11.17.2017

Jim Florentine and Louis C.K, or how assumptions about women batter female desire and create creeper men



Comedian dudes are gross
In case you missed it, there was a New York Times article exposing what seems to have been an open secret about Louis C.K. masturbating in front of women in inappropriate ways. Five women went on record for the article. He then admitted it was all true and wrote a pretty good apology - as apologies for being an asshole go. Anyway when this hit the news about a week ago, I immediately thought of a story I had heard not a week earlier from comedian Jim Florentine on a season 2 Inside Amy Schumer segment called Amy Goes Deep.



He said he had a line that almost always works, but let me let him explain it:
I would play some crummy gig in the middle of Pennsylvania, white trash girl. I'd go, "Hey come out to my car." We'd sit in the car.  I would just go, "Look, do you mind if I masturbate while we kiss." I'd go, "I got a long ride home. You don't have to touch it." Nine out of ten times, within one minute, they had their hand or their mouth on it.
I'm gonna let that marinate for a sec.

So, Amy Goes Deep is a short segment where Amy talks to some person(s) about something. It's comedic like all her segments, and this one happened to be her talking to 4 of her male comedian friends (Jim Florentine, Bobby Kelly, Jim Norton, Keith Robinson) and 1 of her female comedian friends (Rachel Feinstein). She describes the men as her good friends as well as the most morally bankrupt human beings on the planet. They don't disagree. From the beginning they are all gross in their own way. Keith Robinson is called out by Rachel for always talking about sex by saying 'I've got 3 pumps for ya.' She rightly says it's stupid, but Robinson says he can make a woman  "do what she needs to do in three pumps." I don't know what it is he thinks she needs to do, but it's clearly not orgasm. Bobby Kelly asks Amy, "What would you rather do - kiss, have sex or blow with Keith? Amy quickly returns with the only appropriate answer, "How about "D," sit on his face and read my tweets?"



Florentine's masturbation story comes toward the end when Keith prompts him to talk about his line that he says always works. After he tells it Amy and Rachel look absolutely disgusted and then, the comedians they are, they start joking about it.
Rachel: What woman gets jealous when they see a guy masturbating?! It's not like, it's not like, 'Wait, there can be dick?' That's not like an exciting prospect. We're pretty...we all know the dick is availible.
Amy:We know there will be dick.
But luckily, Bobby Kelly is there to defend his friend and explain how sensible this is.
Bobby: The psychology behind it is that you - like we like vagina. If you took your boob out or your vagina, we'd be like "Oh my god, we love that."
Amy: (sincerly) oh, thank you. thank you
Bobby: You're welcome. If you see a penis, you like that too.
Amy and Rachel, however, mention he might be a little offbase.
Amy: You're wrong. You're wrong.
One of the 4 male comedians off camera: You see it and you feel obligated.
Bobby: When you see a penis, you don't go, "Wow, I wanna put it in my pussy?
Amy:: Nooooo. No. (Rachel is shaking her head no as well).
Bobby: Really? (looks genuinely surprised)
Rachel: That's why a dick pic is not exciting
Amy: yeah
Rachel: to a woman
Amy: no one wants a dick pic.
Most of the guys: That's wrong.
Th strong male reaction against that had Amy and Rachel putting out their hands like, chill dudes.
Amy: No, they're lying to you.
One of the 4 male comedians off camera: noooo. no. (like 'you're wrong') 
After this the segment pretty much ends. What didn't end was my general sadness about how often men's need to get off takes precedent over women's feelings or desires or comfort.

There is an assumed fundamental sexual difference between women and men that's a bunch of B.S 
Florentine's story is not exactly the same, but it fits in the general realm of Louis C.K.'s and others. I think the spirit of both these men's actions are the same, and I'd like to take a bunch of steps back and look at this through the lens of our cultural misunderstanding of female orgasm and thus female sexuality in general. It's the lens with which I look at pretty much everything for this blog because frankly I think basic misunderstandings about female orgasm are at the root of a lot of nefarious cultural problems falling on women's shoulders., including this kind of wierd gray area of male sexual advances on women that are rude, bully-ish, bad mannered, and abusing of one's power.

So to be honest, I'm still kinda playing with this all out in my head so this whole post might be a little screwball, but I want to get it out, so you here we are. Here's the super quick version of the connections I want to make:

I think that the very sensible and understandable way women react to our experiences in this pretty fucked up sexual culture make our sexuality and our reactions to sex seem very foreign to men because they (and we ourselves, actually) are judging us from a perspective that assumes things for women in sex are like they are for men. They are not, but since we don't actively as a culture understand that they are not, and because we as a culture don't like to inconvenience men regarding sex any more than we absolutely have to, we have created stories about women's sexuality that explain the weirdness, but that doesn't rock the boat of our male-centric sexual culture too much.

That was a lot. I know, but stay with me for a minute.  I think men view women (and women sometimes view themselves) as fundamentally different from men when it comes to sex. The quality of the difference may be expressed in a variety of ways. Maybe it's that women have a natural ability to control their sexual desire that men don't, or that women are just plain biologically not as much of a sexual being as men are. Maybe it's that women are less in tune with or less sophisticated about their sexuality due to either culture or evolution. Maybe women, through evolution, are drawn to protect and use their sexuality as a bargaining chip with men. However you slice it, whether it's hardcore alt-righters assuming women are out to fuck them over with their feminine wiles or a normal and generally respectful dude considering how to engage his wife or girlfriend more in sex, there is this idea that when it comes to sex women are different. Specifically different in that they have a sort of veneer that must peeled, a code that must be cracked before she will give it up.

Different men and the same men in different situations can be more or less menacing in their thoughts and approaches in how to crack that code. A lot of the 'code-cracking' can be done with the best of intentions, but I think almost always there is a real feeling that one has to overcome some obstacle to get to the sexual part of a woman. Men, however, are not assumed to have this same veneer. Men are assumed to be more transparent and open (and many would say more noble, if not also more animalistic) in regard to their sexuality. Men and women are fundamentally different in this way.

Men assume they must perform the correct code for unlocking women's sex 
When I say 'breaking women's code' for sex, it seems particularly malicious, and it's true, that type of direct language tends to exist mostly in more crude circles (like the pick up artist theory), but in gentler, more subtle words, that basic idea is a huge part of how we discuss women's sexuality in almost all circles.

There's lots of ways that have been said to 'unlock' a woman's sexuality:
  • Pay her directly for it (this is the cut to the chase unlocking method)
  • Pay her indirectly through a date or through your time and energy
  • Romance her with flowers and sweet talk
  • Marry her (super old school access to lady sex)
  • Do some of the fucking housework for once (for unlocking the tired wife)
  • Loosen up the situation by going to a place where she will be doing drugs or alcohol
  • Hell, give her the drugs or alcohol yourself (unlocking for the rapey type)
  • Be the kind of Alpha male that all women really desire (the unlocking method for dudes who are definitely not cucks)
  • Give her access to your riches or fame or power
  • Massage her back (unlocking for the tired girlfriend or creeped out co-worker)
  • Figure out a way to be alone with her (again for the rapey type)
  • Let her know you're good at sex (a bold and tricky unlocking method)
  • Make a bold, unorthodox sexual move on a woman (like, I don't know, pulling your dick out in a weird place and masturbating). It will surprise her. She won't know how to react because she's never encountered it before, and it'll throw her off her game - a great way to help break through her veneer. Getting her in a situation where it's hard to leave is particularly effective because it gives you time to break down her shell
  • Hack the code and go straight to brute force (this is Alt Right territory here)
  • Or maybe the nicest of these - foreplay her (hopefully to  orgasmic completion) before you get to stick your dick in 
These are all things that someone, somewhere thinks will unlock the sex code in a woman, and I'm calling it a code because these things are more than just unassuming niceties or tricks. These are things that get directly related to whether a woman will or should put out. Whether she freely and openly desires to engage in sex isn't really even a consideration. It's more like sex is a thing all women could want to do IF you assemble the correct logistics to unlock her sex....like an actual lock.
Common approaches men have for getting a woman into bed really are just attempts at hitting all the right buttons so that it happens. Sometimes it's heavily calculated. sometimes a single attempt to crack the code is expected to yield results and sometimes guys just try anything until it either unlocks or they strike out. Here's some examples:

