BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
28th of November 2014

Dr. Nicole Prause Interview (Part 1)

Introduction:

Our guest today is Dr. Nicole Prause, a sex researcher from UCLA. In this episode, Dr. Prause, Tucker, and Geoff discuss penis size preferences, what traits are more important than penis size, what traits are less important, and female orgasms.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • Women have different preferences, and some prefer smaller penises.
  • Women are pretty consistent in what penis size they want across different kinds of possible relationships. The women who want bigger girth and bigger length in a one-night stand also tend to want that in a three-day affair or long-term relationship or their sex toy. They also fantasize more about bigger girth and length. The women who want smaller are fairly consistent as well.
  • There’s a preference for a bit larger, and specifically larger girth, in one-night partners as compared to long-term partners.
  • The most preferred penis size, generally, is just a little bigger than the American average. The American average is 5.5-6 inches erect, and the preferred size is around 6-6.5 inches erect.
  • Women find most traits more important than penis size. This includes intelligence, kindness, income, cooking skills, and how stylishly you dress. The only two traits that are ranked as less important than penis size are your eye color and what brand of car you drive.

Dr. Nicole Prause’s Bio:

  • Dr. Prause received her PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington with joint supervision from The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in 2007
  • Dr. Prause’s primary rotations were in neuropsychological assessment and behavioral medicine
  • Dr. Prause is currently a member of the research faculty at UCLA
  • Dr. Prause is Principal Investigator at Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience(SPAN) Laboratory
  • Dr. Prause’s research focuses on female and male neurological, physiological, and psychological issues relating to sex

Further reading on Dr. Nicole Prause:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Geoff:
Do you want to start or should I start or…?

Tucker:
You should start. This is your research, man. I’m just here for the penis

Geoff:
So, we’re here with Dr. Nicole Prause from UCLA, who’s a dear friend and collaborator, and we’ve been working on a project we’re excited to talk about. Welcome to the “Mating Grounds” Podcast.

Nicole:
Thank you.

Geoff:
Tell us a little bit about how you got into sex research…

Tucker:
Actually, we might want to start out with these fucking blue penises on the table.

Geoff:
Yeah. What are these things on the table?

Tucker:
We’ll build from here back into the interesting things about her.

Geoff:
Viewers are wondering the backstory of these. What do you call the big one?

Nicole:
Obviously, they’re blue, so you could refer to that as Papa Smurf, maybe. I don’t know.

Geoff:
Okay. So, this is Papa Smurf, and what’s the little one?

Nicole:
And the smaller, Hilton.

Geoff:
Hilton, we’re calling that for reasons we can’t explain on the air.

Tucker:
What are you talking about? This is an explicit podcast. Don’t give me that shit. If you’re listening on the podcast and you’re either fortunate or unfortunate enough to not be watching this on YouTube, there literally are – we’ll have pictures of it. Go to TheMatingGrounds.com for the podcast page for this, and you can see pictures. I don’t even know how to describe this. This is like what you would imagine a gorilla penis to be, right? They’re these 3D plastic printed…they’re not really penises. They’re just tubes, like an uncircumcised robot penis, is what this looks like. And then this thing, the little one, is almost like a real chunky pen, like what a crayon felt like when you were in kindergarten. That’s what this thing feels like. But these are supposed to be penises, right? So, describe exactly, for the listeners, why we have two model plastic penises on the desk? ‘Cause you guys did this research, not me.

Geoff:
Yeah. We’ve been working on this for, what, three or four years now?

Nicole:
Yeah.

Geoff:
Okay. So, there’s been a long debate in sex research and evolutionary psychology and anthropology: Do women care about penis sizes? And debate back and forth. There’s a few papers, but most of the research on this is anecdotal or it’s kind of paper-and-pencil surveys where you give women…”Okay, write down, in inches, what your favorite size is,” and women aren’t very good at that because inches, centimeters, it’s hard to tell, guys lie.

Nicole:
Humans aren’t very good at that.

Geoff:
It’s too abstract or you ask questions like, “How important is penis size?” “Not at all,” “A lot,” “A little.” What does that mean? Nothing. There are a few good studies. The best is probably one that came out a year or two ago from Australia, where they project life size, static images on a wall of guys who systematically vary in their overall height, their shoulder-to-waist ratio, and their flaccid penis length, from little to big, and then women rate that. The results of that are shoulder-to-waist ratio matters a lot – that’s very attractive, and height and penis size are both important, but not as important as torso shape. So, height and penis size about equally important. Bigger penis is generally better. Women rate them more attractive. But the problem is, it’s just a 2D projection on a wall. So, what Nicky and I have been doing is wondering if you give women actual models they can look at and hold that are more like the real thing and that represent erect penises rather than flaccid – yeah, I’m fondling the small one here ‘cause the big one intimidates me. I don’t want to touch Papa Smurf. We thought if women could actually handle real models, they might give us more accurate judgments. So, what Nicky and I did was we figured out, based on the best available evidence, what is the average American penis length and girth, and then we created 33 – not just two, but 33 of these blue ABS plastic models in a MakerBot 3D printer, took all 33 models, put them in a three-tiered, wire basket setup, and Nicky recruited a bunch of women in LA to come into the lab, fill out surveys, and then sort through and say, “If you were choosing a penis for a one-night stand, what would you want?” And the penises vary systematically in length and girth. The women will go, “Well, I want this one.” And Nicky writes down, “Look, there’s a little code on the bottom, ZZ or AA or whatever,” and then they also say, “Here’s the girth and length size, the specific length model that I think represents the average American guy,” or “Here’s what I would want in a long-term relationship, like a husband,” or “Here’s the smallest penis I’ve ever personally been with in my life,” or “Here’s the largest I’ve ever been with.” All kinds of questions like that. We’re really excited about this. We haven’t finished analyzing the data yet. We haven’t published it yet, but we think this is kind of state-of-the-art in terms of figuring out female preferences.

