Study Shows There is No G-Spot

In a widely circulated story on research done by Dr. Susan Oakley, an OBGYN at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, many of the headlines were based on a misreading of the study.  There were headlines like this:

We’ve Been Way Off About How To Get Off: Study Says G-Spot Doesn’t Exist -madamenoire.com

Dr. Oakley was widely quoted as saying, “There’s no G-spot. There’s a C-spot — the clitoris.” Part of the problem was the doctor’s looseness with language and lack of media experience. What she actually meant is that what we have been calling the g-spot may actually be the back part of the clitoral cluster (not the clitoris, which is the smaller exposed part of the much larger clitoral structure.) The idea that this is the case is not new, but her research provides additional evidence. The way she said this caused a lot of confusion, and many in the media interpreted it to mean that there is no such thing as a g-spot or a g-spot orgasm. Only the clitoris is important. This is not what the study shows. All she was saying is that the name is wrong, because what we have been calling the g-spot is actually part of the clitoral conplex

While her MRI based research is important, the study is not conclusive and very preliminary.  It seems to lump all orgasms together when most women report different sensations for different types of orgasm (and yes, I am familiar with the new French study on female orgasms claiming there are only two, which we also write about this month.)  Many women report a g-spot orgasm feeling very different from a clitoral orgasm. Her conclusion that clitoral complex size and distance from the vagina makes some sense for vaginal orgasms, but the way some in the media reported it was confusing when they did not clearly explain the difference between the clitoris and the clitoral complex. This was a mistake many headlines made, referring to how size matters, which was especially confusing since they also tended to refer to the size of the clitoris instead of the clitoral complex in the article itself.

The study was published in the April issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

 

Social Science Research

This makes our list because of the journal’s involvement in the scandals surrounding the publication in the same  issue of two articles, one by Mark Regnerus and one by Loren Marks. Both purported to show negative results of gay and lesbian children raising children, and both have been repudiated by both the scientific community and by the journal’s own in house review.

The supposed peer review of Mark Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study is laughable. We know the names of two of the three impartial peer reviewers- Paul Amato and Brad Wilcox. Paul was paid for a minor role working on the NFSS, and so should not have even been considered as a reviewer. None the less, his indiscretion pales in comparison to that of Brad Wilcox.

The study itself was conceived by religious anti-gay conservatives long before Regnerus was on board. Wilcox was one of the people involved in the early planning.  Wilcox helped coordinate the funding with the anti-gay Witherspoon Foundation, where he was the foundation’s Director of their program on“Marriage, Family and Democracy, ” the program that directly funded the study. He worked directly with Regnerus on the report, a long time personal friend, and was paid $2000 as a consultant out of study funds. He also suggested publishing in Social Science Review, where he sat on the board and certainly could have influenced its acceptance.

SSR editor James Wright would have known much of this, but had this to say in Inside Higher Ed:

Amato and Wilcox mentioned their prior involvement with the Regnerus study in response to my initial reviewing request. I asked, as I always do, whether this involvement precluded their writing an objective review. Both said no and so both were asked to proceed.

Clearly, the report did not get an impartial review. The review timeline has also caused some controversy, with many researchers pointing out that the review time (41 days from submission to publication) was almost impossibly short. Not a single one of the reviewers had any expertise in same-sex parenting or LGBT issues.

Editor Wright is hardly a dispassionate player in this game. He co-authored a report titled “Attitudes Toward Gay Marriage in States Undergoing Marriage Law Transformation,” published in the May 2008 issue of Journal of Marriage and Family. I did not have to get very far into it to realize it was not an impartial study. It uses much of the language common in anti-gay circles, promotes concept of covenant marriage popular in fundamentalist Christian  circles that Wright is a major cheerleader for, and includes language like this:

These marriage-strengthening efforts are an attempt to counteract the perceived ‘‘deinstitutionalization’’ of marriage (Cherlin, 2004), often in direct response to the threat of gay marriage as a potentially destructive influence on the institution of marriage. In addition to capturing attitudes toward marriage and divorce, and gay marriage in particular, our data also capture attitudes toward covenant marriage legislation. Within its legal features, covenant marriage contains most of the provisions currently considered by federal and state legislative bodies to promote and strengthen heterosexual marriage. Thus, we use it as a proxy to indicate individuals’ attitudes toward macrolevel efforts to strengthen traditional marriage.

SSR is a respected journal, but because of the current editor I would be hesitant to give them any credibility on issues dealing with gays and lesbians. In fact, it seems as if they have participated in a complex plan developed by anti-gay organizations to create anti-gay science for political purposes. This appears to be fueled by the personal religious based animus against gays and lesbians of those involved with the Regnerus debacle,  including the editor, board members, and peer reviewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Creams

Why bigger breasts are better has been something that has always eluded me. I sort of enjoy the variety in shapes and sizes. Still, it seems to be an obsession with the majority of American men, and that obsession has had a tremendous effect on women. In order to be more pleasing to men, countless women have undergone surgery. Wouldn’t it be great if you could save all that expense and pain just by rubbing cream on your breasts? The hucksters that sell this stuff would sure like you to believe it.

