Sunday, June 26, 2016

How to Make a Woman Come--Even If You Are That Woman. AKA Things I Learned from Science, Sex, and The Ladies

Louis CK has a bit on how men complain about women's "neediness" after sex:

“After sex, you’re looking at two very different people. The man just wants to lay there and be cool and the woman wants to cuddle. 'Why is she so needy?’ She’s not needy you idiot, she’s horny, because you did nothing for her. You did absolutely nothing. Her pussy is on fire because it's gone unfucked completely. Of course you’re fine, you climbed on and went “KFHGSKG” and rolled off. And she’s on you because she’s like ‘WH-at SOMETHING ELSE HAS TO HAPPEN! This is bullshit!!' If you fuck a woman well, she will leave you alone. ‘Thanks a lot, buddy. Zzzzz.’”

Louis says this happens because men are "bad at sex." Perhaps, but I think a lot of us are kinda bad at sex--just by default, because we never got the proper instruction. People want to be good lovers and fuck well. But it's incredibly difficult--ridiculously so--to get any sort of reasonable, real-world education.

Even today, we know so little about women's bodies. So very little!  It was only in the past few years that I learned that the clit occupies an extensive bit of pelvic real estate, that scientists still don't know what the fuck women are squirting when they ejaculate (it's "not pee," which just leaves...every non-pee substance), and that the cervix is so insensitive that 95% of women can't tell if it's being rubbed with a cotton swab. (This being the primary reason that the Gentleman's Cervical Swab Rubbing Courtship Technique of 1847 has fallen out of favor.)

In other cases, we know very well what's going with on women's bodies, but for some reason, bury or don't acknowledge this info.

The most egregious form of our sexual ignorance/denial is about how most women actually have an orgasm: A woman comes from having her clitoris rubbed. There are a lucky few (very few!) who can get the job done via p-in-v fucking, but even then, what's going down with every woman is that:

1. their clit is rubbed.
2. they come (or don't.)

That's it.  

This is pretty much contrary to every depiction of women's sexual response we see in porn, mainstream films, and read about in books. Even books written for women by women. (Er. Or not.  See updated discussion about this in the comments.)

Trisha Borowicz got all Fight-the-Power about this (yay!) and made a smart, funny, cheeky film called Science, Sex, and The Ladies "for all the women who have felt confused, frustrated, or ashamed about their ability to orgasm."  

 I learned all kinds of things from Science, Sex, and the Ladies, up to and including:

--I couldn't tell a whit of difference between the photos of the Aroused Clitoris and Unaroused Clitoris (possible future lesbian lovers: you have been forewarned.)
--Women have their strongest orgasms by their own hand, second strongest with someone else's hand, and weakest via fucking and the frustratingly indirect stimulation of a penis rubbing-near-but-not-quite-exactly-where-you-need-it.
 --Contrary to popular belief, women don't take forever to come. Women come as quickly as easily as men, given the right stimulation. Men would also take forever to come if they were only being stimulated by, say, someone diligently rubbing their pubic hair.

My favorite part of the film depicted scenes of people engaged in various forms of sexual congress--a blow job, fucking, etc...--when a cheery actress would walk into the each scene and advise the female participant to "Rub one out!" to enhance her experience. It was fun, breezy and educational--like a particularly racy episode of The Electric Company.

I actually do wish this was the sort of stuff young people saw. And, while I'm at it, I wish more sex scenes depicted women being stimulated realistically, in the way that women actually need to be stimulated, so that women would no longer have to think they were somehow broken, doing it wrong or hadn't yet found the proper dick.
There is an orgasm disparity among women and men that drastically affects the way each understand themselves and each other. The truth is, women go through their sexual lives having very few orgasms compared to their male partners, and this has become a matter of course, a sort of unspoken accepted reality. This discrepancy, however, is not a result of innate differences between male and female biology, but a result of how we as a culture have come to understand, teach and experience sex.