Tucker:
These are definitely not state-of-the-art dildos, I’ll tell you that.

Geoff:
No. They’re not state-of-the-art dildos, but if we made realistic dildos, we wouldn’t have gotten it past the Ethics Committee.

Nicole:
Yeah. We had this discussion. “You want to add veins? You want to add testicles?”

Geoff:
“Want to add little herpes sores?” No, we can’t make them realistic.

Nicole:
You went there! So, just to clarify, these are the extreme ends from the average, so they go out about three standard deviations on either side of both length and girth.

Geoff:
So, there are very, very few men who are this big, less than 1%.

Tucker:
This makes me feel pretty tough. If there are guys like this, I’m doing good.

Geoff:
And there are very few guys that are that small.

Tucker:
If there are a lot of guys like this, then I’m lagging a bit. I’m in trouble.

Geoff:
And, you know, the average is sort of halfway in-between in terms of length and girth.

Tucker:
Yeah. So, what are some cool things you guys have found?

Geoff:
Number one, accuracy. Like, reliability of judgment.

Tucker:
Obviously, everything you’re saying is preliminary. Data’s not out, so don’t take this as the findings. This is just early discussion, right?

Nicole:
Thanks. Absolutely. Of course, the first question is, because women rarely get asked about the penis in the erect state, almost all these studies have been on flaccid state, which is kind of bizarre because…

Tucker:
That doesn’t make sense. Who has sex with a flaccid penis?

Nicole:
It’s tough. Yeah.

Tucker:
It’s hard. Like putting a marshmallow in a slot machine.

Nicole:
Or not hard. Yeah. So, we had them examine a model and then try and retrieve that same model after we took it away, and then we did that again in a delay to see if they were better or worse, presumably probably not better if a delay. It turns out women aren’t great at finding the same model again. They’re not great at locating the same one. It wasn’t completely off the wall, but they tended to overestimate a little bit. We’ve been saying there’s some reason for hope, if you’ve had a partner in the past…

Geoff:
So, they remember the penises being slightly bigger.

Nicole:
…larger than it actually was. Yeah.

Geoff:
But only a tiny bit, right?

Nicole:
Yes. We’re not talking three inches. You may get a half.

Geoff:
So, the accuracy’s generally good in terms of…we think they can judge the size of these models more accurately than they can judge a projected image.

Nicole:
We don’t know. No one’s ever looked before.

Geoff:
Yeah. Okay. We don’t know. We’re speculating. What else did we find? Some analyses we just did this morning, if I can talk about these, suggest women are pretty consistent in terms of which models they want across different kinds of possible relationships. So, the women who want bigger girth and bigger length in a one-night stand also tend to want that in a three-day affair or long-term relationship or their sex toy. They also fantasize more about bigger girth and length. The women who want smaller are fairly consistent. The interesting finding is what are the differences across those different relationships, short-term or long-term? What did we find there?

Nicole:
That there’s a preference for a bit larger, and specifically larger girth, in one-night partners as compared to long-term partners.

Geoff:
Yeah. We also asked what would be the penis that could deliver the best sexual experience overall, and particularly, in a separate question, what would feel best when you’re right near orgasm?

Nicole:
It was in line with the one-night partner, so that kind of makes us think that, probably, what the difference is related to is that if the partner you’re with is primarily for pleasure and that’s the motivation and you’re there to have an orgasm or have a good time and it’s not about a long-term relationship, that that may be why they have a preference for larger.

Geoff:
So, so far, it looks like women are saying, “When I’m right near orgasm, I want especially bigger girth and length compared to if I’m just sort of thinking generally about penises.” So, it looks like size matters particularly when you’re right close to that.

Tucker:
Okay, but how much size matters? We’re talking about two inches or are we saying it’s more girth, like 20%? 50%?

Nicole:
We’re talking, like, half an inch. These are not huge effects.

Tucker:
Yeah. They’re relatively small differences, right?

Nicole:
Yep.

Tucker:
Actually, let me ask you something that you guys were just talking about. You said, and this is something I think a lot of guys…I think I understood before, but I don’t think many guys understand. You said that a lot of women prefer different penis sizes, so there are actually quite a bit of women that are like, “Oh, I don’t want a big penis. I want smaller, right?”

