Ode to the Clit

This will be a quick post because I'm swamped in my day job, and I'm only about 75% done with the journal article review I was hoping to finish by today, but I really want to get something up tonight.

However, just because it's quick doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. It's a music video about the clit. If you haven't already seen it, then this will be a treat. If you have already watched, then please enjoy again.

It's sparkly, weird, and has lots of clit and masturbation love, so it gets a thumbs up from me. Just the simple fact that this is all about the clit is important because we hear so very little about it compared to the vagina penis and balls. We don't hear the word enough, and it's not involved in discussion about female orgasm and sex enough, so the more times it's said, the more people who hear it, the better.

I will, because my whole thing with this blog is to get real detailed about critiquing this stuff, mention that everything in this video about the clit and orgasm is not completely grounded in scientific fact. In the Freud section of this song, there is an insinuation that orgasms caused 'vaginally' or 'inside the hole' are actually caused because the inner clitoris was being stimulated presumably through the vaginal wall (so it's all clitoral!). Problem is, a 'vaginal' orgasm (orgasm caused by stimulation inside the vagina with no additional outer clitoral stimulation) has never been observed or recorded in scientific literature. So, the idea that the inner parts of the clit are responsible for this thing that has never been observed is just a completely unvalidated hypothesis.

I think it's important to mention this because all-orgasms-are-clitoral-orgasms is kind of a popular mantra in lady-gasms talk these past few years. While on the surface it sounds about right, what it is actually doing is lumping the idea of orgasms-from-stimulation-inside-the-vagina into clitorally-stimulated-orgasms because of some hypotheses that the inner clitoral legs get stimulated through the vaginal wall during intercourse, and that's just plain not based in sound science . In fact, I think it hurts the quest for orgasm equality because it continues to normalize the idea that women could easily come from P in V, when in fact that's not the case, and we don't even know if women do orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina....but scientists and sex advisers, and feminists should be debating and investigating this, so I don't love that it gets silenced and whitewashed over by saying all orgasms are clitoral.

All that said, though, I still have lots of love for this video, and I respect any effort to get more respect for the clit and normalization of female masturbation. Plus, it's just fun. Enjoy.


5 Little Kid Movies #DirectedByWomen

I started doing this categorized List of 5 movies thing where I showcase movies that were directed by women and that I have actually seen. It all started during the Directed By Women Worldwide Viewing Party in September, and it was pretty fun, so I've continued doing it from time to time.

It's a bit off-topic from my normal fare, ya know, not usually about lady-gasms or anything like that, but I think it fits the blog because
1. this blog is also about indie movie-making, and
2. this blog is partially about getting the female perspective of sexuality into our media. So, to me, supporting female voices in our media - means we're creating more room for female voices to speak on all types of things, which sometimes will be sex, orgasms and sexuality. You can find all my 5-movie lists HERE.

So, this is my Movies For Little Kids List - for if you have a really little kid -that wants to watch movies.

1 Shrek - This was directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson.  I very much enjoyed this movie, which isn't a surprise. It was widely loved when it came out. We took some group of nieces and nephews to see it at the theater back in the day, and I can recall that we all had ourselves some good laughs and the message ain't so bad neither.

2 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - This was directed by Betty Thomas, who I now realize has directed quite a bit of movies that I like and that you will now see on future lists. I saw this with 2 of my sister's kids, and I don't remember it specifically. I may have made dinner during part of it, I'm not sure, but I don't remember hating it, and that's pretty good for a young kid's movie.

3 Dr. Dolittle  - This was again directed by Betty Thomas. First off, I really thought that would have been spelled with two O's not one, but whatever. I can't remember a lot from this. Again, I saw it on TV with some nieces and nephews, and I may have been doing other things. I just don't know. But it's got talking animals, I believe, and that's always fun.

4 Brave - This was directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell. I took 4 nieces and nephews to see this in the theater (the dollar theater, actually, that has since closed down and I'm devastatingly sad about it), and we all enjoyed it. It's a solid pick for the family.

5 Parent Trap - This is directed by Nancy Meyers. It's, of course, a remake of an old Disney movie, just like Dr. Dolittle is, but I like this version. It's definitely a formulaic kids movie, but it's the kind of movie I might watch if it's on while I'm doing other things on a Saturday...in fact, I think that's how I saw it originally.


Top-Notch Hand Lady-bation Instruction by Vanessa Marin

Type "how to masturbate" into Google, and (in a surprising turn of expectations) don't be afraid of the article that comes up first! It's pretty top-notch actually. It's called "How To Orgasm, Female Style: 8 Steps To Having Orgasms (Without A Vibrator),"  and it's by Vanessa Marin over at Bustle.

Vanessa Marin from her site VMTherapy.com

I guess it's not surprising that it's an article about female masturbation and not male masturbation. Men have plenty of other ways that masturbation methods might become clear to them as they grow into sexual people. For instance:

  1. Porn has a tons of actual male orgasms, sometimes using their own hands or a partner's hands to finish off  - so you can see exactly how it might get done. 
  2. Basic American sex ed is not great for a lot of things, but the vague and limited information given about reproductive sex insinuates the right thing about step 1 to creating dude-gasms (i.e. encompassing the penis with something). 

Sadly we ladies are not as lucky. The sex ed insinuation we get - "put something in vagina" - is not step 1 for lady-gasms, and good luck finding a porn actress rubbing her own clit or getting her clit rubbed in a way and for an amount of time that might elicit actual orgasm (however, if you are looking for 'acted' lady-orgasms, porn has you covered).

