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Cory Silverberg

Making Meaning Out of a G-Spot

By April 25, 2012

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There's yet another article claiming to prove the existence of the g-spot. This one comes from a gynecologic surgeon whose website encourages patients to "regain" their "self-confidence with genetalia rejuvenation". Whether you want it thinner, thicker, plumper, or otherwise plasty-er Dr. Ostrzenski has the procedure for you.

He also managed to get access to an 83-year-old dead woman's body in Poland, and performed a "stratum-by-stratum vaginal wall dissection" on her. The results, he says, proves the existence of the g-spot. In this woman's body the g-spot he found was 8.1 mm long, 3.6 mm wide, and .4 mm high. He describes three parts, and a bluish grape like color. There are color photos embedded in the article.

I can think of no better example of the process by which we make meaning of the world around us, than this on again off again search for the g-spot. Through the Science Media Centre, Petra Boynton offered an excellent comment on this latest paper, and she's expanded on it here on her own blog. It's worth reading in it's entirety (it isn't posted yet, but I'll add a link once it is, but I particularly appreciate that she highlights how, on the one hand, researchers, journals, pharmaceutical companies, and retailers all benefit for the production of a "debate" about the g-spot, and, the other, the people who all this information is being targeted to, lose.

There's nothing wrong with the slow and steady development of a body of knowledge. And in and of itself I'd like to say there's nothing wrong with this paper. Only then I read the discussion. In it the author offers a framing for the "controversy" surrounding the g-spot. Have a read:

"The absence of the identification of the G-spot as an anatomic structure created considerable controversies and a biased interpretation of the scientific results worldwide, leading to a monolithic clitoral model of female sexual response. However, women have held the unwavering position that there are distinct areas in the anterior vagina which are responsible for a sensation of great sexual pleasure. "

So first, in case you missed it, what he's describing, among other things, is the impact of the women's movement on public discourse and personal experience of sexuality. When he says it it sounds a bit different. If I read this correctly his understanding of what's happened is men and the media have been pushing some "monolithic clitoral model" while women have all along said that vaginal penetration is where it's at.

It's a great story. But it deserves a great big "What?!?" What monolithic clitoral model? Which unwavering women? I know that surgeons think they can do everything (and when they are operating on me I guess I'm grateful for their hubris), but maybe they should leave political, cultural, and historical analysis to folks with some context.

Again, there's no reason this guy can't cut up a body and make a case, but along with a handful of other white male researchers, it's the undercurrent of aggression in the writing that gives me pause. It reminds me a lot of those men's groups that claim to be fighting for father's rights when they really seem to be about eliminating mother's rights. Some of those father's are being discriminated against, for sure. And there may very well be an anatomical structure that can be called a g-spot. Why not. But it doesn't have to be one or the other. Lots of fathers are actually trying to screw their exes out of spite. And even if there is some sac of purplish tissue on the superior surface of the dorsal perineal membrane, that doesn't actually say much of anything about sexual pleasure (which is what ultimately this article and most of the others make claims about.

It doesn't have to be one or the other. I know it's more complicated when you think that way but that's why debating is only one way of advancing knowledge, and not a particularly good way at that. But it does make for a good show.

Read more:
GlobalNews.com:American gynecologist claims to have found the mythical G-spot
Petra Boynton: G-spot discovery, medicalization and media hype

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