Home Emotional aspects of sexuality The story behind the G-spot myth (1982)

The story behind the G-spot myth (1982)

In the 1980s, Beverly Whipple and John Perry were teaching Kegel exercises to women with urinary stress incontinence. They identified a patch of tissue that can be felt through the front wall of the vagina, directly behind the pubic bone that they suggested might cause orgasm in some women. They published a book with Alice Khan Ladas: The G Spot: And Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality. The authors were not sex researchers.

The G-spot was named after Dr Ernst Gräfenberg, who wrote about the area in 1950. This was clever thinking because it implied symmetry between the sexes. Men were known to experience intense pleasure from stimulation of the prostate gland. But the anatomical parallels are erroneous. Women do not have a prostate gland, which helps explain their lack of interest in anal sex. Both homosexual and heterosexual men can obtain intense pleasure from anal stimulation, which is also used when a semen sample is required.

Kinsey and Hite highlighted the indisputable arguments for the clitoris as the equivalent of the penis. Thereafter, researchers tried suggesting that the vagina can still respond because the clitoral organ is adjacent or connected in some way. The fact that men need much more direct stimulation for orgasm is overlooked. Men are highly motivated to engage in intercourse. So men define female orgasm in terms of intercourse. This has nothing to do with facts or logic. A belief in vaginal orgasms is vital to men because it represents a means of justifying regular intercourse. The G-spot succeeded for this reason. It provided political and emotional incentives for women, who know nothing of orgasm, to claim to orgasm in a way that pleases men. For women who assume they orgasm as men say they should, research that suggests vaginal stimulation causes orgasm gives their claims authenticity.

Sexologists seem to assume that we already know everything there is to know about sexual function. They are content with the explanations they have. They busy themselves with embellishing current beliefs, adding a few minor details here and there. They work their way through the alphabet as they come up with new spots within the vagina walls in an endless quest to explain the female response to intercourse that they hope for. But this kind of stimulation could never cause orgasm. Orgasm is achieved by massaging the blood within the corpora cavernosa of the aroused erectile sex organ. No one provides theories to explain how male orgasm occurs. To do so would highlight that women have equivalent anatomy as men and that women also might be capable of a similar response, not through stimulation supplied by men, but from stimulation that women are themselves motivated to provide.

Men can only engage in sexual activity when they are aroused (have an erection). No one wants (nor is it usually comfortable) to continue stimulation once orgasm has been achieved. But given women provide an orifice, the principle is much less evident for women’s sexuality. There is no point during intercourse at which a woman refuses to oblige a man in attaining the goal of intercourse, male ejaculation. Men satisfy their needs (based on territorial instincts) by ejaculating into a vagina. The ejaculation of sperm into the vagina is the key reproductive event and it is critical that it should be achieved regardless of a woman’s need for erotic stimulation.

The G-spot was invented in 1982. But if the G-spot truly existed, it would have been discovered by heterosexual couples themselves rather than scientists. Heterosexuals reproduce by engaging in intercourse and yet in over 200,000 years of evolution, homo sapiens did not discover the G-spot. This is the political nature of sexology, which provides political ammunition for people’s emotional beliefs. It has been hugely popular despite the research being challenged as inadequate and being disproved by sexologists.

The only sexual anatomy that men and women have in common is the phallus (penis or clitoris). The male glands (including the prostate) develop from ducts that waste away in the female. As a result, a woman has very different internal reproductive anatomy to a man. So women do not ejaculate as men do. Similarly, the vagina (including the anterior wall) develops from ducts that waste away in the male. If women were capable of orgasm through stimulation of any part of the vagina, such a response would need to have evolved separately from the male orgasmic capacity. Yet there is no biological justification for women ever having an orgasm by any means.

In 2010 Andrea Burri did some research at Kings College, London. There was no physical examination. There were 3,000 women, pairs of identical and non-identical twins, who completed a survey. Among other questions, they were asked if they believed they had a small area on the front of the vagina that was sensitive to deep pressure. The study (the biggest of its kind to date) concluded that the G-spot as a well-defined area did not exist. Despite appearing in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the findings have had little impact compared with the sensational success of the original theory.

Other areas of science involve proposing theories that are tested and supported by substantial evidence before being accepted. Yet the G-spot (which was never described as a theory) continues to be promoted despite widespread cynicism and contrary evidence. It could never apply to all women because the samples involved were so small. Yet the G-spot is talked of as if every woman can benefit from knowing about it. The G-spot has been universally accepted despite the endless quest for couples trying to find it.

… the mysterious G-spot … I found it irresponsible to claim the existence of an entity that has never been proven, using in some cases a cohort of just 30 women worldwide. (Andrea Burri)