Okay, So Vanessa Marin is a licensed psychotherapist focusing on sex things, and clearly she writes for Bustle too. What I'd like to say about this lovely lady is that she gives one of the very best lady-bation instruction posts I've seen on the web. Here's some things I love about it:

  • It's got all the best advice you usually see about this: try and work out all your I-shouldn't-masturbate demons, explore the clit/vulva area, don't focus on orgasm at first, make time to practice - you know, that sort of thing. However, it then gets to specific details about how to actually move your fingers on your junk. diagonal? circles around the clit? the ol' 2-finger clit-surround method? It's up to you. Try them all!
  • As one of the first helpful links, it has For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality book by Lonnie Barbach; A groundbreaking book by A fab woman I was lucky enough to interview about 5 years ago. Seriously, if you have not yet orgasmed and want to start that journey, I highly recommend this book.
  • It's focused on the hands. Don't get me wrong. I love a vibrator. We all should, really. Sometimes, though, there are no vibrators to be had. Sometimes, our own hands are all we have available, and we must, I say MUST, be prepared for these times. 
  • It's a fun read, and there's some good gifs. I recommend it highly.

So a very big Thank You to Ms. Vanessa Marin. I have much love and appreciation for anyone who promotes lady-bation. And, for those that do so with particularly realistic and detailed instructions, I have a little something more. This post gets Vanessa right into the Orgasm Equality Allies List.


House of Cards Season 4: The SSL Review

Well, I just finished House of Cards Season 4 . I love me some House of Cards...and that's even true despite my previously acquired Kevin Spacey aversion. I think he works in that particular role, but that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this because there was 1 single SSL reviewable moments in the season, and by golly I'm here to SSL Review it.

As a quick refresher, SSL Reviews only look at scenes containing discussion or depiction of female orgasm or masturbation and focus on the realism and the impact the scene has on the larger cultural conversation about female orgasm and sexuality.

So here we go, and lucky for you, I don't need to give any kind of spoiler away to talk about this one.

Season 4 Episode 7: On The Bathroom Counter

The Description
So a lovely young woman goes into the bathroom where her husband is brushing his teeth*. She is in a sort of nighty slip thing, and she stands behind wrapping her arms around him, and presumably gets to touching on his man-junk. He quickly gets the picture, starts kissing her, and scoops her up onto the bathroom counter. They are facing each other, her sitting and him standing between her legs. Very quickly we see him sorta grab in his crotch area in a way that would lead us to assume he's pulling the D out and putting it in the V.

At this point there is clear intercourse happening, and she is being somewhat vocal about her pleasure - not over the top, but uhhhs as he's pushing up, ya know? Their hands are accounted for at all times. No one is diddling the clit while he's banging her. This goes on for about 4 seconds, and she lets out a final uh and it seems like they start to slow like it's over now. Just after that they are interrupted, and they have to leave the situation.

To be clear, I'm not positive that her final 'uhhhh' was intended to be a orgasm, but it feels possible enough that I'm allowing this as an SSL Reviewable scene. Frankly, even if it wasn't specifically meant as an orgasm, the sex here, I think, was meant to be the kind that would be orgasmic for her (had it not been interrupted). It was meant to show a mutually pleasurable, connected and sexy situation for these two people. I think that much is pretty clear because this scene was intercut with another couple in a bathroom that was, in my opinion, meant to show the other couple's comparably unsexy and unconnected interaction. This countertop sex was intentionally created to seem like good sex.

How Likely Was That Orgasm, Really?
The problem here is that there didn't seem to be any way that her outer clit area would be stimulated in this situation. There was in and out movement of the hips, but no close grinding of pelvis against pelvis. At best, this lovely lady would have gotten a couple taps of the clit area if his dick went in far enough to get his pelvis close enough in that seated position. But frankly, it didn't look promising. So, even if this was pleasurable to this lady, it likely wasn't orgasmic...

...unless she's a woman who has orgasms just from something stimulating the inside of her vagina.

Funny how almost every women in porn, movies, TV,  and books seems to be able to easily orgasm this way, yet only about 15-30% of women ever even claim to have these types of orgasms at all. And even funnier that these types of orgasms have never been observed or recorded in scientific literature - ever. What does the ubiquitous nature of these depictions say to people about what is normal and expected of women and their orgasms?

My Ranting Rants about Status Quo Sex Scenes and Stuff
Here's the deal. I have great skepticism about whether it is possible at all for females to orgasm from stimulation inside the vagina, but either way, the vast majority of women do not orgasm that way. That's uncontroversial. Yet, time and time again when good, hot sex is depicted, it's a woman getting her vagina banged into an orgasm. We as a culture are used to that whole penis and vagina thing. We are not used to the idea of the clit being as involved in sex as the penis is. So, it leaves us all continuing to associate sex with scenes like this bathroom one. It leaves us all thinking 'sex' is intercourse and intercourse is mutually orgasmic for men and women. It leaves us all feeling like clit stimulation is some sort of extra, or bonus or a thing the poor women who 'need a hand' have to get.

As things are now, depicting clitoral stimulation as part of a sex scene seems odd. It makes a scene a little too graphic, a little too dirty. It makes the woman seem a little too aggressive or the man not man enough. It's also just a little funny and a little too foreign. I mean even in real life situations, it's not included as much as it should be. There are still a lot of women out there having sex without it because, well, for lots of reasons, and there are a lot of men who (wrongly) think all the partners they've ever had just orgasmed from their penis. So it's a bigger problem than just media depiction...These clit-less media depictions suck, but they reflect a reality, and that's hard to argue against.

But I will argue against it, and I will continue to call out unrealistic depictions of female orgasm because it's weird and sad that the female organ of sexual pleasure is left out of sex and no one seems to care. I assure you if men were orgasming in movies without their penises being touched, people would notice. We have a long way to go before women and men feel like the clit is a principal member of the sex team the way a penis is, and scenes like this one in House of Cards don't help. It reinforces the status quo - which is too bad because it could have included something cool, avant-garde, and totally realistic like a hand on the clit or the woman intentionally pressing the clit in a continual grinding position against her partner...or better yet, that dude could have put the vibrating toothbrush he was using to good use - now that's good TV. *Okay, I now realize he was shaving with an electric razor not brushing his teeth with a vibrating toothbrush, so I no longer support him laying that against her clit area...at all.

