Nov 09 2005

Paraplegic Women: Deeply Sexy!

In rats there’s a sex nerve that winds down from the brain through the intestines, completely bypassing the spinal cord. So rats still get off even when when kindly experimenters sever the other "three known pathways that connect the brain to the genitals."

If only there was a way for neurologists to figure this out in humans!

Wait, I know.  Put paralyzed "frigid ice-women" in MRI machines, jerk’em off with a "stimulator," and watch the fun!

Incredibly, a Rutgers neurologist has had the same idea.

It’s hard to blame the patriarchy when paraplegics are gettin’ some, but of course the purpose of this study is not to get women off, but to create a "blockbuster drug … more powerful than morphine."


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  1. Elise

    Favorite quote from that article: “There could be a blockbuster drug in this, he reasoned, if he could decode the neurobiology of female rat sex.”

    Bwahahahahaha!! It reads like some low-rent rip-off of Asimov! Priceless. Now if only there was some way to convert our newfound knowledge of female rat sex into a killer anti-nausea/pro-taco appetite stimulant. Hang in there.

  2. Ms Kate

    Why am I thinking of Liquid Sky here?

    “I kill with my cunt!”

  3. darkymac

    but of course the purpose of this study is not to get women off, but to create a “blockbuster drug … more powerful than morphine.”

    Yes, and this “purpose” got one paragraph in twenty-one in this porno article.

    How would you phrase the application for your grant?
    Gentlemen, we propose lining crippled women up and watching them dance to our command, furiously and for the for the next x years.
    Now how on earth could you get that to stand out from the crowd?
    Now take my wife. No, seriously.
    I’m getting pictures of Beverley Whipple in a severe leather lab coat.

    I’d be interested to see the detailed descriptions of the mechanics of obtaining orgasms from the men that the team flag that they are going to study. Lets hope the “stimulator” can do valiant duty up the crippled men too. Or maybe the para women can do double duty as fellatrices of the paralysed penes.

    This kind of peepshow journalism does nobody any credit. The coda about frequency, just to make sure the reader knows what F Flam fondly believes goes on in many lives, is borderline irrelevant.

  4. Zuska

    Clearly, there were no females on the NIH panel that reviewed this neurologist’s grant application. Even just one woman reviewer would have been able to point out that if you want to give women orgasms, your “stimulator” should be better designed. A tampon, my ass. Stimulate the vagina and cervix. Yeah, that’s where we all get off. With our mature orgasms, that is, after we have graduated from our infantile clitoral orgasms.

    Carnal knowledge. Love that headline. The only thing that can make really, really bad science even worse, is really, really bad science writing.

    Magnetic resonance imaging/spectroscopy was my research area back when I was still a practicing scientist and it seriously upsets me when I see what is a very powerful and useful piece of technology and science used in stupid, harmful, degrading ways.

  5. yami

    Zuska: so my understanding of the story here is that the vagina and cervix can get limited service from the same set of nerves that serves the uterus, which enters the spinal cord higher up than the nerves we normally rely on for orgasm. Or that bypasses the spine entirely, or something, my anatomy is really hazy.

    I did skim the paper, though, and while the authors don’t specifically discuss clitoral sensation they do claim all but one of the patients have “no cutaneous sensibility” below a point that should include clits’n’labia. Is that Neurologian for “we tried their clits, they’re broken”? If it is, I think they had a good rationale for using vaginal stimulators.

    Also, Beverly Whipple is second author, and though she does get over-excited about the G Spot at times, I’d be surprised to learn that she was blatantly disregarding the Big C.

  6. yami

    … good lord, I suddenly realize that I’ve begun to write like a breathless intern at Marie Claire. Big C. I’m going to curl up in a ball of shame and whimpser now.

  7. darkymac

    The only thing that can make really, really bad science even worse, is really, really bad science writing.

    This is more like I’d like to see science reported; a script for a tv program aired on the Australian public broadcaster in 1998 anatomy of the clitoris

    Interestingly, a more recent script coming from the same science broadcasting unit has toned down the feminist analysis that is evident in the first one. But it shows where MRI can deliver wonderful results. I’d not be going near a urologist who hadn’t re-studied pelvic enervation after these results.

    Which one would you say was better science reporting?
    I favour the first because it details more of the politics. But I’m not at all objective because I’m a musician in a family full of medicos and scientists and hear far too much of the Patriarchy in them all.

  8. Zuska

    First, oh thank you for alerting me to this clitoris research! And I must say, this just doesn’t surprise me a bit, given what my physiology class was like back in grad school. Those dudes teaching it didn’t have a clue about the female body, neither did the textbook. In fact, even today students are being taught things like: it takes specific hormones to cause the Wolffian ducts to develop and Mullerian to vanish in an xy fetus, but in an xx fetus, the opposite just happens. No special factors required. Nobody has bothered to look for what agents cause this to take place. (Unless there’s been some recent research I’m not aware of.) Anyway. I think both versions you cited are examples of good science reporting. But I like the first one better because it is more witty, and because the audience learns more of the history of anatomy’s ignorance of the female body. And the pictures were good. But, if you have to have a short article in the newspaper, the second one was quite good.

    Thanks to Yami for making those points. I was just pretty steamed and I admit to just skimming the article. Bad, bad Zuska – a scientist must get her facts straight in order to more effectively blame the patriarchy.

    I still think that whoever thought up that newspaper headline should be taken out and beaten, with a large vaginal stimulator shoved up each nostril.

  9. darkymac

    Yami, I have no doubt that stimulating the tip of the clitoris would get these paraplegics off in the same way as stimulating the crural lobes is reported to have done.
    However,there’s no information one way or the other in the article. Not even a journal reference for us to go and see if F Flam hasn’t been a teensy bit thick in her article.

  10. yami

    I didn’t mean to defend the jouralism, which is wretched, for sure. The study itself wasn’t too hard to find on Web of Science, though – it’s in the Oct. 22, 2004 issue of Brain Research.

  11. darkymac

    Yami, there’s no point going into finer detail than the Flam article without a web reference. The reference to an abstract of the 2004 paper is easy enough to source on the free web index PubMed
    However my point is that Flam doesn’t base her blather on it and goes into extra patriarchal territory without basis. A good journo would have referenced it.
    As for Dr Whipple, I despise ratology and the only reason she didn’t let her subjects masturbate the tips of their clitorises ( note the oh-so-careful insertion of the phrase “self-stimulation” in the paper – this would signify that the bound women were the ones pressing the switch to whatever infernal machine was vibrating the dildo) was the risk that without dermal feedback the poor women would likely have ripped their clits. The vagina is so much more robust for repeated ramming.

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