Recently, I tried to repeat the experience. But I had no idea where to begin: the instructional literature on female ejaculation varies greatly, but everyone agrees on the importance of provoking the G-spot. I didn't even know where mine was.
"Discovered" in 1950 by Ernest Gräfenberg, M.D., from whom it derives its affectionate nickname, the G-spot the front wall of the vagina, between the opening and the cervix, along the urethra is a zone of intense sexual sensitivity. Some women do squirt during clitoral play, but for most ejaculators, the G-spot is crucial. However, having a G-spot orgasm does not automatically guarantee that you'll shoot the moon.
I read up on all the James Bond-like gadgetry that can help prod the G-spot toward the desired ecstasy: there's a G-spot attachment to the Hitachi Magic Wand, for instance, or a curved dildo specifically designed to better reach the region. A do-it-yourself strategy involves placing two fingers on the top vaginal wall, along the urethra, and making a beckoning motion.
Having read and watched all the material we could find on the subject (there's an educational video for everything), my research assistant and I got to work on getting me to spurt. For several weeks, he fixated on another option we'd heard could work: fisting. This went nowhere because, though I talk a good game, I'm terribly fist-phobic. I kept lapsing into old-fashioned clitoral orgasms, then "falling asleep" before he could even put on the rubber gloves. I was turning out to be a pretty poor lab partner.
A couple of days later, while studying the diagrams on the Society for Human Sexuality's website, memorizing the exact location of the G-spot in relation to the clit and the urethra, I had to pee. In the bathroom, I realized you never really think about where your urethra is unless you're peeing. Like Archimedes in his bathroom, I thought, "Urethra!" So I reached in with two fingers and felt along the top of the vaginal wall, directly behind my urethra. Sure enough, it was spongy, just as all the G-spot gurus report. So I started stroking it, vigorously, making that come-hither motion. After a few minutes I suddenly had to pee again. Aha, the moment of truth! All the propaganda says you are supposed to feel as if you're going to urinate, at which point you are to give in to the experience and just let go. Let go I did, and quite a spray ensued. Nothing like the yard-sprinklers I saw in the videos, but no modest manly squirt, either; this was about a six-inch spray of clear fluid definitely not urine. Success!
I'm not the first person to be bewildered by female ejaculation. Ancient Greek and Arabic scientists were well aware of the phenomenon, and entertained creative hypotheses about it (my favorite being that both sexes had to ejaculate in order for conception to occur). In their writings, there's no confusing ejaculation with the typical wetness of sexual arousal, because the ancients clearly regarded women and men's "seed" as close equivalents; Aristotle described an "evacuation" of fluid that occurred in the moment of orgasm, "alike in male and female." As historian Thomas Laqueur explains in Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, the ancient Greeks thought that women's bodies were nearly identical to men's (only inferior) so, he suggests, female squirting made sense to them. Later anatomists were far more intent on studying the differences between men and women, and thus paid relatively little attention to female ejaculation. One exception was seventeenth-century anatomist Regnier de Graaf, who was lucky enough to observe a female prostatic fluid which "rushe[d] out with impetus . . . in one gush," when tickled by "frisky fingers."
In 1950, Gräfenberg observed that sometimes during a female orgasm "one can see large quantities of a clear transparent fluid [that] are expelled not from the vulva, but out of the urethra in gushes." His subjects came far more voluminously than I did: Gräfenberg wrote, "Occasionally the production of fluids is so profuse that a large towel has to be spread under the woman to prevent the bed sheets getting soiled." Those fluids, he stated in no uncertain terms, "had no urinary character."
Gräfenberg's findings were largely ignored at the time. No doubt some scientists found them, well, icky. Male scientists were probably afflicted with traditional delusions of grandeur, and didn't like the idea of women being so phallic, so thrusting. But resistance to female ejaculation wasn't based entirely on sexism. Gräfenberg's discovery, unhappily for him, coincided with the beginnings of the late 20th century's clitoral revolution. Since the Victorian Age, the conventional vaginal orgasm had been considered the only morally acceptable orgasm a girl could have: clitoral play, which doesn't make babies, challenged the Judeo-Christian beliefs that sex should have a reproductive purpose and that pleasure for its own sake was sinful (especially for women). But in the early twentieth century, just as Western culture was loosening up and becoming a bit more secular, Freud damned the clit still further by declaring vaginal sexuality more "mature," suggesting that "clitoral women" over-identified with their fathers. So when Kinsey proclaimed the clitoral orgasm superior and emphatically rejected the G-spot, many women rejoiced. For the next thirty years, there was little medical or scientific interest in the G-spot or female ejaculation.
That changed in 1982, with the publication of The G-Spot, which psychologist Alice Ladas co-authored with sexologists John Perry and Beverly Whipple. That book presented research confirming Gräfenberg's juicy findings, and made female ejaculation a matter of heated public and scientific debate. Staunch clit-boosters tended to regard it with suspicion; in the early '80s, feminists worried that G-spot research represented an attempt to re-instate the vaginal orgasm as the Real Thing, a backlash against the mighty clit, and thus women's sexual independence and self-reliance.
