you already know, an SSL Review is a critique specifically of a depiction or discussion of female orgasm and/or masturbation. I 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 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 MANGO" DETAILED SUMMARY
I usually take each scene containing depiction/discussion of lady-gasm one by one and discuss them that way, but this whole episode is about lady-gasm, particularly the faking of, and it is better discussed as a full piece. So, I'm going to give you an overview of the episode with transcripts of key parts (from my ear to the paper, so forgive any misspellings and such). Then I'll discuss at the end.
Scene #1 - Cafe Lady-gasm Discussion and Discovery of Orgasm Faking
So it begins with Jerry and George eating at the diner and George is talking about his new girlfriend, Karen. He thinks it's all good except one part which Jerry guesses correctly is something sexual. George begins to explain.
George: I've never really felt confident in the...ah...one particular aspect.
Jerry: Below the equator?
Jerry: Nobody does. You know, nobody knows what to do. You just close your eyes 'n hope for the best. I really think they're happy if you just make an effort.
George: I..I..I don't know. Last time I got the tap.
Jerry: You got the tap?
George: You know, you're going along, you think everything's alright. Then all the sudden ya, ya get the tap. You know it's like, '(he whistles) Alright that's enough. You're through.'
Jerry: The tap is tough.
George: It's like the manager coming out and asking you for the ball.
Jerry: Yeah. Well, maybe she just wanted to move on to other business.
George: Nah, no this wasn't moving on. I got the hook. I wish I could get a lesson in that.
Jerry: It's a very complicated area.
George: You could go crazy trying to figure that place out.
Jerry: It's a hazy mystery.
George: Anyway, I think everything else is okay. Unless of course she's fakin'.
(Elaine comes in and sits down)
Elaine: Who's fakin'?
Elaine: Fakin' what?
George: Nobody's faking.
Elaine: Ahhh! orgasm?
George: She's not faking.
Elaine: How do you know?
George: I know, I can tell. It's one of my powers. Why? Did you ever fake?
Elaine: Of course.
George: You faked?
Elaine: On occasion.
Jerry: And the guy never knows?
Jerry: How could he not know that?
Elaine: 'Cause I was gooood.
Jerry: I guess after that many beers he's probably a little groggy anyway.
(Jerry and George laugh)
Elaine: You didn't know.
Elaine: You didn't know.
Jerry: Are you saying...with me?
Jerry: You faked with me?
Jerry: You faked with me?
Jerry: You faked it?
Elaine: I faked it.
Jerry: That thing, that whole production? It was all an act?
Elaine: Not bad, huh?
Jerry: What about the breathing, the panting, the moaning, the screaming?
Elaine: fake. fake. fake. fake.
Jerry: I'm stunned. I'm shocked.
(Elaine shruggs her shoulders)
Jerry: How many times did you do this?
Elaine: Uuumm.....All the time.
Jerry: All the time! I thought I was so good.
George: I'm sure you were.
Elaine: Listen Jerry. it's not you. I just didn't have them back then.
Jerry: She faked...maybe they've all been faked.
Elaine: I'm sure they're not.
George: Maybe Karen is faking
Scene #2 - Jerry Goes Home And Talks To Kramer About It
Jerry tells Kramer he doesn't understand why she would lie. He says it's like sexual pejury.
Jerry: How'd she do it? She's like Meryl Streep this women. And I know how to work the equipment! I'm not unskilled. I'm in the union! How did she do it? I mean if she could have at least told me I could have done something about it.
Kramer: Yeah - I could have helped you out.
Jerry: What could you have done?
Kramer: Well, I could have given you some pointers. I know how to press those buttons, buddy.
Jerry: Well I'm feeling very inadequate about the whole thing.
Then Elaine calls because they are supposed to see a movie later. He's all upset and says he doesn't want to do anything with her, but then he does anyway.
Scene #3 Elaine's Office After The Phone Call To Jerry
Elaine: Renee, can you come here a second. Let me ask you something. Ummmm...have you ever, you know, faked it?
Renee: Yeah sometimes.
Elaine: Really, like when?
Renee: Like if we went to Broadway show, if we had really good seats. Well, and you know, if it's enough already and I just want to get some sleep.
Scene #4 George And Karen On A Date
They are eating dinner. After she finishes her risotto, she kinda ooo's an ahh's and moans all orgasmy-ish and lights up a cigarette. George is freaked out and tries to cryptically ask if she orgasms with him by asking if she feels the same way about the risotto as she does about him. He never gets any kind of answer and is just more freaked out.