The Vulva Rating
So, House of Cards Season 4 gets a 2 vulva rating. Why? Because it was status quo. There was nothing backward being insinuated in this season, but it was in no way progressive. I love that all these new TV series are getting more bold and interesting in a variety of ways, but I hate that the lady-gasm depictions are as constant as ever. I said it before and I'll say it again. A little bit of clit could go a long way for changing minds, ya'll.



Columbus, OH: I'll see you at the Gateway Film Center!!!

Come See a Real Live Showing of SSL!!!!
Hello my fabulous readership! I want to meet you. All of you!

Well, that is true, but really just those of you that live in the general Ohio area - Columbus, Ohio area to be more precise.

I'm excited to say that Science, Sex and the Ladies was asked to be part of The Gateway Film Center's Documentary Week. It will be playing on Wednesday, April 6th at 7:30pm, and guess who will be there for the ol' Q  and A. That's right, me and my crew. Me, Charlie and Barnaby, the directing trio of SSL, will be answering all your most deeply held questions about the movie and subjects related to the movie.

Seriously though, I really would love to meet people. We'll be staying the night, so we'll probably go have a beer after the show and all that. Hit me up at anc att ancmovies dottt com, tweet me, post something on the AnC FB page if you'll be there or you have a good suggestion about where to get beer afterward or whatever.

Gateway Film Center Documentary Week March 31st  - April 7th 2016

Or Let Others Know About It!
And if you can't be there, or even if you can, or if you know anyone in Columbus, please do a sister a solid and social media this shit, or just tell your Columbus friends directly about it, or however you choose, but please help me spread the word. It would mean a lot.

'Cause It's Gonna Be Awesome!!!!!
I really am excited about this. I love SSL of course. I mean, I made it and all, but I LOVE SSL in a big crowd. It's really fun. I'd almost describe it as raucous when there's a lot of people - tons of laughs and audible reactions from start to finish- that's why after I saw that a couple times, I started saying it has sorta a midnight movie feel, but it doesn't feel that way with just a couple people watching. The movie is weird, man. It's talking about an incredibly awkward subject. Every scene is doused with a small and strange amount of cheese but filled with scientific words, often spoken quite straight and seriously. It takes a minute to get the feel of the movie, I think.

It doesn't immediately fall into a genre so you can sorta associate it with the familiar rhythms and styles and humor of that type of movie. SSL is kinda out there on it's own, and you might just not feel sure about how to process it at first. But, man, things take off much quicker in a crowd. I don't know what it is. People always say that humor works better in a crowd because people feed off eachother's laughter, and I think that might be true with SSL. People sorta give each other permission to laugh, because, like I said, I think people aren't sure they're allowed to at first because it's such a serious and deeply personal subject sitting amongst the weird, cheesy, tongue-in-cheek stuff. Anyway, it'll be a good time. I'm excited.

Also, Gateway Film Center is Awesome
1. They programmed us, and let me just say I really really appreciate it. because more than a few places and festivals have straight up said to me something to the effect that their audiences would have a problem with the explicit parts (close-ups of real vulvas for demonstration, specifically), and they would like to program us, but it's too much of a risk. Some festivals contacted us saying we were on hold with hopes they could add in a late or midnight screening to put us in, but none ever could make it happen.

Well Gateway, on the other hand, found us and put us right into the doc week. They didn't see us as a risk. They saw us as a movie that people might like to see, and I love them for that. They are putting interesting and unique movies out there every. damn. day. Which brings me to:

2. They have a lot of kick-ass, bleeding edge movies playing all the time at the Gateway. Like right now they have a series of movies from rising French directors. It's called Young French Cinema, and it's just the beginning of the stuff they have there. I'd love to have a place like that here in Indianapolis (We miss you south side Key Cinema!). Don't get me wrong. I love a blockbuster Hollywood movie fo sho, but the newness, and experimentation, and diversity of viewpoint and style that comes from the truly outside Hollywood pieces is absolutely lovely and refreshing and so very worthwhile.  So, if you do live around Columbus, and you haven't been to the Gateway yet, I highly suggest you take advantage of what they are offering. It's over 3 hours away for me, but I imagine I'll be making a trip from time to time myself.


8-13 Hz Fluctuations In Rectal Pressure A Good Marker For Female Orgasm?: A Journal Article I Read

8-13 Hz fluctuations in rectal pressure are an objective marker of clitorally-induced orgasm in women. Van Netten JJ1, Georgiadis JR, Nieuwenburg A, Kortekaas R.
Arch Sex Behav. 2008 Apr;37(2):279-85.

This is a 2008 article that is searching for an objective, quantitative marker that matches women's subjective claims about whether or not they orgasmed. They use particular measurements from an anal pressure probe in 23 women during clitorally induced orgasm to say that they indeed have found this marker. In particular, the researchers say that increase of the alpha band (8-13 Hz) of the anal pressure measurements is a physical indication of orgasm.

This is a well-done study. However, their 8-13 Hz marker is actually not perfect. It missed identifying 2 of 31 orgasm claims from women. I would argue that theirs is not necessarily a better marker than the marker identified in the previous studies they reference. I would also argue that these markers might miss some orgasms not because they are bad markers, but because women's claims of orgasm may not be a great starting point for physically investigating orgasm.

Here's the summary. I will add in my thoughts from time to time, but I will specifically say they are my thoughts. Otherwise, everything that is said is taken from the paper.

