It wasn’t the “study” itself that broke me, although it is highly problematic too, but the “reporting” surrounding it. Folks are glancing at these scare-tactic headlines — “We Have Some Bad News About The G-Spot,” really? Like parents announcing a divorce? — and never reading beyond them. Or, worse, taking the time to read the articles only to be inculcated with false information.
There is much lazy reporting. With no compass for decoding it… until now.
As always, it is bold. It is definitive. It is clickbait. There is always a stock photo — of a woman moaning in faux-pleasure, a woman grasping a dude’s back like a cat climbing a curtain, or a tangle of four feet in dire need of someone to tuck them in. When posted on Facebook, the headline changes to the even more clickbaity “There’s A Reason You Can’t Find Your G-Spot.” Oh yeah. Reel ’em in.
Now, how does one start an article about the G-spot when so much has been said about the G-spot? By stating that much has been said about the G-spot.
The struggle to find the G-spot and achieve the mythical “vaginal orgasm” is real. Books have been written on it; sex therapists have explained how to stimulate it; even Cosmopolitan magazine has tried to instruct dutiful readers how to find it.
Benign, yes? No. It calls the vaginal orgasm “mythical.” It states that “even Cosmopolitan magazine has tried to instruct dutiful readers how to find it” — in other words, even the lowly Cosmo has jumped on the bandwagon, trying (bless their hearts) to instruct dutiful (read: clueless) readers how to find the G-spot. They might as well be fumbling around in the dark for their contact lenses, am I right?!
But a review published this week in the journal Clinical Anatomy may just halt all of these fruitless quests with the conclusion that neither the elusive G-spot nor the vaginal orgasm exist.
Very important distinction, here: a literature reviewhas been published — not a study. Nothing has actually been studied. The researchers have simply rounded up other studies and projected their insecurities and biases upon them come to a conclusion. For a moment I want to quote the actual literature review in question (which I read in its pedantic, exclamation-point-ridden entirety) because this pretty much says it all:
The vaginal orgasm does not exist, so the duration of penile—vaginal intercourse is not important for a woman’s orgasm. Many men think long intercourse is the key to having orgasms during intercourse, but long intercourse is not helpful to women and some females may be grateful to get it over with quickly.
Take a deep breath.
Back to the HuffPo article.
“Like most things that are about sex, people get very hot and bothered on either end of this, but I really can’t say from my clinical practice that I’m at all convinced that there is a G-spot,” Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and author of The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life (who was not involved in the new review), told The Huffington Post. “I think that a lot of women are very frustrated trying to attain something that may not be attainable.”
Behold the magical bait-and-switch: we are suddenly introduced to a professional of some sort who… had absolutely nothing to do with the literature review in question. NOTHING. The writer at HuffPo must’ve been like, “okay, so there’s this new thing about the G-spot, and I want to write about it because page hitz, but it’s kinda dry if I simply report the facts. Let me call someone and get some QUOTES!”
Of course, they needed someone to support the review’s “findings,” so it’s not like they could ask Tristan Taormino or Beverly Whipple. So they got Dr. Gail Saltz, who is neither a sex researcher nor a sex therapist nor anything beginning with “sex.” Yes, she’s written one book about sex (which has 7 reviews on Amazon despite being out since 2009), but that’s it. By her own description, she is a psychiatrist, columnist, and TV commentator.
In their Clinical Anatomy article, Italian researchers Vincenzo Puppo and Giulia Puppo stress the importance of using the correct terminology when discussing female sexual organs and women’s capacity for orgasm. They write that the so-called G-spot, a term that refers to a pleasurable spot located inside the vagina in the pelvic urethra, doesn’t exist — rather, every woman has the capacity to orgasm if her clitoris is stimulated. As such, the term “vaginal orgasm” is incorrect and “female orgasm” should be used instead, they argue.
Note the names of the researchers. Often it’s a dude parade. This one’s unusual because it seems to be a man and a woman (although I can’t find barely any information about them aside from this recent rash of news articles, which is… suspicious).
Also, if you look closely you’ll realize that HuffPo is actually revealing the true content of Puppo and Puppo’s review: an argument about semantics. The Puppos argue that tons of anatomical terms have no “scientific bias,” and therefore female ejacuation should really be called “female emission,” etc. etc. etc.
But that’s boring! Let’s move on!
The original research on G-spots, led by Addiego, who coined the term after German gynecologist Ernst Gràfenberg in 1981, was based on a woman who “identified an erotically sensitive spot, palpable through the anterior wall of her vagina.” When the area was touched, it became larger and the woman reported increased sensitivity, pleasure and a desire to urinate — all of which led Addiego to conclude “the orgasms she experienced in response to the Gràfenberg stimulation felt much the same.”
However, the new review points out that the woman also reported that, at the time of testing, she had been diagnosed with a grade one cystocele, a condition in which “the supportive tissue between a woman’s bladder and vaginal wall weakens and stretches, allowing the bladder to bulge into the vagina.” The resulting side effects of cystocele, the authors argue, make the woman a poor candidate for the basis of a sexual theory with flimsy subsequent medical proof.
One woman one time had a condition that could have skewed stuff and therefore NO G-SPOT. HAHAHA, GOTCHU.
Among other highly unconvincing arguments for the G-spot’s non-existence, the literature review also argues that a certain “thick, detailed book” only makes “a passing mention of the G-spot” and therefore “one can only infer that the G-spot, if it does indeed exist, is devoid of importance in the female orgasm.” One can only infer. Meanwhile, HuffPo is making some rad blanket statements…
Neglecting the clitoris and emphasizing the G-spot may be why so many women don’t orgasm.
