W.A.P. (We Are Predictable)

Cardi B's helpful contribution to sex research.

Posted Aug 28, 2020

Q: Why is Santa so jolly?

A: Because he knows where all the naughty girls live…

(OK, it’s Give an Old Joke a Home Week, and we thank you for your time and attention—and that’s all the warning that you are getting that this blog is adult-themed)

Gosh, that Cardi B is a naughty girl, isn’t she?

My hip-hop/R&B savvy posse (of whom I have none) have drawn my attention to rapper Cardi B’s (aided and abetted by Megan Thee Stallion) latest musical offering, Wet Ass P*ssy (Henceforth, W.A.P.).

This topic is scary and ambivalent, because men are never quite sure where the balance of power has settled here, and (some) women are not too keen on other women’s revealing too much. The song W.A.P. is unashamedly about what occurs when women actively enjoy and solicit heterosexual penetrative sex.

Bad Touch

W.A.P. has elicited howls of protest, from people at pains to avoid any plausibly genuine reason that they are protesting. Rapper Ceelo Green (of all people—remember how his famous track went?) called the song "shameless" (though he later apologized). Sixty-seven thousand people signed a petition to get Kylie Jenner removed from the video. Conservative talk-show host, Ben Shapiro, thought that the (surely artistically licensed) reference to vaginal lubrication requiring a "bucket and mop" was indicative of a medical condition. [1] 

Sorry Ben, as one might say, facts don’t care about your feelings. In this case—aroused women produce vaginal lubrication, and, sometimes, orgasmic women produce sometimes quite large amounts of ejaculate which, as I have pointed out elsewhere, we have analysed, and it’s not urine.

Those that know me know that I am writing a book about the work we (and others) are doing on fertility-related aspects of female orgasm. And writing about female sexual response entails writing about female sexual selection—those traits and behaviors that women seek in their sexual partners.

I have got to the stage where some reviewers and readers have offered their opinions on early chapter drafts. I’m very grateful to these readers, by the way, and nothing I say here should be taken as criticism. This is more a comment on, well… You: Yes, you—the reader. The potential audience for such a book.

"You can’t say those things, Rob, too gross, too animalistic," it’s been suggested. Or, "The public aren’t comfortable with those sorts of details."

Love Comes In Spurts Sometimes

Maybe they are right. But it strikes me that many of our major findings about female sexuality, and its relation to female orgasms, are being ably trumpeted by Cardi B, so maybe you (get ready to clutch your pearls now) the potential reading public can, err, take it from her? Cardi B is just the latest in a long line of women singing more or less explicitly about this, for those prepared to listen.

So I’ll report her words, link them to scientific findings, and drop in a few previous female blowers of these particular whistles for historical context. Those that want extensive scientific notes will find them at the end.

In the words of Sigmund Freud, what do women want? All of the following traits have been found to be predictive of female orgasm. They aren’t the only things, of course.

1. For Their Partners to Pay Time and Attention

Cardi B: “I tell him where to put it.”

Yes indeed. Personalised and considerate attention to detail was a good predictor of orgasmic response. Why wouldn’t females, carriers of those valuable eggs, want someone who finds them deserving of hard-to-fake attention?

The Pointer Sisters (1981) made a similar, if slightly more genteel, request:

I want a man with a slow hand
I want a lover with an easy touch
I want somebody who will spend some time
Not come and go in a heated rush

2. Large, Erect, Robustly Penetrating Penises

"Extra large and extra hard" as Cardi B sings it. Dinah Walsh (1954) expressed a similar desire for a Big Long Slidin thing, while Sippie Wallace (1927) reminded her lovers that she would appear a "Mighty tight woman."

Human penises are one of the few primate penises that lack a baculum (strengthening bone), making erections honest signals of interest and health. The evidence that the reason for their size is related to human head size in the womb is weak (see below) and this seems to be a feature under (female) sexual selection. Conscious selection, too.

Should small-penised guys be worried? Well, yes and no. Yes—because penises have clearly evolved under female sexual selection despite some ingenious attempts to debunk this animal aspect of our nature.