  • Most physiological research about orgasm focused on contractions of the pelvic muscles because reflexive/involuntary contractions of these muscles "is an important feature of orgasm in women."
  • In the past contractions have been measured directly with EMG (the electric activity of those muscles) and also indirectly through measuring the pressure inside body cavities (rectum or vagina) that are affected by those muscles
  • Based on rectal or vaginal pressure, it had been previously found that there were 3 types of orgasm in women.
  1. contractions in a regular (steady) pattern
  2. a regular pattern followed by irregular contractions
  3. lack of regular contractions.
  • This paper sites 2 previous studies to back that up. The first is a study I have written about HERE (Carmichael et al), and that one only found the 1st two types of orgasmic contraction patterns. The second is an older one I have written about HERE (Bohlen et al) and that one found the 1st two and also the 3rd. Basically the 3rd grouping (2 women) is one in which the women claimed orgasm, but their pelvic muscles did not show any sign that a specific thing had happened. As the researchers in that study discuss, this 3rd grouping could be viewed as women who did not physically orgasm. However, they decided that they would base 'orgasm' off the women's claims and not off the physical markers (presence of regular muscle contractions).
  • It points out that in the Carmichael study, subjective experience of orgasm (the women saying they orgasmsed) coincides with the the objective measure of orgasm (the rhythmic pelvic contractions). However, this wasn't the case in the Bohlen study due to the 2 women who claimed orgasm but did not have the regular pelvic contractions. It also (I would say curiously) cited the original 1966 Masters and Johnson study when it said that other studies had not found the same subjective/objective agreement, but it doesn't elaborate. [I'm not sure how they are using that citation. I would be interested to know their reasoning. M&J stated unequivocally that their research showed rhythmic pelvic muscle contractions to be the physical expression of orgasm, and claimed the amount of contractions coincided with the subjective pleasure (although other studies have not found that, including the Carmichael study)]


  • 23 healthy, heterosexual women
  • 21-55 years old
  • recruited with their partners online over a period of 3 years (the equipment involved over those years did not change)
  • 13 had never given birth, 6 had given birth vaginally, and 4 through C-section
  • none had used recreation drugs or had history of physical, mental or sexual disorder

  • The women lay on their backs in a brain scanner (PET) and their anal pressure was measured via a probe in their anus. Their partners stood next to the women and stimulated their clitoris to orgasm. The partners were used in this way because it did not induce artifacts in the rectal pressure and because clitoral stimulation is "the most effective means of inducing orgasm in women (Lloyd 2005)"
  • The women didn't report important differences between their normal orgasms and these laboratory ones
  • Measurements were performed for 2 minutes in the following sequence with an 8 minute rest in between each measurement:
  1. Passive non-sexual resting state [as a reference so they could compare individuals with different resting states against each other]
  2. Imitating an orgasm while the clitoris is stimulated [meaning "to voluntarily contract muscles in the rectal vicinity (abdominal, hip, thigh, and perineal muscles) in a rhythmic fashion while their clitoris was being stimulated by their partner. This task served as a control for motor output during orgasm, because we expected the same muscles to contract, but with discernible frequency characteristics")]
  3. Imitating an orgasm while the clitoris is stimulated
  4. Stimulation of the clitoris ["the partners provided clitoral stimulation, but the women were asked not to make any movements and not to have an orgasm"]
  5. Stimulation of the clitoris
  6. Stimulation of the clitoris, trying to reach orgasm ["the partners provided clitoral stimulation with the aim of inducing orgasm. After each of these measurements, women either reported that they had not reached orgasm ("failed orgasm attempt") or that they had ("orgasm"). Failed orgasm attempts were also used as a control for the motor output during orgasm."]
  7. Stimulation of the clitoris, trying to reach orgasm
  8. Stimulation of the clitoris, trying to reach orgasm
  • "Orgasm attempts with ambiguous subjective reports were excluded from the analysis."
  • Partners started stimulation of the clit before beginning of the measurements so that the women would be already excited when the measurement started
  • "Because of the technical requirements for the PET measurements, participants were asked to attempt to reach orgasm in a specified 40-second interval. For all measurements, only data of this interval were analyzed."

Data Analysis
So from here it gets more confusing because it gets pretty technical about measuring rectal pressure and discerning the different frequency bands of that pressure. I am not exactly familiar with this kind of science, so I'm not going to get real specific. I'll do the best I can to give you the gist of their work using simple words ('cause that's all I understand). If anyone knows this well and wants to correct me, please do.
  • The pressure measurements were broken down into frequency bands: delta (.5-4 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), alpha (8-13 Hz) and beta (13-25 Hz).
  • In each of those categories, the resting measurements of each of the women were used to normalize, but the normalized data did not have a normal distribution over all the participants and tasks, so some math was done to better compare the data among tasks and women (Kruskal-Wallis test, post-hoc Wilcoxen rank sum test, and a Bonferroni correction...for those who want to know).
  • So, using the women's claims of whether they came or not as the gold standard, the scientists started crunching the numbers to see which measurements most accurately predicted a woman's claim of "orgasm" vs. "failed orgasm attempt." They were basically trying to find a 1-stop-shop objective measurement that when measured would match (or match best) with a woman subjectively saying she orgasmed and when it was not measured would match (or best match) with a woman either having a failed orgasm attempt or doing some other non orgasm thing like pretending to orgasm.

  • "Of the 23 women, 17 achieved 1 or more orgasms. A total of 31 orgasms and 33 failed orgasm attempts were included for analysis."
  • "Visual inspection of the pressure vs. time graphs showed that patterns of rectal pressure during orgasm were very variable between participants."
  • "further examination suggested that, in many cases, the orgasm measurements contained more high frequency components than measurements of other tasks."
  • "Typical examples are given in Figure 1. In this figure, raw data (left panels) and power spectral density (right panels) of rectal pressure are shown. The lines at .5, 4, 8, and 13 Hz indicate the different frequency bands. Note the difference in alpha and beta power between 'orgasm' and 'failed orgasm attempt.'"
Figure 1 8-13 Hz fluctuations in rectal pressure are an objective marker of clitorally-induced orgasm in women
  • No significant differences were found between both control tasks;  failed attempts at orgasm and imitation of orgasm.
  • A significant difference was found between the control tasks and orgasm in the 8-13 Hz range ("alpha power").
  • "Based on this, the orgasm detection algorithm applied alpha power to classify orgasm attempts as successful or failed."
  • All orgasm attempts where the "alpha power" was over 3 times higher than non-sexual rest were classified as "orgasm" and all attempts with less were classified as "failed orgasm attempts," This maximized the overlap between the prediction of orgasm and women's claims of orgasm.
  • 69% (44/64) of orgasm attempts were identified correctly as either failed or successful
  • 94% (29/31) of orgasms were correctly recognized as orgasms