This sounds like a thing you should nod in agreement about, but please don’t. Yes, the G-spot is sometimes put on a pedestal. Yes, some people believe that vaginal orgasms should be easy and therefore don’t focus on exploring clitoral ones. But there are about a thousand other reasons “many women don’t orgasm,” including moronic sex partners having no goddamn patience, or sex ed never mentioning any sort of pleasure anatomy. To continually push the G-spot as the cause of all our sexual shortcomings is ludicrous.
Despite previous studies, the researchers say the vagina has no anatomical relationship with the clitoris. They write: “The correct and simple anatomical term to describe the cluster of erectile tissues (i.e. clitoris, vestibular bulbs and pars intermedia, labia minora, and corpus spongiosum of the female urethra) responsible for female orgasm, is ‘female penis.'”
This is the precise moment that broke me. The sentence that so infuriated me I opened the WordPress dashboard and started verbally ejaculating this post. Female penis?! FEMALE PENIS. I can’t. Defining vulvar anatomy in relation to penises: STOP. The literature review also reads: “Moreover, the ‘clitoral complex’ cannot be analogous to the male penis: there is no vagina in the male penis!” Exclamation points!
While the concept of a “female penis” may sound strange, the clitoris and penis have quite a few similarities when it comes to sexual pleasure, starting with their shape (see the illustration above), and that increased blood flow causes their spongy tissues to engorge as orgasm approaches. The problem is, much of the unerect clitoris isn’t visible — it may be up to 9 centimeters long, according to a seminal paper on the clitoris published by Australian urologist Helen O’Connell in 1998.
The inclusion of this tidbit of fairly-well-agreed-upon science, that of the internal clitoris, is particularly hilarious because if you read the actual literature review this article is based on? The researchers claim, IN THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF THE ABSTRACT, that “the internal/inner clitoris does not exist: the entire clitoris is an external organ.” Again, because semantics. But I guess that didn’t fit the narrative HuffPo wanted.
We’re nearing the end of the article and yet somehow a factoid about G-spot-enhancing medical procedures has not been included, so c’mon, author, shove one in wherever you want.
Doctors offer G-spot-enhancing procedures, a practice Jeffrey Spike, a bioethicist at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, equated with “medical fraud” in a 2007 interview, adding that “the G-spot belongs in the same category as angels and unicorns.” (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also called out these procedures for the lack of data on efficacy and safety.)
Apparently the G-spot cannot exist if we are to shun the medical enhancement of it. Or something. I don’t know. Also the sensation of my G-spot being stimulated is kinda like angels singing.
The end of the article is near, and the author hunts for a fitting conclusion. The literature review, again, is too dry, not punchy enough, and reading it for quotes would take too long. Anti-G-spot advocate from TV? Play us out!
As for the women who do claim to achieve orgasm from “G-spot” stimulation? More power to you, Saltz said (well, in a nutshell). But she also said that being so singularly goal-oriented toward orgasm may not be the most direct route to pleasure.
“The way that we talk about it in society, many women feel that [orgasm] is what they’re supposed to do and that that would be the supreme success of the encounter,” Saltz said. “But most women do report that it’s the closeness; it’s the shared intimacy; and, of course, the physical arousal is pleasurable by itself.”
. . .”The G-spot is an issue and there are definitely people who feel strongly that it’s real,” Saltz said. “But I think that women who are fairly sexually educated know that their clitoris is where it’s at, so to speak.”
And she’s great at spouting conclusive-sounding quotes. So HuffPo is happy.
So what have we learned, class?
Don’t believe the panicked headlines. The G-spot is alive and well.
The author of the article likely has never done any significant research into the history of the G-spot and studies about it until 6 hours ago. But as media consumers in our culture, they know the narrative they should follow — and by god, they’re gonna follow it.
Consider the source and read closely to uncover biases, particular wording, and distracting quotes from only marginally-related sources.
If you don’t have time to read the study itself, do not share the article or absorb it into your consciousness.
If you do have time to read the study itself, remember that researchers have biases too — and literature reviews love to cherry-pick data.
Most G-spot studies nowadays are arguing semantics.
Any study disregarding the actual sexual experiences of people with vaginas is bullshit.
And fuck, if you have a vagina, trust your body above all. Unlike most researchers, I come from the place of having actual physical experience with the G-spot. Until about age 20, I had no opinion about it whatsoever. When I discovered sex toys, I leisurelylooked for it. Then I felt the rumblings of G-spot stimulation, so I thrusted faster, and I squirted. I’ve loved G-spot stimulation ever since, and routinely insist that my sex toys stroke the fuck out of my G-spot.
And I’ve felt the G-spot of someone else. Fingers in his vagina, I’ve felt the unique corrugated texture and listened as he instructed me to press harder, curl my fingers more. I’ve witnessed the pleasure wash over his body, and it is familiar to me, because I’ve felt it myself — almost every time I use an insertable sex toy.
That is not a bias. It’s not a delusion. That is a fact.
The G-spot is not a hoax invented by heathens to shame people for the kind of pleasure they experience. It is an actual area in the vagina (commonly known as the urethral sponge) that causes sensation when touched a certain way. Some people like the sensation, some hate it, some are indifferent. People vary. Responses vary. Responses vary over time, in different situations, with different toys and techniques. People are, if you can believe it, nuanced.
But not enjoying G-spot stimulation, not liking the word G-spot, or not believing in the G-spot does not will it out of existence. Nor does writing clickbaity headlines.