Science, Sex and the Ladies aims to make it known that this orgasm disparity is culturally created, harmful, and in no way inevitable. It's actually quite an appalling and over arching problem that creeps into every aspect of our lives and relationships. Neither modern women or modern men are fully responsible for this problem, but a change in both are necessary for a solution. Science Sex and the Ladies, as part of a larger Orgasm Equality Movement, is a call to action.--Science, Sex, and the Ladies.
Anyway, if you want to be part of the Orgasm Equality Movement--and I do, although I'm totally not going to refer to it as that--the film makers are offering screeners of the movie if you'd like to host a small group showing. It's free--all they ask is that you send them a photo of the festivities. For more info, email anc@ancmovies.com.

I watched it alone, but wish I'd been with a group because I have all kinds of questions now. Like:

--Why are women writing romance/erotica about easily orgasmic p-in-v sex? Are all erotica writers among the tiny percentage of penis in vagina cumees? Or are they writing about how they think sex should be? Or how they wish it could be?
--What is the connection between emotions and sex? I'm totally onboard with Naomi Wolf's ideas in Vagina about sexual/spiritual/emotional connections, heady neurochemicals, and the transcendence that can happen in a really good fuck. And yet..... While emotional connection and getting "in the mood" is great, and certainly something to strive for, it's clearly not absolutely necessary for an orgasm. A woman masturbating with a showerhead or something can come plenty easily without having a big emotional experience and/or scene-setting. And yet... I have also burst into tears after an orgasm. Why and how are emotions all mixed up with sex? Or do we just assume they are, ergo, they are?
--If you are like pretty much every other chick and need to rub your clit to come, do you do it during sex with someone else? Or have you been among those (and, yes, I have been there as well) making "secret, quiet circles on disappointed clits next to sleeping lovers."

What are we all gonna do about this?

xoxo
jill

PS. I recently was also cited on some Spanish-language anti-gay site (blergh) for my supposed anal bleaching expertise.  "Una experta en el tema, la Sra. Hamilton entra en grandes detalles sobre la historia de esta reprobable t├ęcnica."

PPS. That site has 2 million views.

(photo via Church of the Victorian Cult, not sure where Wendy Rose got a hold of it.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

This is How You Please a Woman.

(*This originally appeared in Alternet and Salon. I hope I'm allowed to run it my damn self...Um...maybe don't tell anyone about this.)

Yes, everyone knows porn is just fantasy blah blah blah, but for some people, porn is--seriously!-- their primary source of sex ed. Less than half the states require sex ed in public schools and only 19 require it to be “medically, factually or technically accurate”(!) Even when the sex ed is there and semi-decent, there tends to be way too much information on fallopian tubes and little, if any, on what one should do upon encountering a clitoris. People genuinely want to be decent lovers, I think, and scrutinizing porn for love tips can be all kinds of fun, but as a source of actual lady-pleasin' info, it kind of sucks.

“Every technique you learn in porn is wrong. If men are going to porn to figure out to how to please women they're going to be very disappointed, ” says Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. “Everything that makes sex fun--the creativity, mutuality, enjoyment, connection, intimacy--is bled away and in its place is kind of a robotic fucking of women's orifices.”

So, lesson number one: “robotic fucking of women's orifices,” maybe a “no” on that. But with that off the table (at least most of the time...), what you do instead? Great thinkers from Ovid to Master Tung-hsuan to Naomi Wolf have offered their own answers, and there are certain Great Truths that run through them all.

We're getting into the Deep Magic now, my friends. Use it wisely.

Embrace the Erotic Outside the Bedroom
Most men, if you breathe on them or look at them the wrong way, they're ready for action. But for most women, you have to get between their ears before you get between their legs. You have to build the story,” says Dr. Adam Sheck, aka The Passion Doctor.

So build the story. “A man should tell his wife, detail by detail, what he wants to do to her, how he wishes to touch her,” counsels Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in his book, The Kosher Sutra. “Eroticism is the thrilling desire to connect: to know, to explore, to penetrate, and to comprehend. When our lives are electrified by an erotic pulse, all existence becomes illuminated.”

