A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D: The SSL Review

It's no secret that I am a Harold and Kumar fan. I fell in love when they were going to White Castle. I enjoyed their visit to Guantanamo Bay, and have recently spent Christmas Eve (in 3D) with them. I have a strong appreciation of the Harold and Kumar comedy style. It is comedy for comedy sake. There is no explaining, dwelling, or questioning. As an audience member, you must just...go with it. I know it’s not everybody's cup of tea, but A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D made me laugh…oh I laughed, and that’s exactly what I wanted and expected.

But that’s not why I’m here. SSL reviews critique specific depictions or discussions of female sexual response. Not every movie contains this. A lot of movies have sex in them, but stop before any indication about how the woman physically responds to it. So, when there is a movie that shows or specifically talks about a woman’s orgasm or lack of orgasm or anywhere in between, I have to write about it. What do we know or can we assume was physically happening to elicit or not elicit the response?  What was insinuated? How does it fit into our cultural understanding of how females are supposed to respond sexually? Etc.

The depiction that occurred in Harold and Kumar was quick and classic. At a party full of rich high school kids (cause why wouldn’t H&K be there) someone is opening doors while looking for something (vague enough?), and sees random activities going on behind closed doors. Let’s just say there are a lot of drugs at this party. One door reveals some sex. A guy is laying face up on a bed and a gal is bouncing up and down on top of him. I’d call it cowgirl style. She’s straddling him with her knees on the bed. Her face is towards his, but she is sitting straight up; her body perpendicular to his. Unsurprisingly, she is vocalizing in a screamy moany porn style as if she were orgasming, and her hands are up. The door quickly shuts.

Okay, so it’s a classic party scene to have in a movie. But, here’s the deal. There was no contact between her vulva/clitoral area and his body. Her hands were up, so we know she wasn’t touching her clit, and his hands were not near it either. That means she must have been orgasming through intercourse alone; as audience members we can assume that the simple act of  moving the penis in and out of the vagina was making her scream like a porn star. Or, you might be thinking, we can just take it as a silly exaggerated scene in a silly exaggerated movie.   I know it’s a small scene in a goofy, don’t-take-this-too-seriously kind of movie, but this is not an isolated depiction. This is a scene that takes its place among many many similar scenes that make up our cultural lore about how and why females experience orgasm. It is a standard way to show wild, young, unbridled sex; a woman bouncing on a penis and having the orgasm of her life. The problem is that most women do not orgasm at all during intercourse, and the majority (I would argue all) of women who do orgasm during intercourse do not orgasm because of penis friction inside the vagina. They orgasm because their clit/vulva area (the actual organ of female sexual pleasure) is also being stimulated in some way. I would (and do in Science Sex and the Ladies) argue that there has never ever been 1 study that physically records a woman having an orgasm due to friction inside the vagina. There have been recorded instances of ejaculation (which may be enjoyable to some of the women who have them, but are something physically different than an orgasm), and there have been instances where weak orgasms occurred because the movement of the penis in the vagina pulled vulva skin around the clit causing clitoral stimulation, and subsequently, an orgasm. However, these are admittedly – by the researchers – uncommon and the weakest orgasms these women were recorded having (the strongest being through masturbation).  It may seem trivial, but when women and girls, men and boys, see these seemingly harmless depictions so often, we all start getting the wrong ideas about what to do and what to expect during a sexual encounter. 

So, although Harold and Kumar did nothing worse (at least within this topic) than depict a status quo Hollywod depiction of female sexual release, it is still problematic because it simply adds credibility to incorrect cultural lore. It seems strange to imagine it, but what if men were shown as orgasming due to anal penetration over 90% of the time that sex was depicted. What if it was so common that it showed up in movies like Harold and Kumar. Probably, people would kinda know that all men couldn’t orgasm that way. Some men need added penile stimulation in order to come (like we know some women still need added clitoral stimulation). However, it would somehow make sense that some men could orgasm just from something moving in and out of his anus, I mean some men can ejaculate by massaging the prostate through the anus, so men can probably orgasm that way too, right?

That’s how far off we are on depictions of female sexual response; so far off that no one seems to notice. And Harold and Kumar, while being quite helpful to Santa Clause, are no help on this one.

I’ll give them 3 vulvas for a lack of imagination and reality in depicting female sexual response, but without any ill intent.
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