They Came Together - The SSL Review

I was looking for something to watch on Netflix a few weeks ago, and I came across a movie with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. Seemed pretty good to me, so I went for it. It's actually a slightly indie (by slightly I mean it ain't that indie if it has two huge actors in it) spoof of romantic comedies. I liked it. I think it could have been funnier than it ended up being, but I did enjoy it, AND it's SSL reviewable! Also, the name of the movie is They Came Together, so the whole thing just seems appropriate...cause came, get it?

Just to remind everyone: SSL Reviews are exclusively about depictions/discussions of female orgasm or masturbation. They are not reviews of how good the movie is. The focus is on how realistic the depictions/discussions are and what they add to the cultural conversation on female orgasm.

The Phone Call Scene
The first scene I want to discuss begins with Joel, Paul Rudd's character, coming into work at his large corporate office. After he passes the main entry, we see his secretary leisurely talking on the phone before he walks by her to his office. She says the following (at approximately 5:39):
"So he went down on me, and I came in like one second. Yeah. Oh my boss is here. I'll call you later. Bye dad."
So, she and her dad talk about shit like a good pussy lickin' and that's cool and all. My main concern here, though, is to ponder what her words about her orgasm insinuate to the audience. When I'm reviewing discussions of orgasm that are inside jokes it's always a little trickier to unpack, but the joke here has more to do with the dad part rather than her orgasm. So actually, this seems pretty straight forward to me.

 She basically said a guy went down on her and she came quickly. Seems fuckin' fine to me. Realistically, eating out can absolutely lead to orgasm. Let me get a little deeper though for a sec. 'Going down' to me insinuates that the guy used his mouth to stimulate her clit which, as I said, is absolutely a reliable way that many women orgasm. However, 'going down' may not mean the same to everyone. There are people who think about and perform oral sex in a way that tries to mimic intercourse by moving the tongue in and out of the vaginal hole  (For instance this guy who wrote into The Playboy Adviser). So, if a person were of that mindset, this scene would be reinforcing their already incorrect assumptions about women orgasming through vaginal stimulation. However, for those who are cunning-linguists and understand that the clitoral stimulation is what ultimately makes a lady come during oral sex, this scene will reinforce those ideas.

So, the content of this scene is what one makes of it. It has a lot to do with what a person understands about lady-gasms to begin with, but still, it's not moving the cultural conversation backwards by any means. It's not saying anything particularly progressive though either. However, the fact that the scene exists at all is a little progressive. I mean we need more instances of women speaking about things like their orgasm, their clitoris, masturbating, and unabashedly enjoying oral sex to balance out how many times men speak of these things in media. This scene helps with that noble cause, and I do appreciate that. She could have said something unrealistic and porn/romance novel inspired like, "His dick was sooo big. I came like a second after he put it in," but she didn't and that deserves props.

The 13 Positions
Also, there was this part where Joel is hooking up with his ex- girlfriend and there's this montage of them, in kinda partial silhouette, doing crazy-ass shit in bed. They go through 13 different positions. It's meant to be funny, and on top of that we come out of the frame story and the people Joel is telling this to are uncomfortable with the level of detail he's going into, except one guy who is really into it. In fact, it seems like the craziness of what we saw came more from that guys imagination than from the actual details. So, this whole scene is a double joke and doubly fake, so you might say it's tricky to critique for realism. However, the joke is in the athletic, circus-like style of the positions, the joke is certainly not a 'haha! she came from inner vaginal stimulation alone and we ALL know women need clitoral stimulation to come!HAHA!" So, until that's the joke, I think even funny sex scenes can be critiqued in a similar way to normal sex scenes. So to start, here's a list describing each of the 13 sex positions...cause I guess I have too much time on my hands:

1. Her straddling his face taking her shirt off while facing his feet. Him laying on back with legs open and up against the wall

2. Him kneeling on the bed while she jumps into a her-legs-wrapped-around-his-face position...so, kinda a mouth to lady-junk jump

3. Him laying on his back on the bed, arms straight up above him, holding her up. Her body is completely straight and parrellel to his while he spins her around above him.

4. Not sure how to describe this. It's like he's doing a Superman with her (see below) but she's bent down 90 degrees so her mouth is in his genital area, and he's pushing her up and down with his legs.

superman position

5. Kinda like she's in a reverse cowgirl, but they are rolling head to toe on the bed like that.

6. He's kneeling on the bed, supporting her weight during the intercoursing. Her legs and arms are wrapped around his body. Then he jumps to his feet (still on the bed and still holding her the same way and bounces her up and down on his wang a couple times)

7. Okay - imagine a 69 with her on top. She's giving the oral, but instead of her junk on his face, he has straightened his arms out straight above him, raising her legs up so she's in an incline with feet up and mouth on dick.