  • "The aim of this study was to identify an objective physiological correlate of orgasm in women. In particular, we hypothesized that the involuntary perineal muscular contractions that accompany orgasm could be distinguished by their frequency characteristics."
  • The power in both the 8-13 (alpha) and 13-25 (beta), but especially the 8-13 Hz frequency bands were significantly greater during orgasm than all other tasks.
  • "Imitation of orgasm and failed orgasm attempts also involved , often forceful, contraction of striated perineal musculature," but the power in the alpha and beta bands were significantly lower in those tasks than during orgasm.
  • The researchers said they were unable to determine which muscles contributed to the signal but that according to the literature, the following muscles contract during orgasm and could be responsible for the fast fluctuation in rectal pressure: parts of the levator ani muscle, the anal sphincter, and the uterus.
  • A limit of this study was that because of the PET scanning, the participants had to orgasm within designated 40-second intervals. Although, as was noted before, they didn't report that these lab orgasms were any different than their normal ones. There was also a benefit to the 40-second requirement because approximately half of all orgasm attempts were failed, which gave a lot of control tasks to compare against.
  • "Orgasms in our study were all clitorally-induced. This method was chosen because it induces no artifact in rectal pressure and is the most effective means of inducing orgasm (Lloyd, 2005). Because of this reason, rectal pressure fluctuations can not be measured during orgasms achieved through intra-vaginal stimulation. Studying the question whether orgasms achieved that way will give the same result is therefore not possible. However, we think that there will be no difference in rectal pressure fluctuations during orgasm when the orgasm is achieved via a different way. The assumption that there is a different typology of clitoral vs. vaginal orgasms can not be supported in the literature, because there is a striking lack of reliable physiological data for this typology (Mah & Binik, 2001)."
  • "Orgasm-associated rectal pressure patterns are highly variable between individuals (Carmichael et al., 1994) and we could qualitatively confirm this for our participants."
  • These researchers ignored the variability and included all reported orgasms in their analysis. "Despite this indiscriminate approach" they still found the significantly higher power in the alpha band being characteristic of orgasm, and they believe, "This clearly demonstrates the robustness of this approach."
  • This research into rectal pressure might be useful, with further research of course, in helping women who are unable to orgasm, maybe through biofeedback, where a woman and her partner can see when the alpha power is rising to increase body awareness.
  • The researchers point out that their observations of rectal pressure starting at the onset of orgasm match the literature. They note that the fluctuations are not simply related to high arousal and point out that the participants in their personal debriefings said there was a big difference between their imitation of orgasm and their failed orgasm attempts because they were highly aroused during the failed attempt but not during the imitations. Yet, no differences were found in the rectal pressure fluctuation between the two. So, they conclude their study revealed an orgasm specific physiologic quality.
  • "Taken together, our findings indicate that 8-13 Hz fluctuations in rectal pressure constitute an objective and quantitative marker of orgasm in women that is sensitive and yet robust to interindividual variability and temporal dilution."

So the interesting part about this study is that it's not looking at the overall muscle contractions (the number, strength, and interval) as a marker for orgasm because, I believe, the researchers in this study see it as failing to match what they call the "elusive subjective orgasm experience" in women (i.e. sometimes women say they orgasm even when that marker is not exhibited). Those contractions, however, through a variety of recording/observation methods, have been indicated as marker of orgasm since back in 1966 when Masters and Johnson did their groundbreaking study on the physiology of male and female orgasm and arousal. And, judging from the research so far, most women and men do exhibit this unique physical marker at orgasm.

However, the researchers in this study often reference the Bohlen study, in which 2 of the 11 women claimed orgasm but did not exhibit the distinctive contraction pattern of orgasm. So, I think they were taking the Bohlen study as proof that the distinctive pelvic muscular contractions could not possibly be the physiologic marker of orgasm and thus were looking towards finding a marker that would include all woman's subjective claims of orgasm - including women like the 2 from the Bohlen study.

Now, this study still focuses on the pelvic muscle contractions at orgasm, but instead of contraction intervals, number, or overall strength, it looks at the frequency characteristics of the contractions, and that's where it finds that the strength of the contractions in the 8-13 Hz alpha band is a fairly reliable marker for orgasm. The thing is, though, the 8-13 Hz increase seems to coincide with the distinctive contractions in the example they give (figure 1 above), but does it in every case? What if there were women like the 2 in the Bohlen study? Would their orgasms be identified with the 8-13 Hz method even if it wasn't identified with the regular contraction interval method? This wasn't discussed.

Which brings me to the fact that this study didn't show that the  8-13 Hz method is the orgasm marker either. Only 69% (44/64) of orgasm attempts could be identified correctly as either failed or successful in this model, and there were 2 out of  31 claims of orgasms that could not be physically recognized as orgasms. The study doesn't go into detail about what made the 2 orgasm claims physically unidentifiable as orgasms, but might it be the same problem the Bohlen study faced? Were there no distinctive pelvic contractions in those? The researchers had the data to tell us this, but didn't.

Maybe, much like the long-standing use of regular pelvic muscle contractions as a marker, the 8-13 Hz method fails to a degree because study of orgasm begins with women's use of the word instead of physical data. I mean, I'm not saying we need to disregard women's own admission about whether they orgasmed or not, but why base physical investigations on that instead of just including that as another element to help increase understanding.  Maybe the word 'orgasm' is just so loaded and confusing and varied in our culture, especially for women, that it's use shouldn't necessarily be trusted in scientific investigation.