There are breast increasing pills, lotions, exercise devices, suction cups, and hypnosis tapes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Better Business Bureau confirm that no breast enhancement product has ever been proven to actually work.

These products have been on the market for years, but they are sold as beauty aids and not drugs. Beauty aids have even less regulation than nutritional supplements. If the claims are too outrageous, the manufacturers do on occasion have to deal with the authorities.

In 2003, infomercial marketers Wellquest International, Inc. agreed to settle federal fraud charges over Bloussant, which claimed permanent breast enhancement. They were only able to nail them because they stated that their claims were medically proven, allowing the FTC to go after them for false advertising. Bloussant cost $220 for a two-month supply and $574 for an eight-month supply.  It did nothing.

In 2004, the Washington State Attorney General filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Nature’s Advantage LLC, owners of HerbalBreast.com. The product was marketed under the name Herbal Breast Advantage. They claimed that it could permanently increase breast size, but they had no data to back up the claim, and the product was developed by the company owner, with no background in science or medicine.

 

 

Loren Marks

Loren Marks is a  professor at the Louisiana State University School of Social Work and a devout Mormon. He testified as an expert witness for the State in the 2014 Michigan trial on that State’s same sex marriage ban.

Of his testimony and that of three other State experts, the judge wrote that “The Court was unable to accord the testimony of Marks, Price, and Allen any significant weight.” In summary, he wrote “The most that can be said of these witnesses’ testimony is that the ‘no differences’ consensus has not been proven with scientific certainty, not that there is any credible evidence showing that children raised by same-sex couples fare worse than those raised by heterosexual couples.”

Marks authored the controversial 2012 study, ” Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting.”  In this study, he looked at 59 published studies that the APA used in 2005 where they concluded that “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.” The Marks study is a criticism of the APA, the studies it used and its conclusion, rather than original research.

I was unable to find out who paid for this study. It is not listed on his Grants page on the LSU web site. The latest information I could find was a journalist’s mention of making an Inquiry to LSU and not getting a response.

Marks was called to testify in the California Proposition 8 trial, but ultimately they decided not to use his testimony. The reason was that he had not actually read the studies he used to argue against same sex parenting. He was forced to admit during deposition that he had not looked at research that evaluated actual gay and lesbian parents, that he cherry picked data, that his conclusions about same-sex parenting were not supported by evidence, that he fudged the meaning of biological parents to include adoptive parents, and that he had a bias against same sex parenting long before he began his research.

There are a lot of other problems with Mark’s study, including the fact that it looks back at a 7 year old finding of the APA after mountains of additional studies have been done. In Mark’s criticism, he claims that the 1996 Sarantakos study did indeed find a poorer outcome for children of gay parents and that the APA failed to include it.. He does not include what the APA actually said about the Sarantakos study:

A study from Australia (Sarantakos, 1996) has been cited as demonstrating deficits among children raised by gay and lesbian parents in Australia compared to children raised by heterosexual couples. The anomalous results reported by this study–which contradict the accumulated body of research findings in this field–are attributable to idiosyncrasies in its sample and methodologies and are therefore not reliable. An expert reading of the Sarantakos article reveals that certain characteristics of its methodology and sample are highly likely to have skewed the results and rendered them an invalid indicator of the well-being of children raised by gay and lesbian parents in at least three respects: (1) the children raised by gay and lesbian parents experienced unusually high levels of extreme social ostracism and overt hostility from other children and parents, which probably accounted for the former’s lower levels of interaction and social integration with peers (see pp. 25-26); (2) nearly all indicators of the children’s functioning were based on subjective reports by teachers, who, as noted repeatedly by the author, may have been biased (see pp. 24, 26, & 30); and (3) most or all of the children being raised by gay and lesbian parents, but not the children being raised by heterosexual married parents, had experienced parental divorce, which is known to correlate with poor adjustment and academic performance. Indeed, although the differences Sarantakos observed among the children are anomalous in the context of research on parents’ sexual orientation, they are highly consistent with findings from studies of the effects of parental divorce on children (see, e.g., Amato, 2001, and Amato & Keith, 1991). Children Australia is a regional journal that is not widely known outside Australia. As such, it cannot be considered a source upon which one should rely for understanding the state of scientific knowledge in this field, particularly when the results contradict those that have been repeatedly replicated in studies published in better known scientific journals. In summary, the Sarantakos study does not undermine the consistent pattern of results reported in other empirical studies addressing this topic.