8. He's laying on his back on the bed. She's standing above him straddling his head and then she drops her weight so that her lady junk falls straight down onto his face.

9. Okay...imagine 69 again with him on top, but her legs are up and knees bent, so she's kinda squeezing his ears with her thighs. Then imagine he wraps his arms around her back to support her, and lifts himself up, so he's kinda in a squatting position, but they are still both mouth-to-junk.

10. She's on the bed on her back, and he's above her face-to-face, but he's in a sort of inclined push-up position with his feet high on the wall behind him. There is really no actually touching happening.

11. Him standing on the bed. Her intercourse-ing with him, legs and arms wrapped around him, and then he sorta falls forward on the bed with her still attached and then they aggressively bounce up and down on the bed, kinda moving clockwise as they do.

12. He's in a wall-sit with his feet on the bed and his back against the wall next to the bed. She's in a cowgirl position and their pelvises are moving back and forth in unison.

13. He's on his back in the bed with his legs up, supporting her in a superman, and then he just moves his legs and drops he down junk-to-junk and then they pound against each other furiously like a good, porny looking banging, and then they both vocalize like they are orgasming.

Moral of this story? As you can clearly see, these are crazy-ass, not even always sexual positions, and it moves through them in a whirlwind. That all happens in about 24 seconds. It's hard to pick out all the details (I know because I just picked out all the details), but the last position is lingered upon a bit, and it leaves the viewer with a clear image of a basic, porntastic bang session that ends in a top-notch orgasm. Both of them come simultaneously, and there is no indication at all that the clitoris was being touched in any way. Yes, it's a joke and meant to be funny, but the joke is about the ridiculously rough and athletic stuff that is happening, not about her orgasming during intercourse with no additional clitoral stimulation. That's not a joke because no one really knows it's a joke, so what it ends up doing is reinforcing incorrect notions that women's vaginas can be banged into orgasm.

The Cheating Scene
The same thing goes for the final SSL reviewable scene. It's actually earlier in the movie where Joel finds out his girlfriend is cheating. The joke is that he comes home early to ask her to marry him, and she is obviously fucking some guy. There's clothes on the floor. The shower's running, and we can hear the clearly sex-related uh-uh-uhs in the distance. He gets into their room, and he's facing the camera talking to her while she's in the bathroom behind him. In the meantime, the bathroom door busts open, and a dude is holding her up while they bang with her legs wrapped around his hips. They eventually move to the bed that is also behind Joel. The guy just sorta drops her down onto it, and they continue to bang in basically the same position. Then Joel finally sees what's happening. Anyway, both sets of hands never go near the clit at any time, and there isn't anything that really looks like clit grinding against his body. So this is Vaginal Stimulation Central happening in this scene. Now, there isn't a super clear orgasm moment. It's more like she's porn-gasming the whole time. It's a little suspect that this is even an orgasm depiction at all, but I think the female perma-gasm is a staple of modern media, and is a way that female orgasm is thought of. To me, I think the whole scene just reinforces the whole vaginal-stimulation-makes-women-come thing just like the crazy position scene I described above.

How Many Vulvas???
The depictions of sex and orgasm in this were surrounded by jokes, but that doesn't make the physical movements that were shown to cause female orgasm in this movie jokes too. They were just status-quo representations, which means they were unrealistic and misinformative. I don't see any malice in them, but they are also part of the problem, and they only reinforce the rampant cultural  misunderstandings of how women get off. However, I liked the use of a woman talking about getting her own in a way that's realistic. I'll also give points for the fact that 4 of the 13 positions included his head between her legs. You know I have a soft spot for that.

So, I'm going to give this movie a 2 out of 5 vulva rating, and that's not that bad.



Random Hite Report #13

Hello, welcome again to one of my favorite segments on the SSL blog, Random Hite Report! It's simple really. I flip through the pages of the The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality  (or sometimes The Hite Report on Male Sexuality) by a one Ms. Shere Hite and copy the contents of the page where I land - no more no less. Anyone who reads my blog will know that this 1976 book is a fave of mine; not only because of its shockingly realistic and progressive insight about the female orgasm,  but also because of its very touching insight into the lives of the women who took part in this huge, comprehensive survey. This is an under-appreciated and under-read book if you ask me.

 So, sit back, getcha a beverage, and enjoy a little...Random Hite Report...you never know what yer gonna get!