But, more importantly, no—because we can learn to use other means: hands, dildos, and, most crucially, a skill which many songstresses stress the central importance of, namely:

3. Oral Sex

"Gobble me, swallow me, drip down the side of me," as Cardi B put it. Memphis Minnie was slightly coyer in 1938 when she enjoined her lovers to "keep on eating, baby." But by the year 2000, This Real Woman was just being upfront about the need to "Lick it before you stick it."

Many cultures promote (and teach) oral sex skills to young men. Some—like the Mangains—go as far as to suggest that the males make their partners orgasm this way several times before they put their penises anywhere near them. Furthermore, it’s a skill that probably conveys a whole bunch of other useful information about fidelity, commitment, and compatibility

Incidentally, Ms. B seems more than happy to reciprocate here (“Make me gag, make me choke, I want to touch that little dangly thing that swings in the back of my throat”).

4. Status and Generosity

"Pay my tuition just to kiss me on this wet ass p*ssy" (Megan Thee Stallion). This makes people mighty uncomfortable, and the evidence for genuine sexual response is mixed, for reasons that appear below, but at least some women report this as a sexual benefit. Some, like Denise LaSalle (Pay Before you Pump, 2011) get downright transactional about it.

5. Power and Dominance

"Tie me up like I'm surprised. Let's role-play, I'll wear a disguise… Switch my wig, make him feel like he cheatin” as Megan Thee Stallion puts it.

Do we really have to go over this again? Every generation of women authors tells us that many women respond to sexual dominance, and in every generation they have to do it anonymously. Some, such as Barbara Carr (1998) are less coy when they sang "Bone me like you own me." Incidentally, here Ms. B and Ms. Thee Stallion seem also aware of the male predisposition to be sexually aroused by variety (the Coolidge effect) and are more than happy to play along. Good for them.

WAPping it Up.

So, this brings us to some of the discomfort of it all. What about men who aren’t huge, rich, of high status, etc? Don’t despair. For one thing—almost everyone can learn certain skills--oral being a key set.

And, for another, humans are nothing if not the primate which plays. Just as the smaller fighter doesn’t have to submit to the biological trend that says "bigger always wins in a fight" so too can humans do the equivalent of learning sexual judo. In other words—we can improvise. Cardi B mentions a lot of this already. Roleplay is a key example, which I have gone into much detail on elsewhere.

But you will tell me if I’ve gone too far, yes?

References

1) https://junkee.com/ceelo-green-cardi-b-wap/265961 Ceelo Green comments

https://www.thethings.com/ben-shapiro-tweets-misogynistic-comments-about-cardi-b-megan-thee-stallion-and-wap/ Ben Shapiro comments

Bloodhound Gang made the exact same reference in ‘Bad Touch’ (‘Love, the kind you clean up with a mop and bucket’) in their 1999 release and I recall no outcry over this.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/cardi-b-wap-video-kylie-jenner-petition-megan-thee-stallion-normani-a9662586.html Petition

Digital dexterity

For more on the general healthiness of orgasms, howsoever generated, see Prause, N., Kuang, L., Lee, P. M., & Miller, G. F. (2016). Clitorally stimulated orgasms are associated with better control of sexual desire, and not associated with depression or anxiety, compared with vaginally stimulated orgasms.  ‘Clitoral’ versus ‘vaginal’ orgasms: False dichotomies and differential effects. J. of Sexual Medicine, 13(11), 1676-1685. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.08.014

Carol Wade is quoted in Tavris, C. 1992. The mismeasure of woman. New York: Simon and Schuster

Van Seters, A. P., & Slob, A. K. (1988). Mutually gratifying heterosexual relationship with micropenis of husband. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 14(2), 98-107.

