Chewing Gum S2 Ep5 - The SSL Review

Chewing Gum!
Like I said in the first SSL Review I did on this, you should check this show out on Netflix. I continue to love the shit out of it in the 2nd season. It's a top-quality comedy that you should definitely watch. It may have a tricky British accent to follow, but turn on the captions and get on with watching it. It's great. It's also progressive in the ol' female orgasm department, and I feel like it has a unique perspective - not just because her gender or color or anything like that, well it is a lot of that, but I don't think the way a writer or director identifies is enough to bring a truly unique voice to a work. It's how they use their craft as well. To me, it seems like Michaela Coel (writer/star) really unabashedly dives into her own perspective and brings things into her story that are new and unexpected. In short, she's just a great creator and people should watch this show.

Michaela Coel - Chewing Gum creator, writer and main actress
And it's SSL Reviewable
This means I will be critiquing only discussions or depictions of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. For these reviews I'm mainly interested in physical realism (like are the things happening to the woman's body actually things that would realistically make a female orgasm?) and about how the depiction/discussion plays in the larger cultural conversation about female orgasm and women's sexuality.

Please, my friends, do enjoy more SSL Reviews for MOVIES and TV SHOWS.

Pillow Riding
As the show opens, Tracey (Michaela Coel) is on her knees with a pillow between her legs on her bed. It's up against her junk. She's got a laptop on the bed in front of her and she's watching porn. We bounce at first between seeing the porn scene and having Tracey talk directly to the audience.

Porn guy: (drives up to lady on the street) What are you doing on the curb? Shouldn't you be in college?
Porn gal: I was waiting for you to drive me to your house and play with all my tight holes.
Tracey: pfff, but why are you just waiting on the curb??...and how did you know that he'd be there, first thing?
Porn guy: I even got a daughter that looks just like you.
Tracey: Okay, well that's just 100% disgustingness, isn't it?
Porn gal: My feelings are so intense.
Tracey: 'Feelings are so intense?' You just met him and now you go and get feelings? My mum is away for the first night since I was like born, and this is what - pft. Nah, man. I can't watch this stuff no more, you know, because one day I was like, 'Rah, hold on. If there's a camera that close to her face, she must know it's there. Hold on. What does this mean? There's some kind of acting or something. And from the time I realize that, yeah, me and my pillow are losing interest. See, my mind, yeah, is woke. I don't even think they're actually having sex. It's some kind of motion graphics or something. And it's good as fake, yeah, 'cause she ain't even ugly. She look like that blonde chic from Homeland. Why is she messin' with this tired and retired brokeback, man? pffft. This more comedy than sex.

Gettin' Banged
Tracey's sister, Cynthia (Susan Wokoma) has decided to lose her virginity and in Cynthia fashion makes a plan and executed it.

We see her  is in a towel on her bed with the laptop out. She googles "becoming sexual" gets to a site that says 'masturbation.' She reads the first bullet point aloud to herself.

Cynthia: Make sure you lubricate the finger / fingers.

She pours a lot of oil on her hand, kinda leans over to squat on the floor in front of her bed and puts her hand up her towel. There's a quick montage of her really getting that hand up there. It looks to me like she's really just trying to get her fingers deep inside her. It doesn't really seem sexual, and she looks much more like she's concentrating and really making an effort to get her hand up there rather than this being sexually pleasurable. Then she queefs and laughs before the scene ends.