The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality Dell. 1976.
Pg. 486 From section "The Sexual Revolution" in chapter "Birth Control" and quoting women who were dissatisfied with their birth control options. (To put some of these comments in context, the original Pill that was on the marker had a much higher level of estrogen than was necessary and there was a lot of controversy at this time about the side effects of the drug. The companies actually didn't completely stop making the high-dose drug until 1988. Look HERE  HERE and HERE for a touch  more info.)
   "The pill liberated men from condoms. I demand a return to the old way."
    "I think if there is such a thing as a sexual revolution going on, it is, for the most part, to the detriment of women. Men expect that a woman will consent to having sex more often and with less commitment. Men very rarely take responsibility for birth control and it angers me that women have to be prepared every day for a man's sperm. Women are really wreaking havoc on their bodies and mainly for the explicit pleasure and convenience of men."
    "Contraception was a hassle till my hysterectomy. He didn't like his 'sensations' dulled by a rubber. The diaphragm hurt me; the coil caused constant bleeding and pain, and the pill had ennough side effects to have probably caused the hysterectomy. I was very bitter that I had to endure all of these gadgets with rarely an orgasm when he could always come even when 'dulled' by the rubber."
    "The birth control pill allows a woman to control her fertility but also forces her to take all the responsibility for birth control and to risk her life and health and future fertility."
    "Contraception is a pain in the ass to me. I feel very frustrated and oppressed when I think how relatively unreliable and/or unsafe or what nuisances they all are. I took birth control pills before and after we were married for about a year, then went off them as the doctor I had wouldn't let you use them longer than that if you never had used them before. I never went back on them because I discovered that they seemed to have had a bad effect on my vaginal secretion and made intercourse more painful because I had less lubrication-I still have that problem somewhat, but then it was much worse. They also gave me breast pain that felt like someone was sticking pins in my breasts for about a week before the time you went off them to have a period. Because of that and all the studies that have been done on side effects (my family has a history of heart trouble and cancer on both sides) I didn't feel very safe using them. After that we have used..."


The Babadook: The SSL Review

The Babadook - I'm not really into horror. I'll get that outta the way up front. It's not that I haven't seen good horror or horror that is crazy enough for a good laugh. It's just that I'm usually simply not so interested in or excited to watch it, and honestly I would never have watched this except that Barnaby and Charlie decided to watch it after an AnC meeting. They aren't really into horror either, so I was surprised, but Barnaby had seen it, and Charlie had heard it was good (it had gotten a lot of press after it was in Sundance 2014), so I was in.

Why am I writing about The Babadook in this blog? Well, lucky me - the movie was not only a lovely work, but it also had some sweet, sweet lady-bation which makes it SSL Reviewable, which means I get to write about it. SSL Reviews are the only movie review I do, and a movie can only be SSL reviewed if it includes depiction or discussion of female masturbation or female sexual release. These reviews are only about those discussions and depictions - not about the actual movie. Usually I do  give my two cents on other parts of the movie just because I can, but I don't have to. SSL Reviews and what I would write for an overall review don't have to have anything to do with each other. One could be great and the other horrible.

In this case, I am happy to say both would be fantastic. The depiction of female masturbation was realistic and added nothing harmful or misleading into the cultural conversation about female sexuality and lady-gasms, and the movie itself was lovely, well-made, fresh, thought-provoking, and generally a great watch. I highly recommend it. It's on Netflix now, so get to it.

Okay - so the one scene (and there was only 1 reviewable scene) was towards the earlier part of the movie (about 14:40). The mother was up late. Her son's always waking her up in the middle of the night with nightmares. She's kinda frazzled. She seems tired, but also like she can't sleep. She's watching bullshit late night TV, sitting with her little dog in her lap, and then she sees an old black and white movie (it's probably famous, I just don't have a bunch of old movie knowledge in my head) where a dude kisses this woman. Maybe that turns her on, or probably more accurately reminds her that sex exists and she could go get herself a little satisfaction, because she turns the movie off and heads upstairs to pull her vibrator out of a wicker box. She gets under the covers, pulls her panties off from under her night gown, lays back with her legs seeming to be mostly straight out and we hear the vibrator start. Everything is under the covers of course, but it does not look like she's trying to shove anything up her vagina.  It just look like she's gently moving it around on her outer vulva area. It cuts to her son scared and awake in bed, then back to her. She's breathing more audibly and her body has a touch more movement, like she's writhing slightly against the vibrator. It cuts back to the awake, scared boy, then back to her. This time her breathing and movement is a little more quick and intense. It seems like she is just on the brink of coming, but her son screams and jumps into her bed stopping her in her tracks. That, my friends is the real horror - damn kids keeping you from having any fun. (Seriously though, I think this movie really does have a fresh voice in regard to parenthood. It is many other things too, but I think that aspect was particularly good.)

