Let’s start the next big sexual revolution, shall we? Actually, it’s started. It’s a little fragmented still and young, but it’s there. Let’s be honest, sex, sexuality, and feminism are complicated – especially when all rolled together, so there are many intersecting prongs to this revolution that must unite.
Let me first tell you which prong I’m coming from. I’m part of a movie-making team that created a documentary about how very deeply the female orgasm is misunderstood. It’s called Science, Sex and the Ladies, and it came out less than a year ago. However, I’ve been researching for this movie since 2002, and I have been keeping a blog on the subject since 2009.
Here’s the deal. An orgasm caused by stimulation on the inside of the vagina has never been observed or recorded in scientific literature – not one caused by stimulating a g-spot, c-spot, the cervix, the vaginal wall itself, or by stimulating the inner clitoral legs through the vaginal wall (a currently popular way to talk about “vaginal orgasm”).
It’s not as if there just isn’t much research out there, either. There’s a pretty good amount of research focused on “vaginal orgasms,” but in all the 50 years that modern physical research into orgasms has been happening, no researcher has recorded one. There are, however, plenty of recorded and observed male orgasms through penile stimulation and female orgasms through outer clitoral glans area stimulation.
Let me lay this out. Everyone – male, female, intersex, gay, straight, asexual, trans, cis, you name it – we all are born with an area on our genitals that is something like a penis or a clitoral glans. That thing can be stimulated to orgasm. Period. We can all orgasm, and statistically women do masturbate to orgasm, as quickly easily and reliably as men can. Women’s bodies are not less capable of orgasm, yet as a whole, we orgasm so very much less than our male partners, and our sexuality and sex drive is regularly labeled as less than. It’s not men’s fault. It’s not women’s fault. It’s bigger than that. It is bullshit, though, and it needs to change. I call this prong of the revolution, The Orgasm Equality Movement.
“Freedom in society can be measured by the distribution of orgasms” –Cliteracy Law #31
“A man would never be expected to get off through sex acts that ignored his primary sexual organ” -Cliteracy Law #44
“4 minutes: The average time it takes women to orgasm through masturbation” -Cliteracy Law #45
“The Vaginal Orgasm is a Myth invented by Freud in 1905” - Cliteracy Law #14
I hadn’t seen any other modern person out there speaking so boldly and directly on the necessity of the clit to orgasm. I was immediately a fan. I love her work. It’s great activism, and it’s coming at the same problem we’re working on but from a slightly different angle.
But still, it’s not just us. There were bad-ass women in the 70’s saying this, Shere Hite, Anne Koedt, Betty Dodson and Alix Kates Shulman to name a few. Sadly, their work has been a bit marginalized in pop culture over the years. There are also others out there working this activism – ones I don’t know about and ones who aren’t necessarily focused on this prong, but do incorporate these ideas. I have a big ol’ list of them HERE.
So Many More Prongs
I would argue that this misunderstanding of how the female orgasm works is a fundamental problem that touches almost everything. However, it in no way holds all the answers or addresses all the problems. There are many important prongs in this revolution. Rape culture and other’s feelings of entitlement over female and queer bodies? Over-sexualization of girls? Sex worker rights? Healing after sexual trauma? Too damn much low libido among women? Shitty sex education? Sexual public health? Hurtful ideas about what ‘sexy’ should mean for different populations? Double standards and slut shaming? Female Genital Mutilation? Craptastic depictions of sex, sexuality, and gender in media?
People are in the trenches working on these too. SPARK – a bad-ass intergenerational Movement, Bish – Sex Ed website for teens, DodsonAndRoss – Sex Ed for everyone, Clitoraid – for FGM advocacy, UnSlut Project, Slutwalk, Sex Workers Project, The Feminist Guide to Porn. These are just a tiny sampling. There’s TONS more. If you know more, then by all means, promote, support, and unite with them.
A Modern Sexual Revolution
Let me put out a word of caution though. We need to stop fighting our mother’s and our grandmother’s battles when it comes to sex. The kick-ass well-intentions, smart feminists of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s made as much headway as they could on sexual issues, but they also created some traditions that are frankly a little poisonous. Think porn wars; anti-porn vs. pro-sex. But it’s not just porn stuff. It seems like every time an issue comes up that involves sex and feminism, there are 2 sides that post up against each other with snide-ness and indignation ringing from all over.
Personally, the feminism I see tends to be much more nuanced and level-headed than that, so maybe it just seems this way because…media. Or, maybe the extremists take control of issues, and everyone else just shuts up because it gets too annoying to talk about. I don’t know what the problem is, but it can’t go on if we want anything to really change. Negative “anti vs. pro” rhetoric on sex issues is a feminist tradition that has been handed down to us, but screw that. The issues are different than they were 40 years ago, and we are different. Let’s make our own traditions and define our own issues, and let’s base them on compromise and collaboration.
So, let us build upon and learn from the women who fought before us. Let us shun no-one. Let us disenfranchise no perspective. Let us not shy from thoughtful debate, but let us work together as feminist scholars, sex workers, grandmothers, teens, scientists, spiritualists, religious folk, kink communities, and traditionalist of every color and sexuality - males, females and intersex.
At the core, we do have common hopes, and we don’t have time to quibble about every detail. So let us work to see eye to eye. Let us swallow pride more, engage more, shut up more, listen more, give benefits of the doubt more, seek allies more, align more, collaborate more, bend more, gently critique more, use kind language more, conversate more, disagree without breaking more, and find points of agreement more – because people are ready for change and we have much work to do.
How are you going to contribute to the revolution? #SexRevUnite
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