While knowledgeable in his field, his admitted animus and his close association with the anti-gay advocates like the national Organization for Marriage make him appear to be more of an anti-gay activist than an honest researcher. His paper was made available to the House Republican team defending DOMA long before it was officially published. It does appear that Marks and Regnerus coordinated their publishing efforts to provide anti-gay ammunition in the then upcoming political and legal battle over DOMA. The papers were published simultaneously in “Social Science Research” and yet Marks cites Regnerus’ as yet unpublished work in his paper, clearly coordinating their efforts under the editorship of James Wright, who has ties to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

Keep in mind that the judge in the Michigan case specifically mentioned  that he believed that the Regnerus study was funded and done quickly for political purposes. A New York Times article revealed that the Regnerus study was conceived by the conservative Heritage Foundation and funded by the anti-gay Witherspoon Foundation.

Darren Sherkat conducted an internal audit of both the Marks’ and Regnerus’ studies. He called Marks’ paper an “argumentative review paper,” where no original data were collected or analyzed, nor was a systematic meta-analysis conducted.” He concluded that is was “inappropriate” for Social Science Research to publish Marks’ article because it was not original quantitative research. He was even harder on Regnerus.

A good example of Marks’ credibility comes in his claim during the trial that the unanimous findings of the APA on same sex parenting was the result of brainwashing.

Joseph Price

Joseph Price is an economics professor at Brigham Young University. He testified as an expert witness for the State in the 2014 Michigan trial on that State’s same sex marriage ban.

Of his testimony and that of three other State experts, the judge wrote that “The Court was unable to accord the testimony of Marks, Price, and Allen any significant weight.” In summary, he wrote “The most that can be said of these witnesses’ testimony is that the ‘no differences’ consensus has not been proven with scientific certainty, not that there is any credible evidence showing that children raised by same-sex couples fare worse than those raised by heterosexual couples.”

Price has done respected research in the past, but his apparent animus against gays and his entrenchment in a religious based University noted for its animus against gays does make his work on gay issues worthy of additional scrutiny.

His work also seems to be strongly influenced by his religion. His 2012 study with Richard Patterson “Pornography, Religion, and the Happiness Gap: Does Pornography Affect the Actively Religious Differently?” published in the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion comes to the conclusion that the cost of happiness from looking at pornography is greater for the more religiously faithful. That seems similar to his anti-gay research- come up with a conclusion and then create research to support it. Not exactly good science.

His 2014 study with Kirk Doran, “Pornography and Marriage” Journal of Family and Economic Issues, seems similar. It found that “adults who had watched an X-rated movie in the past year were more likely to be divorced, more likely to have had an extramarital affair, and less likely to report being happy with their marriage or happy overall. We also found that, for men, pornography use reduced the positive relationship between frequency of sex and happiness. Finally, we found that the negative relationship between pornography use and marital well-being has, if anything, grown stronger over time, during a period in which pornography has become both more explicit and more easily available.” For a devout anti-pornography Mormon, this seems like the only possible conclusion he could have come to.

When asked at trial why same-sex couples shouldn’t be afforded the same benefits as opposite-sex couples, Price actually testified that the reason was because “Women have a domesticating effect on men.” He does not see to have an agenda on keeping single heterosexual men from raising children, though.

 

Price is not a disinterested researcher. He signed an amicus brief  along with Mark Regnerus and Douglas Allen, filed in support of the Supreme Court upholding California’s Proposition 8. He was involved with Douglas Allen’s now widely discredited graduation rate study, whose invalidated conclusions he cited in his testimony.

The only independent research on the issue he has done is a study with Corbin Miller titled “The Number of Children Being Raised by Gay or Lesbian Parents .” It comes to no conclusions about outcomes, but by using a different methodology concerning bisexuality (and other methodologies), it comes in with a lower estimate than other studies. The study states that there are “190,000 children being raised by gay or lesbian couples, 83% of which are being raised by lesbian couples and 17% by gay couples. In addition, there are another 150,000 children being raised by a lesbian single parent and 60,000 being raised by a gay single parent. This is much smaller than other estimates. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a more current estimate is somewhere between 1 and 9 million children have at least one parent who is gay or lesbian.  From reading the paper, it almost seems like their goal was to get the number down as small as possible and still have a shred of credibility.

Price was one of the weakest links in that he brought little of his own work as an expert. Like the others who testified for the State in the Michigan trial, he appeared to have a very clear agenda that trumped his integrity as a researcher, and led the judge to give his testimony little credence.

 

Douglas Allen

Douglas Allen was  a witness in the 2014 case in Michigan to overturn their anti-same sex marriage law. He is a Canadian economist who is associated with both the Ruth Institute and the National Organization for Marriage, both strongly anti-gay organizations.