(This one's a little oldschool but actually not too far off from a lot of men's modern sentiment). If you buy a woman lobster, that is the key to her lock and you get to fuck her.
If you have power or money or fame, those things in and of themselves, are keys to lady sex. Men with these things have necessarily broken at least the first part of any lady-sex-code just because the men put the time and energy into getting that status. Some expect it should always unlock in and of itself. (We'll come back to that because it clearly has relevance to comedians and men in the entertainment industry).
Go to a bar, find a woman who's drinking (lower her inhibitions, check), make out with her (create an understanding that it's a sexual relationship, check), find a way to get her kind of alone (create an environment for the possibility of sex, check), pull your dick out (be bold, check) and when she says she should go, whine and nag and make her feel sorry for you until she jerks you off (appeal to her niceness, check and orgasm success!)
Okay here's maybe a more familiar and less nefarious example:I'll call this the pre-work unlocking. A husband does the dishes, sends his wife love notes and texts during the day all week. He makes sure the kids get to bed early, brushes his teeth real good and uses mouthwash, and then when he starts poking his erect dick at her pajama'd butt in bed Friday, he expects that he did all the things right to unlock sex that night.

Most of those are gross, entitled, and particularly shitty, but I see very little difference in the spirit of the last one - which could easily be a piece of advice he got from a respected sex adviser.  Granted all the things he did were done to 'get her in the mood,' so on the surface it might seem very unselfish. But although he as a person is well meaning and gentle about this, the cultural structure from which he operates is male centered and toxic because she and her desire isn't as central to when she has sex as obligation is. It's more about the time and energy a man puts in to unlock her.

Women don't need unlocked, but we would like good, orgasm-ful sex that nurtures our desire
So, I'm going to pull back further and investigate what's up with women that we must be be obligated into sex., because it's worth asking: Why aren't women, in general, more open and transparent about their need for sex like men are? It actually does sound like women are fundamentally different. I mean, why wouldn't any person want sex (as long as contraception is used, of course)? It's fucking great. Maybe one of the greatest parts of life.

And that's where you're wrong. We're all wrong, really - the whole culture. We assume that women physically enjoy "sex" as much as men but the truth is women as a group just don't. And it's nothing biological. There's no reason to believe women don't have every capability for strong sexual desire just like men, and women can orgasm as quickly, easily, and reliably as men do. The problem is not due to a fundamental difference between men in women but to our sexual culture . Literally the way we have sex, stifles both desire and orgasm for women in a way it does not for men.  Let me explain that further because in our world this is not a concept that aligns to our normal conversation and depictions of sex, so it's not obvious.

I'll say the big thing straight away. The most common and accepted sex act of them all (we just call it "sex" most of the time) - PinV intercourse - is terrible for female orgasm yet absolutely fabulous for male orgasm. In all of scientific literature, there has never been physically observed an orgasm caused only from stimulation inside the vagina. Seriously. And the research community has had decades to get these observations, to observe the elicit 'vaginal orgasm' and they just have not been able to (probably because it is not a thing).

So, since rubbing the vaginal canal with a penis doesn't cause orgasm, AND outer clitoral stimulation (the thing that absolutely is known to cause orgasm) rarely happens as a natural side effect of ramming, intercourse leaves women with zilch and men with an orgasm. Direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm through hands, vibes or oral sex does happen from time to time in some hetero sexual encounters, but let's all be honest. It doesn't happen as often as direct penile stimulation to orgasm. I mean have you seen all the women writing beautifully about the oral sex gap? We come up short with all the intercourse people are having, and we don't even get as much of the reach-arounds and tongue action either. It's a sad state of affairs.

You can believe me or not about the lack of female orgasm in intercourse and in hetero sexual encounters in general, but if you don't believe, I'll ask you keep considering it. It's too long and complicated a discussion address all the questions you probably have about this here, but if you need more convincing about how deeply the incorrect cultural belief of vaginal-penetration-causes-female-orgasm fucks up our sexual culture, our expectations, and our experiences and leaves women with so little orgasms compared to men, then I have plenty more for you to check out.  Please watch the movie we made about it. Read my long explanation for why intercourse doesn't lady-gasms make, or explore the hundreds and hundreds of posts in this blog that document how this problem is reflected and exacerbated in our movies, TV, Books/magazines, Peer Reviewed scientific literature, and also feel free to read about the many ways people are fighting and exposing the problem. I'll leave it at that.

Point being: Women's bodies are as capable of fast, reliable orgasms through clitoral glans stimulation as men's are through penile stimulation...but the way we have sex as a culture caters so heavily to male orgasm and specifically P-in-V intercourse, that women just plain get a shitty often orgasm-less deal in the sexual culture.

Seriously, this unlocking game and disinterest in our orgasm is really fucking with our desire
So, given the situation in this world of ours. Why would it seem sensible that women so often seem reluctant about sex? Why have we created so many games to 'unlock' women's sex, games that in the end are often just ways to make women feel obligated to fuck?

Hmmm- maybe it's because if these games didn't exist, and if women were really left to make sexual decisions based solely on what their bodies were telling them, we would find women just straight up wouldn't fuck around much with fucking: that we just don't often desire it...don't want it.

Before you get all pissy with me for saying women don't have sexual desire, chill. Women have capacity for TONS of sexual desire. We have to. Otherwise even obligation wouldn't make us put up with the all the shit sex we end up having. We just don't have desire for shit, orgasm-less sex, because shit sex is shitty. A sandwich is better. TV is better. The feeling of accomplishment from folding the laundry is better. If the kind of effortless and orgasm-ful sex men had on the table was available to us every time, we'd be desire-mad.  That means that women would need the natural, don't-even-have-to-speak-about-it flow of basic "sex" to be as full-proof orgasmic to us as intercourse is for men. It definetly is not, but it could be. Nothing biological is stopping this from happening. Our clits all work. We as a culture just need to acknowledge and fully incorporate consistent, appropriate clit stimulation as a normal part of sex and also give a shit about female orgasm. We don't though. Maybe you and your specific partner do...most of the time...but as a whole WE DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WOMEN'S ORGASMS.

You know what happens when you have bad, orgasmless sex? It really lowers your expectation of the next time. Any hetero woman you know have an orgasm her first time? Yeeeeah. That's not the only time she didn't orgasm with a man. Every orgasm a man has during sex reminds him how much fun sex is. Every orgasm a woman doesn't have reminds her how boring or frustrating it is. With exception of the general atmosphere of sexism, body-shaming, and masturbation-shaming that affect girls way more harshly than boys, I'd say theoretically men and women start off with equally high excitement and expectations of their future sexual life. However, from the first time on, the average man and the average women diverge sharply in their desire and expectations. I mean if a woman only orgasmed 75% of the time (faking doesn't count...and there's a lot of faking out there) in the last 10 years (and that is really being generous. I imagine for most women over their lifetime it's much lower), then when she looked at a sexual prospect, she's seeing a 25% chance it will suck - and that's best case scenario where past rape, sexual coercion, or sexual assault aren't there to flood the prospects of a sexual encounter with an extra set of frightening and terrible feelings.

Now we ladies don't look at the oncoming possibility of a sexual encounter Excel spreadsheeting the orgasm odds and listing the sexual wrongs against us, but our bodies know it in our bones and reflect it in how or if we desire.

Lack-of-orgasm connects to different experiences connects to different reactions connects to all kinds of rationalizing 
So, guys want orgasms, like we all do, and lucky them, the norm of sexual interactions is bent towards their needs. They don't realize it's bent sharply away from women's needs, and also lucky them, the whole of our culture, including women themselves don't actively realize it most of the time either, so men don't have much pressure at all to change their norms and bend the norms of sexual interaction to fully include lady-gasm stuff. But, not lucky them, this all makes women way less interested in engaging in sexual interaction than they would like. But...men still really want women to engage in sex with them, and given the cultural blind eye to the sad state of sex for women, everyone, including women themselves logically assumes women should also want sex as much of men....yet they don't. WHY!!???

