article

01.05.10

Yes, There Is a G-Spot

New science claims the ultimate female erogenous zone doesn’t exist. Rachel Kramer Bussel talks to sex researchers and historians who know where to find it. A Daily Beast probe.

This just in: The G-spot doesn’t exist! At least, according to British researchers who’ve made splashy headlines with this claim in a new study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. According to the abstract, “1,804 unselected female twins aged 22–83 completed a questionnaire about their sexuality and G-spot knowledge” and the point of the study was to find “genetic variance component analysis of self-reported G-spot.” That alone should tell you this study was highly subjective.

Yet the very idea of there not being a G-spot sparked international headlines. One commenter on a science blog wrote, “The supposed ‘G-spot’ is probably an androcentric fabrication to support male penetration,” while many others rushed in to gleefully proclaim the spot nonexistent.

“I'm bored with the whole discussion,” says Betty Dodson. “With the huge number of men and women who still have trouble finding a clitoris, why are we talking about some elusive spot inside the vagina that may or may not exist?”

What’s going on? And what is the G-spot anyway?

The term “G-spot” was coined by Dr. Beverly Whipple and John D. Perry in 1982, and named for pioneering German doctor Ernst Gräfenberg, who wrote “The Role of the Urethra in Female Orgasm” (read it here) in 1950 and is also known for developing the first IUD. The Orgasm Answer Guide, co-authored by Whipple, defines the term as “a sensitive area felt through the front (anterior, belly-side) wall of the vagina about halfway between the level of the pubic bone and the cervix (along the course of the urethra).”

Whipple, professor emerita at Rutgers University, was the co-author of the groundbreaking 1982 book The G Spot: And Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality and responsible (with Perry) for popularizing the topic. She says the main problem with the study is bad science. “The easiest way to stimulate the G-spot is by using two fingers inserted into the vagina with a come-here motion, but they eliminated bisexual or lesbian women, [who] often use digital stimulation.”

Violet Blue, sex columnist and author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot, says she laughed when she saw the study, claiming their conclusions were made “with little more than hearsay.” According to her, the idea of self-reporting just doesn’t wash. “It would be like rounding up 2,000 straight guys and asking them if they thought they had a prostate. Most would say no, because admitting to knowing he had one means that he's saying he's played with his ass for pleasure. Few women are going to outright state that they've explicitly played with themselves sexually to find a controversial, different way to orgasm.” Blue offers an in-depth guide to exactly where the G-spot is and how to stimulate it on her Web site.

All the experts I spoke to emphasized that there are no “shoulds” when it comes to the G-spot. On that point, they and researchers Tim Spector and Andrea Burri seem to agree: Women shouldn’t be pressured into locating or playing with their G-spots (or, I’d venture, any other body parts). But the vehemence which with the study’s authors attack the idea of the G-spot needs to be questioned. Whipple says, “I think it’s important to validate women’s experiences and not set up goals.” The media’s response to stories like this is perhaps more troubling than the study itself; a proper conclusion would be, perhaps, that many women don’t believe they have a G-spot, not that it doesn’t exist.

Rachel Venning, co-founder of sex toy store Babeland and co-author of Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex, thinks part of the problem is the name; she prefers “urethral sponge.” She explains, “The G-spot does exist. It’s the name of the area on the front wall of the vagina through which the urethral sponge can be stimulated, which is a sensation many, but not all, women love.” In fact, Babeland’s top-selling 2009 toy was the Gigi Vibe, one specifically designed to access the G-spot. “All the G-spot toys work by having a pronounced curve so that the tip of the toy heads toward the G-spot and not the back of the vagina.”

“Mother of Masturbation” and Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving author Betty Dodson, who’s been teaching women how to get off since the '70s, is totally over this debate. “I'm bored with the whole discussion. With the huge number of men and women who still have trouble finding a clitoris, why are we talking about some elusive spot inside the vagina that may or may not exist?”

Blue cautions women to not believe the hype. “Part of the problem is that when people started talking more openly about the G-spot, a lot of [untrained] entrepreneurs rushed in to ‘sell’ the magic button of the G-spot,” she explains. “People need to screen the source of their information. Random, self-made ‘sex experts’ trying to sell videos, books and sex toys might make the G-spot out to be the Holy Grail of orgasms, like this magic, mysterious button that once you find it and press it gives you unlimited mind-blowing orgasms.” Cue The G-SHOT, billed as “a simple, nonsurgical, physician-administered treatment that can temporarily augment the Gräfenberg spot (G-Spot) in sexually active women with normal sexual function.” Because “human-engineered collagen” is clearly the path to a better sex life. Blue is correct that the G-spot has spawned everything from YouTube videos promising to teach “the proper techniques that can give any woman mind blowing…orgasms,” to books such as Female Ejaculation and the G-Spot and Unleashing Her G-Spot Orgasm, and a host of porn videos. That’s not necessarily a problem; those who are interested should have resources available to find out more, but just as, say, anal sex isn’t for everyone neither is delving deep into the G-spot.

“With this thinking, any woman who can't find ‘it’ with two hands and a flashlight must be broken,” says Blue. “While all women have the tissue in varying forms, it's going to feel really great for some women or really unpleasant for others. Headlines that read ‘G-Spot is a Myth’ fuel sexist notions around women's orgasms being mysterious, shame women who enjoy G-spot stimulation, and set us back about 100 years.” This doesn’t contradict the women who didn’t report having a G-spot; it’s possible they didn’t know about the term or where it’s located, had never had it stimulated, didn’t like having it touched, etc.

According to The Telegraph, researcher Andrea Burri said “she was anxious to remove feelings of ‘inadequacy or underachievement’ that might affect women who feared they lacked a G-spot.” I’m all for reducing anyone’s sense of inadequacy around the “right” way to have sex (including men who think they’re not superstuds because they can’t coax a woman’s G-spot out of hiding), but this is not the way to go about it. Articles which call the only evidence of the G-spot “a woman’s imagination” do everyone a disservice.

There are many paths to sexual pleasure, and orgasm, with the G-spot being simply one of them (Dodson calls herself a “clit girl”). Perhaps, more than anything else, the study’s findings show the lack of knowledge many women have about the G-spot.

Perhaps part of the problem lies in the name, which makes it sound like an X on a map of a woman’s body that can be found through careful searching, rather than something more individual. The Jewish Gräfenberg was a well-known gynecologist, who treated the wives of high Nazi officials, but was eventually arrested in 1937 and later ransomed by birth-control activist Margaret Sanger and immigrated to America; his name is even an entry in the dictionary. Maybe we can pay tribute to him by recognizing the complexity of female sexuality, instead of devolving into a Freudian scaling of the quality and type of women’s orgasms. After all, Gräfenberg himself wrote, “In spite of abundant literature dealing with female orgasm, our knowledge of the mechanism and the localisation of the final climax is insufficient.” Perhaps that’s still true today.

Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor of Peep Show: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, Bottoms Up and over 25 other erotica anthologies, and hosts and curates In The Flesh Reading Series.