Express Your Desire
According to studies by Marta Meana, president of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, being desired is the source of a woman's desire. It is “at once the thing craved and the spark of craving,” explains Daniel Bergner in his beautifully written book, What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. So, by all means, let a women that you think her body is insanely hot—so hot you can barely take it--and it's making you hard just thinking about her. (Ratchet this language up or down, filth-wise, depending on the chick.) Tender, respectful love is fine enough but please note that approximately 1 billion percent of romance novels are about a woman inciting a man with a passion so savage and hungry that he can barely control himself. (Spoiler: he doesn't).

Don't Be Afraid to Ravish
The desire to be taken by force consistently sits there, all petulant and non-PC-like, among women's top sexual fantasies. This doesn't mean that women want to be raped, obviously, but it is related to the tip above on desire. Being taken strongly and urgently is a clear physical expression of a male's searing desire for a woman. Bergner describes Meana's take on it thusly: “The ravager, overcome by craving for that particular women, cannot restrain himself; he tears through all codes, through all laws and conventions, to seize her, and she—feeling herself to be the unique object of his unendurable need—is overcome herself.” (See above: plot of every romance novel.)

“For the heterosexual female 'ravish me' fantasy, the man embodies the masculine and takes charge with those masculine qualities to be focused, direct, relentless in pursuing his goal, in this case, loving his woman into 'submission.' This can range from simply initiating sex, to being a little more assertive than usual, to being more aggressive, to being a little 'rough' all the way to role play and using restraints and sex toys,” writes Dr. Sheck. “I’m 6’3″ and around 200 pounds and have found that many woman have simply enjoyed the weight of my body pressing into them and found that arousing. Perhaps that is enough to begin your journey. I also happen to have large hands and usually able to hold both of a woman’s wrists in one of my hands. Even that small step can often be assertive enough to feed into the submission fantasy.” (And if you did not just experience a little unbidden thrill thinking of Dr. Sheck holding you down, well, then that's where we differ.)

Focus on Goalless Touching
“The whole sexual experience can be totally enjoyable, but most men and women are taught to go straight for climax. We educate guys to enjoy the whole ride,” says consultant Robert Kandell, who coached men at Onetaste, where “orgasm” is defined as the entire sexual experience beginning at the first thought of making out with someone. He offers a metaphor: “The climax of a symphony is the cymbals crashing at the end, but that’s not the main draw.

What is “the whole ride”? “Non-genitally focused sexual behavior, referred to popularly as 'foreplay'...is a broad category of activities which are usually undertaken with the goal of increasing one’s own and/or one’s partner’s sexual arousal and pleasure. These activities can include, but are not limited to, kissing, stroking, massaging, and holding anywhere from one part to the entirety of a partner’s body,” writes Dr. Adena Galinsky, in a woefully unsexy passage.

Not only do you miss out on plenty of fun if you skimp on the “non-genitally focused sexual behavior,” you increase the odds of squelching orgasm or arousal, according to Galinsky's recent study. Just don't call it “non-genitally focused sexual behavior” and you should be go to go.

The More Time You Put in, The Hotter It Gets
The mid-7th century sex manual “Ars Amatoria of Master Tung-hsuan” advises much “dalliance before penetration.” “He presses on her slender waist, he caresses her precious body, he whispers endearing words and engages in passionate discourse,” writes the Master. There is extensive stroking, loving gazes, and deep rich kisses until the Jade Stalk rises “standing strongly, pointing upwards like a a lonely peak towering high up in the Milky Way” and the Cinnabar Crevice becomes “moist, exuding a rich flow of secretions like a lonely well springing up in the deep vale.” Even when it gets to the point when the man is kneeling between his lover's open thighs, Jade Stalk in hand—and it's pretty clear what's going to be going down--he continues to tease and woo, letting his member “play about in this portal” while continuing his impassioned speech, sucking her tongue and stroking her belly, breasts and labia.

