SFR Talk: G Marks the Spot

With Alice Kahn Ladas

Last week, researchers at King's College London made headlines around the world by declaring there is "no physiological or physical basis" for the so-called G-spot, after having quizzed 1,804 female twins about their sex lives. The news irked Santa Fe therapist Alice Kahn Ladas, co-author of the 1981 book The G Spot, which popularized "this often misunderstood female erogenous zone."

SFR: To be clear, when we're talking about the G-spot…
AKL: We're talking about prostatic tissue that surrounds the urethra. Like prostatic tissue in a male, it can be sensitive and pleasure-giving. It's clear to me that people have never read the book. The G-spot, it says on the internet here, is in the vagina. We clearly said it's not in the vagina. It can be palpated through the vagina, but not unless a woman's aroused. And even [then], a lot of women have breasts that are not sensitive, other women have breasts that are—It's the same with the G-spot.

Why do you think this is still being argued about?
People are very interested in sex. Why they did this recent study, I don't know—but it's a goofy study, because even if you take identical twins, they're unlikely to have the same lover. And whether the G-spot is reached during intercourse depends on the position—the angle of the dangle—and a woman's experience. Besides, they were only asking; they weren't examining.

You think the researchers were just trying to get a headline?
The publicity is probably good for the book. Most people your age don't even know that it was a book that started the whole thing. I'll tell you the story: When I was a young woman, women were told they were immature if they relied on their clitoris for pleasure, and needed to transfer their erotic center of interest to the vagina. This was the Freudian dictum. The sex researchers came along, beginning with [Alfred] Kinsey, who tested the sensitivity of the clitoris with a Q-tip.

That's not very efficient.
[Laughs] No. I was on the board of a neo-Freudian organization and a sex therapy organization. One believed only the vagina mattered and the other believed only the clitoris mattered.

So this was an academic turf battle.
It still is! …So, my husband and I gave women a chance to express themselves anonymously. I [took the resulting study] to a meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and met my
co-authors. The first publisher offered us $10,000. The second offered us $124,000. It became a best seller. It's now in 18 languages in 29 countries—but it's not allowed in mainland China.

Tell me how your research was done.
I did not do the research. Beverly Whipple and John Perry did the research with a group of lesbian women in Florida.

Why lesbians?
I'm not sure. My role was to see the connection—there was a vaginal orgasm, there was a clitoral orgasm, but they're not exclusive. This whole business of 'you have to find the G-spot' is silly. Being able to communicate, to enjoy your body—that's important. Whether your trigger point is your nose, your ear, your nipple or your clitoris is less important.

More often the clitoris than the nose, right?
Yeah, but you'd be surprised at the amount of fetishes around.

It's astonishing that after tens of thousands of years, we're just getting around to this.
The ancient Greeks knew about it; the Hindus knew about it—but in our puritanical culture, this stuff got suppressed. The first person to write about it in modern medical literature was Ernst Gräfenberg, a German OBGYN, and that's why it's called the G-spot.

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