FEMALE EJACULATION: Let’s Talk About It

With SCIENCE! And FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNTS!

Feb 2, 2012 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

 

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One of my first mentors was a hardcore second-wave feminist who played a minor role in the anti-porn movement of the 1980s.

If you’re unfamiliar with the backstory: Once upon a time feminism was largely divided into two groups -- sex-positive feminists and anti-porn feminists, and their clashes formed what was popularly known as the “Sex Wars” of the late 70s and early 80s.

My former mentor was involved in a legal action to ban pornography altogether in one US state; an effort which failed, obviously, but her convictions on the subject never wavered.

My first critical thinkings about porn were profoundly influenced by this woman, who hated pornography with a savage ferocity, and held it individually responsible for the violence and rape perpetrated against women in real, non-porn life.

She was an EXPERT, as she spent loads of time watching the most explicit and shocking porn available for her research, and she was also an incredibly compelling speaker, so I never thought much about whether she could be wrong.

It took me a year or so to unravel my own feelings on the matter in the broadest terms, at which point I decided that porn can be exploitative in some circumstances, sure, but that pornography itself is a worthwhile form of expression, and so she and I went our separate ways. Still, little influences of her sometimes remain, and it’s often taken me a long time to recognize them.

And so we come (HA) to female ejaculation.

I’m sorry to say that I spent years believing that female ejaculation was a myth. My former mentor’s stance on the issue was that female ejaculation was a lie perpetuated by porn to make non-ejaculating women (which would be, in her opinion, all of them) feel inadequate; that porn invented an IMPOSSIBLE BODILY RESPONSE as a means of oppressing women under its sexually aggressive heel. 

It was easy to believe, as it’s never happened to me. To be fair, I’ve never especially tried. But female ejaculation is absolutely a thing, and a thing that is far more common than we might assume for the minimal discussion (not to mention actual science) being done about it.

Female ejaculation has been around basically forever. There are references in a 4th-century Taoist document and in the Kama Sutra -- which explicitly mentions “female semen” -- as well as in a variety of contexts both medical and sexy throughout history.  

However, the scientific study of female ejaculation is a relatively new idea. It didn’t help that back in 1966, Masters and Johnson, in their seminal (HAHA) textbook-to-midcentury-sexuality “Human Sexual Response” called the whole thing a big dumb “erroneous” myth, and that women who claimed to ejaculate were actually just peeing on themselves. 

The pee confusion probably resulted from the fact that female ejaculation issues from the urethra -- that’s the tube you pee out of, not the tube you have sex with, for the anatomically unsure-- and so far as anyone knew, women did not have any additional glands in that area to produce such a surplus of fluid, and given the reports from many women of ejaculation that is not a tiny squirt but which is a positive downpour, it seemed like urine could be the only possible answer. 

The problem? Female ejaculate isn’t urine. It actually has very little in common with urine, and even 17th century gynecologists were noticing this.

Female ejaculate wasn't chemically analyzed for the first time until 1982, and the results were discussed in a study published in the Journal of Sex Research. What they found was that the substance is similar to male semen in that it contains prostatic acid phosphatase, a chemical created by the prostate gland in men. Further research seems to suggest that women have tissue similar to prostate tissue forming glands (Skene's glands, to be precise -- if you're down with a medically-specific image, the Wikipedia article on the subject can deliver the goods) that may be responsible for the production of female ejaculate.

This idea correlates with the connection between G-spot stimulation and ejaculation in women, as the G-spot itself has been argued to be some kind of vestigal lady-pleasure center analogous to the prostate in men (which is believed to be one reason why anal sex feels good to some dudes).

This little-discussed science doesn’t stop many women from thinking they’ve accidentally peed on a partner, however. I asked a few squirting ladies to talk about their experiences with the process, and the responses all bore similar threads.

First/second time I was 23. It happened when I was masturbating, and I was more worried my husband at the time would notice the stain on the computer chair than embarrassed. I was a little shocked. Third/fourth time I was 26. again, masturbating -- it seemed to require a very specific set of factors including very intense vibrations in a very specific spot.

Fifth time onward wasn't until after I turned 30. again, masturbating. Never happened during sex. Sex doesn't provide the proper intense direct stimulation that triggers it. It still doesn't happened every time...it's sort of like whatever cavity that empties needs time to refill, and it won't trigger unless it's reached a certain level. So there's always an element of surprise.

 And:

The first time it happened, I thought at first, like apparently many women do, that it was urine. But it was certainly the happiest urination ever.  The feeling was incredibly intense.  And unexpected. My partner (who was fingering me) and I were in a state of hyper-arousal, and once it happened, we were like kids with a new chemistry set. Like, "Damn...let's do that again!"  And we did it over and over and over. That night, we could do it on command, but it didn't happen again for a long time. Overall, I believe it's happened 2, maybe 3 times since then.

I'm cool with it, when it happens. I know it's not urine and so I'm comfortable and wouldn't mind if it happened more often. It hasn't affected my sex life, really. It's more like a rare treat, a surprise, because I have satisfying and intense "regular" orgasms all the time.  

In 2009, doula trainer and sex educator Amy Gilliland published a study of women's ejaculation experiences in the academic journal Sexuality & Culture which is filled with similar stories, as well as a mixture of responses to the experience ranging from shame to elation. There are also loads of other examples of people's first-person accounts of “squirting” experiences recounted as powerful and mesmerizing instead of embarrassing (link NSFW) and looking to female ejaculation as the pinnacle of a lady’s sexual experience.

On the other hand, there was another study, also in 2009, that sought to analyze whether female ejaculation was associated with orgasm by sticking needle electrodes in the clitorises of 38 ladies -- really -- and stimulating them to what I am sure were the very heights of sexual ecstasy as possible with needle electrodes in your clitoris. (You can read a funny and critical recap of the published paper here.)

Unsurprisingly, they found no evidence of female ejaculation, but the problem with this study, as with many studies regarding this particular phenomenon, is that most women report needing to be both a) very relaxed and b) super sexually turned-on in order for ejaculation to take place.

Even in studies that do not feature needle electrodes in the clitoris, I suspect the number of women able to be made both relaxed and super-hot in a clinical study setting -- with the knowledge that you are masturbating for SCIENCE -- is probably a fairly small minority.

It’s fair to say that female ejaculation is absolutely real, and possible for a large number of sex-having ladyparts-possessing individuals. Of course, the potential down side to the elevation of female ejaculation is the risk of ranking sexual difference; by privileging female ejaculation as the “best” kind of orgasm a woman can have, culturally we may be putting pressure on women to achieve this, lest they be considered less sexual or worse -- to borrow from the same old sex science that erased female ejaculation as mythology -- “frigid.” So there has to be a balance applied.

It’s estimated that around 40 percent of women have reported a squirting experience at some point in the sexual lives, but few can do it on command, and that still leaves 60 percent of women who (ostensibly) have never showered their lover with their liquid adoration.

There is no magic universal formula; if you’re into making it happen, your best hope is still experimentation and patience. And if you’re not -- that’s OK too.

To sum up: BODIES ARE WEIRD, and different, and fascinating and wonderful, and nothing to be ashamed of, pretty much ever. 

And now I throw it to you, dear readers: regale us with your tales of squirting, of mattress-soaking and wall-spraying. Let’s demystify this reality with a little truth-telling of our own.

If you followed me on Twitter, you'd have witnessed me talking about writing the above post AND wanting a Soda Stream, both at the same time, resulting in much confusion in @replies. If that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is.