 Checking for monsters before bed in The Babadook

Anyway, the insinuations about what was happening during masturbation - that the outer vulvar/clitoral areas were being vibed - was realistic and although she didn't actually get to orgasm, she got close and what she was doing to her body to get there was absolutely a thing women can do to get themselves to orgasm. Her movement and vocalizations were in no way over-the-top or unrealistically pornified.  It was just a lady trying to get herself off the way a lady might try to get herself off - a top of the line lady-bation depiction in a top of the line movie. Bravo - Writer/Director Jennifer Kent and masturbating actor  Essie Davis!

This movie gets a full 5 vulva rating!

(Can I just say that when I went to Netflix on my phone to check the scene again, I just clicked on a place in the timeline where I thought it might be, and I landed at exactly the part that she's walking upstairs for the vibrator. That is an SSL miracle!)


Glorious Boring

Here's a quick post that fits in the movie, as opposed to orgasm, portion of this blog. As you may know I am one of 3 who make up AnC Movies, and we're the ones that made Science, Sex and the Ladies. Now, I am way, super duper interested in continuing to dig into the subjects surrounding SSL and I'm way into continuing to do that on this blog and beyond. We made this movie because we all really wanted to do it and felt passionate about it. We're incredibly proud of it, and we learned so much, but we're all really ready to be making something different. It pretty much took up all our time from about 2008 on, and we haven't really had a lot of time to experiment or to pursue other movie ideas.

Before SSL we had only made shorts, and we really like them, especially as a sort of exercise - a way to experiment and learn without having to put in the tons of hours that go into a full length. Before SSL, we actually did a bunch of shorts that we premiered at something we called the Movie Prom - which was exactly as it sounds - a movie screening that was also a full prom with everything from the outfits to the punch to the balloon towers. Anyway, we specifically used those shorts to test out a lot of our ideas, both technical and creative. It was fun, and it really allows you to sorta exercise your craft. Anyway, as we're preparing for our next full length, we're starting to put some shorts out. I'll be posting things here as we do them. This one is called GLORIOUS BORING, and premiered at The White Rabbit Cabaret for a variety show called Ruckus  Enjoy.


Lord and Lady March again.

AnC took to the streets for IndyPride 2015 once again as Lord Peter De Cocke and Lady Clitoris. Spreading the good word of #clitoris and #orgasmequality. We like to think that we are a fun and educational part of the show. We had a blast supporting Pride in Indy.


Nicki Minaj Wants to Orgasm When She Has Sex - And That Is Seriously and Sadly Revolutionary

Thanks to Barnaby, who sent me to THIS lovely article, I learned Nicki Minaj got herself interviewed in Cosmopolitan, folks, and she said the following:
"I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that. I have a friend who's never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart. It's cuckoo to me. We always have orgasm interventions where we, like, show her how to do stuff. We'll straddle each other, saying, 'You gotta get on him like that and do it like this.' She says she's a pleaser. I'm a pleaser, but it's fifty-fifty."

One of the funny things about that quote was that it was under the subtitle "On being high-maintenance in bed:" So, even though Ms. Minaj literally said, "it's fifty-fifty," it's still considered high maintenance?...like as if she had said she demands that men lick her twat for 90 minutes and then go take their blue balls and make her a sandwich?  She very specifically said that she believes sex to be something where you both give and get in equal amount - and that seems extreme?  Notice that she quite correctly insinuates that for sex to be 50/50 between a man and a woman means that woman have orgasms when they have sex - because, let's be honest, men have orgasms when they have sex. I guess it would all makes more sense if it were true what people seem to believe - that women just can't orgasm as easily as men - as if we ladies seriously need weird extra things that make ladygasms way more high maintenance than dudegasms - like hours of screwing, mixed with a romantic dinner, a foot rub, a week of pampering and maybe the glint of a magic rainbow to get off. However the truth is women just need their clits rubbed, and men just need their dicks rubbed, so not such a big deal really.

Which brings me to another funny thing - that what she said is even a thing that was said in the first place. What I mean is that men don't go around saying things like,"I like to / expect to have an orgasm every time I have sex." Why? Because they don't need to. It's not a thing because an orgasm as part of their sexual encounter is the male default. I mean why are you fucking if not to get your rocks off? Otherwise, you might as well just cuddle, am I right? And at this moment, if you are about to say that maybe women have it right and there should be more to sex than getting off, and that we shouldn't be so orgasm focused, and that we should not put pressure on women to orgasm every time they have sex because women are just different (maybe better than) men...then let me just say, yes, obviously one's orgasm should not be the end all be all of sexual encounters. However, I'd also like to say that I see those types of statements, as well meaning as they certainly are, as ways to smooth over the fact that a variety of cultural factors create an environment where men and women do not have equal opportunity for orgasm during sexual encounters, and that this situation is absolutely and completely unacceptable. Women's bodies are as capable of orgasm as men's are, and when we live in a culture in which both men and women have an equal expectation of orgasm every time they have sex and can freely choose to orgasm or not at every individual sexual adventure, then I will be all for talking about how women (and men) can enjoy sex without orgasm. However, until that happens, we need to focus on acknowledging that women are not yet equals when it comes to orgasm and that this needs to change. We need to live in a world where what Nicki Minaj said would never need to be said.