On penetrative vigor:

Braun, M., Wassmer, G., Klotz, T., Reifenrath, B., Mathers, M., & Engelmann, U. (2000). Epidemiology of erectile dysfunction: results of the ‘Cologne Male Survey’. International journal of impotence research, 12(6), 305. It is worth noting that the rates of male erectile impotence—ranging from 20% to as high as 53% in some populations is never put forward as evidence that the male uro-genital system was “not designed for sexual intercourse”.

Penetrative vigour was predictive of what we termed “deep” (rather than “vaginal”) orgasms in our 2012 study. See King, R., & Belsky, J. (2012). A typological approach to testing the evolutionary functions of human female orgasm. Archives of sexual behavior, 41(5), 1145-1160, for more details.

For (yet) more on the fact that larger penises are associated with orgasms produced by penetration (and hence may be under selection) see Costa, R. M., Miller, G. F., & Brody, S. (2012). Women who prefer longer penises are more likely to have vaginal orgasms (but not clitoral orgasms): Implications for an evolutionary theory of vaginal orgasm. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9 (12), 3079-3088. The authors follow Freud’s somewhat confusing distinction between clitoral and vaginal orgasms, the nomenclature and normativity of which I explored in chapter five. Stuart Brody, in particular, advances the claim that vaginal orgasms are healthier in some way. I have to confess that I find there to be too many confounding variables to find this conclusion compelling.

Penis size & stiffness

For fMRIS of the interactions between penises and vaginas see Schultz, W. W., van Andel, P., Sabelis, I., & Mooyaart, E. (1999). Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal. Bmj, 319(7225), 1596-1600. What you will see is that penises bend, much like modern sex toys

Dixson, A. F. (1999). Primate sexuality: comparative studies of the prosimians, monkeys, apes, and human beings. Oxford University Press, USA. Dixon not only provides comparative measures of primate genitalia but advances the possibility that penises are the length they are in humans, because of the necessary size of the birth canal relative to the baby’s head. The argument goes that human penises have to be long because the evolution of a large cranium in relation to the birth canal locates the cervix a long way from the vaginal entrance. Thus this is an argument that physical constraints trump selection. However, it may not be necessary to choose one over the other. There is a well-known trade-off here in that human babies have to be born somewhat prematurely otherwise the mother would be injured during childbirth, or worse. However, if this was the main (or the only) selectional driver, then we would expect other primates to follow it. It is true that our similarly-sized primate cousins, gorillas, chimpanzees and orang-utans do not appear to experience a great difficulty in childbirth. However, other smaller primates—like many monkeys and gibbons have just as large a head in relation to the birth canal as humans, do and they do not need disproportionate penises to inseminate the females. See Rosenberg, K., & Trevathan, W. (2002). Birth, obstetrics and human evolution. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 109(11), 1199-1206, for a review of the data.

For more on how penis size is probably under selection by female choice mechanisms see Mautz, B. S., Wong, B. B., Peters, R. A., & Jennions, M. D. (2013). Penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110 (17), 6925-6930, and Stulhofer, A. (2006). How (Un)Important is penis size for women with heterosexual experience? Letter to the Editor. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 5–6.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene: --with a new Introduction by the Author. He explores this idea on pp 307-308. See also Eberhard, W. G. (1985). Sexual selection and animal genitalia. Harvard University Press.

On oral competance and its importance

Pham, M. N., & Shackelford, T. K. (2013). Oral sex as infidelity-detection. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(6), 792-795.

Pham, M. N., & Shackelford, T. K. (2013). Oral sex as mate retention behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(2), 185-188.

Reported on by Davenport, W. H. (1977). Sex in cross-cultural perspective. Human sexuality in four perspectives, 115-163

For more on orgasms generated by visualization alone see Whipple, B., Ogden, G., & Komisaruk, B. R. (1992). Physiological correlates of imagery-induced orgasm in women. Archives of sexual behavior, 21(2), 121-133.

On status, generosity and suchlike#

Gallup Jr, G. G., Ampel, B. C., Wedberg, N., & Pogosjan, A. (2014). Do orgasms give women feedback about mate choice?. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(5), 147470491401200507

Sherlock, J. M., Sidari, M. J., Harris, E. A., Barlow, F. K., & Zietsch, B. P. (2016). Testing the mate-choice hypothesis of the female orgasm: Disentangling traits and behaviours. Socioaffective neuroscience & psychology, 6(1), 31562.

