Friday Weird Science: Men Watching Women Strut

Oct 03 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

ResearchBlogging.org I actually heard about this paper from the glorious Dr. Isis, who covered it a few weeks ago with her usual panache and sparkles. Since I read her post, I've been itching to get my hands on this paper, but for some reason the journal was denied me, until this very lovely guy named Matt commented on my old blog, complete with the link to the paper. Thanks Matt! So yeah, other people have covered it before (I know I read it somewhere else, but I cannot recall, possibly Coturnix?), but I really really like this paper, and I think it's rather hilarious. And in my brain, I'm still five, so I also am amused that I get to say "orgasm", "clitoris", and "vagina" over and over and over again. Tee hee.
Nicholas et al. "A woman's history of vaginal orgasm is discernibly from her walk" Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5(2), 2008.


As any woman who is capable of both vaginal and clitoral orgasm will tell you, the two experiences are not at all the same. Physiologically speaking, clitoral orgasm only involves the pudendal nerve (though there are a LOT of neurons contributing to it, the clitoris itself has around 8,000). Pudendum is another word for vulva, or vagina. Vaginal orgasm also uses the pudendal nerve, but it also recruits the hypogastric and vagus nerves, resulting in a lot of innervation. (This also means that, since the vagus is a cranial nerve, women who have severed spinal cords can still have vaginal orgasm.) A vaginal orgasm is more intense, and the effects of it (release of prolactin and dopamine, leading to feelings of pleasure and possibly attachment) are also more intense than that of clitoral orgasm.
The authors of the paper maintain that women who cannot experience vaginal orgasm are sad, their lives a grey, dreary world. They apparently have immature psychological defense mechanisms, are more likely to suffer from global sexual dysfunction, and are less satisfied with life. One begins to wonder if this is a physiological problem, or if it's the problem of the person they're with and a lack of cervical stimulation.
The paper is full of amazing phrases like "the psychotherapeutic approach of bioenergetics" which seeks to "integrate psychoanalytic psychotherapy approaches with direct liberation of chronic muscle blocks". As far as I can tell, this actually means "convince women to relax down there, and maybe they'll have a better time". It is known that disturbances of the pelvic floor are associated with sexual disorders (do your Kegels, ladies!), and since the pelvic floor muscles are also used in body movement, the authors hypothesized that the way women walk could say something about their "pelvic tension", as well as things about their personality which may be correlated with whether or not they are capable of vaginal orgasm. To support their hypothesis, they note that there are obviously different ways of walking between heterosexual men and women and homosexual men and women, but I personally think there are a LOT of societal, cultural, and personality factors there, and that's a load of hooey. But I am not a well trained sexologist.
So basically, they had a bunch of well trained sexologists (many people assumed they were male, but in fact they balanced out male and female) watch hott Belgian ladeez walk around. First they were given a test (by a female researcher) asking whether or not they had vaginal orgasm and how often. The girls then walked 100m while thinking of being on a beach, and then 100m while thinking of a man "for whom they had thoughts of love". Then they got two sexologists and two female research assistants (I guess the sexologists were both male) together, and they rated the videos. They based judgement on fluidity of movement, sensual manner of walking, rotation of the pelvis, and energy.
The sexologists were able to predict whether a woman was capable of achieving vaginal orgasm apparently 82% of the time. Clitoral orgasm ability didn't make a different. Apparently the variables that made a difference were stride length and "vertebral rotation" or basically how much their hips swayed.
The authors believe that being able to tell whether a woman can vaginally orgasm by her walk could help sexologists to diagnose problems and help women achieve vaginal orgasm. Apparently the women who had vaginal orgasm had "free, unblocked energetic flow from the legs through the pelvis". I'm not a psychologist, but...'free, unblocked energy flow'? And apparently this relates to the idea that womenw ho have vaginal orgasm are better at psychological and interpersonal functions due to their...um...energy flow. From what I can tell (there aren't any pictures), it mostly appears that women with vaginal orgasm strutted more. Or that they were hotter walkers, with a larger stride and swingin' hips.
Aside from the several issues I have with this paper, I wish they had controlled for what shoes the women were wearing. I don't know about you, but when I'm in my 3 inch heels, I'm going to have a good bit more "pelvic rotation" than normal. And then there's the idea of "unrestricted energy flow". And here's my biggest problem, some of the women had never experienced vaginal orgasm. Why is that THEIR fault? That's SO Freudian. It could very well be the partner they're with is just not working very hard. And of course that would impact your confidence and happiness and stress. My conclusion: if you are worried about your lady's state of mind, don't immediately take them to a sexologist and have their walk analyzed. Try some at home methods first. :)
Nicholas, A., Brody, S., de Sutter, P., de Carufel, F. (2008). A woman's history of vaginal orgasm is discerible from her walk Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5 (2), 2119-2124

15 responses so far

  • CRM-114 says:

    Incidentally, pudendum is not the name of any body part. It simply means "shameful thing".