Nicole:
Yes. Absolutely.

Tucker:
I think a lot of guys are like, “Oh, if I don’t have a big dick, no one wants me,” and it’s like, well, there’s some women who don’t want you, but then there are others who don’t – I’ve had a lot of women talk to me like, “I can’t handle a big dick.” They don’t say it to me, but they can’t handle a big dick. It’s not a problem with me, but they’re like, “Yeah, guys with really big dicks, I don’t like it. It’s painful. I want not small, but much smaller, something that can fit inside of me better.” Is that what you were seeing with a lot of women, with their response? Did you actually ask them why this one as opposed to whatever?

Nicole:
We didn’t ask them much to write things out. It was definitely more quantified. But there were also a number of women in the sample who had problems with pain during intercourse, so that could be a related issue. If you’re constantly trying to have sex and you’re frustrated because you’re experiencing a lot of pain, why would you want something that’s just going to risk having that experience again and again?

Geoff:
Yeah. So, it looks like the most preferred penis size, generally, is just a little bigger than the American average.

Tucker:
So, what’s the American average?

Geoff:
About five and a half to six inches, fully erect length. Not flaccid.

Tucker:
Right. So, women like six to six and a half, is the preference.

Geoff:
Yeah. That’s about right. And then, in terms of girth, about five inches circumference is about the average. Maybe a little bit lower, and there, women just want a little bit above that. Again, it varies. Some women are saying consistently, “I want a little bit smaller than that,” and some women are saying consistently, “I want a little bit bigger.” Is that fair?

Nicole:
Yeah.

Tucker:
I’m sure I know what the answer is, but I’ve still got to ask. Is there any way for guys with small dicks to figure out who these women who like small dicks are?

Nicole:
We’re looking at predictors.

Tucker:
If you could bottle that and sell it, that would be amazing. Or the other side. It’s much easier, if you have a big dick, to find women who like big dicks, I think, ‘cause you can just say, “Hey, I’ve got a big dick,” and you can show it to them, and it’s like, “Okay.” Whereas, if it’s a small dick, even women who like it probably aren’t going to be out looking like, “Oh, is your dick small enough for me?” Even if they are, that’s one of those things where they think they’re not supposed to like it or whatever. It’s not okay.

Nicole:
Yeah. I do think, on the flipside, to the predictors for the guys, if the women are out looking, it’s forearm length, foot size, none of that stuff seems to predict very well. But ethnicity is still the best predictor we have.

Tucker:
Yeah. There’s a ton of studies that show ethnicity actually correlates very strongly with size.

Nicole:
Right. But then the reverse, identifying the women’s preferences by appearances.

Tucker:
I was actually going to ask. Did you guys break this down by, like, do Asian women have a certain preference that differs from Hispanic or White or Black or anything like that?

Nicole:
We have those data.

Tucker:
Right. And what does it look like? Have you looked at them yet?

Nicole:
I’m refusing to look at it, but I think Geoffrey’s going to do this analysis.

Tucker:
Oh, come on. How can you not? It’s data. Why would you not look at it?

Geoff:
The sample is roughly half-Asian, half Anglo/Caucasian, so we can look at that. The general thrust of the research is trying to—

Tucker:
“Thrust of the research.” Bravo, Professor. We’ll give you a little golf clap for that one.

Geoff:
Tucker is clapping as politely and sarcastically as possible. The point is, really, develop a new method where you could potentially do this with hundreds of women and actually find what the predictors are and is it as women age and they get more experience with a variety of sizes, they learn their preferences better? That’s one issue. Are there ethnicity differences in size preferences? That wouldn’t be that surprising ‘cause if there’s ethnicity differences in actual size, you might expect that to kind of reflect what the female preferences are within that group. Women with different sexual strategies might have different size preferences, like short- versus long-term orientation. What are some other things that might predict individual differences that one could look at?

Tucker:
What about physical, actual dimensions of the vagina?

Nicole:
Right. So, most of the development around there has been with transsexual surgeries. They’re trying to define, what is an average depth? We know very little about that. We’re talking about old, Alfred Kinsey data when we look at vaginal depth and size, with the exception of the transsexual data.

Tucker:
Right. Did you guys measure that on the women?

Nicole:
No. No, we didn’t.

Tucker:
Then, that should be the next step. I’m telling you, in my anecdotal research – my anecdotal experience is that there absolutely, at least on the margins or the extremes, are very strong correlation between the size of the vagina – and I don’t know if it’s necessarily depth or depth and width or…I don’t even actually know how you measure a vagina — total capacity?. I don’t really know, but I’d be shocked if there isn’t a relationship, at least, at the extremes, ‘cause I’ve definitely been with girls who it was obvious to me that I did not fill this girl up enough. I just don’t bring what it takes, and then there have been other girls, not as many, but there have definitely been some where it was like, I was a little bit too big and painful for them, and they were like, “No, I don’t like it.” I’d have to think about it, if there’s any racial correspondence to it. Who knows? It’s not enough data, but definitely both sides. I think I’m pretty average.

