"This is hard proof that there is a big difference between stimulating those different regions," says Stuart Brody of the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley, UK, one of the researchers in the study.
Some have argued that women who derive pleasure from vaginal stimulation do so because their clitoris is being indirectly stimulated, but the current findings contradict this. "They support the reports of women that they experience orgasm from various forms of stimulation," says Beverly Whipple, also of Rutgers University, who was not involved in the current study.
What a surprise! Turns out women who actually own clits and vulvas were right about the kind of orgasms they were having, while the dudes who were telling ladies to shut up and that they were just doing sex wrong were wrong. Other interesting things were revealed by doing these studies as well, like that stimulating a woman's nipples lights up the same brain area as vaginal stimulation:
Komisaruk also checked what happened when women's nipples were stimulated, and was surprised to find that in addition to the chest area of the cortex lighting up, the genital area was also activated. "When I tell my male neuroscientist colleagues about this, they say: 'Wow, that's an exception to the classical homunculus,'" he says. "But when I tell the women they say: 'Well, yeah?'" It may help explain why a lot of women claim that nipple stimulation is erotic, he adds.
But by far, the most interesting part of the article to me is evident in the last part of that quote: the sort of constant befuddlement/disinterest on the part of some science dudes about why/whether women work differently than men. For example, this kind of study was first done in the '50s to determine the location of the "sensory homunculus" which is what, for some reason, science calls the locations along the sensory cortex that correspond to various parts of the body. So for example, the little picture of the face on the homunculus is where your brain lights up when someone touches your face.
Only, the original study only had male participants, and it didn't occur anyone until RIGHT NOW that it might be worth checking out what women's brains are like up there.
The diagram was first published in 1951 after experiments conducted during brain surgery performed while the patients were conscious: the surgeon electrically stimulated different regions of the patients' brains and the patients reported the parts of their bodies in which they felt sensation as a result. But all the subjects were men. Until recently, the position of female genitalia on the homunculus had only been guessed at.
Sheesh, science, come on. Anyway, there are lots of cool potential applications for these discoveries, but just knowing that no, women aren't hysterical frigid creatures who refuse to orgasm during penetration-only sex because they are broken, and that yes, clitoral and vaginal stimulation are neurally different sensations is pretty cool. Better late than never?