  • Peggy says:

    I don't have access to the paper, but it seems like a no-brainer to have the women in the study all wearing the same type of shoes and clothing. I know that I not only walk differently when I'm wearing heels, but also when I'm wearing clothing I feel "sexy" in.
    As you point out, a woman who hasn't had a vaginal orgasm isn't necessarily incapable of having one. I also wonder if the results couldn't be flipped around: women with more "pelvic rotation" are more likely to say they've had a vaginal orgasm. Women are frequently given the message that "successful" sex necessarily results in a vaginal orgasm. Women for whom "sexiness" is an important part of their personas might be both more likely to walk "sexy" and to misrepresent their sexual experiences.

  • I am eternally astonished at what people are able to publish these days.

  • Scicurious, I absolutely adore you!

  • Ash says:

    So second gen feminist to blame men! If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.

  • Renee says:

    I apparently don't count as a women...
    My vaginal orgasms are not even close to being as intense as my clitoral ones. Sure, other things are getting innervated, by they're parts of my body which aren't very sensitive. I mean, if I'm with someone I prefer to have a vaginal orgasm because it's certainly more intimate (and convenient), but in terms of raw pleasure and the strength/endurance of the contractions, the clitoral ones definitely win out.

  • ringo says:

    - Vaginal orgasm increases chances of conception
    - Hip sway correlates to vaginal orgasm
    - Men prefer women with more obvious hip sway
    - Women wear heels (or bustles, or grass skirts, or obi, or...) to make hip sway even more obvious
    and around it goes.

  • scicurious says:

    Ash: Hey, now, I'm not saying I blame men for the majority of the cases. I'm just wondering how many women out there feel they've failed at vaginal orgasm because their partners aren't paying them enough attention. Or perhaps because the women themselves are getting impatient and faking it. Anything is possible.
    Now that I think of it, I also wish they had controlled for the time in the menstrual cycle the women were in, and whether that has anything to do with vaginal orgasm or the way the women walked. After all, women feel more physically confident about themselves in some hormonal stages compared to others.
    And Ringo: Sure vaginal orgasm does help in some measure to increase the odds of conception, but it's certainly not necessary or sufficient for conception to occur. Otherwise everyone would be able to have one, or at least it would bear a VERY high presentation in the population.

  • Science Bear says:

    I'm thinking this should be tested in your new knee high boots.
    On a more serious note, I'm still not buying how this is considered medicinal in nature (no matter their claims).

  • Trying to discern whether a woman can have vaginal orgasms by how she walks? Like women don't have enough to feel self-conscience about!
    How about teaching men how to make their woman vaginally orgasmic, instead of this baloney. Every woman has the potential to be vaginally orgasmic.
    I bet the sexologists don't know how to use their middle finger to stimulate the A-spot, inside a woman,to give her her first vaginal orgasm!!! That would be 100 times more useful than this crap.
    I'd like to be in the same room with ALL of those women who didn't pass. Let the doctors watch how they strut, after being with a man who knows what he's doing.
    I see no reason to take their findings seriously. Women are incredible sexual creatures and should not pay attention to this nonsense.
    The author is right to have some major issue with this.
    ~ John Michael Cannon
    http://www.twitter.com/JohnCannon

  • I am a psychologist and sex therapist, and I believe this study was poorly constructed and, in my view, unethical, as it glorifies Freud's disreputed claim that vaginal orgasm is superior to clitoral orgasm. An orgasm is an orgasm! And if you don't have orgasms, so what? Does that make you deficient as a person? I think this research says more about the researchers than about the participants in the study.

  • My vaginal orgasms...
    Wow, Scicurious! Your readers are much more open than Dr. Isis's.

  • scicurious says:

    Yes, Dr. Isis, they ARE. It's sometimes refreshing, and sometimes more than a little unnerving. I guess I'm glad you all are you comfortable...

  • Arnie Kahn says:

    All women's orgasms require clitoral stimulation. No clitoris no orgasm.

  • Rr says:

    "All women's orgasms require clitoral stimulation. No clitoris no orgasm."
    Uh. I thought there was a miniority who were capable of vaginal only orgasms. I forgot the statistics/source for that, though. Plus I'm pretty sure I once got off on g-spot stimulation alone, in my late teens. It was a lot of work though so I haven't gotten around to attempting it again.

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