In another Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) the Roman poet Ovid counseled lovers of 2 A.D. to take their time in love, too: “If you will listen to me you will not be too hasty in attaining the culmination of your happiness. Learn by skillful maneuvering to reach your climax by degrees. When you are safely ensconced in the sanctuary of bliss, let no timid fear arrest your hand. You will be richly rewarded by the love-light trembling in her eyes, even as the rays of the sun fitfully dance upon the waves. Then will follow gentle murmurs, moans and sighs, laden with ecstasy that will sting and lash desire.” Sigh.
Whether You Think It's a G-spot or Not, Try Stroking It.
"Find her 'sacred spot,' then hang out there far longer that you think is necessary," writes Naomi Wolf  in Vagina . While scientists are still dithering about whether there is a G-spot or not, Tantric masters have been in there stroking said "sacred spot” and making the ladies come. Carefully, slow stroking of the spot--which is part of the whole neural tangle, but can also be considered to be sort of a back end of the clitoris--is highly effective at making women purr for you. In one study researchers gave 89% of their female subjects orgasms by "systematic digital stimulation of both vaginal walls." This despite the lab conditions and calling it "systematic digital stimulation of both vaginal walls."

Don't Lock In to A Successful Sequence of Moves
A systematic approach in which a man “politely lets himself into the vagina, perhaps waiting until the retraction of the clitoris tells him that he is welcome, is laborious and inhumanely computerized,” writes the ever-blunt Germaine Greer in The Female Eunuch. “The implication that there is a statistically ideal fuck which will always result in satisfaction if the right procedures are followed is depressing and misleading.”

“You want to be present. You want to feel what you're partner's feeling, you want to sensitive to the amount of lubrication, to the engorgement of the labia. And from there, you know when to be rough, when to be aggressive, when to pull on hair, when to smack things, when to be kind,” says Dr. Sheck. “It's really a tuning to the body.”

A Well-Fucked Woman Kind of Loses It (And That's Good)
“Feminine sexual excitement can reach an intensity unknown to a man. Male sexual excitement is keen but localized, and—except perhaps at the moment of orgasm—it leaves a man quite in possession of himself; woman, on the contrary, really loses her mind; for many this effect marks the definite and voluptuous moment of the love-affair, but it also has a magical and fearsome quality,” writes Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex.

When a lover stimulates a woman properly, it sets off all kinds of chemical tomfoolery. A lover who suckles a woman's nipple, for example, will set off a release of the bonding love chemical oxytocin and she, perhaps without quite realizing why, will favor that lover over another. When a woman is fully relaxed, open and receiving pleasure she can enter sort of a trance state. And when a woman has an orgasm, she gets a heavy dose of opiates--the regions of her brain involving self-awareness and inhibition going dark. "This can feel to the woman involved like a melting of boundaries, a loss of self, and, whether exhilaratingly or scarily, a loss of control," writes Wolf. If a man gives his lover a deep, deep orgasm, the kind where it feels like his cock is hitting some deep emotional/physical/spiritual place within, a woman can have a profound experience. Some women will feel an exquisite rapture, some will burst into tears, and 100% will take that dude's call next time around.

xoxox
jill

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Female Hysteria and Creepy Old-Timey Vibrators

LADIES...
Are you exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
--Trouble sleeping?
--Fluid retention?
--Irritability?
--"A tendency to cause trouble"?
Yes, yes, yes and oh yes?

Let's see, according to my medical book, circa 1895, you have a clear-cut case of Female Hysteria. (Men with similar symptoms will need to diagnose themselves with some other old-timey disease. May I suggest "dairy fever" or perhaps "dropsy"?)

In the 19th century, as many as 75% of middle-class women were estimated to suffer from hysteria, but luckily medical science was there to help them. Doctors treated hysteria with "pelvic massage" until the patient reached "hysterical paroxysm." In modern times, we know "pelvic massage" to be "the doctor jerking off his patient" and "hysterical paroxysm" to be "orgasm." The procedure as a whole is now known as "grounds for a lawsuit."