Nicole:
There are two issues. On the one hand, we do have data on waist-to-hip, so we have their measurements. We had tape measures so we can look at body size, but not vagina size, per say. What you’re talking about, there is tremendous change during sexual arousal, in terms of the elevation of the cervix. So, that base is not stable.

Tucker:
Yeah. Sort of like the penis.

Nicole:
Yeah, right.

Tucker:
Like flaccid and erect is very different.

Nicole:
And it’s not a gaping hole. It’s not as though there’s a hole that gets larger, but the orientation of the stuff around the vagina changes when she’s aroused, so even if we had their measurements when they’re sitting there, how good is that? I don’t know what we could say based just on their hanging out vagina.

Tucker:
No, it’s absolutely true. No doubt. A woman who’s not aroused…it’s hard to get anything in there. Some of them, when they get aroused, you could lose your keys in there without any problem. No doubt about that. So, let me ask, is there any takeaway if I’m a normal dude? First off, there’s nothing I can do. My penis is what I’m born with, right? I think I asked you this already. There’s really no way to make it bigger, right?

Nicole:
Well…

Tucker:
There is?

Nicole:
So, there’s a lengthening surgery that does work, but it involves…what you’re cutting will gain you about half an inch. It varies a lot by men. But then it causes not to have the angle that it had before ‘cause it’s a suspensory ligament that is then no longer functional. So, you can get a little more length from surgery, and they do fat grafts. How good that looks to you is your own…

Tucker:
You mean for girth.

Nicole:
For girth, yeah.

Tucker:
Yeah. It all kind of looks like Tara Reid’s stomach afterwards.

Nicole:
Potentially. Potentially, yeah.

Tucker:
So, all lumpy and nasty.

Nicole:
And do you want to take that risk?

Tucker:
I don’t know. Only if my girlfriend was complaining. Actually, no. I’d just get a different girlfriend. Who am I fooling? Why would I put fat in my penis? But I’ll tell you. I met this nurse in Chicago once. She worked at a clinic that did penile…they basically built penises for lesbians or guys who had serious ED problems. Essentially, they would basically…do you guys remember…they would put in, essentially, this thing in the penis, right? And then, in the balls, they would put a little pump. Do you guys remember the Reebok shoes with the little pump? Right. So, she’s like, “That’s how it works.”

Nicole:
Etonics in your penis.

Tucker:
Right. And you basically squeeze your balls and it pumps up your penis. She was telling me – I don’t know if it’s as popular as transsexual surgeries, but it’s pretty popular. One of the lesbians got the surgery and they built a really nice penis for her and then she went out and got a tattoo. She came back for her six-month checkup or whatever and she had a tattoo on it, and they were like, “What is that?” So, she kind of pumped it up to show the doctor and the nurse and it was an anchor. They were like, “Why would you?” She was like, “Because I’d like to drop an anchor on my girlfriend.” I was like, “Wow! This woman’s more of a man than me!” Might have a bigger penis. And she was saying – by the way, she told me, at least at her clinic, a lot of the lesbians didn’t get super big ones. They went about six and a half, seven inches, is exactly what she said, which is a little bit above average. I think they worried more about girth than length with the surgery. It’s true.

Geoff:
I think we’re getting a sense that girth is a little more important than length. I don’t know if Nicky would agree with that, but that’s not surprising, ‘cause the key difference between the human penis and that of the chimp or the bonobo, Chris Ryan talked about this in his podcast, is human girth. The chimp and the bonobo penises are kind of really thin and kind of conical and they’re pointy. The human is more cylindrical and way thicker. The bonobo penis is almost as long compared to their body length as the human penis is. We didn’t know that until just a few years ago, but it’s really a great girth difference, that it looks like, in my view, human females throughout prehistory were kind of selecting particularly for penis girth and shape. But we also asked women how important is penis size compared to a bunch of other traits. You want to talk a little bit about what we found there?

Tucker:
Here’s an important thing.

Nicole:
Yeah. So, I guess we have two data points that speak to the importance of this issue, and one is this list of traits where we just had them say penis: more important, as important, less important. By and large, I think we had kindness was more important. I think even cooking skills were more important. It went all the way down. Penis size was more important than eye color and the type of car they drove.

Geoff:
Right. The only two traits that were even less important than penis size were your specific eye color and what brand of car you drove.

Tucker:
So, getting a Ferrari didn’t help. It helps with a certain type of girl, no doubt. And it definitely helps with dudes, which is super weird. Guys are always a little commenting on my – I don’t have a Ferrari, but they always comment on my car. I’m like, “You’re a dude. What’s wrong with you? Why would you care what kind of car I drive?” It is. It’s sort of like purses with women or something.

Geoff:
Yeah. Intrasexual competition. Yeah, the women are saying the things that are more important than penis size are kindness, intelligence, earning potential…What else did we ask about?