He studies family as it relates to economics, including the concept of sexual economics (the idea that the disparity in sexual desire between men and women drives an economic exchange between men and women where all women trade sex for economic benefit).

While he may be a fine economist in many areas, his strong conservative and anti-gay religious views make his family studies somewhat questionable. Under oath in the Michigan case, he testified that he believed that all unrepentant homosexuals are going to hell. That makes it very difficult to be an impartial researcher on this subject. The irony is that Allen testified repeatedly that his personal opinions had no impact on his conclusions, and yet, for him to be wrong, his God would also have to be wrong.

Allen testified that his recent study published in Review of Economics of the Household, showed that children raised by gay couples graduate high school at 65% of the rate of the children of traditional couples. While Canada has had same sex marriage since 2005, Allen’s data only went up to 2006, ignoring many years of legal same sex marriage. Legal same sex marriage is the real argument- that it provides more stability and should provide better outcomes. If you look primarily at couples who have been unable to marry and are raising children, you might expect worse outcomes for children that might be improved with legal same sex marriage.

As with Mark Regnerus, who also testified in the Michigan case, his conclusions have been strongly criticized by other researchers. He stood by them, though, with the rather surprising claim that his results may be better than those from American research that shows the opposite conclusions because Canadians are more likely to be honest and Canada is a more tolerant place.

According to sociologist Phillip N. Cohen, the Allen study has many of the same flaws as the Regnerus study, and its conclusions are meaningless. While it starts with a large sample, the actual number of gay and lesbian households is relatively small. Allen claims that the law does not allow him to release the actual sample size. Cohen estimates that it is probably about 85 gay father children and around 194 lesbian mother children- not an impressive sample size at all.

The study looked at children 17 to 22 years old. That means that some of his sample are still in high school and have not even graduated yet. There is no analysis comparing the people in his sample to the population of 17-22 year-olds who don’t live with their parents.  Could it be, as suggested by Kristi Williams, that gay or lesbian parents are more successful at launching their children from home that heterosexual parents? In Allen’s study, that would be a sign of a bad family outcome, according to Cohen. This one problem alone makes the conclusions of the study questionable.

The study compares apples and oranges- gay parents versus married parents, instead of the more comparable gay married parents versus heterosexual married parents. As such, it is completely irrelevant to the question of whether gay people should allowed to be married, since they are already raising children and one would expect a better outcome with the stability of marriage.

The statistic, “children of gay and lesbian parents are 65% as likely to graduate” is also misleading. The graduation rate, assuming that any of his numbers are accurate, is actually just 6 percentage points different, although it sounds much worse as an odds ratio the way he uses it.

Allen said in an interview:

Indeed, mothers may provide some parenting services that a father cannot provide, and fathers may provide parenting services that mothers cannot. These services may be necessary for girls but not necessary for boys. For example, I’ve been told by medical people that when a biological father is present in the home, daughters begin menstruation at an older age. Later menstruation is likely correlated with delayed sexual activity, etc., and this may lead to a better likelihood of high school completion.

His study, though, shows that daughters raised by gay parents have the worse outcomes of the four combinations. He can’t even keep his own research straight (no pun intended). And while it is surprisingly true that research shows that girls may delay menstruation in fatherless families, it is only by a month or two. Is it any wonder that Allen’s fellow sociologists have little respect for his conclusions.

 

Mark Regnerus

Mark Regnerus was one of the key defense experts to testify in the 2014 Michigan lawsuit to overturn their ban on same sex marriage. The problem is, he is a totally discredited sociologist accused by his fellow sociologists of dishonesty. Before his testimony, his own University of Texas in Austin disavowed his conclusions on same sex marriage, as did the chairman of his own department. The head of the sociology department also distanced himself from Regnerus’ study. The American Medical Association and the President of the American Sociological Association put their names to a document which called Regnerus’ methodology scientifically unsound. Over 200 Sociology Ph.D.’s and MDs signed a letter calling for the formal retraction of the study from the journal in which it was published, Social Science Research.

Regnerus’ study on gay marriage was funded largely by the anti-gay Witherspoon Foundation, for which he was paid over $800,000. They specifically wanted the study completed before the same sex marriage issue came before the Supreme Court.

In case you are unfamiliar with the study, it concluded that same sex marriages provide worse outcomes for children. That is a big deal since 30 years of similar research does not come to that conclusion at all. The study, despite having a large sample size, had numerous problems. By looking at same sex relationships, it never clearly defines them. Even worse and more shocking, it does not include a study of children who grew up in gay or lesbian households. Wait, would that not be the whole point? Yes, which is why the conclusions he comes to are not considered particularly valid by his fellow social scientists.

