Flesh and Bone S1 Ep1: The SSL Review
SSL Review Intro for Flesh and Bone
If one could pick a perfect genre for a TV show that Charlie and I would definitely watch no matter what, it would be ballet soap opera. So, when a friend of ours turned us onto an Starz show called Flesh and Bone, obviously, we watched. It is a dark little ballet soap opera, and it is a bit of what we like to call 'French' for reasons I can't explain because it would spoil something important in the plot line, but it is very much everything it is supposed to be.
Anyway, we got through Season 1 and there 3 scenes that I felt were SSL reviewable. I'm going to talk about the 1st here. An eligible SSL reviewable scene, of course, one that includes depictions and/or discussions of female orgasm and/or masturbation. That's the only thing I care about in these reviews. I'm looking for physical realism (if a lady orgasms from toe-sucking alone, I will call bullshit on scientific and basic anatomical ground), and I'm also looking for what part the scene plays in our cultural conversation about female orgasm and sexuality. So, thems the basics.
If you want more TV SSL Reviews head HERE. Want some movie SSL reviews? Go HERE.
S1 Ep1 Soft Core Sex - The Details
A woman (I try not to give you too many unnecessary details about the characters and what they are doing in case you later watch these shows for reasons other than critiquing the sex scenes) is face up on a couch with her head hanging off over the arm. A man is face down above her - like an adjusted missionary - and he is banging her. When I say banging, though, it's a little wierd because it's like soft core banging. They are both very active pushing towards and away from each other, but it's like their pelvises aren't the parts where they are pivoting against each other from, like their chests are carrying most of the movement. It's also pretty obvious that their pelvises are not actually lined up in a way that actually works for intercourse, although they are obviously supposed to be having intercourse.
We only see them from the rib cage up, but he is close against her, so in theory, the positioning makes it possible for her vulva/clitoral area to be against his pelvis and rubbing - which could be a way for her to realistically get to orgasm in this situation. However, the wierd soft core movements don't make it seem like their parts are positioned right at all, and also their movements are not grindy. They're back and forthy against each other, like they are supposed to be banging in-out style even though it just looks super fake.
Anyway, this goes on for about 9 seconds and then they reposition while still intercourse-ing so that he is sitting on the couch and she is facing towards him, knees on the couch, straddling him. The same soft core problems that I describe above are still happening. Only this time, we can see fairly clearly (without seeing actual dirty parts), that her vulva/clitoral area is absolutely not against his body. Those parts are touching nothing but air - and there are definitely no hands on her junk. The soft core situation also makes it look like she's really just sitting on his upper thighs and moving her chest back and forth in lustful ways. This goes on for about 16 seconds, some of which includes continued sound from the couple while the camera faces the door as a new roommate knocks then opens and peaks in to find them doing it.
At this point, the guy spots the new roommate, says, "oh shit," and comes with some exhales and a pained orgasm look on his face. The girl kinda stops and then she says with harsh sarcasm, "Nice. Really? Thank you." At this point the guy points behind her to alert her to the unexpected new guest, and the scene ends.
During the whole 27ish seconds of intercourse, she is doing a continuous uh, uh, uh, uh thing, and towards the end, while the camera is looking at the door, she seems to get more into it, like she's getting close to coming. The guy is mostly silent except for a couple louder exhales - even while he comes.
So she didn't orgasm. In fact, she specifically didn't orgasm and was pissed about the guy coming to soon and messing up her chance at orgasm - or at least that's what it looked like to me. At the same time, the sense from her vocalizations and her disappointment, was that she would have come if the dude had not come first. So, I'm going from the assumption that the depicted sex was supposed to be something that would make her come.
So, a few things.
1 It's not a realistic depiction of what might physically make a woman orgasm. I'll forgive the general fake-ness of the look and go with my sense of what it was supposed to look like, which is a man and woman banging (the in-out status quo sort of wild sex banging) each other passionately. This sex situation was depicted as something that should make her orgasm, and I call bullshit. There was no outer clitoral/vulva area stimulation happening along with this intercourse, and frankly, ladies need that in order to orgasm. Some in-out, vaginally stimulating banging just doesn't seem to do the trick if you look at the whole of the scientific literature on the topic.