Tucker:
Not what they earned. Earning potential.

Geoff:
Yeah. I think.

Nicole:
It was income.

Geoff:
Yeah. Income. Oh, even how stylishly you dress was rated more important than penis size. So, the takeaway from all of this, I think, is yes, women prefer penises that are a little bit bigger than average, we think, but not a lot bigger, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal compared to a lot of the other traits that Tucker and I have been harping on throughout all these podcasts. All these mental and moral and social traits seem to be more important. But it also varies. For some women, it’s more important than for other women.

Nicole:
Right. So, I’d say the second thing we did ask about is have you ever ended a relationship where penis size was a factor, and if so, was it because it was too large or too small? It was a minority of the group that said that that was a factor, but it was still…

Tucker:
About how many?

Nicole:
I know. So, we had 75 women and I think we had 15 or so that said they’d broke up with someone because of penis, in part. Not because, but in part because a penis was too small, and then we had maybe five that said because it was too large. So, there’s definitely a lack of balance there, where small is more of an issue, but in no case did we have someone saying that, “God, I just couldn’t do it. Everything else was perfect, but—“ yeah.

Tucker:
Yeah. It was one part of the thing…yeah.

Geoff:
And that’s only about twenty percent of women saying, “I have broken up with at least one boyfriend because his penis was too small, among other things.”

Tucker:
Did you guys study, at all, like…this probably doesn’t fall within the privy of this study, but what women thought was, sexually, as important as penis size? Like, is that guy good at cunnilingus? Is he a good kisser? Shit like that. Did you study that stuff at all with this?

Geoff:
No, we didn’t ask about any of the other aspects of sexual behavior, did we?

Nicole:
I think the only thing we had space where they could write in and said, “Is there anything you think men should know about preference in penis size?” And there was a lot of motion to the ocean kind of responses in that. Just knowing how to use what you have.

Tucker:
So, when women say that…I kind of know what they mean. What do you guys think they mean? You’re a woman, so I assume you should know.

Nicole:
I represent all women. Great. What’s interesting was, even in their responses, when they would write these things out, they weren’t terribly specific. They were just like, “You should just know,” which I think is a bit of a problem for me, because it’s like, you can’t just guess and say, “Hopefully he figures it out and if he doesn’t it’s his fault.” I was like, alright, ladies. Come on. Take a little responsibility here. There was a lot of, “It can work either way if he knows how,” but they didn’t say specifically, like, “If he could do this,” or, “If he does that.” It was very general.

Tucker:
Yeah. I see that a lot. That’s one of those things where I wonder, it’s almost a test for men. “You should already know,” is one of those things where it’s not that people think you should actually know shit without knowing it. It’s more that’s people’s way of saying, “If you know this, then it means things about you that are good. If you don’t know, it means things about you that are bad, so I’m trying to figure those things out without explicitly saying I’m putting you through a fucking test,” which always sounds really creepy and weird, but it’s one of those things where it’s like, yeah. At least, that’s always been my experience, is that woman’s like, “If I have to tell you, you should already know.” It’s not like a school test. More like…it’s a major indicator to me of something important about you if you don’t understand this on your own or if you haven’t already figured it out. Then, it tells me a big piece of information about you.

Geoff:
It’s almost as if there’s a female instinct for preserving the sanctity of that signal and keeping it reliable. It’s like if you give away the answers to the SAT test.

Tucker:
Right. Or the IQ test. I had to fucking lie and cheat and cry my way into getting the answers for the IQ test. Right.

Geoff:
Exactly. So, the women are like, “It’s vaguely, whatever motion in the ocean. I’m not going to explain it, ‘cause if I did, you’d go blog about it.”

Tucker:
Hold on. It’s not just that. I think it’s more that they don’t know. It’s like the old quote about pornography. “I’ll know it when I see it, but I can’t tell you what it is.” Not like I won’t tell you or not even that I don’t have the ability. It’s just very difficult to articulate, in words, a concept or an experience that is not verbal, you know?

Nicole:
There’s also some preservation risk. So, as soon as Cosmo puts out, ”You should stimulate the back of her knee. That’s an erogenous zone,” then all of a sudden all the guys are tickling the back –

Tucker:
A bunch of weirdoes are, like, grabbing her knee.

Nicole:
Yeah. There’s the risk of, if you give a rule, you can’t just follow the rule.

Tucker:
Oh, my god, yes. Every fucking dude, like, “I don’t understand. You told me these six things to do, but what exactly do I do?” I’m like, I can’t hold your dick for you when you piss! At some point, you actually have to do things and learn a little bit on your own. Dudes are the worst with that. The worst. They literally want a checklist. Talk to girls. Say this. Touch her bra. They want a checklist, and it’s like a video game. Unlock the fucking door and now I’m through. No, dude. It doesn’t work like that. There’s a difference between the weird Asperger’s guys who want a checklist and being like, “Oh, just figure it out.” There’s a big space in between. I think a lot of women, especially, don’t think about it. ‘Cause you guys. It’s clear as day. A lot of women will say they want certain things, but then what women react to is not always the same thing. Men, too. In any number of domains, what people say is not always the same thing.