What if those women in the Bohlen study (and maybe even some in this study) just said they had an orgasm even though they physically didn't? Or (since I know researchers are probably incredibly wary about asserting that they know better than a woman about whether she orgasmed or not), maybe these women had some other type of physical thing that can be described as an 'orgasm' but exhibits itself in a different and yet unknown physical way than the whole pelvic muscle contraction and/or 8-13 Hz thing. Either way, I think the phenomenon of claiming orgasm and having the discernible contractions vs. the phenomenon of claiming orgasm and not having those contractions each deserves some specific and separate investigation instead of being lumped in together simply because we use the same word to describe them.

So to me, lumping this less understood phenomenon in which women don't exhibit this discernible physical marker when they claim orgasm into the data seems incredibly messy and problematic. Maybe there needs to be studies that simply investigate what is happening physically, see where it does and does not match to when people say they orgasm, and point out further studies that need to be done to understand more clearly what is happening physically in the minority of cases where claim of orgasm is not paired with a discernible physical marker - because as of now, we just don't know.

All in all, I liked this study. It was well done, but I think it falls prey to the larger problem in female orgasm studies...It uses women's claims of orgasm as the gold standard and approaches the analysis as if each woman were surely experiencing the same physical things as every other woman when she claims orgasm.

Find more of these Lady-gasm Journal Reviews HERE


Love Season 1: The SSL Review

There is a new Netflix original series out now. It's called Love and I am going to SSL Review this bitch. For those not in the know, an SSL Review is a critique specifically of  depictions and discussion of female orgasm and female masturbation focusing on the realism (like, would that movement realistically cause an orgasm?) and what these depictions and discussions add to the larger cultural discussion and understanding of lady-gasms. It's rated on a 0 to 5 vulva rating (although I did give hysteria a -1 vulva rating once in my earlier more negative days). You can see all the SSL movie reviews HERE.

Love was created by Judd ApatowPaul Rust, and Leslie Arfin. Paul Rust gets writing credit and also stars as Gus in it. Leslie also gets writing credit. Judd Apatow gets writing credit too, and you might know him as writer/director of things like Freaks and Geeks (which I've never seen but I know people love), 40 Year Old VirginKnocked Up (both of which I've been meaning to SSL Review...and unfortunately I'm pretty sure they would get lower vuvla ratings), and director of Amy Schumer's Trainwreck (which got a sparkling 5 vulva rating). So, Apatow has been in the very sexual romantic comedy business for years. His work is well loved and popular, and he's influential in the business.

I guess to me that makes it all the more important to critique the stuff he puts out in relation to female orgasm. Things that are funny are influential. They could change ideas on this topic because 'funny' has a way of sneakily infiltrating past our bias and walls. On the other hand, 'funny' can also just strongly and like-ably reinforce old bullshit ideas.

Sadly, the SSL review for Love will be on the low end of the spectrum. I'm not doing this just to dog on him or anyone else. Honestly a low vulva rating doesn't mean something is intentionally or unusually bad. More often than not it just means it's status quo. It's just that status quo lady-gasm knowledge is generally heavily skewed at best and incomprehensibly wrong at worst. It revolves around penetration of the vagina, but (and I know this seems crazy given the way lady-gasms are largely spoken about and depicted) there has never been an orgasm caused through stimulation inside the vagina ever recorded or observed in scientific literature. I am not lying about this, and it's not like there were no experiments out there that could have shown this. There have been. There are no known g-spot, inner clitoral (stimulated through the vaginal wall), cervical, or vaginal wall orgasms on the books. There just isn't. There's a shit ton of orgasms caused through stimulation of the outer vulva/clit area on the books though.

This very strange disconnect between what is scientifically understood about female orgasm, and what people hear and see about the female orgasm in our media, from our friends, and even from scientists themselves talking freely, is large, and it both reflects and fuels a large cultural misunderstanding about females and sexuality. (Want more overview of these ideas? go HERE. Want to see how even BBC Science gets this shit way wrong? go HERE. Want to see a weird-ass, heavily researched movie about his? Go HERE).

I doubt ol' Judd nor any of the other writers and directors I SSL Review will ever read this, but I'd like to think that if they did they would understand that I am only critiquing out of love. I can't blame anyone for depicting lady-gasm in ridiculous ways because everyone does it. It's what people know. I hope, though, that my critiques might be ones they had never heard before, and maybe they could possibly see things from a different perspective...and then maybe, if my wildest dreams come true, they would consider the things in this SSL Review next time they are creating ladygasm stuff. It's just a hope, because like I said, people like Judd Apatow who are influential and funny could do more for opening eyes to orgasm equality in one line than I have done in my whole life.


Now remember I'm not, like, reviewing this show. I'm reviewing only scenes where female orgasm or masturbation were depicted or discussed. That means just a sex scene with no orgasm doesn't technically count...unless I feel like it's important for some reason. I might need to pull on the show as a whole to get context, but I'll try to keep this simple and try not to give anything important away if you haven't seen it. I will go over all the SSL Reviewable scenes and then I'll give the overview and the coveted...Vulva Rating.

Cross-Cut Sex Intro Scene (Episode 1)
At the beginning of the first episode, both Gus (the main male character) and Mickey (the main female character) are having sex with their significant others. It sorta cuts back and forth between them.

Mickey's Table Bang
Mickey is bent over a table getting fucked really hard from behind. Her hands are sprawled out in front of her and his are on her hips. Nothing is touching her clit area. She is screaming things like, "Yes! Yes!," and responding with, "Yes you are!" to something he says that I can't discern (I am a warrior???)

Anyway, she seems to be coming in a classic, aggressively vocal, kinda pornish way. It seems to me that it's a scene meant to show how sexual and wild she is, and basically she's depicted as coming from just straight up banging. His dick up her junk from behind, going in and out is making her cum like a crazy woman. It's that. damn. good.

