Just what is the purpose of existence? This question has been raised countless times by countless millions of people, wondering just what exactly they are here for. Some of those among us decide to make the study of that question their life's work, and spend many hours thinking, writing, and speaking about it. These specialists, philosophers, exist to give us some idea of why we continue to exist.
One school of philosophical thought holds that the only thing of any value whatsoever is pleasure, and that the purpose of existence is to experience as much pleasure as possible. This school of philosophical thought, called hedonism, is theoretically sound. All actions taken by human beings can be argued to have been performed because the performer discerned or imagined a tangible reward for performing the act. Hedonists hold that individuals should identify that which gives them pleasure, and act upon that knowledge to derive the maximum amount of pleasure possible from any situation. As sex is among the more powerful forms of pleasurable stimuli known to man, researchers among the biological, anthropological, and medical fields have endeavored to discover greater knowledge of human sexuality.
Sexual research is performed to provide accurate information to several audiences. The general public benefits from this research in that people develop a higher awareness of their own capacity for sexual fulfillment; they discover the extent to which their body and mind are geared to pleasure, and they learn how to exercise that capacity while minimizing the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Many people come to accept the feelings their bodies are capable of producing without feelings of guilt or shame. This is a significant event in my opinion, because I believe the path of ascension for the human race lies in self-awareness. Particularly among those cultures which are historically sexually repressive, the widespread dissemination of sexual information can bring about a very positive change in the way people feel about themselves.
Medical professionals, too, greatly benefit from the research of sexuality. Clinical research and scientific surveys give physicians more accurate data on the proper functioning of human sexual organs, allowing physicians to find more effective forms of contraception and disease prevention, and allowing more accurate diagnoses of potential problems. These more accurate diagnoses can lead to more effective treatments for sexual disorders.
Among the other major beneficiaries of sexual research are judiciary officials, who when given more accurate definitions of sexual deviancy and sexual criminality are better able to pronounce just sentencing. However, the main benefit of sexual research is that it permits the masses to greater enjoy their own sexuality.
Research into the physiology of sexual response has opened a doorway to those that understand that their sexuality is a healthy and normal part of their life. Women, in particular, are becoming more aware of the sexual aspect of their personality, a phenomenon spurred on in part by the growth of the feminist movement. Shere Hite, in the preface to The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study on Female Sexuality, directly addresses this phenomenon:
Women have never been asked how they felt about sex.
Researchers, looking for statistical "norms", have asked all the
wrong questions for all the wrong reasons--and all too often
wound up telling women how they should feel instead of asking
how they do feel. Female sexuality has been seen essentially as
a response to male sexuality and intercourse. There has rarely
been any acknowledgment that female sexuality might have a
complex nature of its own which would be more than just the
logical counterpart of (what we think of as) male sexuality
The Grafenberg area, or G-spot as it is called, is one of many discoveries stemming from the new flood of research. This discovery can enhance sexual stimulation for women and deepen many facets of pleasure for both sexes, a worthy hedonistic goal.
Of greatest impact on societal acceptance of sexuality was Dr. Alfred Kinsey, a Harvard-trained professor of biology at Indiana University. In the summer of 1938, Indiana University offered for the first time a course on "marriage," a class dealing specifically with sexual attitudes and practices. Dr. Kinsey was selected to be coordinator of the course, heading up a staff culled from the departments of law, economics, sociology, philosophy, medicine, and biology. To increase his capacity in this regard, he started doing informal research into the subject of human sexuality, which led to an ever-increasing interest in the subject. Soon he began conducting in-depth scientifically conducted interviews, but this research created some controversy among academia.
According to Vern L. Bullough in Science in the Bedroom, Dr. Kinsey was given a choice between continuing in his research and continuing to teach the class on marriage. Dr. Kinsey didn't hesitate in choosing research over teaching, and applied to the Committee for Research in the Problems of Sex for funding. Kinsey, a well-respected biologist and father of two with a proven track record of delivering results, was the ideal choice to head up a project in human sexuality, as no one could seriously question his character. He set about the task of gathering data with precision and delicacy, obtaining accurate information through thorough, confidential surveys (168-71). His first published sexual work, the classic Sexual Behavior in the Human Male of 1948, opened the door to serious scientific inquiry into the nature of human sexual behavior. The Kinsey Institute for Sexual Research, founded in 1947 as a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with Indiana University, widely disseminated accurate sexual data to the public. This was one of the key forces driving the sexual revolution.
The popular explosion of sexual research since the 1960's caused earlier findings to come under scrutiny as well, as is noted in Alice Ladas, Beverly Whipple, and John Perry's The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality:
As early as 1944, German obstetrician and gynecologist Ernst
Grafenberg collaborated with the prominent American obstetrician
and gynecologist Robert L Dickinson, MD, whom many regard as the
first American sexologist. They described a "zone of erogenous
feeling" that was "located along the suburethral surface of the
anterior vaginal wall.