Well, like I said above, we all kind of rationalize this by assuming women are fundamentally different about sex and imagining that there are tricks, codes, and hacks that need to be mastered to get the sex out of women that men want. This way of viewing women 1. forces no change in the male-gasm centered nature of sexual interaction, lucky men 2. provides a good-enough explanation for why so many don't show open, transparent desire for sex the way most men do 3. maintains male access to lady sex despite there being a large amount of female resistance. It does this by still assuming that under their veneer, women actually do want and/or will allow sex, and 4. (bonus!) Allows men to rationalize coercive, manipulative, bullying, entitled, actions towards women by placing them in the category of the necessary steps to breaking through the female veneer.

The thing is that the tricks, code combos, and hacks often do end in sexual interaction from women but often not for the reasons men tell themselves. The nice way to think of this. and what I assume men would like to think, is that when the code is cracked, women's inner sex-goddess is allowed to shine, almost like men are doing women a favor by facilitating women's blossoming. Like Bobby Kelly up there assuming that when a guy pulls out his dick, he is facilitating an arousing opportunity for the woman he's with. There is a sense (at least in the less nefarious situations) that if a man can just crack a woman's code, she's gonna enjoy herself. We know that's actually not often true, and furthermore, obligation (as one unidentified comic above correctly pointed out), guilt, and 'getting it over with so I can go on with my life and you stop bothering me' are much more common reasons men's 'breaking of the code' ends in sex than men are willing to admit to themselves.

Comics are dudes with fame and dudes with fame think they have a magic key to do sex stuff at women
So I took a long diversion there, but here's my connection back to Louis C.K. and Jim Florentine. They got some fame (a lot of it plus power and money for C.K.) and saw that as an ever present key to at least one lock for any woman around them. Their time and energy expended to get them where they are entitles them to this. Everyone knows this. It is a standard male fairy tale. Get the money, the win, the access, or the fame and you get the girl.

Now, every rich, famous, or powerful dude is different with different moral grounding, sexual interests, and levels of boldness so they all approach their use of this anointed key differently, but I bet ya they almost all wield it to some degree. And why wouldn't they? This idea of unlocking her sex is how men approach sex with women. These rich famous dudes just have better resources than everyone else for code breaking. They'd be crazy not to partake, amIright?

Now, just because I describe this unlocking mentality as something that's a somewhat organic result of our larger cultural misunderstandings about women, don't think I'm giving men a pass on rude, bullying, bad mannered, and abusive interactions with women and sex. I am absolutely not because despite how common this is, we all know it's shady as fuck. It's steeped in arrogance and desperation for something men think they deserve, and rationalized with ignorance about the female experience. The truth is, you can tell you are doing something that is uncomfortable for someone or if you are making someone feels obligated to do something. If you care to notice and care to not do that, you can stop. You can avoid doing it next time. It's not that hard. The problem is they don't care, and it's easy to not care because the whole mentality of 'unlocking' women's sex focuses the process of sexually interacting women with women on making them do it - even if it in gentle nudges. If they seem to feel obligated to do it, well, that's not unexpected.

And, that I think is why Florentine doesn't mind talking about it, and his male comedian friends don't mind throwing out excuses for it. In Louis C.K.'s apology he explained that he rationalized what he was doing as okay because he always asked first before he masturbated in front of a woman, but that he now realizes that the power dynamic involved didn't always give the women much of a choice. His point about the power dynamic is true, but I think he probably did know that when he was doing it, he just thought it was okay because power is a legit way to unlock what you want in women.

Florentine also describes himself asking first, but dude, come on, that's skeezy as fuck and you know it. Amy and Rachel's faces alone could have given him a clue. He used his fame and a bold move to unlock handies, blowjobs, and probably some intercourse from time to time. It worked sometimes, but just because you get the result you want from something you did does not justify it. It doesn't make it less manipulative or less mean.

Also, wouldn't it be nice if women could just admire a man without him seeing that as an opening to coerce her sexually. Like, wouldn't that be cool?
Let's step back one last time and remind everyone that when a dude admires a straight dude and approaches him about that admiration, the admirer doesn't have to deal with the assumption that the admiration equals willingness to fuck him. Like a dude could go up to some famous straight dude and if they had a common interest could talk or have a beer or something and when they part the dude would be happy to know that someone he admired thought something well of him too. It's a nice feeling.

You know what is a shitty feeling? When you're excited that a dude you admire takes an interest in you or what you're saying, and then the shoe drops and you realize that he really just wants to fuck you and that's really all he's been aiming towards with you. It's even worse when you are hoping to network with this man in your line of business as a way to make connections and further your career or development in the business. You were all on cloud nine thinking someone you admirer thought well of you and was interested in you, and then the drop to feeling like you as a person were of no interest to this dude or that you will never have a non-sexual chance with this dude is a sickening drop that I have had a couple times in my life and most women have had at least that. Maybe if we stopped viewing all women as sexpots wrapped in a locked veneer that can only be opened by doing the right things, then maybe men would start focusing on what the particular woman in front of him seems to desire and be interested in instead of figuring out what combination of keys unlock her.

I don't know, that would be nice.

This is fucked up and it needs to change. Like for real.
Let me end by saying this. I've already talked about how battered women's desire already is from all the crappy orgasmless sex and all the coercion, nagging, and obligation that leads us into sex we never desired to have. It weighs on women and it affects our capacity for desire. Even if sex gets better over the years, our bodies remember the history and desire and arousal can remain affected. So, congrats to all you men out there with some level of fame, using it to get orgasms near or on women in selfish, thoughtless ways. You should be happy to know that you have done your part to lower those women's desire for future sexual interactions. You helped make the sight of a penis less than arousing for so many a hetero women. In general, by ignoring women's desires and adding to her shitty sexual interaction list, you've lowered the chance for the good, healthy mutually orgasmic sexual interactions for her and all future partners. You were one of our past experiences that our body cannot seem to forget. Congratulations on hacking the lock to all the pussy. You must be proud of yourself.

As for all you non-famous men out there too. You run this 'unlocking' game too. You scheme. I'll be honest, we all play into this game because it is so deep a part of our sexual culture, so I won't pretend to give you specific answers for being better or for how to navigate women without thinking that way. to be honest, women are as confused as you are most of the time, and we all need to be part of change. I will say this though. Pay attention to women. Listen to them, notice small cues. Ask them questions about their experience and desires and be patient. Remember that all women are not available to you sexually as long as you crack their code. Remember that obligatory sex is shit sex. Remember that women's sexual histories are different than yours and that you can't interpret their actions from your experiences. Remember that the clit is where orgasms come from not from their vagina and you ramming into them is not exactly a prize. Remember that you can be a friend to a woman or enjoy a woman's company and not be scheming to have sex with her, and if you can't do that, then you're a sad, mean person that needs to check your life because you clearly see women about as fully as a Klan member sees black people.

11.13.2017

The Technology of Orgasm: A Meticulously Researched, Awesome, Orgasm Equality Book If I Ever Did See One



MAINES AND HER TECHNOLOGY OF ORGASM BOOK - AN INTRO
Rachel P. Maines is bonafide badass feminist researcher, and not only that, but a straight up Orgasm Equality Hero. I hadn't heard of her book until I went to the Kinsey Institute Library and got my eyes on a whole bunch of cool things, and The Technology of Orgasm:  "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction was one of the best of those things. It was first published in 1999, so it's been out there a while, and if you've heard about the idea that doctors used to masturbate women as a treatment for a largely made-up disease called hysteria and that the vibrator was first created and used in this context, then you can largely thank Dr. Maines. She seemed to have put all that shit together and told the world about it.



The art it inspired
Actually, a play I have not seen but heard about on NPR called In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) was inspired by this book. Also the 2011 movie Hysteria with Maggie Gyllenhaal was kinda based on this book, but I have to be honest. I gave that movie the worst SSL Review (a review only of depictions and discussions of female orgasm, female masturbation, and the clit) I have ever given a movie. I didn't even know this book existed back when I reviewed Hysteria and I was more harsh in reviews back then, but I thought that movie was putting backwards ideas about female orgasm out there and that it missed such an opportunity to be so progressive. I still think that, but that is sooooo not true of the book it's based on. The movie Hysteria, now that I know about this book, really truly for real does not represent the information and tone of the book - which is sad because it could have been a revolutionary movie.

