Flesh and Bone S2 and S3: The SSL Review

SSL Review Intro for Flesh and Bone S1 Ep 5- 8
As I described in an earlier post about 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 exactly this show - ballet soap opera. There is only 1 season as of yet, and with this post (along with my first Flesh and Blood SSL Review), I will have the whole of the season SSL Reviewed.

There are 2 scenes I will be reviewing, one is technically eligible for review because it includes a depictions and/or discussions of female orgasm and/or masturbation. The other I decided to review because of the decided lack of female orgasm in a sex scene, so it's not exactly eligible, but I think it's important, especially in conjunction with the first scene. As always, I'm looking for physical realism (if a lady orgasms from butt spanking 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. Here we go.

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Season 1 Episode 5: Get that bath, girl
I will be vague about who the character in this is because I don't want to spoil any shows in these SSL Reviews if I don't have to. I will tell you the character in question is a ballerina, but most people in this show are, so that's not much of a clue. As a background, she is passionate about her career but she is somewhat of a sad person in a listless marriage.

The Details
In this scene she comes home to her husband, and sweetly and kindly demurs from his kiss saying that she's exhausted. She then goes upstairs and gets into a bath. It's a wide shot at first, so we see her knees up above the water and her upper body is propped up against the edge of the bath. The water hits at the ribcage area so the producers were able to get an extra set of boobs in the show.

Shortly after the scenes starts, she moves her right hand down under the water towards her crotch area. Obviously we don't see exactly what is going on down there, but it seems very effortless. There was no sense that she was sticking her fingers up inside herself or anything. It just seemed like she was touching her lady junk. So that was generally realistic - at least she was putting her hand in the general right area and not doing something ridiculous and fake-masturbatey like imitating intercourse with no additional outer clitoral stimulation.

As she's moving towards orgasm, we don't see her upper arm moving wildly. In fact her body seems to be moving more against her hand than the hand against her body, but there is subtle movement from both hand and body that sell this. To me, it looks completely plausible that she could be pressing her hand against her vuvla/clit area and getting the kind of constant grinding stimulation that could get a gal off. And she does get off. We watch her doing this grinding in the wide shot for about 20 seconds, and then it cuts to a close-up of her that cuts off just below the neck. With some exhales and strain/pleasure faces, she pretty clearly comes. So, I deem that this has met the most basic of realism requirements. It was pretty quick from start to orgasm, but there's no reason to believe there are not both men and women who can pop off in 1/2 a minute during masturbation. 45% of the 62% of women who reported masturbating in Kinsey's landmark surveys, said they could reach orgasm withn 3 minutes.

My Thoughts
It's realistic but, I mean, why be excited?
Like I discussed above, the physical things that she was doing are actually things that could bring a woman to orgasm, so I have no problems with that. I appreciate that because a depiction of female orgasm with basic realism is more rare than we'd all like to think, but I will give it no gold stars, because for god sake, isn't that like the least of what we should expect from a depiction of orgasm - male or female?

I like that her vocalizations and body movement were subtle. She was getting into it, but not overexerting her voice, breathing, or body in a way that would be, in my opinion, distracting from the focus on the pleasure happening in her body. She was depicted here not as over exaggerated, showy/porny, but in the way men tend to be depicted orgasming. As I discussed in the previous Flesh and Bone SSL Review, I think the realism allowed men (more than women) in depictions of male orgasm in TV and movies are partially because men are used to experiencing with partners (and watching in porn) actual male orgasm instead of performance of orgasm - which unfortunately is what we almost always see in porn and too often experience in real life. Point is, this actress acted this one in a way that is sensibly realistic and lacks the showiness often seen in depictions of female orgasm, and I appreciate this.

But it's masturbation orgasm, not intercourse orgasm...so...
Allow me a quick observations. I have done many an SSL Review over the years, and I find that depictions of female masturbation are consistently realistic and largely well done - just like in real life. It's when you put a partner, particularly a man, in the scene that the depictions start getting ridiculous (again, just like in real life). So, I'm not particularly excited about this scene, just glad it's not terrible. It's as it should be, and it's common to do this kind of scene adequately.

My guess here is that these scenes are done well because women masturbate well in real life. We do it, we orgasm, and there's much less of an alternative idea about how women should masturbate. The exception may be the idea that women masturbate and orgasm through intercourse imitation; by banging the insides of their vaginas with dildos. These depictions pops up in the world from time to time, but the truth is women get to masturbate on our own so we don't need to put on a show, and thus we listen to our bodies and do what works for our orgasm instead of for our partners, and it is by and large reflected in our depictions.

However, when it comes to partner sex, the sad truth is that many women fake orgasm, confuse orgasm for pleasure or excitement, put on shows, or just don't expect orgasm, and all those things get reflected in depictions. It's a confusing mess in real life, so it's a confusing mess in our TV, movies and porn. That's my two cents.

Season 1 Episode 8: Watch that ceiling, girl
The Details
In this scene the same women is having sex missionary in bed with her husband. The scene starts from a wide shot moving into the room. She is motionless, with her knees gently bent around either side of his body anf her feet on the bed. He is laying on her almost completely perpendicular (his upper body is not propped up with his arms). His movement is more a sliding forward and back along her body rather than a pounding up and down with his hips against her body. It cuts to a close up after just a few seconds. The shot is looking down, and her face is looking up. She looks sad and detached. The guy says, "you'll make a wonderful mom."