Nicole:
It’s helpful. We have a couple of studies now where we’ll take the male example where they just gave these guys a model of a penis drawing and they said, “Is this the best area for orgasm for you or is this the best area?” And they labeled shafts separately from frenulum separately from testicles. Most guys tended to cluster around frenulum, but there was a lot of variability. Even for men, if that’s something that’s supposed to be so straightforward and they’re not consistently picking one area, why would women? You can’t say, “Oh, get the clitoris and if you get the clitoris, you’re good.”

Geoff:
So, explain for the listeners where their frenulum is.

Tucker:
Right. ‘Cause we’re going to get a good twenty emails about that. So, what’s on the model?

Nicole:
You know what? We can get close. So, if this is corona, the tip, it would be aimed down, so we’re talking about just underneath the crown.

Jason:
Describe that a little better for radio.

Tucker:
Right. So, dudes. Take your dick in your hand. Move your hand up the shaft to the head, like when you’re jacking off. Feel, with your index finger, right underneath the head. That little sensitive part looks like a little bridge on the bottom. That’s the frenulum. That good, Jason?

Jason:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Alright, excellent.

Jason:
I just wanted that for myself

Geoff:
Well, a kind of theme of a lot of your research is that people don’t have that good an insight into what’s going on with their bodies or what they’re actually responding to and what areas of their erogenous zones women are actually responding to or where orgasm is happening, subjectively. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and the debate about clitoral vs. vaginal orgasm?

Tucker:
Oh, the g-spot. Yeah.

Nicole:
Oh, that too. That has a lot in there.

Tucker:
That’s a great discussion, ‘cause some guys are like, “Yeah, dude. Just got to find her fucking g-spot.” I’m like, dude. When’s the last time you learned something about sex? The 70’s?

Nicole:
Right. There’s a lot of anatomy we’re still learning quite a bit about female genital physiology, which is scary, but I think that should tell you right off the bat that, if women even know themselves, the scientists often don’t know. We still don’t know how things are all necessarily connected. We do not know how orgasm is triggered at the moment that pushes you over the edge, so we understand the basic…the spinal cord and how the contractions happen and that type of physiology. If we knew how to just trigger it, we could just do that and wouldn’t have some of these complications.

Tucker:
Right. Pair that with virtual reality and people might not be going on dates anymore.

Nicole:
Yeah. We can all just hang out inside all day and play the video games. So, right. Even with female genital physiology, there’s this whole area of research broadly called coherence research, and the whole idea is these two things don’t map together. Women say they’re aroused and their vagina doesn’t show evidence of it or vice versa. They’re wet, but they say, “I don’t feel aroused.” We’re trying to understand when those two things vary independently, why that is, what predicts that, or the things we can do to bring them better in line, or is it our instrument problem? It could be all kinds of things at this point.

Geoff:
So, you’ve done a bunch of work with vaginal photoplethysmographs, right? Which is a probe that goes into the vagina and it emits some light and the light reflects back from the vaginal wall, and the wetter and more lubricated the woman is, the more light reflects, and you can measure that, right?

Nicole:
So, that’s actually part of the debate. They claim it’s not the lubrication. They claim it’s vasocongestion.

Geoff:
Oh, the amount of blood.

Nicole:
That means how much blood is in the vaginal wall, and we don’t know if that has anything to do with lubrication. So, even the instruments we use, there’s a lot of debate about are these the right instruments to be using? Because no woman says, “Oh, god. I’m just so vasocongested.” Women don’t say that.

Tucker:
But I’ll tell you, I’ve definitely been with women where it was, like, they were very into me and we’re kissing, making out, and then she’s ready to hook up and we start and she’s still kind of dry and she’s like, “Yeah. It’s just the way I am.” Definitely. Or other women who zero to sixty in less time than a Tesla.

Geoff:
And often, women are showing responses with these measurement tools that reflect either lubrication or blood engorgement in the vagina, like if they’re watching porno. They’re saying, “I’m not aroused.”

Tucker:
That’s more of a social thing. “I’m not allowed to be aroused by porno,” or something, right?

Nicole:
We’ve tried all kinds of things. We’ve put vibrators on. We’ve had them fantasize. We’ve shown them porn. We’ve played porn just in their headset, so just audio, and that’s the most common pattern, is that they seem to be responding genitally but they’re not reporting having that experience. So, to what extent is that them not knowing their bodies or the methods problem in that we’re not measuring the right thing or…it would be a weird environment to be deceptive in, because there’s no one in the lab that you’re trying to impress.

Tucker:
Yeah, but it’s got nothing to do with people in the lab. It’s got to do with the story you tell yourself.

Nicole:
So, there, you might expect the difference. So, I hear what you’re saying about, “Oh, I don’t want to say that I responded to that porn.”

