Oh, g-spot orgasm. The media loves telling us that we should be having you all the time. (5 ways to have a highly specific orgasm from penis sex! And 5 reasons he thinks this is sexy!) And yet the media loves these studies about how your g-spot orgasm doesn't exist. Those silly women, and their silly fake orgasms.
LiveScience's recently reminded us of this debate/double-bind with an article succinctly titled "Does the Female Orgasm Exist? Experts Debate."
Why is this even a debate? If Cosmo can proclaim to know whether or not the g-spot is a thing, shouldn't science know one way or another? You'd think, but you'd be wrong. Those studying the button cannot confirm or deny its existence. And most of the studies just kind of...suck. Writer Jen McCreight covered last year; she points to Andrea Burri's 2010 study out of Kings College of London, which didn't actually include physiological assessments of women. Researchers simply asked whether or not they believed they had one. Over at the "the g-spot exists" party, one super-cited study by Florian Wimpissinger proving the g's existence only had a sample size of two, and no controls.McCreight also points out that this paper which was about g-spot ejaculate not being urine was done by a guy named Florian Wimpissinger.
The latest iteration of this "debate" is sparked by some new research. On one side we have the idea is that g-spot orgasms are just clitoral orgasms:
French gynecologist Odile Buisson argues in her Journal of Sexual Medicine essay that the front wall of the vagina is inextricably linked with the internal parts of the clitoris; stimulating the vagina without activating the clitoris may be next to impossible. Thus, ‘vaginal' orgasms could be clitoral orgasms by another name.
And on the other side some new research shows that vaginal and clitoral orgasms activate different areas of our brains:
Barry Komisaruk of Rutgers University has conducted multiple studies in which women masturbate while having their brains scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The results show which sensory brain areas activate in response to stimulation.
‘If the vagina stimulation is simply working via clitoral stimulations, then vaginal stimulation and clitoral stimulation should activate the exact same place in the sensory cortex,' Komisaruk told LiveScience. ‘But they don't.'
In fact, Komisaruk reports in the journal, the brain areas for clitoral, cervical and vaginal stimulation cluster together but only overlap slightly, like a "cluster of grapes."
So can we just say the g-spot exists, but it doesn't mean everyone needs to have penis in vagina sex and call it a day? Apparently not. There are plenty of studies that are intent on proving that vaginal orgasms are somehow superior (LiveScience handily goes over some of them). So why does everyone seem so intent on ruining this? From LiveScience:
For instance, one study found women who have vaginal orgasms have a lower resting heart rate than those who don't. Other research has found women who orgasm without clitoral stimulation are less likely on average to use certain maladaptive psychological coping mechanisms, said Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of West Scotland who has conducted this research.
Don't get me wrong, I think more studies about the human body and sexuality are pretty much a good thing. But let's be real here: there's always a possibility of an agenda. And yet as sex educator Dr. Petra Boynton pointed out to me over e-mail, "The LiveScience piece claims Brody's 'data is strong' but actually I don't think all academics/practitioners would agree. A lot of his work seems to be focusing on heterosexual penetrative vaginal sex. I've yet to see journalists address what particular agendas may be driving this work."
I asked sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff over e-mail what she thought about the whole debate. Here is what she had to say, "What this ongoing research does (for the lay community) is question the legitimacy of what women experience when they climax. Orgasms are subjective; orgasms can be spiritual and not directly connected to either the clitoris or the vagina. Does a vaginal orgasm exist? Depends on who you ask — but try answering ‘no' to a woman who has had (or believed she had) one."
Ugh. The way that female orgasms are contested in science, then reported on in the media is 1.) not really helping anyone and 2.) is sorta sexist or, at the least, very gendered. Imagine if there were a plethora of studies about male orgasms and whether men feel them in the testicles or the shaft — the question sounds ridiculous. And it's just as ridiculous that science still can't decide whether or not that walnut-shaped g-spot even exists. Can't women just get some good science?