There was also a 2007 doc inspired by this book called Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm that I finally bought and watched a couple weeks ago (and will do an SSL Review on eventually). The author, Rachel P. Maines, is interviewed in it and so is Betty Dodson, and those women are clearly orgasm equality champs, but even this doc did not get to the heart of what Maines was saying with this book. It instead focused more on the interesting history of vibrators, modern vibrator laws, a vibrator home-sale company's business structure, and the 70's sexual and women's revolution, and focused very little (if at all) on Maine's revolutionary assertions about how Western culture -to this day- does its best to believe that penises rubbing in vaginas create female orgasms even with tons of evidence to the contrary.

VIBRATORS, HYSTERIA, LADY-GASMS, AND THE RICH HISTORY OF P-in-V OBSESSION: A REVOLUTIONARY BOOK
This book, my friends, is the most researched historical look at female orgasm that I have ever seen. It's quite epic, really. I am no historian, so something this book taught me that I had not really thought about before was that the things a society makes its machines do, how their machines are used and how they are advertised says a lot. And what our long history of technology-to-make-women-come says is that our society has always had a complicated relationship with female orgasm in that we desperately want to believe it arises from a dick moving in and out of a vagina, but also know deep down that it doesn't, so we create both things and lies that allow women to get orgasms from time to time without actually having to adjust our sense that women should orgasm during intercourse or to expect women's partners do the work to get women to orgasm. 

A more cumbersome name for this book, in my opinion, might be: Let's pretend intercourse gives females orgasms and then deceive ourselves into believing crazy shit like stimulating a woman's clit until she has a 'paroxysm' is not sexual or that we don't need to pay attention to women's clits when we have sex with them even though we kind of know that we do. -by All of Western History

Desperately clinging to female orgasm through penetrative sex
This book starts from and stays aligned to a basic truth that my loyal readers will know is a major thesis of this blog and my movie:  Vaginal penetration is not good for female orgasm and great for male orgasm. I tend to take that one step further and say that as far as all of scientific literature is concerned, there has never been a recorded observations of physical orgasm from something stimulating the inside of the vagina. Seriously, Either way, though, it's pretty undeniable that outer vuvla/clit stimulation causes orgasm in women just like penile stimulation causes orgasm in men. That means basic P-in-V penetrative sex with no additional clitoral stimulation is a terrible way for women to orgasm. It's absolutely fabulous for men though. So, that means getting a woman off takes more than just having a man get himself off inside her vagina through intercourse.  Women need clitoral stimulation, and that simply doesn't (or rarely ever) just automatically happens at the same time she's getting banged.

But, man, wouldn't it be cool/easier/convenient if women did just orgasm during a ramming like men do?

Maines shows us in this book that somewhere along the line, long-ago-Western-society said 'Yeah, that would be cool! I will go ahead and believe that!' And so it was believed. It was believed ever so strongly, and yet...it was also kinda known that it wasn't true. I mean, it's. just. not. true., and so it's hard to look past actual real life facts, but by gods the world has tried! This wierd dichotomy of believing strongly that women should and could orgasm through vaginal penetration and also kinda knowing that they don't has created all kinds of strange interactions between the world and the female orgasm.

How western society has rationalized our incorrect beliefs about female orgasm 
Okay so, in rectifying what is true of women's  orgasms and what is believed to be true of those things, Maines argues (in great detail and with tons of primary references, I might add) that since ancient times physicians have employed 5 basic strategies.

1 (least common) Straight-up acknowledge that only a minority of women can reach orgasm during penetration with no additional clitoral stimulation. She says this usually comes with advice about providing appropriate stimulation during coitus, not through masturbation. This is close to what we see from progressive, sex-positives today. It's better than not acknowledging the reality of clit-stimulation-to-orgasm at all, but it a. still keeps intercourse front and center, b. still hangs onto the idea that there are some women, even if it's just a minority, that can orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina. However, there just doesn't seem to be physical evidence that this is true. Now, Maines doesn't come right out and say in the book that orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone is a completely unverified thing and that there's no good evidence to believe any women can orgasm that way, but she does do something that I almost never ever see - she argued that the number of women in surveys who say they can orgasm this way (it tends to be around 30%) are quite likely inflated - which is real talk and soooo needs to be said.

So, although this is really how the most progressive in our society society deal with this, it still leaves so much room for the belief in vaginally induced orgasms and the uber-importance of intercourse that it doesn't really do enough to combat the status quo feeling that intercourse should be as orgasmic to women as it is for men.

Confusing desire, arousal, or enjoyment/pleasure with orgasmic resolution. Ummmm...
Having reaffirmed the norm as coitus, twentieth-century physicians tended to blur the distinction between orgasm and satisfaction much as their nineteenth-century predecessors had done. A propensity to equate enjoyment of coitus with orgasmic satisfaction remains embedded in both medical and popular discussion despite nearly a century of study of female sexuality." p 63
True. True .True. This happens today all. the. time. And this brings me to where Maines goes next with this argument. She insinuates that it's not just male physicians. Women seem to use this conflating of pleasure and orgasm to hold the line on this as well. I have to tell you, I just about flipped my lid when I read this. It's just simply not a thing people are willing to talk about (for real, it's the thing I say that I find people get the most pissed off about) - that women might be reporting orgasms from penetration minus any extra clitoral stimulation even though they are not actually experiencing orgasm that way.
Jeanne Warner, who wrote about this in 1984, used Joseph Bohlen's 1981 definition: "Only the unique waveforms of anal and vaginal pressure associated with the reflexive contractions of the pelvic muscles provide distinct physiological evidence of orgasm." In the absence of these signs, the emotional and physical enjoyment that women experience in coitus is frequently elevated to the stature of orgasm, both in the women's reports and in the medical interpretation. Women are under pressure to appear normal and feminine in their sexual response - defined, of course, in the androcentric model - and physicians have traditionally sought evidence that validated this model. Warner thinks it is likely that female orgasm in coitus is substantially over reported owing to women's tendency to say what their husbands and doctors want to hear... p 63
3 They gave the female orgasm a different name and identity. "Hysterical Paroxysm" was a term used for something that women had...and it was obviously an orgasm, but they either failed to see it as that or intentionally didn't call it that. So, by calling the female orgasm something different no one had to acknowledge that orgasm was what was happening from certain clit-stimulating situations - particularly medically induced ones.

4 Many physicians just believed women didn't have sexual feelings and desires.
It is in the nineteenth century that we see the fullest flowering of the third and fourth approaches to reconciling perceptions of women's sexuality with their observed behaviour: believing that women enjoyed intercourse sufficiently with or without the resolution now medically defined as orgasm, or that normal women experienced no sexual feelings at all. pg 59
hmmmm. Women enjoy intercourse with or without orgasming...where do I hear that? Oh yeah - all over modern sex advice that assures us women can be fully satisfied by sex even if there is no orgasm. You know, because we're more interested in the emotional/closeness aspects of sex or something like that.

Also, you see how nicely 3 and 4 play together? You can send women with 'Hysteria' to a physician to get a medical procedure (a doctor masturbating her with his hand or a vibrator) until she experiences a paroxysm (orgasm), and since women don't have sexual feelings at all or at least not without P-in-V sex, then that medical visit is fine, and pure, and cool for upstanding ladies to partake in.

"Finally, some medical authors omit all mention of female orgasm, even in discussing female sexuality." p51

I mean, just ignore it completely is a good plan too.

Hysteria (or how misunderstanding female orgasm makes normal female reactions seem pathological )
Maines lays out a fab argument that hysteria and its "sister" disorders in western medicine have been used as catchall for reconciling the reality of female sexuality and sexual response with the baseless beliefs about how women's orgasms and sexuality should be.

Imagine (and it's not hard to really since it's actually not too far off from the female situation today) the wierd position a woman was in.