Since relying on his own discredited study would have been a poor plan, he used the strategy that many anti-gay organizations are coalescing around. Despite those 30 years of research in over 100 studies showing that kids of gay parents turn out fine and often better than fine, he made the claim that the science is inconclusive, and that we just don’t know enough yet. Why risk the children because of what we don’t know. This argument ignores the reality that gay people raise children with or without the right to marry, and that the child raising situation is a lot more secure if they have the right to be married. It is a bad argument, but they are left with few rational arguments as to why same sex marriage should be banned. He sounds just like the creationists, claiming that over 100 years of research on evolution is still inconclusive or just plain wrong. All those other scientists are incorrect because my data shows otherwise.

His key admission was that he would oppose same sex marriage even if studies showed that it was equivalent to opposite sex marriage in terms of child outcome. He also said that he opposed denying marriage to heterosexuals in categories known to have poor child outcomes.

Regnerus  does not just do research on same sex marriage (although technically, he didn’t do that in this study.) He looks at sexual practices in general, and the unifying theme is that all that stuff should be done only within the sanctity of a monogamous and very heterosexual marriage.

Just last February (2014), he made this astonishing claim:

If gay marriage is perceived as legitimate by heterosexual women, it will eventually embolden boyfriends everywhere, and not a few husbands, to press for what men have always historically wanted but were rarely allowed: sexual novelty in the form of permission to stray without jeopardizing their primary relationship. Discussion of openness and sexual partners in straight marriages will become more common, just as the practice of heterosexual anal sex got a big boost from the normalization of gay men’s sexual behavior in both contemporary porn and in the American imagination.  It may be spun as empowering women, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

Of course, there was no empirical data to support any of this, and it assumes that practicing anal sex is a bad thing. In many cultures and especially before the pill, anal sex was a common form of birth control, but nuance like that is probably a bit much for Regnerus.

In December of 2014, he presented his theory that watching porn makes men more open to the idea of gay marriage. This was promoted through the Witherspoon Foundation.

He wrote:

Marriage has its characteristic structure largely because of its orientation to procreation; it involves developing and sharing one’s body and whole self in the way best suited for honorable parenthood — among other things, permanently and exclusively. Given that I study the sexual and relationship lives of emerging adults, I couldn’t help but note the contrast between this description of marital sexuality and how sex is portrayed in modern pornography. Indeed, the latter redirects sex — by graphic depiction of it — away from any sense of it as a baby-making activity. Porn also undermines the concept that in the act of sexual intercourse, we share our ‘body and whole self permanently and exclusively.’ On the contrary, it reinforces the idea that people can share their bodies but not their inmost selves, and that they can do so temporarily and (definitely) not exclusively without harm.

I don’t know that porn accomplishes this alone, but he is right- one can have temporary sexual relationships without harm, assuming that one practices safe sex and avoids pregnancy. And maybe, by demystifying sex and making it a less fearful thing, and showing that sex is sex and what gays do, penis in mouth, penis in anus, is not really different from what heterosexual couples do, porn does contribute to young support for gay marriage. That is not a leap most sociologists would make, though, and the biggest problem is that he sees that as a bad thing.

In March 2014, the Austin Insti­tute for the Study of Family and Culture, which seems to focus primarily on Regnerus’ work, released an animated video co-produced by Regnerus called “The Economics of Sex.” Its primary assumption is that we are living back in the 1950s. Men want sex more than women, so women use sex as a bargaining chip. The pill made sex cheap because women were better able to avoid pregnancy, so in economic terms lower costs = more supply = lower prices. It makes the argument that women should be more responsible with their sexuality by demanding a higher price for sexual activity. There seems to be no acknowledgement that this way of thinking turns all women into whores, but maybe that is what he already thinks. All women have to do is stop giving sex away, demand marriage in exchange for it (and whatever else they can get out of the deal I assume) and marriage rates will skyrocket.

This video is both bad economics and bad sociology. Unless you specify the levels of disparity in demand, which they never do, the whole argument is meaningless. The truth is, though, that the differences in levels of desire are greater in either gender than they are when comparing genders so the desire gap is not actually meaningful in any useful way. It is key to many of his arguments, though.

What about lesbians, though? Where do they fit it in the sex economic mix? Technically, in his model they do not even exist. Maybe that is why he thinks they should not raise children, as who wants non-existent parents?  Regnerus  looks to Anthony Giddens in his Transformation of Intimacy when he said in a recent speech; “Giddens draws an arrow from contraception to sexual malleability to the expansion of homosexuality.” So the pill is making people gay.