Today, though few doubt that female ejaculation occurs in some women, Alice Ladas says there is still a lot of controversy around it. "We still don't know what it is or where it comes from," she says. The most recent research, performed on seven catheterized ejaculators in California, confirmed that female ejaculate is indeed different from urine, though most of it does originate in the bladder. On the all-important geographical question, says Ladas, "the current consensus is that the "G" area is not a spot. It is an analogue of prostatic tissue that surrounds the urethra. For some women it is a sensitive area and for others it is not." No one knows why that is, just as no one knows why some women ejaculate and others don't.
To this day, female ejaculators are often embarrassed about their bed-soaking prowess; many worry their lovers will find it odd or unsanitary. Worse, female ejaculators sometimes assume they've wet themselves, since it can feel as if you're about to urinate. Physicians used to advise female ejaculators to undergo surgery or psychological counseling for urinary incontinence.
Because lay people and doctors alike have treated female ejaculators as malfunctioning anomalies (or compulsive liars), their rhetoric can get a bit defensive, even excessive. In one of the popular sex-ed videos, called "How to (Female) Ejaculate," a toothy and frighteningly gung-ho "performance artist/sex activist" named Fanny Fatale, warns us that it's "unhealthy not to ejaculate." Fatale paints herself and her four co-stars as superior women truly in touch with their bodies. Under lighting so bright one wouldn't want to eat under it, much less jack off, the women nervously narrate their ejaculation herstories and then get down to business some with toys, some without. The scenes end in cascades of come, with a few of the ejaculators shooting their wads clear across the room, and Fatale concluding that "all women can ejaculate." That last statement might sound empowering, but there's no scientific evidence to support it. And I could glean no actual instruction from their explanations or demonstrations. (After watching it, I confess I suffered a spot of G-aversion.)
Such zealots are showing up everywhere. Gear magazine recently outdid Fatale with a relentlessly jingoistic essay by a seasoned ejaculator: "Make no mistake: women who ejaculate are different in bed (and in the kitchen, in the car, in a movie) than those who don't. Clitoral women like the filled-up feeling of a penis inside them, but know that their bread is buttered elsewhere . . . Ejaculant women flow and beam and exude fecundity."
As I immersed myself in this kind of "instructional" material for my own spurty pursuits, I realized I too had begun to neglect that most perfect of organs which brings more ecstasy to more people (myself zealously included): the clit! The only human organ which has no apparent evolutionary use whatsoever other than to provide endless hours of joy to its owner. So why dis it? Especially when the clit revolution, a great advance to civilization, maybe more important than the wheel or even sliced bread, is still unfinished. Most women an estimated fifty to seventy-five percent need some sort of clitoral play in order to come. Apparently, a lot of them aren't getting it; studies cited in The Good Vibrations Guide to the G-Spot suggest that anywhere from one-fifth to two-thirds of women rarely have orgasms. So crucial is the clit to female sexuality that, as New York Times writer Natalie Angier points out in her book Woman: An Intimate Geography, some in the pro-clit camp even allow their favorite body part take credit for female ejaculation and all other G-delights. After all, they argue, the clitoris has so many nerves extending all over the place, who knows where it ends. Angier, an unabashed clit partisan herself, writes: "The roots of the clitoris run deep . . . and can very likely be tickled through posterior agitation. In other words, the G-spot may be nothing more than the back end of the clitoris."
G-spot fanatics like the alarmingly frothy Ms. Fatale make me worry not only about potential clit neglect, but also about sexual pressure. When G-spot researchers Perry and Whipple first started publishing their research in medical journals and getting much mainstream media attention, they received letters from people who felt their sex lives had been ruined by having this arbitrary new standard to live up to. A thirty-two-year-old woman from Pennsylvania wrote that her husband, since learning about their work, was constantly badgering her: "'Did you spurt, did you spurt?' . . . It was bad enough being watched over about having a climax. Now I'm supposed to ejaculate."
Personally, I haven't made a serious attempt at ejaculation since that one satisfying bathroom interlude, though I've been enjoying some highly agreeable G-tickling. I figure I'll try again sometime, or perhaps it will just happen. But let's be clear: All orgasms are good. There's no reason to categorize some as more spiritual or world shattering than others. (Even obsessing about having an orgasm at all can be silly; some of the most explosive encounters between bodies never come close to physiological orgasm.)
Although I'd never privilege one kind of orgasm over another, I will say the fascination with squirting cunts is understandable. The challenge itself is undeniably part of its appeal. After all, it's fun to master a tricky stunt. That G-spot is not easy to find in fact, I still can't reliably locate it, but then I've always had a terrible sense of direction and ejaculation is an irresistible project for sexual over-achievers. The lure of the challenge may be even greater for an ejaculator's partner.
Beyond the novelty, the lure of mastery and the tactile joys of fluid (none of which are anything to dismiss), the G-spot orgasm just feels different, though to me not better, than the clitoral one: a little more extreme and unpredictable, almost bordering on a pleasurable pain. And its innate queerness suggests that perhaps the ancient Greeks were right: men and women's bodies aren't so different. For me, it gratifies a long-standing ejaculation envy; I have always watched men come and thought, What fun to soak the environment and your lover with your orgasm, to really make your mark. But the ultimate charm of female ejaculation may be its unexpectedness, its mystery, even now, in an era we thought left no aspect of sex in the shadows.
Liza Featherstone and Nerve.com