She should be pure sexually but also supposed to enjoy or at least be fine with sexual contact from her husband only.
  • ...but the sexual contact she and her husband mostly have is intercourse, and being that it doesn't do much for the clit, he comes and she does not. 
  • ....so, it's actually not that exciting of a thing for her and there's not quite the same motivation for her to do that again as there is for him and she starts to be less interested in him and their sex life
  • ...but that very natural response to shitty, orgasmless sex is deemed as pathological because no one is willing to acknowledge that she isn't having orgasms that she could very well be having if they just did sexual contact differently. 
  • ...but, at the same time, if she does either try to stimulate herself in a very sensible and orgasm-creating way, it's considered a bit deviant given it doesn't include a dick in her vagina, so this also makes her a deviant.
  • ...and if she does anything that might be considered a sensible reaction to living in an orgasmless marriage, like crying or being bored or sad or being too interested in seeking sex or companionship elsewhere - that'll get her a hysteria or hysteria-like diagnosis as well. 
Basically, when women's sexuality is viewed through the idea that hetero-penetrative sex is the ultimate in sexual satisfaction for all, things start getting wierd and women's quite normal reactions to things don't make sense. It's some shady business that results in reframing normal female sexual functioning as diseased. Can't orgasm during intercourse? Diseased. Masturbate? Diseased. Feel frustrated and bored with your sex (because you actually can't orgasm during intercourse)? Diseased. Want sex a lot? Don't want it enough for your husband? Diseased! Diseased!

This desperate attempt to believe that women should orgasm during intercourse despite all kinds of contrary evidence created a lot of confused damned if you do, damned if you don't statements and ideas about female sexuality. Talking of famous 18th century doctor Richard von Kraft-Ebing and his statements about sexual "anesthesia" (i.e. not able to enjoy/orgasm), Maines writes,
Nineteenth-century physicians noted that their hysterical and neurasthenic women patients experienced traditional androcentric intercourse (me: normal ol' in-out sex) mainly as a disappointment. Richard von Kraft-Ebing , who thought that "women...if physically and mentally normal, and properly educated, has but little sensual desire," nevertheless considered the failure of his female patients to enjoy sex a pathological condition. p 39
So, women aren't supposed to have sexual desire, but if they don't they're diseased? Hysteria and its sister diseases, of course, were sometiems treated by masturbating a woman to orgasm (or as they liked to call it - paroxysm). It was lovely way to get women an orgasm, something quite important to most humans, without admitting that penetration is not great for orgasm or that women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm and without inconveniencing women's partners in the slightest.

Technology for the job no one wants
A large portion of the book involves setting the scene for discussing the technologies-to-get-women-off. It needs a lot of background and context because frankly we modern people are not much more enlightened about the female orgasm than the Romans and the 19th century physicians Maines writes about. We still hold a strong belief that women can and should orgasm from intercourse alone despite piles of evidence to the contrary. If you are skeptical of that just quickly check out how we depict sex in porn, movies, TV and romance novels. What Maines calls the Androcentric Model of sex (penile- vaginal intercourse to male orgasm as the ultimate in pleasure for both parties), is still deeply embedded in our modern beliefs about sex. We are a touch more progressive in some ways, but not enough so that Maines can assume all the stuff about how intercourse just plain doesn't work for lady-gasms is obvious and skip through it with a line or two. Like...she must argue that point and get us to understand/believe that before she can even begin her main technology related argument.

I'll let Maines introduce the technology-focused part of the book.
The overloaded and leaky vessel of androcentric sexuality, as we have seen, has required systematic bailing out of contradictory data. Some of this has been accomplished, I have suggested, by medicalizing the production of female orgasm, thus relieving husbands and lovers of the chore of stimulating the clitoris, a task rarely compatible with such reliable masculine favorites as coitus in the female-supine position. Physicians did not relish the job either, however lucrative it might be as an office visit cash cow, and from ancient times to the end of the nineteenth-century they sought some means of literally getting the female orgasm off their hands. Their efforts to mechanize and expedite the task while retaining the profitable character of orgasmic treatment are the subject of the next chapter. p. 66
The description of how lady-gasm was mechanized from ancient times to now is pretty fascinating, and Maines makes in-depth arguments for the high importance society has put on the mechanization of this task.
The first home appliance to be electrified was the sewing machine in 1889, followed in the next ten years by the fan, the teakettle, the toaster, and the vibrator. The last preceded the electric vacuum by some nine years, the electric iron by ten, and the electric frying pan by more than a decade, possibly reflecting consumer priorities. p.100
The history she gives us about all the contraptions people created to get women off, how the vibrator got into the home, and how it was eventually advertised is fascinating (I won't go into it, but you should get the book and read about it).

As for the vibrator and modern life; concrete, physical, mid 20th century scientific knowledge that women do in fact come from clit stimulation and not vaginal stimulation (Masters & Johnson)  as well as the birth of film that showed women getting off  from vibrators on their clits has taken the safety cloak off women getting 'non-sexual' 'medical procedures' to orgasm as well as advertisements of vibrators in respectable women's magazines. We know it's sexual now and most people at least recognize that clitoral stimulation is a way to get women off, even if there is still widespread belief that vaginal penetration is also a way to do that.  It is progress, but frankly not enough. We still largely cling to the idea that women should orgasm during intercourse just like men, and that directly stimulating the clit (which is what actually makes women orgasm) is 'extra' or 'foreplay.' As Maine writes in the end of her introduction,
The women's movement had completed what had begun with the introduction of the electromechanical vibrator into the home: it put into the hands of women themselves the job that nobody wanted.
Progress, yes, but we're still largely working from the assumption that p-in-v intercourse is as orgasmic for women as it is for men, and if women want to get off in a way other than penetration we, not our sexual partners, are generally the ones expected to do it.

THE REAL PUNCH OF THIS BOOK IS THAT IT SHOWS US THE PROBLEM IS STILL HERE
I've read reviews of this book and seen art created from it, and what struck me is that often the really subversive punch of this book seems to have gotten lost. Yes, all the info about how women were masturbated through history is funny and interesting. Yes, the fact that women's normal sexual functioning was deemed pathological is infuriating, but underneath all that is the truth no one wants to speak too loudly. We as a society still. don't. get. it. Women don't orgasm through intercourse, but we arrange our society as if they do and then expect women to fit themselves into that fiction however they can. Maines is incredibly clear about this.
What is really remarkable about Western history in this context is that the medical norm of penetration to male orgasm as the ultimate sexual thrill for both men and women has survived an indefinite number of individual and collective observations suggesting that for most women this pattern is simply not the case...Since women cannot alter their sexual physiology in order to achieve compliance (consistent orgasm during coitus), they have employed a variety of strategies to reconcile reality with the normative mode. p 49-50 
A-fucking-MEN sister. Although this book is already almost 20 years old, and I can confidently say, it's still relevant because SHIT STILL HASN'T CHANGED. If it had, then speaking out against belief in female orgasm through vaginal stimulation like we do in my movie and this blog would not get the kind of combative, offended reactions they often gets.  Maines wouldn't have gotten those kinds of reactions from her research and this book either, but she most certainly did. She discusses it in detail in the preface of her book. This topic has created quite a fuss. She describes a variety of presentations and interactions surrounding this research that were surprisingly shitty.
At this point I discovered what I should have realized all along: that some people, most of them male, take my findings personally and resent them as implied criticism. p xiii
I am right there with her, although I'd say I get quite a lot of women in that boat as well. The truth is, though, that the harsh reactions to the idea that women might not get off from penetrative sex just proves her point even further. The need to believe dicks make women come despite tons of evidence to the contrary was and is still STRONG.

