Size Matters

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December 24, 2015 by aoifebrennan

You think it’s a fallacy. A line that girls give boys to make them feel better. Size doesn’t matter. Well, the wheel has gone full circle. Size does matter – for girls as well as for boys. But before my male readers get a bit hot under the collar, this time I’m talking about women, about size mattering for women. And we are talking about half centimetres here. Really. Why am I not surprised?  Even when it comes to insecurities, men still get better (column) inches!

daniel bergner cover

So, where has this come from? Well, from a book. They say all knowledge stems from books. This one is aptly named What do women want? by Daniel Bergner and it has been putting the cat amongst the pigeons as it upsets conventional views of women and sexuality. Traditionally, it has been argued that women need connection to have sex, that they are naturally monogamous and much less likely to stray once in a relationship. Among the many foundations for these views is the paternal investment theory which uses biological evidence as its yard stick. Women have a limited number of eggs, there are significant risks in pregnancy, breast feeding takes time and basically making and raising babies takes time. Men on the other hand can spread their seed recklessly if desired. From these biological differences, society decided women are largely monogamous and men are not.


Shock horror, this book would seemed to indicate that this is not the case and women’s sexuality is a lot more active and complicated that society would like to consider. The opening chapters deal with experiments conducted by Meredith Chivers in the US. A number of short videos were set up depicting first naked men, then women, then heterosexual couples having sex, then gay, then animals. Yes, you read that correctly, animals, monkeys in fact. Women were asked to view the short sequences and report on the impact. As might be expected, they wrote they were turned on by heterosexual sex and the naked man, some reported interest in the naked woman, but most feigned disinterest in the other images. So far so good. However, the women were all hooked up to an internal monitor inside their vaginas that measured moisture fluctuations. Therefore, it was possible to get a physical reaction, in much the same way an erection might be measured. In all cases, including the animals copulating, the women were physically shown to be turned on. Self censorship seems to be alive and well.


It is interesting to note, when straight men when given the test their reported answers matched their physical arousal. They liked the straight sex and the naked woman, but the gay sex, naked man and copulating animals had no effect whatsoever.


Back to the size issue. Freud famously declaimed that clitoral orgasm was juvenile.  He argued that vaginal climax was a mature reaction. In one fell swoop he made75% of women feel inadequate, for we know for a fact (as opposed to a theory) that only 25% of women achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration.


One disciple of Freud and a great grandniece of Napoléon, psychoanalyst Marie Bonaparte conducted research in this area. She measured the distance of the clitoris from the upper entrance of the vagina. Her personal failure to achieve orgasm through penetrative intercourse was down to less than half a centimetre. In her body there was a gap of 3cms, but it turned out that women with gaps of 2.5cm or less had a significant chance of achieving orgasm. She even turned to surgery to reduce the gap, but while she retained her nerve endings, she was not able to produce the elusive vaginal orgasm.


So, men, when you next feel worried about size and performance, spare a thought for women and the 2.5cm rule.


For more insights in research and findings into women’s sexuality, read the book.

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