King, R., & Belsky, J. (2012). A typological approach to testing the evolutionary functions of human female orgasm. Archives of sexual behavior, 41(5), 1145-1160. Dominance was a predictor here

What happens when we ask women about the pattern of orgasmic response where partner wealth is the key variable? The evidence for the association between female orgasm and richer partners is mixed. Daniel Nettle, and Tom Pollett, found just such a (positive) relationship in 2009, but then retracted their findings the next year, unsatisfied with the data crunching. James Sherlock’s team did not find an association between what they termed “high orgasm” experiencers, and high income (or high potential income) partners in 2016.[i] On the other hand, Gordon Gallup’s 2014 surveys did find an association between high income of the man and likelihood of orgasm by the woman.[ii]

How to make sense of all this? The truthful answer is that none of us are sure at the moment, but it seems likely that a number of factors are at play. High income may be seen as a marker of other desirable male qualities—such as confidence, ruthlessness, or drive. These are, after all, regularly found as desiderata in interviews, surveys, and female driven erotica.[iii] Maybe, as the protagonist of that paean of praise to greed, Liars Poker, put it “money was just a way of keeping score”?[iv] If that is the case, then it is likely that it is the recognition of other male traits that is doing the real work, and actual partner income is producing noise in the system.

[i] Sherlock, J. M., Sidari, M. J., Harris, E. A., Barlow, F. K., & Zietsch, B. P. (2016). Testing the mate-choice hypothesis of the female orgasm: Disentangling traits and behaviours. Socioaffective neuroscience & psychology, 6(1), 31562.

[ii] Gallup Jr, G. G., Ampel, B. C., Wedberg, N., & Pogosjan, A. (2014). Do orgasms give women feedback about mate choice?. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(5), 147470491401200507.

[iii] For example, Ogas, O., & Gaddam, S. (2011). A billion wicked thoughts: What the world's largest experiment reveals about human desire. Dutton/Penguin Books.

[iv] Lewis, M. (2010). Liar's poker. WW Norton & Company.

On the parautheral gland and female ejaculation.

(Bring your mop and bucket)

Grafenberg, E. (1950). The role of the urethra in female orgasm. International Journal of Sexology, 3, 145-148.Ladas, A. K., Whipple, B., & Perry, J. D. (1982). The G spot and other recent discoveries about human sexuality.

Despite an ultra-sound study (Gravina, G. L., Brandetti, F., Martini, P., Carosa, E., Di Stasi, S. M., Morano, S., ... & Jannini, E. A. (2008). Measurement of the thickness of the urethrovaginal space in women with or without vaginal orgasm. The journal of sexual medicine, 5(3), 610-618) that claimed that some females do not possess G-spots, a more likely explanation is that the gland was insufficiently stimulated in these females and thus was inaccessible. It would indeed be strange if a gland whose existence is common knowledge among anatomists was missing in a significant number of females and the lack of appropriate stimulation was not an issue addressed in the Gravina study. The researchers refer to the area as the “[H]uman clitoris-urethrovaginal complex also known as the G-spot” (Gravina et. al, 2008, p. 610) but this is an unusual usage, and not in keeping with current anatomical practice. Certainly the coiners of the term G-spot (Whipple et al, 2008) disagree with this usage. Having said, this it is also possible that modern use of hormone contraceptive has had an effect on the female prostate, whose development is known to be linked to hormone homeostasis (Santos, F. C. A., & Taboga, S. R. (2006). Female prostate: a review about the biological repercussions of this gland in humans and rodents. Anim Reprod, 3(1), 3-18.

Zaviačič, M., Jakubovská, V., Belošovič, M., & Breza, J. (2000). Ultrastructure of the normal adult human female prostate gland (Skene’s gland). Anatomy and embryology, 201(1), 51-61.