Doctors of the day were happy to provide such a treatment, as it provided a steady stream of paying customers (patients were advised to come in weekly for their treatments). It was all good, except for one thing, doctors found the actual manipulation of their patients genitals to be tedious and tiring. According to the highly entertaining Wikipedia entry on Female Hysteria:  "The technique was difficult for a physician to master and could take hours to achieve 'hysterical paroxysm.'" (The physicians' widespread befuddlement at mastering these basic lady-pleasing skills puts Marrying a Doctor much lower on the To-Do list.)

The doctors were saved from the arduous task of trying to make these damn women come, already, by the magic device, the vibrator. The first of these "massage and vibratory apparatus" was patented by American physician (USA! USA!) George Taylor and was--and I can scarcely stand to type this--steam-powered. (The resulting billowing smoke making this perhaps the least discreet form of masturbatory tool.) Soon, physicians' offices were outfitted with electric vibrators, allowing doctors to get the job done in a matter of minutes instead of hours, and allowing most of mankind to stay blissfully ignorant about female orgasm until about the 1960s.

By the early 1900s, these miraculous health-giving electric vibrators started showing up in the American women's home. In fact, vibrators were one of the earliest electric home appliances invented, showing up ten years earlier than the vacuum cleaner or iron. Regular old, non-pervy companies like Hamilton Beach and Sears Roebuck were in the lucrative business of selling vibrators to housewives. The photo at left, for example, is from the 1918 Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog. "Very useful and satisfactory for home service," it says, vaguely, hoping you get the idea.

Vibes were openly marketed in catalogs and women's magazines. The ads weren't directly saying, "Put this on your wang" but they did refer to its "wonderfully refreshing" effect. Read one ad: "Can be used by yourself in the privacy of dressing room or boudoir, and furnish every woman with the essence of perpetual youth." The home vibe was a thrifty purchase, too. With doctors charging $2 to jack you off, the $5.95 portable home vibrator would pay for itself after only three uses.

According to this one dude, Mike, who collects antique vibrators, there were also air-powered and hand-cranked vibrators. Here's a photo from Mike's hand-cranked vibrator collection (a collection which I imagine causes some awkward moments on Mike's dates) of the Macaura's Pulsocon Hand Vibrator from the late 1800s.  I don't understand the physics of the device, but Mike explains that there is "a plunging motion of the center disk." To me, it looks like a hand-mixer. And, I know it's supposed to be an erotic device, but I see this and think of the twisting motions of a hand mixer, the voluminous bushes of 1800s-era ladies, and well, I can venture a guess as to why we don't all have Macuara's Pulsocon Hand Vibrators stashed in our nightstand drawers.

If you, like Mike and--apparently, me--are fascinated by these old devices, by all means make haste and check out the online Antique Vibrator Museum they put up at Good Vibrations. There is an educational video, plus photos of all sorts of creepy-ass, early electrical vibes. Like, look at this 1902 Hamilton Beach model, the "Type A":

The Hamilton Beach, Type A, 1902
I mean, Good Lord! The giant motor! The thick cloth covering the cord! And is that an oil can in there? The Type A looks loud--roaringly loud, jackhammer loud. But most importantly, electricity back then was scary. I wouldn't even be brave enough to use a toaster from those days, much less put some shorting-out, spark-shooting, scary new-fangled doodad on my nether regions.  I don't care how "wonderfully refreshing" it's supposed to be.

As all this new information (scary old vibes! hand cranks! hysterical paroxysm!) rattles around in my mind, I find that I keep going back to the 19th century doctor's office and this strangely sexless sex between doctor and patient. Were either of them aroused by what was going on? Did the females see the doctor breaking out his Hamilton Beach 4000 or whatever and feel a thrill of anticipation, or just the kind of dull disinterest one would experience while watching a mechanic change the car's oil? And I wonder about the women's orgasm. If they were not told it was pleasurable, did they experience it as pleasure, or as just a release, akin to finally getting to pee on a long car trip?  And not to be all zen koanish or anything, but is non-erotic sex that is not recognized by either party as sex indeed sex?


(image source: http://wickedknickers.tumblr.com/post/341563049/lacontessa-matisse-at-work) That's really Matisse, not a doctor, btw.)
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