Glamour Joins the Orgasm Equality Fight

So, yo, yo, yo. There's an article that actually came out last year, but it slipped through the cracks, and I am just now posting about it. That means nothing about how much I love it though.

It's an article in Glamour called, "Are you ready for the war on bad sex?" and it's about the bullshit that is our sexual culture when it comes (or more likely doesn't come, if you get me drift) to lady-gams. The ever awesome Gemma Askham, who has already made my list of Orgasm Equality Heroes, and who I write about HERE, wrote it and in it talks with a variety of women out there activating on the subject. I am proud to be one of those ladies she speaks with in the article, and I feel absolutely elated to be among those other women calling BS on our culture's ignorance and ambivalence towards female orgasm.

Honestly, it really is exciting to see some boldness on this topic. I love seeing people speak more directly to the idea that vaginas don't make orgasms and that clits are the organ of female sexual pleasure. I love seeing it clearly put out there that women are able to orgasm as quickly, easily and reliably as men do...and then seriously question why the hell we don't much of the time. I love that there seems to be some real movement on this topic i like to call orgasm equality.

Some of the other women Gemma talks with in here have already made my Orgasm Equality Heroes list (Jenny Block, who I wrote about HERE ) and some women I am for sure interested in writing about in the future (Breanne Fahs, Lydia Daniller who co-founded OMGYes that has been on my list to write about for quite a while actually, and Naomi Hutchings)

Anyway, I LOVE women speaking out and I LOVE women highlighting the women who are speaking out. This is how revolutions - orgasm equality revolutions - begin, my friends.

Go check out the Article.


  1. Hi Trisha, just wanted to say I appreciate your blog. For the record, I'm actually conservative politically/socially, and I don't really go for the orgasm equality cause, though I do think any guy worth his salt who loves his lady ought to learn how orgasm works and make sure she has them as often as he does, and I think that it's important to have accurate information out there about it to serve women (and men).

    So you wouldn't think I'd find much to relate to here, but what I really like about your site is the commitment to scientific rigor when it comes to female orgasm. As I've researched the topic myself for application in my own marriage, I've become increasingly aware of just how much nonsense and garbage advice is out there, and how much it all stems from the rampant self-promotion and abysmal standards of evidence rife throughout the whole field of sexology.

    For instance, I've seen dozens of articles about the alleged "cervix orgasm" and how to have them. I see it taken for granted in scholarly papers and books by well-known evo-psych guys like David Buss. I see it casually asserted that this is the basis for many women's sexual satisfaction in various literature (it's certainly the foundation for Stuart Brody's entire awful body of neo-Freudian work).

    And yet, this whole edifice of ink rests on a single study from 2004 using a mere five women with spinal cord injuries that (as I know thanks to this blog) relied on (known to be notoriously inaccurate) self-reports of orgasm and which nobody has bothered to verify or replicate in the over a decade since. It's just incredible to me that so much has been hung on so little.

    And then there are the even more poorly-supported "A-spot" and "P-spot" and "U-spot" and so on, based on even flimsier evidence, which nevertheless have become staples of received wisdom across the Internet. Even the "G-spot" is the sort of unfalsifiable contrivance that wouldn't fly in any mainstream field of anatomy. Since these things can't be diagrammed or even seen, as long as even one woman claims to orgasm or even feel good from the general areas where they supposedly exist (and you will find at least some people claiming to feel good from stimulation to *anywhere on the human body*), they can't be falsified.

  2. (Cont)
    And of course the researchers behind each of these sensational "discoveries" get lots of media exposure and recognition and move lots of books and so on as a result.

    It's bad enough just from a scientific perspective that so much poorly-sourced information is being widely promulgated as fact, but worse is that I think it actively poisons a lot of people's perceptions of sex and of themselves. In a way, I think that's partly deliberate on the part of both journalists and researchers. Articles with sensationalist titles like "12 Types Of Earth-Shattering Orgasms You're Missing Out On" or "Sorry Boys, Bigger IS Better In Bed" get lots of views by picking at the insecurities of both sexes, and I think they do real harm to individuals and their relationships in the process, and needlessly make them feel like there's something wrong with them, much like Freud himself did to women for the better part of a century.