The final funny thing is that people were shocked with what she said. I already went into the fact that it shouldn't need to be said at all, but I also think it's useful to take a step back and just consider that a woman saying she wants to orgasm when she has sex is like shocking and shit. Let me break this down.

  • The first sign of arousal is when blood starts pooling down there. That starts making lubrication seep through the vaginal walls. That lubes makes it so stuff can actually get in the vagina, and so it doesn't burn and hurt like a mother fucker when the stuff does go in there. 
  • As a female gets more aroused the uterus adjusts a bit and the vaginal canal kinda elongates so that a dick can push up in there and not fuck her whole day up by hitting the cervix and such. Seriously, if a lady is not aroused enough for her vagina to accommodate what is fucking it, it HURTS. 
  • So in order for the most normal, acceptable type of lady-dude sexual interaction (still Penis and Vagina Sex, unfortunately) to be not painful and burning - which is like the ABSOLUTE LEAST that should be happening for a woman during sex - she needs to be pretty aroused. 
  • Being aroused means she's lubed and elongated as described above which means that blood pools down in her genitals (as much if not more than the amount of blood that pools in men when they're hard as hell), and her pelvic muscled get all tense (the same thing that happens to men). 
  • Okay so all that is happening, but, somehow, it's just simply too much for a lady to ask for a little relief. A little reach around is just, ya know, ridiculous. Of course, we put men in the same position, and we'd so hate to leave him with blue balls, but that blue-ball situation is EXACTLY the same physical things happening to a women when she gets aroused enough to have no-pain sex, but doesn't orgasm. 
  • And, just in case I haven't been clear in this blog so far, let me be clear. Women can orgasm as quickly, easily and reliably as men (HERE and HERE for more info on that). Our bodies aren't naturally more orgasmically fickle than men's. We don't naturally need extra things in order to orgasm...you know like magic, flowers, lightning bolts made of true love, and other such things. We ladies need all the same things men need. We just live in a world that makes those things extra hard to get - in so many ways and starting from when we are very young. 

So, just take a minute to consider how f'd up our sexual culture is that we have no problems expecting a woman to get sexually aroused in order for a man to get off inside her vagina, but asking for relief of that arousal is shocking or high maintenance or bitchy somehow.

Connie Trent over at V.Point wrote a good article on this (Thanks for sending it my way Barnaby), and that's where I first learned about this whole thing, so check that one out too. She is on point for Orgasm Equality, so go Connie. Also go Nicki Minaj - you are an orgasm equality revolutionary too!


My Sister's Letter Introducing Her Transgender Daughter to the World - A Very Special SSL Post

Hello, I'm going to call this "A Very Special SSL Post" because it is not about the things this blog is normally about. This is a letter my sister, Melissa, wrote on Facebook (Here is the original post. Please Share it!). I'll let you read it, but I just want to say I'm posting it here because I'm proud of her, of her husband/my brother from another mother Jason, of my niece Olivia and her brothers and sister, and I think their story could be useful to others. There's a lot of talk about transgender people right now and it gets wrapped in with Hollywood, and money and fame, and all these things people already have really strong feelings about, but I think this brings things back into perspective. I think even very progressive and liberal people are still quite uneducated and have uncomfortable feelings about some things trans, so we could all use a little learning and growing. So without further ado, here is my sister's post (a sister I feel very lucky to have, btw):