She ends her book with a chapter called "Ending the Androcentric Model" She makes no bones about the fact that our society has been living a long and strange lie about how women orgasm, and that it's long past due to come clean.
Many questions can and should be raised about the persistence of Western belief that women ought to reach orgasm during heterosexual coitus. Certainly its importance to impregnation must have contributed to our doggedly maintaining it in the face of abundant individual and societal evidence that penetration unaccompanied  by direct stimulation of the clitoris is an inefficient and, more often than not, ineffective way to produce orgasm in women. It is hardly worth belaboring the point that most men enjoy coitus and that men have been the dominant sex through most of Western history. Yet the fact remains of our normative preference for coitus, in which the constant from Hippocrates to Freud - despite breathtaking changes in nearly every other area of medical thought - is that women who do not reach orgasm by means of penetration alone are sick or defective. The penetration myth is not a conspiracy perpetuated by men; women too want to believe in the ideal of universal orgasmic mutuality in coitus. Even the sexual radical Wilhelm Reich could not see beyond this time-honored norm. The feminist questioning of androcentric sexuality over the past three decades is recent and, one might say, long overdue. p115
Her last lines in the book
The rifts of this ancient wall continue to be patched with exhortations to women to avoid challenging the norm even if it means faking orgasms and sacrificing honesty in their intimate relationships with men. In the past we have been willing to pay this price; whether we should continue to do so is a question for individuals, not historians. p123
She basically said, 'I laid this shit out for you. I told you that our society has been and is still obsessed so deeply with the belief in mutually orgasmic intercourse that it has twisted and contorted female sexuality and stunted female orgasm in a wide range of ways. There has barely started to be real discussion in this arena thanks to a few decades of feminist criticism, but not nearly enough. It's now up to the people. Are you going to acknowledge the ridiculousness of our culture's most precious sexual belief and affect change, or are you going to continue ignoring it and awkwardly plastering over the cracks in its facade?'

CONCLUSION
I am telling you, this is as bold and revolutionary a book on female orgasm as as I've seen. I have read a shit-ton of books and articles about female sexuality and female orgasm from the time I started researching my movie in 2003. Nothing else, besides The Hite Report, has floored me with its absolutely unabashed realism and clarity on this topic. It's kinda insane to me how tame people are when they write about this book or make movies/docs related to it. They rarely speak about the orgasm-during-intercourse-being-BS part and speak on other more palatable things. It doesn't surprise me at all, though. If it's anything like the reaction I get to my work, it's one of 3 things. 1. some level of pissed 2. Some level of mind blown or 3. completely ignore all the uncomfortable parts about problems in our current society and focus only on how thing 'used to be' or on the interesting, fun, or sexy parts. I think #3 is what's happened a lot with this book. (OMG! So crazy about hysteria and vibrators, right?)

In the end this book, her bold stance, and all the detailed research she did is important. Period. I know there are plenty of people out there who have read this book and deeply moved by it. I was. I just wish I'd found it like 15 years earlier - some parts of it surely would have made their way into my movie.

I believe there is a revolution boiling that could really get a strong-hold on flipping the male-focused model of sex, but these things take time. It's been brewing decades and will probably be brewing for many more, but even if it seems like things aren't changing, I truly believe books like this add a few more hands and a lot more power to the fight. It moves the Orgasm Equality Revolution forward.

Cheers to you Rachel P. Maines. You deserve an awesome award, but all I have to give you is a place of honor in my Orgasm Equality Allies list.  Do enjoy all the power and prestige that goes along with this distinct honor.

11.09.2017

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - The SSL Review




Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
I like Tina Fey, so I caught Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on some streaming media last year. It was an alright movie. It wasn't a standout, but it wasn't bad either - worth a watch. Anyway, it's about a reporter, Kim Baker, who ends up covering and staying in Afghanistan for a significant amount of time towards the beginning of the US engagement there. I'm not gonna tell a bunch of plot points, but the one thing you do need to know is that the reporters there party hard - like real hard - and there was a sex scene in this movie that mentions orgasm. This is what I am SSL Reviewing today.



The SSL Review Review
Okay, so SSL Reviews. As you might know an SSL Review is a critique of depictions or discussions of female masturbation, female orgasm, or the clit. I only discuss those scenes - not the movie as a whole (unless I feel like talking about more), and I try to focus on the realism of the depiction/discussion and also how it fits into a larger cultural discussion of female orgasm and sexuality.

Check all the SSL Review movies HERE and TV SSL Reviews HERE.


The SSL Review

The Details
I'm gonna lay out the scene for you first so you can see what happens here. (scene at about 1:02:20 in the movie). Kim has been partying with all the other reporters. Iain is a skeezy, Scottish dude reporter that hits hard on any woman around him, but he's kinda fun to hang with. He and Kim have become friends-ish. They're sitting together at the party. She looks at him...in that way. It cuts and they're making out as they come through the door to her room (they're like dorm rooms). 

Iain kinda picks Kim up.
Kim: Iain, don't carry me around. I'm not a fucking baby.
He puts her down. They're both super drunk and kinda stumble around and mumble things.
Kim:  God damn it. What are you doing?
She shoves and then kisses him. They try to pull her shirt off and mutter about that a little
Iain: Oh god, I'm gonna put it in you so fucking hard. You're gonna fucking get it.
Kim: Shhh. Don't talk.
Iain: I want everything in your mouth.
Kim: Iain, just shut it.
Remember - they're pretty drunk. I used the subtitles to help get this transcript, but it's actually kinda hard to hear. It's soft and slurry, and I'm actually not sure who says the next line. It kinda sounds more like Iain to me, but it seems more like Kim would say it. Anyway, they're sorta being combative yet continuing to kiss and grope - all in that fucked-up after party sort of way.
Iain or Kim?: I'll take you lying down, come on.
Kim: Do you have one of those wierd little penises?
Iain: No, this is how I want to go
He turns her around against the sink, so she's looking into the mirror.
Kim: No, I don't want to see myself. Roll off.
She works her way around so she's facing him again
Iain: Okay fuck it.
He starts kissing her again
Iain: Oh godddd, I'm fucking...ooooh god...
He starts putting his hand on her mouth.
Kim: What are you doing?
Iain: I'm just putting my fucking finger in your mouth
Kim: Shh. no
She's wiping his hand away from her face and he's drunkedly continuing.
Iain: come oooon, just put everything in your mouth.
Kim gags a little still wiping his hands away from her mouth. He stops.
Iain: Do you want me to go? 
She looks at him a little like he's crazy and very clearly says
Kim: no.
They kiss more and fall onto the bed. It cuts to the next morning. He's brushing his teeth. She's looking at him just over the covers, obviously not super excited it happened.
Iain: There's ault like a good shag.
Kim: okay, lets try to be adults here.
Iain: I think we were.
Kim: Obviously, this was just a Kabubble thing, right?...just a fun mistake where one of us had an orgasm.
He squints his eyes at her and leans on the sink as she continues talking
Kim: I mean we're both in a really bad place. And then you punched Nic. I mean, it's endorphines, right?
They never again address the orgasm thing. And she ends up having more drunkin' sex with him...but not that we really get to see depicted like we do this one. There is nothing to indicate if she started getting orgasms during these trysts or not, but they do grow a sort of a mutually caring relationship.

My Review
Seems Reasonable
So, she had sex but no orgasm. Now, we can't say what exactly physically went down during their encounter because it wasn't depicted or discussed after what happened above. But, the truth is, if they had sex in the most normal and accepted way - i.e. intercourse with maybe just enough oral or manual genital stimulation to get the engines revved and nothing more -  then him orgasming and her not makes perfect sense. His dick would have been stimulated perfectly inside her vagina. It's a fantastic situation for a dick wanting the kind of stimulation that would make it come.

Her clit (which is as important to female orgasms as the penis is to male) would probably have not gotten any love because rubbing the clit, for god knows what reason, while we fuck is not that much of a 'thing.' She could have tried to rub her clit up against his body to come while he was inside her, but if you ask me that takes her actively trying to do that and him actively letting her hip movement take precedent over his (so he can't be banging into her) - which seems pretty unlikely given how very on his own agenda and uncooperative the sexual situation had been thus far. Anyway, my point here is that it was probably just her vagina getting stimulated, and that ain't never shown itself to cause orgasm  - not in all of scientific literature. 

So her assessment of the sex seemed completely reasonable and realistic. Truth is, women all the time have tons of sex with men and don't orgasm even though the dude they're with does - just like in this situation. 

Calling Out Porn Inspired Sex Stuff
I also wanted to quickly bring up the stuff we did see. I think there was an interesting dynamic there that we don't usually see. Iain in this movie is a known pervy skeez to women, and he continues in that vein during the sex. He talks about how hard he's going to fuck her and how he wants to put stuff in her mouth. He sticks his fingers in her mouth. It's all very porn-inspired. Even the part where he picks her up. To me, it's like he was expecting that type of script for this sexual encounter, because, well, I think men often do: him manhandling her, him moving her into positions he wants, banging the fuck out of her, sticking whatever he wants in whatever part of her he wants. 