    (As an aside, I think it's pretty ironic that researchers like Whipple and Komisaruk, in deciding that anything a woman calls an "orgasm" must be an orgasm because it would be un-feminist to deny her lived experience or whatever, have ended up allying with Freudian kooks like Brody).

    Anyhow, it's refreshing to see you taking a skeptical eye to all this stuff, and pointing out what actually has been experimentally verified and what is mostly just speculation and assumption being presented as science. I've seen a few researchers (such as Nicole Prause) seeming to go more this route too recently, so hopefully there will be some commitment to actually testing these claims rigorously in the near future and filtering out all the smoke.


    1. Pete! Thank you so much for this note. As you know, I couldn't agree more with what you've said about the state of scientific inquiry into female orgasm. I love that you take the time to think and research on orgasm for your partner. Like you said - that is something a partner should absolutely be willing to do...wish it wasn't such a confusing thing to research though, amiright?

      Love too that you're really getting into the literature and getting to know the 'big' researchers. You definitely seem to have a handle on the state of it all. Please do give me a heads up if you see any new research that has some real new insight into the topic. There's a lot out there and it gets hard to keep up with.

      I also love that you have a bit of a different political/social leaning than I do, and that we can still agree on the problematic aspects of lady-gasm research and lady-gasm reporting/advising...because reality is reality I guess - no matter your leanings.

      Anyway, thank you again, and I so, so, so agree that 'hopefully there will be some commitment to actually testing these claims rigorously in the near future and filtering out all the smoke.'

      Rock on with your bad self Pete. You might just be an orgasm equality hero...even though you don't really go for the whole orgasm equality thing ;)

  3. Hi Trish, thanks for the reply! For the record, when I say I'm not an orgasm equality proponent, I just mean it in this sense. Because male orgasm is a necessary ingredient for the whole reproductive act to work, I think it's probably unavoidable that men are always going to have orgasms more often than women if you add up the absolute number of orgasms experienced by each sex in the aggregate, and that this isn't really an injustice or something that can be changed, so having an equal number of orgasms in an abstract sense isn't something to get hung up on.

    But I think that female orgasm is very important for a woman's happiness and well-being, and for the intimacy and self-confidence of both partners, and that for that reason men and women should have the best possible information available to them about how it happens, and that women's partners should learn how to make it happen. I want couples to be content and happy with themselves and each other in general. If it turns out that ends up resulting in women having the same number of orgasms as men overall, great!

    I do hope the state of sex research improves to become more rigorous. Nicole Prause has complained that it's pretty nearly impossible to get federal funding for sex studies, and I think that's part of the problem. But I can see the other side of the issue as well. I think that an enormous amount of what flies under the banner of "sexology" really does amount to little more than attempts to use government funding to push agendas of all stripes, and it's really difficult for someone in charge of that funding to determine what merits it and what doesn't. On the other hand, I think that the sort of hard, experimental science that Prause is trying to do is exactly what we need more of, and it's a shame when that can't get funded.

    It's tough. Sex is such an integral aspect of society and of individual self-perception and self-worth that I think it's pretty nearly impossible to study it in a dispassionate manner without lots of researchers bringing their own socio-political agendas to it. And since it's a topic that is important and interesting to practically everyone, the field is always rife for opportunists who want to take the low road and grab media headlines rather than discover the truth. To make matters worse, journalists rarely understand what's actually being relayed to them, and typically throw another layer of salacious clickbait on top of what's already there.

  4. (cont)

    It all results in sexology being an environment in which researchers, even the top dogs, can get away with passing off speculation as fact, and with following these standards of evidence that would be laughable in any other area of experimental biology. And way too many of them take full advantage of that environment. And then when genuine, well-supported information does trickle through, slowly and quietly, it's almost impossible for the casual layperson to separate it from all the noise, assuming they can even find it, unless they've got very good critical thinking skills and time to spend.