So here it is Facebook friends...I need to make a public announcement because I often see many of you out – at Target or Meijer or at a kid’s game, and I don’t want there to be an awkward, uncomfortable moment next time we see each other out with our families. Plus, we want to share and celebrate our experience with you because some of you might be in or know people in similar situations, and there is strength in numbers.  
So, 13 years ago Jason and I did not find out the gender of our 1st born. We waited to be "surprised" - William for a boy, Olivia for a girl, and 'Wilivia' before we knew. Will was born in March of 2002, and we were so happy to have our little guy. Through the years I knew there was something special about Will - I just couldn't put my finger on it. Well, it turns out Jason and I were wrong. We did not have a boy all those years ago. We had a funny, bright, creative and amazing GIRL - yes a daughter. Olivia is the name we should have chosen. She told her father and I almost a year ago, and although we didn’t know exactly what to do or how to start, we knew we loved her, and we knew she needed us to hear her. We can’t tell you how proud and happy we are that she was brave enough to tell us.  
Our child is transgender and always has been. This year we have been preparing to introduce Olivia, and we’re excited that she will start her 8th grade year much more comfortable in her own skin. We have told many friends and family members, and they have all been incredibly supportive. We have informed the middle school administration where my children attend, and they are also incredibly supportive. She has even informed a lot of her friends and they too have been super supportive and loving, and not just the female friends, her male friends too. Olivia’s sister and brothers are excited and happy for her and have been standing fully beside her in this. Their journey with her in these first years may not always be an easy one, but they are prepared for that, and we feel all 4 of our kids will be able to handle anything with family and friends behind them. 
The truth is suicide rates for transgender people are very high. The confusion, pain and loneliness of their unique situation can simply become too much for a person to carry on their own. However, if a transgender child has support at home, the suicide rates drop significantly. We want to reiterate that because we’ve not only witnessed the positive transformation in our child over this year, but we have been able to meet, talk with and befriend numerous transgender adults, children and parents. They have shown us how very wonderful they are and how very powerful support can be in a transperson’s life. I have so much love and respect for all of the transgender friends we have met this year. Whether they transitioned at 5 or 55 they are all lovely and brave. Is this transition going to be hard at times? Yes, but the happiness and joy we see now that our daughter finally gets to express herself as the person she has always been is amazing, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Jason and I are extremely hopeful that today's children are much more understanding and inclusive, and we are also hopeful that people who are confused or worried or uneducated about the topic (which is a lot of us) will try to understand, to talk about it, and to educate themselves. We are also here if you have any questions.
If you are one of our beautiful and amazing supporters who already know about Olivia, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You don’t know how much that means. If you just found out, and you know Olivia - maybe she went to school with your child or used to play baseball with them – I know this is a lot to take in, but we are hopeful you will try to understand. There are several links below for more information. 
This is not what we were expecting 13 years ago when we welcomed Will into our lives, and we are not perfect parents, but we do know that the changes our family is making are for the best. We are now proud and excited to be welcoming Olivia into our lives, the same lovely person we have always known but happier, more at ease, and without the weight of the world on her shoulders.  
So, maybe we are friends through our children, coworkers, old or new neighbors, or maybe we haven't seen each other since we graduated from high school, but thank you for listening. Our hope is that this post will allow people time to become comfortable with the idea before our families happen to meet randomly at Target or you see Olivia at her brother’s baseball game. We also hope that this might give comfort to those dealing with similar issues and pause to those whose words or actions might be hurtful to or intolerant of trans people. Thanks friends!
Me and a happy Ms. Olivia just about 13 years ago. Like her mother and I before, she was pretty much bald for the first 2 years of her life.


Thicker Urethrovaginal Space = Vaginal Orgasm?: A Journal Article I Read

Here's the new "A Journal Article I Read". I think this is a useful and interesting paper that is well worth doing follow-up studies on. However, if you were hoping to find evidence that vaginal orgasms exist, this is not the paper. It assumes they exist, and assumes the women that claim to orgasm vaginally in the study are all describing a physically definable event, but in the end this study neither is able to define/describe a mechanism for vaginal orgasm nor is it able to give indication whether they exist at all. It does, however, show a physiological difference between  9 women who claim to orgasm vaginally and 11 women who claim to not orgasm vaginally, and that's intriguing.

"Measurement of the thickness of the urethrovaginal space in women with or without vaginal orgasm." Gravina GL, Brandetti F, Martini P, Carosa E, Di Stasi SM, Morano S, Lenzi A, Jannini EA. J Sex Med. 2008 Mar;5(3):610-8.

The background of this article basically discusses how there is debate about whether the vagina is sensitive  and/or related to orgasm and that there is some indication that the area around the anterior wall of the vagina and the urethra and bladder area differ among women and may be related to sexual function. It's pretty normal stuff for this kind of article, but I'm gonna be a bit picky here and tell you this following statement in this article is annoying to me.
"it is evident that some women need direct, external clitoral stimulation whereas others may reach orgasm also by penetration and thrusting that directly stimulate the internal clitoris and vaginal wall structures."
The thing is, it is evident that women can orgasm through direct clitoral stimulation. There's tons of direct physical data to prove that. There, however, is no direct physical data at all showing a connection between penetration/thrusting and an orgasm. It simply doesn't exist, and making statements like that just create a false sense of scientific certainty to go with already existing false cultural certainty.   It should say:
"it is it is evident that some women need direct, external clitoral stimulation, and it is assumed that others may reach orgasm also by penetration and thrusting that directly stimulate the internal clitoris and vaginal wall structures."
Okay - so that done - here is how they describe their aim with this study.
"Differences in women's sexual function obviously exist and although they have been largely attributed to cultural, religious, intrapsychic and, above all, relational factors [21], it is possible that anatomical factors might be partly responsible. Thus, if "anatomy is destiny" [22], physical differences should be taken into account as a source of physiological variability in female sexual response. With these concepts in mind, the purpose of this study was to use introital ultrasonography to evaluate anatomical variability, measured as the difference in thickness of the urethrovaginal space and to correlate this variability with the presence [of] vaginally activated orgasm."
37 volunteers were recruited from the normal controls of a previous study. The women were physically examined and deemed healthy in the genital regions. None had a history of "drug or alcohol abuse, medications or medical conditions which might alter sexual function, previous anti-incontinence surgery, or any stage of vaginal prolapse." None were considered to have sexual function problems. This meant to this study a total female sexual function index (FSFI) of over 26.55, and specifically only women with high scores for the following questions were included. (The authors note that these questions do not distinguish between clitoral and vaginal orgasm.)