2 The whole thing where she kinda perma-gasmed with her uh-uh-uhs the whole time is problematic to me.
Reason 1 - If a man in TV sex made orgasmish sounding things the whole time, I think people would be wierded out by that because it doesn't seem realistic that a man would either be orgasming the entire sex act or that he would be that vocal. When we see women do it, it seems normal - not just that women make sounds like that during sex but also the possibility that she might be, like, kinda orgasming or in ecstasy the whole time...because when it comes to lady-gasms there is a lot of ridiculous, unrealistic, unverified, spiritualish/other-worldly-ish/non-physicalish notions about how women can come.
There's an underlying sense out there that women can orgasm in all these wierd ways that men can't and that they actually could orgasm for like an hour. It's a bunch of bunk, but it's not an uncommon feeling about women and their orgasms. My point here is that even if it is clear, as it is in this scene, that she didn't orgasm, these types of uh uh uh orgasmy sounds that last the whole act trouble me because they might give a sense to some of the audience that she is actually orgasming a lot (maybe they think she orgasmed at first but was disappointed in the end because she wanted more orgasms?...who knows what kind of wierd stuff people believe about female orgasm). It also just makes it seem like this is the way women should sound.
Which brings me to...
Reason 2 - Why do women always have to be making orgasmy sounds during sex? Men don't do that. In porn and TV and movies, though, women are always uh uh uh-ing and dudes aren't. It seems like BS to me. I think a lot of people and even sexpert advisers might say it's because women feel more comfortable with expressing pleasure and that men should be more like the ladies and let loose more, but I disagree.
I think, at least to some extent, women seem to make those sounds more than men simply because we think we're supposed to and men don't. I think ladies have traditionally put on a show - in real life and in porn - because we often aren't actually orgasming, so we need to do something to show we love it (because I guess we do love it??). Men don't need to put on a show because, well, because the orgasm. That's their show - an actual real life orgasm. Wouldn't it be nice if women could feel fine about shutting the hell up and focusing on their clit while doing sex stuff instead of thinking about how they should sound...just like men shut the fuck and focus on their penis instead of worrying about how they sound. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could feel fine just doing whatever and looking however they need in order to to get the job done? But man, I think we ladies are pressured into this sexy vocalization thing more than we'd like to admit.
So, point being, this scene is just one more scene out there normalizing the female permagasm, and I don't love it.
3 Okay, and finally, I hate that when he orgasmed, she just stopped and crapped on him for coming too early. First off, the idea that his hard dick against her inner vagina was somehow getting her to orgasm is unrealistic, so the idea that him finishing first would impede her from coming is also unrealistic.
Also, even if whatever was happening to this woman was actually something that could realistically bring her to orgasm, it's still BS that him coming should make her feel as though that ruined her ability to come. That would only be true if one has a rigid unrealistic understanding of how to have a mutually satisfying sexual interaction... which, to be fair, is pretty much the kind of understanding most people have (i.e. that sexual interaction = intercourse to mutual orgasm)....but that doesn't make it right.
I mean if your partner orgasms while you're doing whatever it is that you're doing, then why is that bad? Why can't you two just adjust now that one of you has orgasmed and do something that makes the other orgasm? It's a pretty simple solution, and it's stupid that this isn't the go-to move for, like, everyone. It's as if the writers live in a world that cannot possibly comprehend that sex could be something more (and actually orgasmically much better for women) than a hard penis pumping into a vagina for an extended period of time until both woman and man orgasm joyfully from said pumping. Oh wait, the writers do live in that world, and for this scene, they didn't have the creativity or the care to think any deeper about sex than that surface, status quo way of viewing sex that is crammed down all our throats.
This scene was unrealistic in the way it depicted what physically would make a woman orgasm. It also reinforces old worn out ideas about what sex should be like - that the man's hard dick is needed for the woman to orgasm, that sex is over after the man comes, and that a woman who's having good sex should uh uh uh the entire time. We don't need that worn out, unrealistic BS in our lives. That shit is not a friend of Orgasm Equality. However, it's also just real life, because all the things we saw in that scene were reflect the way sex is largely seen in our culture. So, in that way, this scene is not exactly going backward even if it is not taking us forward. I'll give it 2 vulvas...because it sucks, but not as bad as some other scenes do.