Grafenberg's findings were that:
...an erotic zone could always be demonstrated on the anterior wall
of the vagina along the course of the urethra,... [which] seems to
be surrounded by erectile tissue like the corpora cavernosa [of the
penis].... In the course of sexual stimulation, the female urethra
begins to enlarge and can be easily felt. It swells out greatly at
the end of orgasm. The most stimulating part is located at the
posterior urethra, where it arises from the neck of the bladder .
This may not seem a significant discovery, but
during the late 1940's, when most of Grafenberg's research was being performed,
a debate had risen among scientists over whether or not the human female was
even truly capable of orgasm, and if so, whether there was just one center of
sexual pleasure (the clitoris), or whether the human female had other areas
within her body capable of stimulating her to orgasm.
In the opinions of the Kinsey Institute, as stated in the New Report on Sex (1990), there has not been enough research to establish the veracity of the G-spot. Other researchers, however, feel that adequate proof has been given to declare its existence (Reinisch).
As Margaret Curtis reports in an article in the January 1989 issue of Mademoiselle, many current researchers insist that the G-spot does exist, and that it opens up a new dimension of sexual pleasure when found and stimulated. But how does one locate a small area of erectile tissue within the vaginal tract? In its unstimulated state the G-spot is generally small, roughly bean-sized, and flaccidly soft. To locate it, you must seek during an excited state, because during arousal the G-spot fills with blood and swells greatly in size. According to Ladas and her colleagues, the Grafenberg spot lies "directly behind the pubic bone within the front wall of the vagina. It is usually located about halfway between the back of the pubic bone and the front of the cervix, along the course of the urethra... and near the neck of the bladder". An additional difficulty in locating this organ is that among certain women it may be dormant, and it may require much direct stimulation to arouse any response. The prevailing theory as to why women have a tactile receptor in such an inconspicuous place is that, having been evolved from quadrupeds, our sexual organs are positioned for maximal stimulation from the a posteriori sexual position, in which the man enters the woman from behind. With Western sexual practices emphasizing the male-superior (missionary) position almost to the exclusion of all others, it is little wonder that the Grafenberg area has been overlooked for so long.
A research located small regions of erectile tissue matching the description of the G-spot in all the sexual partners they have sought it in, although the response patterns varied. The sensations described to the researcher by the participants were generally very pleasant. However, this region does exist, and thanks to modern research the knowledge of it has been brought to public light.
Another interesting discovery associated with G-spot research is the incidence of female ejaculation. In "Female Urethral Expulsions Evoked by Local Digital Stimulation of the G-Spot: Differences in the Response patterns," an article in the Journal of Sex Research by Milan Zaviacic and his colleagues at Comenius University in Bratislava, this phenomena was studied in some depth. The study was conducted with twenty-seven women; a G-spot was found in all, and ten of them experienced episodes of feminine ejaculation. The accepted theory is that the G-spot is analogous to the prostate and associated glands, as it seems to produce a fluid chemically similar to male seminal fluid. This phenomenon is one that many women mistake for urinary incontinence, although the fluid released is actually quite different from urine. This is not an uncommon occurrence, as is shown in "Female Ejaculation: Perceived Origins, the Grafenberg Spot/Area, and Sexual Responsiveness," an article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. According to the introduction, forty percent of the participants in an anonymous mail survey of 2350 women (with a fifty-five percent response rate) reported experiences of ejaculation (Darling, Davidson, Conway-Welch 29).
The Grafenberg area is a valuable possibility for explorations into sexual fulfillment, although it must be stressed that there is no stigma attached to being unable to find a G-spot. Feelings of inadequacy could arise from placing too much pressure on any sexual goal, and this defeats the purpose by curtailing the pleasure experienced. However, if it is not sought as the be-all-end-all of female erogenity, it can be and is a very enjoyable facet of sexuality.
By Zach Sneddon
Bullough, Vern L. Science in the Bedroom: A History of Sex Research. New York: BasicBooks, 1994.
Curtis, Margaret. "Paradise Found? Hot Flash on the G-Spot." Mademoiselle. Jan. 1989: 64
Darling, Carol A., and J. Kenneth Davidson, Sr., and Colleen Conway-Welch. "Female Ejaculation: Perceived Origins, the Grafenberg Spot/Area, and Sexual Responsiveness." Archives of Sexual Behavior. 19 (1990): 29-47
"9011020140.AA14720@cwns16.INS.CWRU.Edu> ad094@cleveland.Freenet.Edu." G-spot Information and Testimonials. The G-Spot FAQ, Part 2. alt.sex. Online. Netscape. World Wide Web. 14 April 1995.
Hite, Shere. The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality . New York: Macmillan, 1976.
Ladas, Alice Kahn, and Beverly Whipple and John D. Perry. The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality. New York: Dell, 1983.
Reinisch, June M. The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.
Zaviacic, Milan, et al. "Female Urethral Expulsions Evoked by Local Digital Stimulation of the G-spot: Differences in the Response Patterns." The Journal of Sex Research. 24 (1988): 311-18