Q.11 (how often did you reach orgasm) 
Q.12 (how difficult was it for you to reach orgasm), 
Q.13 (how satisfied were you with your ability to reach orgasm).

All participants were exclusively hetero, had stable relationships, and reported at least 2 acts of sexual intercourse per week, a regular menstrual cycle and had been sexually active in the past 6 months. All subjects were tested for this study at the same time in their menstrual cycle.

The male researcher then collected sexual histories in a separate setting and found out who said she could and who said she could not orgasm vaginally using the following question, "Have you ever experienced vaginal orgasm?"
"Responses were categorized as 'yes'(at least once in the past month) or 'no' (never). By vaginal orgasm we mean the orgasm experienced after direct stimulation of the anterior vaginal wall by penetration, without concomitant stimulation of the external clitoris."
 The other investigators didn't know which said they could and could not.

After all the tests, 6 participants were excluded because of sexual dysfunction, 7 because of menopause with or without sexual dysfunction, and 4 declined to participate, leaving 20 final participants. Of the 20, 9 reported experiencing vaginal orgasm.

The Urodynamic Assessment
The patients first went through a series of urodynamic assessments. It involved the testing of the rate at which the bladder empties and fills, the volume of the liquid in the bladder, and it uses electrodes at the "3 and 9 o'clock position" of the anal skin to record pelvic floor muscle activity during voiding. A catheter is involved.

The Ultrasound
Ultrasonography was performed using a transvaginal probe, but it was used outside the body.
"The ultrasound evaluation was obtained by an introital approach with the transducer placed over the external urethral orfice and the transducer axis corresponding to the body axis. Care was taken not to distort the anatomy during the procedure."  
The women were in a modified Trendelemburg position with a bladder filled to 300mL. I honestly am not completely sure if the probe was placed more vertical, sorta between the legs along the vulva or more horizontal, sorta parallel to the body but against the ol' pee hole. I'm assuming it's the former because, but I'm not sure. Maybe this would be more obvious to someone who does ultrasounds. Anyway, one female investigator, who did not know which women said they orgasmed vaginally and which didn't, performed all the ultrasounds, and they were recorded in both video and picture.

"Total urethral length and vaginal lumen were viewed in the midsagittal plane. The images was then frozen and filed digitally. Two blinded male investigators (G.L.G and P.M.) interpreted and measured the thickness of the urethrovaginal space from the ultrasounds in random order." 
So, first, vaginal lumen means the inside space of the vagina. Second, sagittal plane is pictured below, and third, the two researchers didn't know who said they could orgasm vaginally, so they couldn't be biased in that way. The thickness of the urethrovaginal space was measured 3 times each at 3 different places along the urethra and "the median value was considered for statistical purposes."

Statistical Analysis
There is a description of all the types of statistical analysis that was performed, and I'm just going to take their word that these make sense for their investigation because that is not my area of expertise, but please feel free to check out the article if you're interested.

I am also not familiar with how one would measure body parts through ultrasound, but again, I'm taking their word that the way they measured and the things they were measuring make sense with what they were trying to find.
"No significant difference was noted in age, parity, hormonal pattern, menstrual cycle duration, or FSFI total score among women with and without vaginal orgasm." 

They all also had normal results with the urodynamic assessment. Here's some of the ultrasound details:
"Figure 1 (panels A and B) shows the schematic representation and introital ultrasound image of the urogenital organs. The vagina is seen as a hypoanechoic strip, adjacent to the posterior wall of the urethra for a short distance, and running from the probe to the cervix fornix. The symphysis pubis appears as a hyperechoic shell, with a shaded cone. The rectum generates acoustic artifacts with loss of borders between the rectal and posterior vaginal wall. The urethral lumen was seen as an anechoic cylindrical structure. The striated and smooth muscle layers of the urethra cannot always be distinguished in the midsagittal plane. The mucosa and submucosa were uniformly depicted as hypo echoic structures mimicking an open lumen."