So, this is a common depiction, but it's so very unlikely that a woman could orgasm without anything touching her clitoral/vulva area. Even in the most uncontroversial of statistics only 15 - 30% of women even claim that this happens to them ever, but on top of that it's never been observed in scientific literature and it's not crazy to wonder whether our mushy language and the pressure and misinformation heaped upon women might cause some of those 15-30% say they orgasm this way when they physically do not. So if this type of orgasm happens at all, it's likely even a lower % than even that. Yet still, for some reason, this is like the #1 way we see women orgasm on the screen.

Gus's Missionary
Gus is fucking his girlfriend missionary in bed. The covers are up to their waists, and his body is leaned down close to hers, so in all reality, there could be some clit/vulva against his pelvis touching that's going on during the penetration, but it's not particularly grindy, and her body doesn't seem to be particularly engaged in a way that would indicate she's grinding up on him or holding his pelvis close to hers so she gets that stimulation. It's not really in-out bangy either. It looks really comfy and normal - which I think is what they mean it to look like. Then he asks her a sweet relationship thing to which she agrees and they both get a little more aggressive and urgent. However, there is no clear cum at the end of that. It's more like both of them are getting really close, but it cuts before it actually happens. So, if I want to be real technical, it wasn't even an orgasm, so I can't SSL review it...but it is so close to one, I at least want to mention it.

Like I said, she could be getting outer clitoral stimulation in this position, so I'm not going to say this is unrealistic, but I will say that it is just another scene that has a dude fucking a girl until she comes (at least we assume she finishes). It's not helping the problem,

To be fair, ladies can get a hands free orgasm during penetration - by grinding that clit during it - which this gal might be doing, but the truth is, it isn't something one should expect to just happen simply because two people are fucking and all those parts are in close proximity to each other (if it were that easy the 70-85% of women who say they don't orgasm hands free during intercourse would have probably stumbled across this lucky meshing of parts during at least a few of the hundreds of times they've fucked in their lifetime). I think it's safe to expect that some type of concerted effort from her and cooperation from him is needed for her to really get the clit stimulation she needs, and that their mutual involvement with and acknowledgement of her clit would be at least a little apparent in a realistic scene. But maybe that's me being picky. She did get all concentrate-y in her face and seemed to sorta counter buck with him once she got more excited, and I do appreciate that she wasn't just laying there making orgasm sounds, but in the end it just looked like she got more aroused when he said what he said to her, but was still just a gal getting a good status quo dicking into lady-gasmville.

The Mickey and Dude's Mom Scene
This is a little after the the crosscutting. It's a different sexual event all together, but it's still Mickey with the same guy. They're on the bed missionary. She is on her back and he is propped up on his arms, pretty fully outstretched so he's up at a pretty good angle. There is a clear rocking of her body in the direction one's body would go if a dick's getting rammed in and out of it. There is also a quick shot of of him from behind and so we see his naked ass moving above her. It's a true in and out situation, and from both that angle and the one of their upper bodies, it doesn't look at all like his pelvis is close to hers - he's too upright. She's also not seeming to be moving her body up against him. She very much looks like his movements are jarring her around as opposed to her doing any significant moving. Also, her hands are definitely on his back not her own clit. So, my point is, this is another scene of a gal getting balled into orgasm. But, technically she doesn't orgasm.
Dude: "Oh shit"
Mickey: "What? What's wrong?"
Dude: "We just gotta go quicker"
Mickey "Why?, what the fuck?" (Her face and body language completely changes to not aroused at all here, but the dude  is still fucking her exactly the same, but a little faster)Dude: "My mom's here."
Mickey: "What the fuck? Why's your mom here?"
Dude: "Just go quicker. Come with me, come with me" "
Mickey: "No, I can't just do that."
Dude: "Ahhhh, ahhhh" (that's him coming)
Clearly she doesn't come here, but she talks about it, and the insinuation is that if he wasn't trying to rush her so he can go out and meet his mom, then she would have come....from him banging her in her vagina with no clit stimulation.

Masturbation Talk! (Episode 3)
She's watching an exercise video with her roommate. It has a lot of muscly guys in it. The roommate says it looks like a good one  and maybe they could do it, and Mickey says something like, "No, but I'll masturbate to it later."  You know I can't be mad at that. Anytime a woman talks about masturbating, and it's not ridiculed, I give big props. The more normal masturbation seems for women, the better!

Mickey Quicky
Mickey is having sex with a dude for the first time. He is standing. She is face to face with him, her legs (at least 1 leg) around his waist. He seems to be supporting her weight. She's on the dick, and her body is moving sorta up and down on it. The have the following convo.
Dude: "Say something about my dick"
Mickey: "Your dick feels so good. Yes." (Breathy)Dude: "It does right? It does feel good, right"
She sorta pushes them forward so they fall onto the bed behind him still with the stuff inside the stuff. He's on his back, and she's straddling him leaned completely forward. There's sort of animosity talk between them while she is, well, fucking him. Since she's leaned forward, and we can't see much past the waist, it seems like she could be rubbing her vulva forward and back continuously against his body while it's going in and out, if ya know what I mean. Then, though, she starts to get towards orgasm, and instead of moving along his body, she starts bouncing up and down more excitedly until she comes. It's in a way that she's sitting more up, and her clit area would likely lose contact with his pelvis. Then he says.
Dude: "You came."
Mickey: "yeah"
Dude: "Well, I haven't yet, so..."
Mickey: "fine"
She does the exact same movements she was doing when she came, and it got him off in a few seconds. I'll give this some leeway because she was on top, controlling the movement and at first she looked like she could be getting some stim on that clit, so those are all good.  I was sad , though, when she went into the classic bouncy up-down thing where it seems to be all about the dick stimulating the inside of the vagina.