She finds a dude out on the street, brings himhome talks to him for a short time and then they are in her bedroom standing and talking. He's a little cautious and wierded out by the whole experience so far.
Dude: Right, so you want to do sex? You're just going to give it to me.
Cynthia: Well, I'm not giving it to you, we're sharing it.
She hands him a condom.
Dude: This ain't a set-up? There ain't no cameras here?
Cynthia shakes her head no.
Dude: Alright.
Cynthia: Oh, great!, Well, I broke my hymen in preparation, so, I'll lie down...
She lies down as he's starts rapidly taking of his clothes
Cynthia: and you...
He hurriedly runs over kneeling between her legs
Cynthia:  at my pace please!
He's opening the condom, still kinda frantically
Cynthia:  Okay, and now just put it around my knicker area.
We are only seeing head shots of both of them, but it seems like he is following instructions.
Cynthia: Okay, you may now enter the dome, with your penis.
We see a shot from behind with the dude's bare butt on top of her missionary style. Then we get a close on his face again. He's starting slowish but strong pumps into her. We also see a close of her and she's fairly expressionless. She taps him on the shoulder.
Cynthia: Are you enjoying it?
Dude: Yes, but if you keep talking it will go down.
Cynthia:  Is it tight?
Dude: Okay, well, you can say stuff like that.
Cynthia: (straight) Is it tight?
Dude: yeeeaahh.
He smiles and continues pumping
Cynthia:  Let me tell you something Ryan. It's all a myth. Virgin tightness has been scientifically debunked. Intercourse does not stretch the vagina. Well, it does, but it just shrinks it down to what it was before. So that means if we do this again, we'll be having the exact same experience we're having right now.
Cynthia:  How do you think this is going ryan?
Dude: I'm gonna come! I'm gonna come!
Cynthia: (straight) I'm not coming at all.
Dude: I'm gonna come! I'm gonna come!I'm gonna come!
He starts coming, and she seems to take it as a cue awkwardly. She start moaning, but clearly trying to figure out how at first, and then starts screaming, but not sexy, almost scary, and he looks a little wierded out. Then she starts laughing, and he gets off her and falls down beside her on the bed.
Still laughing she says
Cynthia: (still laughing) I did a big come. My toes have gone all numb.
He takes his condom off, and she points to it.
Cynthia: Oh, do you mind if I give it a once over?
Dude: You're not supposed to let girls have your--
I need to check for holes because I don't want children right now. Oh, great. Tidy. Hmm. There's nothing there. Shouldn't you have...Then again girls don't always squirt, so the same must be true for boys. Good work, Ryan.
She puts the condom down and exhales.
Dude: Do you mind if I take a nap?
Cynthia: Why?
Dude: I just came, and also there is something very exhausting about you.
Cynthia:  Okay, I guess. but you have to stay here in my sister's room

The SSL Review

Tracey's Treatise On Porn
I LOVED her riding the pillow while fully dressed in her pajamas.

Firstly, it's not a style of lady-bation that often gets depicted. It's much more common to see a vibrator, shower head or hands/fingers directly on the vuvla/clit area. Those are fine and all, but you know what's quick and easy and awesome? Grinding against a pillow, that's what. You don't even need to take off your clothes. Just lay down, put a pillow under you, grind for a hot minute, come, fall asleep directly where you are. Perfect, and underrepresented. Thank you Chewing Gum.

Secondly, she speaks some truths of the female experience in a way. She stops masturbating because she's realized how gross and fake porn is. It turned her (and her riding pillow) off. In this show Tracey is incredibly naive, so the rather obvious recognition that porn is kinda 'fake' is a true revelation for her, and kinda funny for the audience.

I like this depiction of Tracey's naivety because I see it as a way to point out something a bit deeper and more universal. It seems like an obvious thing that porn is fake, but at the same time, I think her observation is not as obvious as we'd like to imagine, is it really? I mean, they are actually having real sex in porn -that's what makes it porn and not just a movie with sex in it. It's easy, I think, to know that the sex in porn is not like real life sex, but it's also really easy to just absorb the images in it and allow them to be a template for what sex is like...especially since few of us get to view actual people having sex in their bedrooms through a secret peephole. AND, even if we were able to do that I'd venture to say that 'real' sex might look more like porn than it should because porn images influence movie sex, TV sex, book sex, and ultimately how we all perform sex to some degree. So, my point is that I like Tracey's revelation and her point about it being a turn-off to her that it's so fake and silly.

I don't think all women come to it or express it the way Tracey did, but I imagine a lot of women have gone through a time when the initial newness and dirtiness of most porn wore off and revealed something that was a bit distasteful. So, in that way, I think Tracey's speech was both funny and poignant about women's actual experience with porn, and I appreciate that.

I'd like to take a sec and go a little further with this line of women getting a distaste for porn because I think there's more to it, though, than porn not being like 'real' situations or 'real' sex. I think porn's greatest sin against ladies' sexual sensibilities is that it's acutely focused on male fantasy, desire and orgasm and not much at all on ladies'. The truth is the fakest part of all about porn is the fake-ass female orgasms. The stimulation of the inside of the vagina  (i.e. a penis banging into the vag without any extra clitoral glans stimulation) is not a way one would expect a female to physically orgasm (seriously), but for fuck sake if it isn't just about the only way women orgasm in porn. Ladies watching ladies fake orgasmic pleasure during sex acts that are actually orgasmic for penises but not for us might not be something we consciously find appalling (because honestly that type of faking is so common it might not even seem weird), but I truly believe we must feel the absurdity and unfairness of that deep inside and it must at least be a piece of the type of distaste we see Tracey displaying.