Kim resists him the whole time, though, telling him to stop talking and pushing his hands out of her mouth. Yet she actively tells him she wants to still continue having sex with him.

I loved this because in a way it had the raw realism I think a lot of women would recognize. There is no lack out there in the world of shitty sex due to a guy wanting to do things to you that are unsexy, unarousing, unorgasmic, gross, or sometimes downright mean. And, truth be told, a lot of those shitty things are just the normal things we see in porn, movies and TV. It's just kinda how sex often goes, so the truth is in real life a lot of women find it easier to just go with it than having to fight at every step - because honestly that's just not sexy for anyone. I really like that in this scene there was this interesting flip of the switch where Kim did call out all the stuff she thought was gross. It was kind of like her drunkness gave her a free pass to tell him to fuck off with his dumb shit while still easily moving forward in the sex. I mean in the end it didn't help her have an orgasm with him, but maybe the sex overall was less gross because she didn't let it be that gross.

I liked that, and although we didn't see anything progressive in the physical way these two were having a sexual encounter (the assumption is they just had intercourse with a male but not female orgasm - which is pretty status quo), we did see a very realistic situation, and we saw a woman calling out the unarousing, grossness, and unorgasmic reality of that normal situation. 

Now, I'm not saying some women wouldn't like what he was doing, but I am saying that women are depicted as liking/wanting that type of thing more than women likely actually do like it...and that it's refreshing to see it being ridiculed the way it was in this scene.

SSL Review
This scene quite correctly depicted a woman not orgasming from an (assumed) non-clitorally infused boning. (Also she was super drunk, and that's just not a good physical situation for orgasm anyway). It also gently ridiculed a sort of porn-inspired expectation of what a woman should like and want from a sexual encounter. It wasn't the most progressive thing I've seen, but I felt like there was a realism and a fresh perspective in there that should be rewarded. I give this 4 out of 5 vulvas.

(!)(!)(!)(!)

11.05.2017

Big Little Lies - The SSL Review



Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies is an HBO miniseries with a preview that intrigued me enough to make a point in watching it. Plus, I have a thing about Reese Witherspoon. I'll always be willing to watch whatever she's in because I think she brings it, and even if it's kind of a crappy piece, her being in it will make it a little better. I feel the same way about Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Deal with it.



Anyway, I watched it. The preview is a bit misleading, which is fine. I kinda don't like to know exactly what I'm getting into. I liked this show. It was a good ride, and I don't want to ruin it too much with my SSL Review. So I'm going to be vague when I can, but there were 4 SSL Reviewable situations I'll be going over. Also, this should be the only season, because it was a completed miniseries, but of course there are rumors the author of this book the series was based on is writing a second season.

SSL Review
As always, an SSL Review is a critique specifically of the depiction or discussion of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. I'm particularly looking for the level of physical realism and for how the depiction/discussion fits into the larger cultural discussion about female sexuality and orgasm. Sometimes I comment on other aspects of the movie. Sometimes I don't.

Please feel free to check out all the SSL Reviewed movies HERE and the SSL reviews TV shows HERE.

Real Rough Sex: S1 Ep2
Celeste (Nicole Kidman) gets slapped by her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). She slaps him back, and then he pushes her hard against a wall, hurting her. He immediately starts to apologize and drops to his knees in front of her saying he's sorry and making excuses. He starts touching her and she pushes him away, and then he grabs both her hands and they sort of scuffle. It's aggressive, but almost looks like they're playing. He get ups and starts kissing her, and she is still kind of fighting back, but also she unbuttons his pants.



He aggressively turns her to face the wall and pushes her up against it, pulling his and her pants down just enough to enter her. He starts pounding her, and she begins to make orgasm sounds. It is over and they both seem to have come in under 10 seconds. She turns back around toward him, looks anywhere but in his eyes, squirms out from between him and the wall, and walks to look out the window, seemingly still kinda pissed. He slumps forward sort of regretfully.



Later she is having dinner with a friend, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), and they are talking about a problem in Madeline's marriage, but it moves to Celeste and Perry.
Madeline: Are you telling me you and Perry don't ever fight?
Celeste: No, we do...sometimes.
Madeline: And then do you run off to therapy afterward?
Celeste: (chuckles) More often than not we end up having sex.
Madeline: Really?
Celeste: Yes. It starts with anger. I don't...it's complicated. sometimes I think he likes to fight because it leads to sex. Sometimes I think I like it too.
Madeline: How often does this happen?
Celeste: Happens...enough.
Madeline: I have to say, Celeste, that sounds a little bit twisted, but kind of great.
Celeste: yeah (laughing)
My Review
First things first. The sex that was happening in this scene didn't look like something that would realistically cause a woman to orgasm. You know what I'm gonna say here if you've ever read my blog before. Women need external clitoral/vuvla stimulation in order to orgasm. The in-out stimulation in the vag alone ain't likely gonna do the trick. In this situation, her vulva was not pressed up against anything that might be giving it stimulation while she was getting banged. Neither of them had a hand on it. She just came from intercourse, and quickly, I might add. So, physically, this was just unrealistic.

However, I think you might easily interpret this as her faking though. She still seems pissed once it is done, and I think one could look at this as her doing what she knows she needs to do to deescalate the situation; fuck and come for him. Then again, it gets murky because she says to her friend later that she "thinks she might like it too." I feel like that gives the audience the impression that she really was turned on by it and her orgasm was supposed to be a real one.

I actually think the larger arch of this character and her relationship to this guy weigh in on this. This early scene here makes it seem a bit like they may be mutually masochistic, but I think her story becomes a much more complicated depiction of a person in a violent relationship. We see her rationalize and bounce between her understanding of the situation, and to me with that larger picture, I feel like this was her doing what she needed to do, like I discussed above. However, I'm cognizant that most people don't obsessively detail out depictions of female orgasm in their minds and assess and re-assess them. So, I think to many viewers, this might also be another of many scenes they have watched showing a woman getting fucked to orgasm, and it will gently sit among all the others in their head with little follow-up thought.

I guess that means I think overall this was an actually quite complicated, delicate piece of a larger story about sex in this relationship, but what it may mean to most people in the larger cultural conversation about female orgasm is simply a reiteration of the status quo feeling that women can come from a good banging.

Skype Sex: S1 Ep 2
Later that night, She is skyping with Perry who has gone away on business. sexing and starts to put her hand on her vulva

Perry: Hey will you do me a favor?
Celeste: What?
Perry: Take that beautiful robe off for a second.
Celeste: The boys are waiting for me downstairs.
Perry: Yeah, well, I have to help myself go to sleep. You need to help me help myself.
Celeste: Do I, now?
Perry: Let me just look at my gorgeous wife for a second...ten seconds.
Celeste: I'll give you five (begins taking off her robe.
Perry: Wow, what a nice five.
Celeste: She gives a quick show, pulls up shirt and shows her boobs.
Celeste: Okay, that's enough naughty boy. You'll have to come home sooner if you want more.

Then later that night, we see her with her computer on the bed skyping him again. He's naked under the sheet, and reaches under to start masturbating. She does a little strip from her robe to a little satin nightie shorts/camisole thing. She reaches her hand down her shorts to her vuvla area. They are quick shots, but the last one is her on her knees on the bed, clearly rubbing her vulva area with little moans.



My Review
So, this is a complicated one too that continues the arch of our evolving understanding of her sexual relationship with this guy. The depiction is not as complicated as the one before though because she's masturbating...or about to, and she seems to be doing in a physically realistic way. The only thing we can really tell is that her hand is generally on her vulva, but that's good enough. That's the place one would stimulate to get herself to orgasm, and we don't see her doing anything that looks like she's imitating intercourse or anything. It's physically realistic.

I like that we are seeing a woman masturbate.  To me any time that happens, lady-bation gets a little more normalized, and more women will feel less silly or embarrassed or ashamed to try it. I believe the more women do it, the more women will understand as they go into partnered sex, how they orgasm which will give a much better chance of molding that partnered sex into something that might be orgasmic for a woman.