Tucker:
Right. But even for yourself. Not even about you or the researchers. It’s like, people’s identity are very much tied not just to what they believe but what the world thinks about what they believe. And this is basic branding knowledge, marketing knowledge, right? So, why do women care about Chanel purses or men care about Ferraris? It’s ‘cause they feel like that doesn’t just tell the world the story about them. It tells them a story about who they are, right? Which is why you can’t have a reasonable debate about politics with anyone. Because it’s not a debate about politics. It’s about identity. “I’m a good person because I believe women should have choice in their bodies,” or, “I’m a moral person because I believe life starts at conception.” Whatever. So, it’s no longer a discussion about facts or nuance. It’s now a discussion about who I am because of my beliefs. So, absolutely. I don’t know about this research, but I can tell you absolutely, people will very consciously lie to themselves about things going on in their own body, have nothing to do with neurological, physiological responses, because it’s important to them and their identity that they think they’re not that type of person, whatever that is.

Nicole:
It’s interesting that you think the bias would go that way, because my guess would’ve been that it would go the other direction, that women want to think of themselves as very sensual, sexual, hyper-responsive. So, the fact that they would go the other direction…

Tucker:
I can see it going both ways. It might go both ways with different women. You can take one woman and she’s like, “I would never respond to porn,” and she’s sopping wet, and you can take another woman who’s like, “Oh, this is so sexy.” You take a 19-year-old college girl who’s immersed in hookup culture and thinks whatever, she might say one thing and her body reacts differently, absolutely. You take a 39-year-old woman who’s churchgoing and all this sort of stuff, and she might say the opposite thing and her body react the opposite way. I could totally see that. The analysis applies either way. You can go either way, I think.

Nicole:
I can see in their real-world experience, like you were mentioning, that sometimes that disconnect, I don’t know if people realize we’re just talking about their tremendous variability in lubrication just by menstrual cycle, where they are in their cycle that could effect that. If they’re taking antihistamines. There’s all this stuff where she’s not lying. She may really be into you and her body’s not responding.

Tucker:
There’s been a lot of studies, I think, about showing gay porn to guys and…what is it called when a dick is hard or whatever?

Geoff:
Penile tumescence.

Tucker:
Tumescence. That’s it. There’ll be guys and basically every straight guy is like, “No gay porn,” but something like 30% of the guys showed at least some reaction and 10-15% get fully erect in certain scenes or whatever. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gay, but something’s going on somewhere because if you’re getting an erection watching something, you know?

Geoff:
I’ve heard secondhand reports that the more homophobic a guy is, the more anti-gay he is in terms of his political attitude, the more those guys respond to those studies. Is that true?

Nicole:
That’s an old study that has not been replicated that I’m aware of.

Tucker:
Did anybody try to replicate it?

Nicole:
So, I know they’ve been looking more recently. They call it specificity now. So, trying to see to what extent, if a guy says he’s bi, does he really respond equally or is it that he’s more gay? I don’t know why we’re so obsessed with this, but they’re finding pretty high specificity, is what they generally report.

Tucker:
So, what does that mean?

Nicole:
It means if a guy says, “I’m straight,” and you show him homosexual porn, he does respond. Again, he’s in the lab and he probably doesn’t want to respond. These are measures where they’re measuring the penis, so maybe if you got some brain measure or something, maybe that’d look a little different, but the brain stuff they’ve done so far looks pretty similar. But yeah, what’s he doing with that? It could just be, “I’m looking at gay porn, but it’s reminding me of all this other stuff I did with this woman last weekend and because of the sound or they were on a boat and I was on a boat and it was great.” Who knows? So, your mind does all kinds of things with that.

Tucker:
Yeah. It makes all kinds of associations or whatever. Yeah. It’s not clear.

Geoff:
Yeah. We were talking a little bit yesterday about the sort of push for women to almost brag in a kind of one-upsmanship kind of way about their sexual responsiveness and the kind of Cosmo Magazine culture, that you should be having multiple orgasms and orgasm left and right and all over the place and that’s normal and you were expressing a little skepticism about that and that there might be, often, a kind of disconnect, even, within women between are they having orgasms physiologically vs. when they think they’re having orgasms?

Nicole:
Right. Some of the reports, like Cosmo, when they say, “Oh, I have ten orgasms in two minutes,” I say, well, what we know about the physiology and the contractions, time wise, that actually isn’t possible. So, what is it that these magazines are writing about and putting pressure on women and then women putting pressure on each other and then reporting to their guy, “Oh, yeah. I totally…yeah, that was ten times for me.”

Tucker:
I’ve totally had women lie to me. And I’ve never been like, ”Oh, baby. We’re going to keep fucking till you cum.” I’m not that type of dude. But she goes, “Oh, yeah. Whatever,” and later on, they’re like, “No, I never came.” I’m like, why would you tell me? I don’t care. I’m happy to help you if you want, but my identity is not wrapped up in your – but yeah. A lot of women have done that. I wish…That would’ve been so cool, if I had actual hard data about my own life so I would know, here’s what you think and here’s the truth.

Nicole:
“Now that I’m leaving, could you fill this out and mail it to me?”