Scene #5 Jerry And Elaine At Dinner - He Asks For a 2nd Chance
Jerry can't stop talking about the faking thing and Elaine keeps trying to tell him to stop worrying, but then Jerry blurts out:
Jerry: Give me another shot.
Jerry: Another shot. I want another shot.
Elaine: You mean? No - I don't think so.
Jerry: Come on. One more shot. I can do it. I know I can do it.
Elaine: Jerry, we're friends. We can't do that. We're friends. It would ruin our friendship.
Jerry: Oh friendship sminship.
Elaine: No - that's important to me.
Jerry: Oh - we won't ruin the friendship.
Elaine: Yes we will.
Elaine: It is out of the question. No Jerry. You know what sex does to a friendship. It kills it.
Jerry: A half hour. Give me a half hour.
Jerry: Okay, 15 minute. I guarantee you 15 minutes, and I can make it happen.
Jerry: You're worried I'll be able to do it, aren't you?
Elaine: What? No. It doesn't matter. Jerry, I don't caaare.
Jerry: That's it. That's it. You like having this on me. You don't want me to do it.
Elaine: That is so ridiculous
Jerry: Come on Elaine!.
Scene #6 George And Karen In Bed After George Couldn't Get It Up
They are laying face up next to each other looking up forward. He looks animated and neurotic, going over stuff in his head, and she looks unsatisfied. He tells her it was Jerry's fault, and she replies:
Karen: Oh I don't care. George, really it's alright.
George: So you feel okay?
Karen: Well, it's not like after the risotto.
Scene #7 Jerry, George, Kramer, and the Introduction of the Mango
They are all 3 at Jerry's apartment. George is basically telling them that he couldn't get it up with Karen, and he's thinking it'll never work again. Jerry had been calling ex girlfriends asking about if they had orgasms when they were together. He gets ahold of one and she says yes, and then he immediately calls Elaine to tell her other girls have come with him.
Then George eats some mango that is really good and starts to feel a tingling in his man junk, so he leaves triumphantly.
Scene #8 George In Aftermath Of Sex With Karen
They are both sweaty, and Karen is giving little aftermath moans like it was good. George starts talking in a little bit of an arrogant way.
George: Thanks. It's not necessary.
Karen: What's not necessary?
George: The little extra moan you threw in there. Laying it on extra thick aren't we?
Karen: What are you talking about?
George:What am I talking about? Come on. You really think I bought all that?
George: You're very good. You're very good with the moaning and the gyrations and all of that. You really had me going there for a minute
Karen: You think I was faking?
George: Come one. Oh George! Oh George! Come on. Not that I don't appreciate the effort that was put into it.
Then she kicks him out.
Scene #9 - Jerry's Other Shot
Elaine comes by to give Jerry some of his stuff from her apartment since Jerry can't get over it and the friendship can't go on. But, just before she leaves, she gives in and says she'll give him another shot. He's giddy, and they go into the bedroom.
It cuts back to them and they are next to each other in his bed. Elaine's on her side reading a magazine. Jerry's freaking out because he clearly couldn't get it up, and he's lost his 'other shot'. He says it's all George's fault. Then Elaine says, "You know, I'm a little hungry. You wouldn't happen to have any of that mango left?"
And there my friends is the punch line - Jerry's eye's widen at the thought of some mango giving him a boner again just like it did for George.
I'll try to keep this quick, so let me bullet point the things I want to say:
- Jerry, I'm not sure if you're an idiot or an asshole. You wanna make Elaine come so bad? You wanna prove you can do it? EAT. HER. OUT. News flash: you don't need an erect penis to do that. You don't need a penis at all really. No mango required.
- The fact that there was not even a nod to the fact that he could have used something other than his dick to make her come is quite telling. I would be blamey towards him for not knowing that most women (and probably even more than we currently acknowledge) don't orgasm during intercourse, but it's actually not surprising and ya almost can't blame someone for that. With the media and sex ed and every other part of our sexual culture insinuating that ladies come from penises moving in vaginas, one probably never hears the cold hard fact that there is absolutely no physical record of an orgasm caused by stimulation inside the vagina in all of science. Clits need to be stimulated, people. Clits.
- I'm not trying to harp on this, but...listen, they spoke at the beginning of the show about going down on the ladies, so I know they know it exists, and I also know they can find ways to speak about it in the show and still get by censors. So, you tell me why there was no discussion or attempt by Jerry to orally get at Elaine's clit. You. tell. me!
- I'm gonna side with George on one thing. She probably was faking...because the situation was about him being able to get it up....which means he was able to fuck her hole with his pole, which means he probably did nothing but stimulate her vagina...which means she probably didn't come.