This economic model is nothing new for Regnerus. He wrote this for Slate in 2011:

And yet despite the fact that women are holding the sexual purse strings, they aren’t asking for much in return these days—the market “price” of sex is currently very low. There are several likely reasons for this. One is the spread of pornography: Since high-speed digital porn gives men additional sexual options—more supply for his elevated demand—it takes some measure of price control away from women. The Pill lowered the cost as well. There are also, quite simply, fewer social constraints on sexual relationships than there once were. As a result, the sexual decisions of young women look more like those of men than they once did, at least when women are in their twenties. The price of sex is low, in other words, in part because its costs to women are lower than they used to be.

His economic theories on sex and the decrease in marriage come from the incredibly sexist writings of Baumeister and Vohs (and Baumeister’s other collaborator Mendoza). Their real argument is that the actual problem is with women gaining equality, where they do not have to rely entirely on men for economic security. This is the key to the whole thing, but I suspect Regnerus realizes that part of it won’t go over so well.

Wendy Simonds, Ph.D. is a Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University. She had this to say about Regnerus and the controversy over his same sex marriage study:

I am not at all surprised by this whole situation, given Regnerus’s previous book on teen sexuality. In that book, he and his co-author present without criticism “research” of others in support of the notion that women who have unprotected sex (with the same partner of course) are less likely to be depressed than women who don’t *because* of the semen in their vaginas (imagine the pharmacological possibilities!!) as well as “research” in support of the notion that women regret abortions. Meanwhile, they also “show” that the more sexual partners young women have, the worse off they are in terms of mental health — while of course the same is not true of young men.

I read a lot of Regnerus’ writings for this piece, and it seems that the over-arching theme is his attempt as a staunch and very conservative Catholic to promote official Catholic positions on contraception, premarital sex, homosexuality and a more limited role for women (which studies show most Catholics ignore) by justifying them through social science. His “science” is of the most dubious sort, though, designed to find a specific conclusion. Going through and refuting it all is a major and rather tedious task. He fits in well in the rogues gallery of anti-sex crackpots.

American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

They sound a lot more reasonable than they actually are, considering that it is a group made up of doctors. This is an anti-abortion extremist organization that, at least based on their web site, seems to oppose most forms of contraception as well. Their site still includes the debunked link between breast cancer and abortions, they still promote the firmly debunked idea that emergency contraception is a form of abortion, and they believe that life begins at fertilization despite the generally held scientific view that it does not begin until implantation. They wrote a brief in the Hobby Lobby case making the false claim before the Supreme Court that emergency contraception is abortion, despite a wealth of scientific evidence that shows otherwise. A member of their board of directors, Doctor Byron Calhoun, was recently caught up in controversy for lying to the West Virginia Attorney General about the frequency of abortion complications experienced at the hospital where he works. He claimed weekly problems, when an examination of the records of the hospital revealed just 3 incidents in an entire year.

A New G-Spot Find, and Bad G-Spot Research

Has the G-spot finally been located and verified? We’ll get to that, but first we need to look at the history of the controversy.

I have been covering the issue of the g-spot for many years now. The one thing I notice  is that it is always male researchers who deny that it exists. I honestly can not think of a single female researcher in the denial camp (although I suppose it is possible and I missed it).

None of this is surprising. We know far more about male sexuality than we do about female sexuality, and not just because the male parts are simpler. The same is true about women’s biology in general. Historically, it was thought that it was more important to study men.

Then there is the tradition of things being all in women’s head. I have fibromyalgia, a condition that primarily affects women. It has long been ignored and dismissed as something that has all been in women’s heads. Despite the increasing knowledge and hard physical evidence that has been attained just in the last few years, there are still, and almost exclusively male, doctors who deny its existence.

I have seen first hand how male doctor’s dismiss women’s experiences with their own bodies. I have a close female friend who has a tethered brain stem. As you can imagine, this leads to all sorts of problems, including an inability to drive, which is why I took her to the doctor and was involved with the search for a diagnosis. It took a long time and a number of specialists before we got to that point. Getting her to specialists in the first place was like pulling teeth, though, because her male doctor insisted that it was all in her head. Technically it was, but not in the way that he thought.

Considering the long history of male dismissal of women, it is not surprising that there is still a debate about the g-spot. To many men, the fact that countless women report a different type of orgasm through g-spot stimulation is irrelevant. Many men do not care what women have to say about themselves. They consider women unreliable reporters of the conditions of their own body.

One of my favorite science bloggers, P.J. Meyers, recently wrote this: “My favorite argument against Intelligent Design is the fact that the clitoris is located nowhere near the cervix — for women, reproduction and recreation are fairly effectively uncoupled. But that doesn’t stop some people from imagining the existence of a vaginal source of sexual pleasure, the G-spot. I don’t believe it exists; I do believe that individuals can be sexually stimulated by contact in all kinds of places, from vagina to toes to neck to belly-button, that it varies from person to person, and that you don’t need to find an excuse in sloppy anatomy to justify what makes you feel good.”

