Finally, the time has come: the Super Orgasm has landed.

Back in October 2016, Scarlet Ladies’ own Jannette was involved in scientific research into multiple orgasms for a Channel 4 documentary – and last night it finally aired. It made compelling viewing. Not just because of its findings, which are important, but because I know what was going on behind the scenes as that documentary was made. I witnessed at first hand the emotional hardships, trials and tribulations that Jannette experienced as she subjected herself to the tests that we saw her undergo on TV last night.

Firstly, Jannette is massively claustrophobic. This means that she is irrationally scared of enclosed spaces. Yet one of the tests took place inside an MRI scanner: a small tunnel she had to lie in. It gets worse: she also had to wear a restrictive face mask, and her head was clipped to the bed to prevent movement. I am not scared of tight spaces but goodness me, I would not have liked to be in that situation. And don’t forget that she also had to “perform” in this situation – the research required that she should masturbate and achieve not only one, but multiple orgasms. I can barely manage one in the comfort of my bedroom …

Claustrophobia was not the only thing that made it tough for Jannette to participate in the Super Orgasm documentary. Like all of us, she is not an island. She has friends and family around her, and some of them were less than supportive. Coming from a tight-knit African Christian background, she has had to put up with a lot of judgement and disapproval.

“Gosh, that sounds hard. So why did she do it?” you might ask. And it is a fair question. But you see, this study is so very important for women everywhere, because it takes us into genuinely uncharted territory in terms of our understanding of the sexual experience of women. There simply has never been a study like it. Did you know that the entire structure of the clitoris was only discovered in 2009? Two thousand and fucking nine! WTF!!!

Masters and Johnson

Since Masters and Johnson’s groundbreaking study transforming our view of human sexuality and female orgasmic capacity in the 60s, nothing much has happened to advance our understanding of the sexual experience of women. And that is a problem. On one level, it means that many women are being denied the pleasure, satisfaction and associated health benefits of orgasm. When combined with the societal stigma that still attaches to female sexuality, however, it becomes even more concerning: it means that when women do experience sexual difficulties and pluck up the courage to talk to their doctors, they are all too often sent home from the surgery with potential underlying health issues undiagnosed.

In the research for this little blog post I came across a shocking study that found that pain in women is routinely taken less seriously by doctors than pain suffered by men. The study suggests this may be because doctors make unfounded assumptions that female patients are more irrational and emotional than men, and consequently dismiss their pain more readily. This kind of sexist stereotyping becomes all the more shocking when we note that, in fact, women have a higher pain threshold than men. We need it, after all: we go through childbirth. You may have seen those funny YouTube videos of blokes being put through a taste of what period pain feels like and they almost pass out, while most women would just pause, take a deep breath and continue to go about their day.

Mainstream perceptions of the female sexual experience are just as unenlightened. I just came across an article written by a doctor that states, “’Coming’ isn’t that easy, if you’re a woman. Nearly all men can climax without difficulty, but women just aren’t built that way.” Not ‘built that way’? Really? May I remind you that, unlike men, women have an entire organ that has no known function other than pleasure. Yes, I am talking about the clitoris. We have a whole organ whose sole purpose is pleasure! So yes, we are built to experience pleasure: and what’s more, we have every right to unlock our own potential to do so. Just as we would want and expect any other part of our body to perform its natural function, so there is no sin or shame in embracing the pleasure that our bodies are designed to deliver for us.

Participating in the Super Orgasm documentary was not easy for Jannette: but it was important. Because by doing so, she has helped bring the conversation around the female sexual experience into the mainstream. She has helped create a platform from which we can build and advance our understanding of the female body and its potential for pleasure. And only when we can understand and accept women as complete, living, breathing, sexual beings, can we build a world where every woman enjoys the right to feel at home in her own skin.

So ladies, in conclusion, I am going to leave you with the message Jannette has been trying to drum into me for the last two years: MASTURBATE! The benefits are plentiful:

  1. You get better at what you practice. If you want to play in the orgasm symphony, you better learn how to play your violin. With frequent practice, your brain “learns” how to respond to stimulus: it’s all about “neuroplasticity” – the forever changing and adapting nature of our brain
  2. Masturbation will help you to better acquaint yourself with your body: and that means better sex for you and your partner. The better you understand what works for you, the better you can help your partner to understand what gets your rocks off. And as much fun as the orgasm will be for you, it’ll be pleasurable for them, too.
  3. You are more likely to know when something is just simply wrong with you. If you know your body well and it suddenly or progressively does not respond as it usually does, you will be better able to explain the changes to your doctor – and being able to do so with confidence means you will be more likely to be taken seriously and get treated appropriately rather than being sent away with a “you just need to relax your mind” diagnosis.

 

**Disclaimer: If you have experienced rape or sexual violence, you may struggle with having sexual contact, even if it is on your own. I have been there. Masturbation can be a great way to re-acquaint yourself with your sexuality, but do also make sure that you seek appropriate help. Your GP can advise you and arrange counselling for you.

Sarah Beilfuss
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Sarah Beilfuss

Co-Founder of Scarlet Ladies, featured in Glamour Magazine for my campaign #strongforgirls, raising money for Rosa, UK charitable fund for women and girls. On a mission to empower women, end rape culture and build a better world for everyone.
Sarah Beilfuss
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