Shower Oral: S1 E3
Celeste is in the shower. Her and Perry had a fight earlier. He brings a huge diamond necklace in to her and puts it around her neck. Then we see a bust shot of her clearly getting pleasure from down below, and then a far away shot through the glass shower, clearly showing him knelt down giving her oral sex while she is standing with one leg over his shoulder.



My Review
Again with this couple, there is all the baggage and complication we discussed above, but this time, the physical thing happening to her is something that could physically cause her to orgasm - because, nothing says lady-gasm like a mouth on a clit. So, this is realistic, and it depicts a dude going down on a lady. I always applaud that because the more we see something the more we might mimic it, and cunnilingus is certainly something I approve mimicking. (I mean, we see enough blow jobs, amIright? We could use a little balance out there in the media).

Loud AF Office Sex: S1 Ep3
Renata (Laura Dern) and her husband (Jeffery Nordling) end up having sex in his office bathroom (like, he has a huge office and this is his private bathroom in it). Before they do it, she says with a sly smile that they can't because people will hear, saying to him, "you know how I get." When we cut back to them, it's clear the whole office can hear. They are both super loud. She is sitting on the bathroom counter, skirt on. He's standing fucking her. He's really banging into her. It's really not grindy at all. She's screaming, "Fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me to the moon and back."  Then they finish. With their final intensity increasing to a peak before they collapse against each other, it really seems like they were depicted as orgasming simultaneously.

My Review
Man, I don't know. It might just be me, but I'm real poo-poo about being super loud during sex. To each her own, but like, I feel it takes extra effort to yell and scream and project your voice - shit that takes your mind off your junk getting stimulated and onto your 'performance'. It just doesn't seem very orgasm conducive to me. And honestly, men don't do that loud shit much at all - not in porn or in real life, and they almost always come during sex. I mean some sounds and breaths and the ol' kinda involuntary vocalization/breath that might happen as you're orgasming makes sense to me, but all the yelling? I guess arousal is a very personal thing, and some people might really get excited by yelling, who knows?  I'm just not that down with it, and you're reading this blog, so you have to listen to me spout off about it.

Which brings me to this: I think her orgasm in this scene is fake as hell, but I don't think it was meant to be, and that's not great. I think she's faking because nothing seemed to be touching her clit vulva area. He's banging into her. He's not grinding at all, and certainly not in a way that her clit/vulva area could make contact, much less consistent contact withanyhing on his body. She's just getting the inside of her vagina stimulated. Again, not great for an orgasm. His loud ass bullshit is gross to me too, but at least I know his whole penis is encompassed in a warm wet place that is uber-conducive to a man having an orgasm, so there's no reason he should be faking his.

Anyway, this fictional couple is, as so many real hetero couples all over thee world, having sex that is only really conducive to male orgasm, but the female acts as though she is orgasming as well. Why? Well, there's lots of reasons and most of us have used at least one of them: because we think we should; because we think the excitement and pleasure of the situation is good enough to vocalize in that way; because we know it won't end if we don't orgasm and the only way we'll orgasm in that situation is to fake it; because we assume what's happening is an orgasm, or a different kind of orgasm; because we want to show our appreciation to the guy fucking us or maybe just don't want to make him feel bad; because we feel like it; because it's fun to act wild and sexy.

Whatever it is, it does happen all the time, and this is just another depiction of that. It, like all the other depictions out there like this, serves to reiterate something false in our minds - that other women do orgasm that way, and that it is expected and normal for women to orgasm from nothing more than a dick in the vaigna.

The Vulva Rating
This is a very mixed review, but overall this series adds to the impression that women orgasm from the ol' in and out. I'll give some points for depicting cunnilingus and the start of a woman masturbating, but I don't think this does anything to move forward on orgasm equality, and might even help to keep us stagnant. I give this 2 out of 5 vulvas.

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11.01.2017

Don't Trust the B---- In Apt 23 S2 Ep. "Paris..." - The SSL Review



Don't Trust the B----- in Apt 23 - "Paris..."
Don't Trust The B---- In Apt 23  was only on for 2 seasons, and like I said in the first SSL Review I did for this show, Netflix changed the order of the episodes around from their original air date, so I'm using the episode name instead of the number for your future reference. Anyway, I thought it was a pretty fun sitcom. My sister told me to watch it, and I do what she says, so that's how I got into it. You can get into it because of me. That's how this stuff works.



As you might expect, given this post, there is an SSL Reviewable scene. Honestly, it's maybe not strictly SSL Reviewable because it doesn't directly discuss or depict female masturbation, but it does indirectly insinuate it, and I think it's worth a quick review. So here it is.

SSL Review
First a quick reminder about an SSL Review. It is the critique specifically of the depiction or discussion of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. I'm particularly looking for the level of physical realism and for how the depiction/discussion fits into the larger cultural discussion about female sexuality and orgasm. Sometimes I comment on other aspects of the movie. Sometimes I don't.

Please feel free to check out all the SSL Reviewed movies HERE and the SSL Reviewed TV shows HERE.

So Many Vibrators
Like I said above, this is a bit of an SSL-Review-Lite. Let me just describe the scene.

June is the (mostly) innocent, sweet half of Apt 23. Chloe is the wild, chaotic, kinda mean side. June finally has this job she's been hoping to get, and she's trying to make sure she gets ready on time in the morning. However, there's a montage of her trying to get ready, but she just keeps finding Chloe's vibrators all over the house instead of the things she needs. They are, btw, Hitachi Magic Wand style ones instead of the classic dildo shape. It's clear she's using them to vibe the outside not dildo her insides.

My Thoughts
So, that's really the whole thing. It's just a comedic scene that also points out how often Chloe uses vibrators...alone, with a random sex partner (she often brings these types of guests for sleepovers in the apartment)...who knows how Chloe uses them, but she definitely does.

Loving it...
I LOVE that there is an acknowledgement of a female character masturbating. Any time that happens, it normalizes the idea of women masturbating, and hopefully makes it easier for women out in the world to feel okay doing it and admitting to it. More masturbating women means more orgasming women, means more women who might be able to figure out how to translate their way of masturbating into orgasm with a partner. We ladies need to do the solo research to help us with the partnered stuff because normal ol' sex (i.e. intercourse) ain't a good path to orgasm like it is for men, and we have to put in extra effort that men don't have to in order to get ourselves the right stimulation and get our partners on board with things other than the basics. (The clits, people. We just need the clits stimulated. I don't know why this has to be so hard really, but it is).

Although I have some reservations...
Sometimes I do worry about what a depiction is saying to the world by who the gal is that's masturbating, though. I worry about this for this show, but only very, very slightly. I definitely hold to what I said above, but if the woman who is depicted masturbating is a horrible person that does horrible things and the nice women around her hate her and are disgusted by the things she does (including masturbation) then that's clearly counter-productive to the whole 'normalizing of lady-bation' thing.

But mostly it's good shit...
Chloe is a bitch. She is the bitch in Apt 23. She's actually pretty terrible a lot of the time. However, she also redeems herself from time to time and she is the main character. She's hate-ably lovable, really, so although she is clearly chaotic and wild, and her masturbating may color lady-bation itself as chaotic and wild, I don't think it demonizes it. Also, as you'll find in my last SSL Review of this show, that, in fact, nice-gal June masturbates too. So the show as a whole, I believe, still really does make women masturbating seem like a thing that happens - for bitches and nice girls.

The Vulva Rating
First, bravo to the person/people who chose the props for this. They did not fuck around with things the audience might assume are dildos to be rammed inside Chloe's vagina and/or ass and not make her come. The props chose were badass vibrators meant to get a bitch off. Kudos, because I believe those very lady-orgasm-inducing props were intentional choices from people who want to give props to great vibrators and not silly dildo-y sex toys.

Secondly, respect that this is an insinuation of a woman's masturbation habits. Even if that women is a bitch of a woman, she's still a kinda lovable character and that, plus the larger story arch of the show regarding masturbation (see first SSL Review), are pieces of the larger media pie that help normalize ladies jigglin' their bits.

I give this 5 of 5 vulvas.

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