The urethrovaginal space was thicker at all 3 points for women who claim to have vaginal orgasms. There is actually no crossover in the data. All the non-vaginal orgasming women had thinner urethrovaginal space than all the women who said they could orgasm vaginally. So, these are good, interesting results, which should lead to more studies.

I think the authors were quite realistic about what this study does and does not say, and that is not something I always see, so I have a lot of respect for that. They went over, as you might expect, questions, future projects and the study's limitations.
"These results raise several questions. What anatomical structures did we measure? Does urethrovaginal space thickness differ in all women with vaginal orgasm, or have we identified as subset of patients? Have we measured the controversial G-spot in vivo?"
The authors  tell us that further, larger studies are "needed to confirm the possible correlation between the anatomy of the anterior vaginal wall and vaginal orgasm," and go on to say that they are currently working on urethrovaginal space studies with women that have changing or different levels of androgen.

They also go over the major limitations to this study. They tell us that ultrasonography is widely used, but
"its spatial and structural resolution remains lower than other imaging techniques. Consequently, the anatomical structures within the urethrovaginal space cannot be fully resolved by ultrasonography." 
Thus if there are other structure that are important in this area, this method would likely not find it. They point out that the sample size is quite small and that their data,
"should be considered preliminary and interpreted cautiously, given the small sample size. Additionally, accurate placement of the measuring cursor was more difficult when structural borders were indistinct, even if interobserver agreement was excellent." 
Also, and you know I think think this is important and waaay too often disregarded, so I truly appreciate that the authors recognized this,
"The self-reported nature of presence or absence of vaginal orgasm is another strong limitation of our findings. Formal demonstration of the orgasm is theoretically possible, but the majority of studies on the topic are based on the administration of inventories and questionnaires." 
And here are the authors' final words:
"The most interesting finding of our study is that women who experience vaginal orgasm have a urethrovaginal space thicker than those who do not. However, our data cannot directly demonstrate that the thickness of an anatomical "space" may generate a mechanism that can be related to the creation of an orgasm. But, in conclusion, the results here presented allow us to speculate that there may be a functional correlation between the thickness of urethrovaginal space, or G-spot, and the ability to experience the vaginal orgasm."


BISH! A Good Website And A Kickass Video About P in V Sex

An awesome reader turned me on to a video called "Why (Penis in Vagina) Sex Can Be 'Meh'" and as always, that awesome reader was awesomely on point with the suggestion. It's a 3 minute video, and it says exactly what should be said...the male organ of sexual pleasure is stimulated, but the female organ of sexual pleasure is not, and that makes women not orgasm, men feel too much pressure to make a woman orgasm not realizing that the act is super bad for that, and everyone feel kinda shitty because what they expect is not what is.

It's from a UK website called BISH, which I also checked out and give full approval for (because nothing can happen without my approval). It's geared toward young people and created by a guy that has been in sexual education of young people for a good while. It seems that the website recently got an update with the help of a donation from Durex condoms - although the guy still has full editorial control (and it doesn't seem to me like the site is a big Durex condom ad by any means). Anyway, it has lots of good info for young people (and really anybody - I mean let's be honest - just cause someone is older doesn't mean they are that much smarter about sex), and I like the tone. Some of the highlights...

The Guide To NO - I particularly liked how it acknowledged that there is more to this than, "say no if you don't want to do something," and "stop if you hear no." Actually saying "no" can be hard, but if saying "no" to someone else means saying "yes" to ourselves, we should pat ourselves on the back for doing it even if it wasn't easy...and at the same time, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves when we couldn't do it as forcefully as we would have liked. (Seriously, that is not just advice for teens). Also, it rightly emphasizes that people say no non-verbally and that those cues should be recognized and accepted.

What is Love? - This is an 8 minute video that reminds us love is complicated, and that the idea of "the one" is kinda bullshit, and that we need to make our own love stories and not compare ourselves to what we see and hear love should be, and that "love" is not some kind of strange energy that strikes us and takes away all our control - that too is bullshit. Again - not just for the teens.

Porn - An Educational Guide - Porn involves acting. Some things are very commonly depicted that actually aren't really that interesting/sexy/not-terrible for many people. Bodies in porn don't always look like you or your partner's bodies. Porn is largely created for hetero male fantasies. These are all things that should be clear, but truly are not, and it's a good article. I would probably add a bit more in about the huge amount of faked female orgasms as compared to the huge amount of real male orgasm, but that is because the whole terrible misinformation about the female orgasm situation is pretty much my obsession.

Anyway, check out BishUK.com, for yourself and your young folk - if you have them in your life. I love what this guy (his name's Justin Hancock btw) is doing. That darn video he made about something that so should be obvious about PinV sex, but so isn't is top notch - and he, my friends, is an Orgasm Equality Hero!