    As for research that gives a heads up on this topic, there IS a paper I saw referenced by Vincenzo Puppo in a reply to criticism by Komisaruk, that isn't specifically about orgasm, but might be relevant to this topic. Komisaruk had accused Puppo of ignoring evidence that women can orgasm from cervix stimulation via the vagus nerve pathway. In response, Puppo challenged Komisaruk to repeat the 2004 study under more rigorous conditions where somebody other than he and Whipple could actually observe and verify it, and then pointed out that there the alleged vagus pathway to the cervix is not documented in any anatomical literature and that the only evidence it even exists is that Whipple and Komisaruk hypothesized it to explain their own conclusion to their study.

    And then to support his point he pointed to a paper by Mohammadali M Shoja which states that the vagus nerve pathway in the pelvic region is incapable of communicating sensations of pain, because it doesn't connect to any conscious parts of the brain, which would appear to disprove Komisaruk's claim that women with spinal cord injuries could consciously feel cervical stimulation through the vagus nerve. Unfortunately, unlike Puppo's reply, that paper is behind a paywall. Not sure if you'd find it interesting enough to grab it, but I thought it worth pointing out if you haven't seen it already.

    Thanks again!

  5. Hi Pete!
    You are right on about the state of female orgasm research. I couldn’t have said it better. I love that you referenced Puppo. He’s actually super bad ass and so very on point about the problems with ladygasm research. I’ve had one of his articles in line to do a summary of for a long time. It’s long, though, so I keep putting it off, but I shouldn’t because I think he’s one of the most important voices out there on this topic. Here’s the article (full text!) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266564155_Anatomy_of_Sex_Revision_of_the_New_Anatomical_Terms_Used_for_the_Clitoris_and_the_Female_Orgasm_by_Sexologists
    It’s about how the female anatomy is getting unnecessarily re-named which is confusing and problematic for research of and education about female orgasm. Sadly, he hardly gets any attention from science writers (now I’m really gonna have to make sure I write something up on him). I’ve actually talked to him a few times through email. He wrote me after I referenced that Komisaruk letter above in a BBC article critique on female orgasm. He was actually interviewed for that BBC article, but was not included. He sends me new writings of his when they come out, so I get to read his stuff a bit before I can get it online.
    I had not read the Vagus nerve article you referenced, but after you spoke about it, I pulled it up to read. I hate paying for it….a lot…but I have a subscription to a place where I can get most (although not all) of the articles I’m looking for. I’m always willing to help people get access to articles they want if I can btw. I hate that it’s so hard to read scientific literature.

  6. As for orgasm equality. I guess I’ve never understood the term ‘equality’ in social justice terms as being about an equal amount of ‘things’ happening to both or all groups. I’ve always understood it as equality in terms of opportunity for access to said ‘things.’ So to me, orgasm equality has never been about penises and clits having exactly equal numbers of orgasms. It, like racial equality, gender equality and so on, is about equaling the playing field. That means righting in whatever ways make sense the unequal access caused by the years and years of incorrect education, wrong or unbalanced depictions, harmful cultural expectations, misinformed self-perceptions, etc. As in all social justice, approaching orgasm equality is complicated, messy, and hard because even things that seem so straightforward as scientific investigation are deeply and widely affected by years and years of misinformation and ridiculous expectations. These are things that don’t just get righted by putting out better information. Like you said about good scientific information in the midst of the tons of bad, ‘it’s almost impossible for the casual layperson to separate it from the noise, if they can even find it.’
    So, I guess my point is that although both of us would certainly not mind a 50/50 lady/gentleman orgasm situation, that’s not the goal for orgasm equality; equal access is, but getting there won’t happen without pointed activism to break through the noise.

    I really enjoy your comments Pete. It’s always exciting to hear from any reader at all, but I particularly enjoy your thoughtfulness.