Yesterday, the BBC published a story about a group of researchers at King's College London who concluded, after asking sets of identical twins whether they had one, that the erogenous zone called the G-spot reportedly enjoyed by some women is merely a myth or a figment of their imaginations. Turning it into a reassuring bit of news, the doctors, one man and two women, counseled that no one should be upset when he or she couldn't find it in his or her partners.
Comic takedown by Balk over at the Awl aside, this just seems another way in which the mysteriousness of female sexuality, or the idea that women may lack a sense of sexuality, is codified and medicalized. The history of treating female sexual organs and the pleasure they can provide as the cause of medical problems — this is where hysteria gets it's name— and treating sex with men as a potential cure for those problems goes all the way back to Hippocrates. Hysteria didn't disappear as a diagnosis until the early part of the last century. (Interesting fact: The vibrator was invented to treat it.) Evolutionary biologists and psychologists still argue about what sexual preferences men and women exhibit "naturally," and how we've changed that with our silly independence.
In that context, you would think researchers would be careful with conclusions that reinforce these kinds of pervasive stereotypes. The head researcher, Dr. Tim Spector, told the BBC this was the biggest study ever to prove the idea of a G-spot is subjective. Never mind that a study last year found it. While the researchers pay lip-service to the idea that it's OK for women to have different experiences and perceive them differently, it's hard to feel that way as long as they devise studies to prove to some of us that our experiences are wrong.
Which was the concern of Dr. Beverly Whipple, the researcher who wrote The G Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality in 1982. Not only did the study have methodological problems because researchers excluded lesbian and bisexual women, but also because they merely asked the twins about their experiences during sexual intercourse to determine whether they had the spot, she said.
"Twins would have different partners and they may have different things they like," she said.
Moreover, the study presented finding the G-spot as a goal, while Whipple said the point of her research was to encourage people to enjoy what they enjoy.
"That's denying all these women's feelings and reports," she said. "My whole thing has been to validate women's experiences and to help them feel good."