Through both shots of the scene we hear her breathing in a staccato way. It is not forceful, loud, or clearly vocal enough to be and uh, uh, uh situation, but it does sound a touch like she is enjoying the sex in a way that is moving her towards orgasm. It's actually a little wierd because her face and body movement do not look that way at all. She looks like she's just there for him to have sex on.

My Thoughts
Appropriately, she didn't come
She's not orgasming or clearly almost orgasming, and from her face she likely has no intention of orgasming. and that's a sensible outcome given what is physically happening...i.e. she's likely not getting the consistent, adequate outer clitoral stimulation that she needs in order to orgasm during this intercourse. I guess their position could be deemed more lady-orgasm-friendly than most, though. The fact that he's positioned with his pelvis close against hers means he could be putting pressure on her clit/vuvla area. That he's moving in a way that his pelvis is staying against her body with consistent pressure instead of bouncing against her body means his body could be giving her consistent enough clit/vuvla stimulation in order to orgasm.

However, (and this is important, people) her body, particularly her pelvis, was completely motionless. This, my friends, is common in TV and movie sex. I'm just going to draw a line in the sand and say that if a woman is not contributing to the movement of the intercourse, she probably ain't orgasming. A lady might get lucky every now and again with what's happening to her, BUT to keep that clit getting the kind of consistent pressure and stimulation it needs during intercourse, she's gonna need to get interactive. The dude on her might even need to chill the fuck out with his moving in order for her to work her hips without him impeding her. We as a society need to just start accepting that. Anyway, my point here is that she didn't come, and I'm glad from a realism standpoint because this physical situation is unlikely to have gotten her there.

But...at the same time, she was kinda orgasmy which was wierd
Her breathing really threw me off. It was so on the verge of being heading toward orgasmic-ish, and it was such a contrast to her face and body language. I am going from the assumption that the audience was not to assume she was that into this sex...so why the into-this-sexy-time breathing? I guess it could just be her breathing as he's moving in and out of her, because honestly being intercoursed on does sorta push a lady's breath out. I have certainly grunted rhythmically sometimes from shear body movement alone. However, it wasn't that forceful of sex.

Honestly, I think it's just in there because it's sex and the people creating this scene thought that breathing like she was doing is just part of the sounds of sex. I mean, her breathing could have been added in a completely separate, later, sound-creation session. It just seems to me like it's in there only because it's status quo, and there wasn't a lot of thought put into what she might actually sound like in that situation. The dude in the scene wasn't audibly sex-breathing...and he was definitely in it to win it. I guess breathing in a way that says "loving this sex, baby" is a lady thing not a guy thing. Anyway, the breathing sounded like she was way into it, but the actually acting in the scene pretty clearly showed how very not into it she was, so it ended up being a bit confused. I think that confusion is a good example of how thoughtlessness, misinformed and confused media makers tend to be about details surrounding female orgasm and female sexual situations.

And a little clarity about how emotion, stereotypes, and faking when we feel like it, but not when we don't
I just want to recognize that her lack of orgasm in the intercourse scene had very little to do with anything physical and everything to do with how she feels about her current situation. The context around this scene clearly shows us that she's decided to give up passion and settle, and the passion of her quick masturbation earlier helps show us that contrast.

Which brings me to ladies and sex and emotion. It's common to show women orgasming or not orgasming depending more on how they feel emotionally than what is happening physically. This sometimes happens for men in movies and TV, but rarely. Men with no emotion tend to still get their orgasm taken care of but show their lack of emotional connection to the sex in different ways. I think this is a poignant difference in gender representation.

I also think it's a bunch of bullshit because there is no actual biological reason to believe women's physical orgasms are somehow MORE dependent on our emotional state than men's. There just isn't but saying so is a good way to breeze over the fact that more women don't orgasm during partner sex than do. I mean, it couldn't possibly be that our clits get ignored when we're having sex, could it? No, of course not. It's just that ladies' crazy lady-emotions naturally make it harder for women to orgasm.

I joke, but there is this other part to the connection our culture and our media representations so often make between lady-gasms and emotion: it's kind of true. How, you say?
1. If we're having a lot of sex that isn't physically doing the things we need for orgasm (any status quo sex would be in this category for clit-havers) then yeah, we ladies need to kinda 'be in the mood' to put in the extra emotional and physical work to facilitate orgasm-having-situation despite the normal lack of clitoral stimulation we have come to expect in partnered sex.
2. Sometimes...maybe often...we women don't really physically orgasm, but we do put on an 'orgasm show' that might seem to our partner and maybe even to ourselves like we did physically orgasm. And maybe, just maybe we ladies as a group seem like we need to be emotionally connected to orgasm because we only care to and feel like putting on our 'orgasm shows' when we are happy and connected and when the dude hasn't pissed us off recently. If what I'm saying is not clear, let me be more clear...maybe we women fake a lot but we tend to fake a lot more when we like you and want to make you and ourselves enjoy the sex we're having. So chew on that.

Vulva Rating
This show in total was physically realistic when it came to the occurrence or lack of occurrence of orgasm. However, there was nothing progressive about these depictions. It played on all the gender stereotypes and visual and auditory tropes of status quo sexual depictions of women. So, nothing new.
This gets 3 and a 1/2 vulvas...an okay score.


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