Things are getting messy in the debate about female ejaculation.
A new study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine has some women hot under the collar for claiming that female ejaculation, or squirting, is nothing more than involuntary urination. According to the researchers, it's just pee.
Not so, responds some women, however, who are calling bullshit on the findings, arguing that a seven-person study can't negate what they know from years of personal experience. Enter #notpee, the trending Twitter hashtag women are using to challenge the study and assert their own realities.
But this debate is about much more than the mechanics of female ejaculation — rather, it's about breaking down stigmas too often associated with women's sexuality.
History is filled with examples of shaming women's sexuality. When an act is marginalized and labeled abnormal, the natural reaction is to feel shamed for doing it, let alone enjoying it. Squirting is the latest aspect of sexuality being treated this way, but it is far from unique. Indeed, history is fraught with examples of women being told their sexual experiences are wrong, unnatural or something to be embarrassed of. Vibrators were originally invented to treat women for "hysteria," a disease that was believed to only affect women — and women still admit to feeling ashamed about masturbation. Talk of "queefing," meanwhile, is still bound to make people blush.
As Frankie Mullin writes over at Vice, the history of "squirting" is actually pretty long and controversial, involving issues of a woman's body and even sexual identity. Quoting Alex Dymock, a researcher in the history of human sexuality, Mullin notes, "Female ejaculation functioned as yet another locus for fear of sexual excess or aberration in women, which not only symbolized their failure to conform to sexual passivity but also their failure to fulfill their reproductive function."
In this context, shaming women for this natural and harmless act is nothing more than yet another way to shame them for sexuality. And the women of #notpee have had enough.
When it comes to sex, "normal" is judged differently for men than for women. The difference in the way we characterize male ejaculation — as something perfectly normal — adds further insult to injury. This double standard for judging men and women, reflected in nearly every aspect of sex from virginity to contraception, was perfectly highlighted when the U.K. banned female ejaculation from porn just last month.
As Mullin noted at Vice, the U.K.'s new porn rules state "female ejaculation can be shown in short sequences, but it cannot 'land on anyone' and must not be 'consumed.'... This is in stark contrast to jizz, which can be fired liberally over any part of a woman and may be guzzled on camera in unrestricted quantities." Indeed, "swallowing" is unbelievably commonplace in mainstream porn.
In short, an act that's normal for men is not only abnormal for women; it's also inappropriate and subject to censorship and stigma.
Science needs to take women's sexuality seriously. Stigmas surrounding female sexuality take extra strong hold when we don't even have the facts to correct them. When it comes to the "ejaculation vs. pee" debate, the fact is the science and medical community actually hasn't come to any consensus over what seems like a basic function of the female body.
Science papers published as recently as 2007 have had to wonder, "G-spot and female ejaculation: Fiction or reality?" And for all the studies and experts asserting that female ejaculation does exist, we still have doctors in 2014 saying it's just pee.
While science struggles to answer questions about female sexuality, so much of the female sexual experience is simple labeled "myths" — the G-spot is forever elusive, women don't actually crave sex like men, female ejaculation is nothing more than involuntary urination. The result is that women often feel left out of the conversation or misrepresented, with their real-life experiences invalidated or erased. Not to mention that most mainstream conversations on sex have historically been shaped from the male perspective.
The #notpee hashtag is really about embracing women's sexuality. Ultimately, his debate isn't about whether or not you believe female ejaculation or squirting is urine, or even has trace amounts of urine. It's about empowering a woman's right to her own sexuality instead of shaming people for their sexual experiences or invalidating those experiences as illegitimate.
Sex is about consent and pleasure, for both men and women. As one blogger put it: "Here's the thing about female ejaculation, whether you're on team #pee or team #notpee, a squirter or non-squirter, or a partner thereof: JUST ENJOY SEX. There's enough shame in sex, even without the Great Ejaculation Debate."