Thirdly, as always, I simply appreciate seeing a female character acknowledge that she masturbates and that she likes it and is not ashamed. It helps to normalize jerking it for the ladies. Women overall are super susceptible for not giving masturbation a try or feeling overly destructive guilt if they do and that sucks because: hetero partner sex sucks for lady-gasms, the cultural knowledge about lady-gasms is the worst (it's the clit, ya'll not the vagina), and the only way a lady is really going to get orgasms on the regular when she's having partnered sex is if she figures out on her own how to get herself off. Thems just the truths, and so it's nice to have anything in our media that helps women get past hang-ups about masturbating.

Cynthia's wierd-ass first time
Okay, I'm pretty into this scene.

1. It's so Cynthia. You'd have to watch the show - which I highly recommend - but the strange mix of straightforward as fuck, naive, uber-determined, and wanting to fit-in is perfecto in this scene.
2. I wasn't sure exactly what she was intended to be trying at when fumbling around her junk with her oiled fingers. Was it actually masturbation? I mean maybe, but when later she said she already pre-busted her hymen, that seemed more like what the outcome of all that would be. Either way, it clearly wasn't pleasurable to her - at least not sexually or orgasmically pleasurable, and so even if her character was attempting masturbation, she was not depicted as doing it well. She was just trying to ram her finger(s) up her hole, and that does not an orgasmic masturbation session make. I appreciate that the writers didn't act like that was actually good technique.
3. During the sex act, there was just a dude pushing his dick in and out of a pus-hole, no hands touching the clit, no grinding her clit against him...like, she was completely still. It was in no way a sex act that would be expected to make a woman come, and indeed it did not. As he said he was coming, she quite clearly and calmly says, "I'm not coming at all." She wasn't coming, but she did fake one, and I feel pretty confident in saying that it was written as being her specifically faking it because of how she so awkwardly moved into it as soon as he started coming.

But saying she faked it is a little too simplistic, I think, and I like that about this scene. It's real in a way we don't often see. Cynthia does some research and she thinks she's got this. She tries to act as if she's knowledgeable and in charge, and in a way she is. She gets to lose her virginity like she wants and she does control what is happening, but she doesn't actually 'got this.' She is very unclear about how this all should work in relation to her body, her pleasure, her arousal or her orgasm. In the end, the dude is the only one that gets to come. And like so many feamles before her, instead of seeing that this intercourse thing isn't all it's cracked up to be, she simply makes do. She adjusts her perspective, moving from "I'm not coming at all" to screaming like she's seen women are supposed to do at that moment in sex and saying she "did a big cum" and that ever so stereotypically her "toes have gone all numb." I'd go so far as to say she kind of believes it, and I'd go further to say that story is not uncommon. Faking happens for a lot of reasons, and one of those, I think, is because we don't know what's happening exactly so we make the sounds and motions we believe we should be making and feel okay believing in retrospect that was an orgasm.

Vulva Rating
Here's the things I thought reflected our sexual culture or female orgasms realistically, put out into the world things that positively affected our cultural understanding of lady-gasms, or helped create a world where female orgasms were as prevalent and understood as male orgasms:

  • The PJs on pillow grind type of masturbating, which is a physically legit way a woman might orgasm, was depicted. It says to the world - women can masturbate unabashedly and and that grinding in the vulva area is key to masturbation/orgasm (not getting poked in your holes).
  • Tracey's porn speech both normalized a woman's interest in using porn for masturbation and also pointed out how fake it is. Both are important because women deserve good porn and lots of masturbation (AmIRight, yall?), and when porn depicting authentic female fantasy, pleasure and orgasm is as hard to come by as it currently is, it's problematic for everyone. 
  • The sex Cynthia was having was physically unlikely to ever bring a female to orgasm - no clit stimulation and all pumping into a vagina....which is bullshit for lady-gasms, and I appreciate that she wasn't shown actually orgasming from it.
  • When Cynthia did fake, I felt like it was clearly acted and written to be fake, and I appreciate that. 
  • The way Cynthia faked was interesting yet, I believe, incredibly realistic. It didn't seem to be malicious or premeditated in any way. It seemed to me like she thought she should do it, then did it, then stuck to her guns that it was an orgasm. She's naive, but I'd say not much more naive in that department than any of the rest of us.

For the realistic depictions and overall positive impact on our cultural understanding of lady-gasms, I give this episode a 5 vulva rating.

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