That she came, and he didn't was a plus though because, honestly, when it comes to intercourse the motions that get a woman off might not be as great for a man and certainly vice versa, so simultaneous orgasm isn't as common a thing as it seems in the ol' movies. All in all though it ended up being another scene where a woman takes the dick train to orgasm. The whole thing was kinda realistic, but to me it was like if a dude was pumpin' in a lady and getting close to coming, but then when he got real close, he pulled far out and just wiggled his hips so the tip of his dick dragged back and forth across her stomach. If he came that way, I mean...I guess?...but it's weird, right? We can see that weirdness when it comes to how men would likely orgasm, but we just don't have the cultural tools yet to see that same kind of weirdness when it comes to how women orgasm in media.

Vibe Masturbating (Episode 5)
Mickey's masturbating because she's bored and trying not to drink, so after a montage of her trying to get into doing all kinds of other things around the house, we see her laying on her bed. She's on her back, with overalls and she has one hand in there. There is a buzz sound, and there's a cord coming out. It's clearly her using a vibrator on her outer vulva area, so it's realistic and I do so love it. In the end she doesn't finish because she's just too distracted to focus on anything (her cat licking itself particularly distracted her) but again, I love anything with a lady masturbating. Bravo.

Why All the Vibrator Hate? (Episode 7)
Mickey's straddling Gus on the chair, and she's really moving those hips. I'd almost say she could be grinding, but her body's not pressed particularly close to him. Then she asks him to wait a minute and says, "ow." He asks if she's okay, and she says she's cool, just a little sore from earlier (they also had sex earlier in the day  - strictly penetration of course)), then asks if they can move to the bed.

So it cuts, and they are laying on their sides facing each other (fun note: the sheet is pressed down in between them very neatly so, I assume, the two actors are not actually touching bodies). Then she says, "Would you mind if I use my vibrator?"

He is taken aback and kinda stutters out, "Oh,...no, that's cool. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead." So she gets a big ol' Magic Wand style vibrator with a cord out of her nightstand drawer, plugs it in, and gets back into bed. She turns it on and places it in the vulva area and then turns toward him for more kissing. Then she starts turning away and getting pretty close to orgasming with the ol' vibrator. At some point as she was turning, he must have stuck it in because he seems to be doing her from behind. He says to her, "Is this okay?" and she says, "Yeah," and then she starts to orgasm.

As she does this, poor ol' Gus gets all forlorn looking. He kinda stops fucking her as she's coming and just sorta looks around like he's so darn sad this is happening. And it is a travesty, isn't it? I mean when a girl chooses not to come from your dick banging inside her, it's probably because she doesn't like you anymore, and you're not good at sex, right?

Love, annoyingly show poor, poor Gus lose his lover to a vibrator :(

This scene is so annoying to me. I hope this isn't true, but it really seems like the use of the vibrator is meant to show that she just isn't that into him anymore, and that's some bullshit. Women need clit stimulation to come. Period. Him being all weird when she asks is some bullshit too. I mean he didn't say no or anything, but it was clear that he was really surprised and not in a good way - more in a let down way, like when you find out you didn't get a job kind of way. And then the show sorta supported his reaction, because as she's coming it goes to a dramatic close-up of his face all sad and let down and shit, and then it cuts to some melancholy indie rock credits music.

It's like we're all supposed to feel the disconnect this damn vibrator has brought on. Now, maybe its the turning away we're supposed to focus on, but honestly, have you ever tried to work one of those big-ass magic wands between you and a dude trying to fuck you? That is some cumbersome stuff, Turning away was a good option. He's getting some sweet tang encompassing his junk, and she's getting hard core vibe. Everyone should be happy.

I get that the awkwardness and complications that happened in their relationship just before this sex does play into this scene, but even if the intention to mock the use of a vibrator was not there, it happened anyway because we see the use of vibrators or hands on women's clits so rarely that when they are used, the connotation is impactful, and the connotation here was that it separated them and saddened him.

Witch Sex (Episode 8)
Gus is having sex with a woman, who I guess we're all supposed to see a little fake and a little stupid, but super cute. It's a quick scene, and he's on his back on the bed. She's riding him cowgirl style, torso straight up and down.  No hands, vibrators or pelvises ('cause her body is so upright) are touching anywhere near her clit area, and she is saying wierd kinda creepy stuff that she means to be sexy.

She's rolling her hips super sexy on his dick, but he looks a little freaked out. Her voice and the way she changes it when she talks to him seems like she's super faking the sexy, but she is clearly way into the whole thing. Like, she's totally all in. Right before it cuts, she leans her head back and starts to orgasm.

To me, it feels like a scene meant to show a fake woman in bed, and my assumption is that she was meant to seem like she was faking an orgasm. However, I also think it could be seen as a crazy bitch being crazy and coming from the crazy shit she does. I just don't know if the orgasm part would consciously register as fake to everyone.  I think it's still a scene in which a woman (crazy or fake as she may be) rides a dick to orgasm.

Love, in the end, was a show that heavily reinforced all the misconception about female orgasm and stagnant status quo ideas of sex that I would like to break through. The sex in this show was always intercourse. There was no oral or handies or dry humping, and all the women seemed to be fine and completely orgasmic with just the ol' in and out. I will give it props for showing a lady who likes masturbation and depicting the masturbation in a realistic way (no-one was doing it by ramming a dildo up their junk :), but when masturbation was brought into a couple situation, it was not looked upon kindly. So to me this show continues the long-standing tradition of equating sex with intercourse, of assuming women just come when dudes fuck them with their penises, and my very favorite tradition of all - stigmatizing the inclusion of clitoral stimulation (vibe or hand) during intercourse (even though external clitoral stimulation is literally what women need in order to orgasm).

It's sad because there is so much untapped humor to be had in the realities of female orgasm that could surprise people with hilarious and progressive depictions. Seriously, it's so untapped. Check with Amy Schumer if you want some ideas.

This movie, I'm sad to say gets 1 vuvla (because ladies masturbating always get at least 1).