Doctor Meyers is a biologist that many might even consider a feminist, and he is generally pretty reasonable about women’s issues and women’s equality. He is not, however, an expert on sexuality.

While he is brilliant, this is an area I have far more experience in than he does. Not only have I talked to researchers studying the g-spot, I have used my hand on dozens of women on this supposedly mythical area to generate an orgasm without clitoral stimulation, an orgasm that is amazingly intense and that they report as feeling different from other types of orgasm.

This is the male blindspot on this issue. For most men, an orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm. They are all pretty much the same. This is not true for more sexually experienced men. For example, many have reported a different type of orgasm from prostate stimulation.

For women, though, the sensation of orgasm can differ quite a bit. It is not always the same. There is quite a lot of diversity. For example, my wife can orgasm from foot stimulation. She will report, though, that it is not exactly the same as a g-spot orgasm, or a clitoral orgasm.

Doctor Meyers is partly correct in that women can achieve orgasm through a number of different forms of stimulation. They do know the difference between them, though. A g-spot orgasm is a distinct type of orgasm. It is replicable. It has been my personal experience that most women can achieve a g-spot orgasm.

So, why then do so many, mostly men, deny the existence of the g-spot? Because they can’t find it. Not anatomically, at least. This should not be surprising. Consider how long it takes many of them to find the clitoris.

The most recent thinking has been that the g-spot is actually just the back side of the clitoris, a larger structure than we normally think of it as being. But still, in 60 years of research, no certain anatomical structure has been proven to be the g-spot.

In 2010, a team of researchers at King’s College London published a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. That study claimed that the G spot was possibly a figment of women’s imaginations, one encouraged by the popular press and sexuality professionals.

This does not explain references to this spot in ancient sex manuals, long before Dr. Grafenburg gave it a name in the 1940s. It does not explain why women who have not heard of the g-spot have g-spot orgasm anyway. In fact, it sounds quite familiar- it is all in women’s heads. This is the fallback position in medicine when it comes to women. I can’t figure it out, she’s a woman, so it must just be in her head.

Frankly, the King’s College research was total crap. Here is how they went about it. They used a sample of over 1,800 women, and concluded that no pattern emerged between identical versus non-identical twins when participants were asked if they had a G spot. This indicated that there could not be a gene at play which would be shared by identical twins, thus the g-spot must be a myth.

Really? You are simply asking women if they have a g-spot? Here is a key bit of information. Like the clitoris, the g-spot is not normally stimulated during intercourse. In fact, it is very difficult to do with your penis. Fingers are a far better tool. A woman can go her entire life without ever having her g-spot directly stimulated.

It requires someone who knows what they are doing. You have to know where the right spot is, the proper type of stimulation (it is more about pressure than thrusting in and out), and you have to know that it is easier to stimulate once a woman is sexually aroused, and that as she become more aroused the interior of the vagina changes shape a little and the area you need to stimulate actually moves a bit. Once you figure all of this out you can pretty much consistently hit the spot and help her achieve this type of orgasm.

I have personally observed g-spot orgasm countless times, as an observer watching the techniques of experts, and personally with dozens of women. I have talked to the women who have experienced them. It is not just something that is all in their head. A specific procedure is required for this type of orgasm.

Is it a spot, a particular type of pressure in a certain area, or something else? I don’t know. But it is not fictitious. In fact, the proper technique is somewhat counter intuitive. You would not think that this technique would lead to such an intense orgasm. And yet, I have personally observed it countless times.

Here is what brings this all back into the news. It is a new study published in this month’s The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Dr. Adam Ostrzenski claims he has found an anatomical structure that could be the g-spot. He found it while dissecting the cadaver of an 83 year old woman.

According to Ostrenski,”The anatomic existence of the G-spot was documented with potential impact on the practice and clinical research in the field of female sexual function,” and he concluded “The anatomic discovery of the G-spot existence may inspire a new study for establishing the anatomic presence of ‘a female prostate.”

So, is this it? Are we done? Is the controversy over? No. This is a single study on a single cadaver. It points the way towards future research. It could prove out, or it could go nowhere. Too early to tell.

Personally, if they never find a specific anatomical structure, I am fine with that. Time and time again, you can teach the technique of g-spot stimulation, and women do achieve g-spot orgasm. Sure, it is possible that some women can not achieve g-spot orgasm. But, I have seen results in the majority of women who have tried, when with an experienced partner.

In my many years as a sexual libertine, I have seen women have a lot of orgasms. They report that a g-sport orgasm feels different. I have been intimately involved with these types of orgasm and it seems different to me to.

We can not absolutely rule out that this is a psychological phenomena. Self-reporting can be unreliable. For those of us whose experience with g-spot orgasm that is more than theoretical, I think that is unlikely.