Zaviačič, M., Zajíčková, M., Blažeková, J., Donárová, L., Stvrtina, S., Mikulecký, M., ... & Breza, J. (2000). Weight, size, macroanatomy, and histology of the normal prostate in the adult human female: a minireview. Journal of Histotechnology, 23(1), 61-69.

Zaviačič, M., & Ablin, R. J. (1999). The human female prostate: From vestigial Skenes paraurethral glands and ducts to womans functional prostate. Slovak Academic Press.

Addiego, F., Belzer Jr, E. G., Comolli, J., Moger, W., Perry, J. D., & Whipple, B. (1981). Female ejaculation: A case study. Journal of Sex Research, 17(1), 13-21.

[De Graaf, R (1672)De mulierum organis generationi inservientibus tractatus novus : demonstrans tam homines & animalia caetera omnia, quae vivipara dicuntur, haud minus quàm ovipara ab ovo originem ducere

Comparative studies of structure:

Shehata, R. (1974). Urethral glands in the wall of the female urethra of rats, mice and closely related rodents. Cells Tissues Organs, 90(3), 381-387.

Shehata, R. (1975). Female prostate in Arvicanthis niloticus and Meriones libycus. Cells Tissues Organs, 92(4), 513-523.

Gross, S. A., & Didio, L. J. (1987). Comparative morphology of the prostate in adult male and female Praomys (Mastomys) Natalensis studied with electron microscopy. Journal of submicroscopic cytology, 19(1), 77-84.

Dos Santos, F. C. A., Carvalho, H. F., Góes, R. M., & Taboga, S. R. (2003). Structure, histochemistry, and ultrastructure of the epithelium and stroma in the gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) female prostate. Tissue and cell, 35(6), 447-457.

Flamini, M. A., Barbeito, C. G., Gimeno, E. J., & Portiansky, E. L. (2002). Morphological characterization of the female prostate (Skene's gland or paraurethral gland) of Lagostomus maximus maximus. Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger, 184(4), 341-345.

Santos, F. C. A., & Taboga, S. R. (2006). Female prostate: a review about the biological repercussions of this gland in humans and rodents. Anim Reprod, 3(1), 3-18.

Dos Santos, F. C. A., Carvalho, H. F., Góes, R. M., & Taboga, S. R. (2003). Structure, histochemistry, and ultrastructure of the epithelium and stroma in the gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) female prostate. Tissue and cell, 35(6), 447-457.

Custodio, A. M., Santos, F. C., Campos, S. G., Vilamaior, P. S. L., Oliveira, S. M., Goes, R. M., & Taboga, S. R. (2010). Disorders related with ageing in the gerbil female prostate (Skene’s paraurethral glands). International journal of experimental pathology, 91(2), 132-143.

Back to humans:

Perry, J. D., & Whipple, B. (1981). Pelvic muscle strength of female ejaculators: Evidence in support of a new theory of orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, 17(1), 22-39.

Addiego, F., Belzer Jr, E. G., Comolli, J., Moger, W., Perry, J. D., & Whipple, B. (1981). Female ejaculation: A case study. Journal of Sex Research, 17(1), 13-21.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/seriouslyscience/2018/08/22/7025/ On popular reporting of the idea that female ejaculate is urine. Last accessed 08/03/2019

To view the 2014 legislation banning (among other things) portrayals of urination, bondage and abusive language see

www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2916/pdfs/uksi_20142916_en.pdf   

Last accessed 15/03/2019

For cultures which promoted and encouraged female ejaculation:

Anand, M. R. (1958). Kama Kala: Some notes on the philosophical basis of Hindu erotic sculpture. London: Skilton.

Uhlenbeck, C., & Winkel, M. (2005). Japanese erotic fantasies: Sexual imagery of the Edo period. Hotei Publishing.

Mead, M. (1963) Sex and temperament in three primitive societies. New York: Morrow

For a discussion, see Sundahl, D. (2003). Female ejaculation and the G-spot. London: Hunter House.