- Jerry's comment about women simply being happy that a man would make an effort at eating her out: Man, fuck you. Yeah, Jerry, we don't want to come. We just like to be aroused and then NOT come - kinda like the blue balls situation you dudes like so well. We are just happy you gave us an opportunity to help you come. Yeah, I know this is a joke line, and it fits the notoriously thoughtless style of Seinfeld characters, but this type of sentiment from men is too real to just be a joke. It acts equally as a reinforcement and normalization of that viewpoint, and sadly it isn't much different now, 20 years later. See this lady who gave up BJ's due to men all too often giving about as much fucks or less than Jerry did in that statement.
- George's wishes that he could get some lessons on the ol' oral were nice, cause at least he's thinking about it, but it just reminded me how very much porn teaches us ladies about dick sucking and how little it teaches about clit sucking. Seriously, porn cunnilingus is showy, often painful looking (at least to me - those dudes do some rough shit sometimes), and rarely takes the lady to orgasm. I actually do feel more sorry for guys in that department. Ladies, if you can't figure out how to suck some come out of a man from watching porn, then you aren't great at learning. That said...it's still not that hard to do the ol' cunnilingus. If a dude puts in the time, he'll figure it out just fine. Lots of men have done it. It's not rocket science.
- Why they gotta be straight up saying that the female orgasm is a mystery? It ain't. I'm not surprised it was said. That's an incredibly common sentiment, but it's BS. Female orgasm is a mystery in the way making a PB&J without the peanut butter is a mystery. You need the P for a PB&J and you need the clit for the female orgasm. Banging a woman usually doesn't include the clit. Women don't walk around tickling guys balls and being surprised at the mysterious nature of the male orgasm - we know that won't work, so men shouldn't walk around stimulating our vaginas and being surprised at the mysterious nature of the female orgasm - they should know that doesn't work, The lady-gasm isn't mysterious. You just stupid.
- I call bullshit on Elaine telling Jerry it wasn't a big deal that she didn't orgasm with him. She says she just didn't have them back then. Let me tell you a story; Jerry never ate her out or touched her clit. That's why she didn't have orgasms with him. It's not like at 30, her body just evolved like an x-rated Pokemon, suddenly going from no orgasm to orgasm power even though she was doing the same shit she'd been doing before. That's ridiculous. Okay, to be fair maybe she didn't have orgasms back then, but it was probably because she has since started advocating for her orgasm. She dates dudes that go down and she makes sure her clit gets rubbed when she's fucking. So, just 'cause she didn't come back then doesn't mean it's fine and Jerry is a fine lover. He's still probably a selfish, clueless, penis centered lover. It's just that now Elaine either avoids, educates, or rubs her own junk despite those types of lovers.
- All the stuff about women faking is unfortunate, but true. And it's true partly because of everything we talk about above. Lady-gasms are not prioritized, depicted correctly, and not a natural part of the 'normal' flow of a sexual encounter (ie. some, but not enough, foreplay to the clit and penis, then intercourse until the male orgasms). We women do the best we can to navigate a sexual culture that is very much not conducive to female orgasm and very much unwilling to admit it is not conducive. Sometime our best option is to fake. If people don't want women faking, people need to create a sexual culture where it doesn't make much sense to. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
- Notice how the problem was framed as poor George and poor Jerry feeling like they weren't able to bring any woman they wanted to orgasm. It wasn't that poor Elaine had a bunch of sex with Jerry and probably other men without any orgasm at all. Take a minute and think about how much that sucks and how much a guy would think that sucks if that was his experience. It's a perfect reflection of how very little the female orgasm is valued as part of a sexual encounter and how not problematic it seems for a woman to go through all the work and grossness of sex without that lovely final orgasm that makes it all worth it.
- Yes, I know these are pretend characters on a TV show 20 years ago. I'll talk at them like they are real anyway. The thing is though, pretend people that we hang out with over a period of years pull strong influence on us with what they do, how they dress, and what they say, so I think critique, even nit-picky critiques, are important.
THE VULVA RATING
So, this whole episode is a reflection of some of the worst aspects of our sexual culture when it comes to lady-gasms.
There is a reinforcement and normalization through humor of:
- The female orgasm and female genitals being confusing and mysterious
- The idea that to get a woman to orgasm, one needs an erect penis to put in and out of her vagina
- The sense that women don't need orgasms and that it's no big deal if she doesn't get to have orgasms when she has sex
- Male sexual pride, not the pleasure of the female is the most important loss when a woman doesn't come or fakes coming during sex
- Completely ignoring the clit and stimulation of the clit when it comes to sexual encounters and to making a woman orgasm
All of that adds up to a backwards step for Orgasm Equality and a ZERO VULVA RATING.