Dangers of Pornography

This study throws cold water on the claims that pornography is harmful and linked with criminal behavior. Milton Diamond, a professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was the lead on a study called “Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review.” Published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. A metastudy, it looked at study over many years on porn’s impact on both individuals and society. A metastudy looks at the overall results of mountains of peer reviewed research, providing a snapshot of the conclusions of scientists overall, and the general consensus they have reached. Yeah know, just like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showing the consensus on climate change, so we know conservatives will ignore this study as well, just as they do most science that does not conform to their own bias. And this study definitely does not. Based on the research of a lot of scientists, there is no objective verifiable evidence that exposure to pornography by itself causes societal harm- including sex crimes, abuse of women, and destroying. In fact, it shows just the opposite. Where pornography is readily available, these problems are reduced.

According to Diamond: “With these data from a wide variety of communities, cultures and countries we can better evaluate the thesis that an abundance of sexual explicit material invariably leads to an increase of illegal sexual activity and eventually rape. Similarly we can now better reconsider the conclusion of the Meese Commission and others that there exists ‘a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and … unlawful acts of sexual violence’ Indeed, the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes.”

Yes, my conservative friends, pornography does not turn you into a rapist or wife abuser. This has been one of the key claims against pornography- a direct link to actual harm to society and an increase in violent crime, and it is full of hot air. The vast majority of sex offenders had strict religious upbringings, and while we can see a pattern there, we can’t say that religion creates rapists. We also know that rapists and child molesters tend to view less pornography than the average male- but we can’t say that not viewing porn turns you into a rapist. The factors that cause men to abuse women, or rape women, or even lead to divorce are a lot more complicated than that. Its easy to just say porn did it, but it is not very scientific. And it certainly isn’t a justification for the level of censorship that conservatives would like to impose on all of us.

That still leaves the claim that pornography destroys marriages. People make the claim, but there has to be evidence. If someone divorces and claims it was because of pornography, we need to be able to say that pornography was the cause and not a symptom or an escape or simply irrelevant to the real problems that caused the divorce. The problem is, we just don’t have objective proof that that is the case, and if pornography were causing that level of harm on a societal basis, there would be enough available data for us to find that proof. It isn’t there. Isolated instances of supposed harm are not a valid reason to claim that something causes general or overall harm. Especially when almost everyone is exposed to pornography. We’d see a huge spike in the divorce rate over the last few years, when, in fact, the divorce rate has been going down in the U.S. Claiming that your husband’s obsession with sports destroyed your marriage does not mean that watching sports is harmful, even if it was true that his constantly watching sports and ignoring you did in fact destroy the marriage. Smoking cigarettes is harmful. We have a mountain of data showing a causal relationship. We don’t have that with porn, but if a causal relationship actually existed, we would see it in the dataThe scary thing is that the same anti-science attitude that conservatives have used against pornography, including their own junk science, is the same that they have used against teaching actual sex education in schools, the same anti-science they have used against evolution, and the same that they are now trying to use against climate science. Instead of finding their bliss in their faith, they seek it in their ignorance, and try to enforce it on the rest of us. And its worked. We are now a nation that is essentially scientifically illiterate. They can’t find qualified scientists and engineers to replace the aging NASA scientists. We are falling behind other countries in many areas related to science. Science is the true engine of a nation’s economy, and our engine is starting to sputter. The U.S. took the technology lead after the launch of Sputnik, which created a governmental panic that lead to an emphasis on science in the schools. For the last 60 years we have been a technology and science powerhouse. Recent conservative battles have led to a diminishing of science education in the schools. I guess we need another scare to shake us out of our stupor.

Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse, from the University of Montreal, Canada, had what he thought was a great idea for a study. He wanted to see what the impact of porn was on male sexuality. First, they needed a control- men in their twenties who had never watched porn. Turns out that they could not find any. So he instead turned to studying young men who did watch porn. He found that single young men viewed porn for 40 minutes three times a week, compared with those in committed relationships who watch it 1.7 times a week for 20 minutes. Bad news for DVD sales: He also found that 90 percent of porn was viewed on the Internet compared to just 10 percent from the video store. What he failed to find was any pathological sexuality amongst the porn viewers. Nor did he find any evidence that it changed their perceptions of women or of their relationship. And he did not find evidence that porn viewers seek out more extreme porn as they become bored with it. Instead, he found that men watched porn that matched their own view of sexuality, and quickly discarded anything that did not. All test subjects supported gender equality. Nor did it lock them into a world of fantasy expectations, as they did not want their real life partner to look or act like a porn star. Amazingly, they were able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, an ability that seems completely lost to anti-porn advocates.

Sex Science Skeptic
is sponsored by the Center for Sexual Expression and Education.