Tucker:
That’d be amazing. But in my experience…there’s three types, basically, and this is large overlap, so I don’t want to make it be like this is a very binary thing. But there’s women who have a lot of trouble orgasming and either don’t orgasm or it’s very difficult for them. There’s women who basically orgasm almost every time they have sex or 80% of the time they’re into the guy at all, they’re orgasming. Then, there’s the ones in the middle where it’s very context-dependent, and for the most part, it seems like the ones in the middle respond really well to combined emotional/physical cues, whichever ones are the ones that trigger them. I have very rarely come across a woman who was in one category and somehow I magically moved her to a different one, you know? It’s not like some girl’s like, “Oh, I’ve never cum,” and then she cums every time with me or something. Maybe one or two, or at least ones that said it. Basically none, and vice versa. Although, if there’s anyone shifting, it’s ones that can cum sometimes, but they didn’t cum at all with me and that just didn’t last long. “You’re not into me. I don’t blame you.” But it’s not easy, at least in my…but again, that’s women talking about this stuff to me, which is—

Nicole:
And what are the orgasms? So, this is the other question, is these ones who say it’s 80% of the time, it’s 90% of the time, that’s unusual. That’s a pretty high consistency for a female.

Tucker:
You should talk – Veronica’s like that. She’s 80-90% of the time we have sex. And I’m like, “Baby, don’t lie to me. It’s fine.” She’s like, “I’m not lying to you.” Her and then another girl I dated, who is actually a nurse, too. I don’t think she was acting because why would she? It was actually kind of annoying. I would get aggravated because it was, like, every 90 seconds, 2 minutes, it was like she had this shudder of whatever and I was like, I’m trying to fuck here, baby, and you’re having a fucking seizure. Seriously, I would go as fast as I could with her because anything more than – you know, who’s fucking more than five minutes anyway? I’m talking actual penetration. Anything more than three minutes, it got annoying.

Nicole:
But in those cases, that absolutely could be the case. We don’t know a lot about it, but I doubt it. What experience was she having when you say she’s having seizures? These are contractions. They’re not seizures.

Tucker:
And not, like, epileptic seizures.

Nicole:
She seemed to be having some sensation. Right. So, there’s a lot of question in the field, and I’m definitely biased as a physiologist. I’m looking for a series of contractions that are highly stereotyped that occur in the vagina and in the anus.

Tucker:
Right. Could there be different types of orgasm?

Nicole:
There very well could be, and some people have done that with questionnaire research, to say do you have warm sensation orgasms vs. contracting? The funny thing is that those contractions are highly specific. They don’t occur any other time, so to me, that’s the marker. But if you’re reading Cosmo and you think that’s your orgasm and you’re like, “I can’t possibly have ten in two minutes like that.” It may not work that way.

Tucker:
Male orgasm varies, too. I don’t think it varies as widely as female, but there are times when I’ll be with a girl I’m really into or it’s really intense sex or it’s really great, and I’ll slip out or whatever and my fucking load hits the wall. It’s coming out like a rocket, right? Other times, it just kind of leaks out like squeezing a zit and that’s it. Sensation varies. It’s never bad, but there are times where I’m like, alright, whatever, and other times where I’m like, let’s do that a lot more. You know? That was amazing. Has anyone studied that at all?

Nicole:
We talk about this a fair amount in the field, that it’s not fair, that we treat guys like they’re an on/off switch. “Oh, women are so complicated and you’ve got to turn this dial and tune that, do this to get them off, and guys are simple.” A lot of the male researchers are upset about that, because they say, “You’ve got to talk nice to us, too.”

Tucker:
I’m not sure that we’re as complicated as women, physiologically, but there’s definitely, in my experience, especially masturbation’s very different than sex. And then, within sex, there’s a wide range. There’s definitely times where it almost feels like…I don’t want to say I’m not coming, but I’m like, that was kind of weak. It’s almost like a fake cum or something like that. It doesn’t happen a lot, but sometimes, and other times, there’s definitely a bell curve. Most of them are in the middle, but there are times on the ends.

Nicole:
Yeah. We know very little about, outside of the stereotyped contractions, what goes into what we’re calling climax, what we’re calling orgasm, what’s going on in the brain. That’s very hard to capture because usually people are wiggling when they’re having an orgasm and that means our brain measures are tough.

Tucker:
Yeah. You can’t put them in MRI.

Nicole:
You can, but it’s like trying to immobilize – we’re doing it right now.

Tucker:
How are you getting…So, I lay in an MRI machine and my girlfriend comes in and blows me?

Nicole:
There’s a German group that essentially does that.

Tucker:
Is it the girlfriends or is it a hooker? What do they do? That lab must be hard to work in if that’s part of the deal.

Nicole:
Their partners will come in with them and give them a hand job, basically.

Tucker:
A hand job?

Nicole:
But you have to control lots of stuff with this. And the researcher stands beside them with a stopwatch so he can accurately time the onset of orgasm.

Tucker:
Well, that’s terrible. Are you asking me out? What the fuck? I can’t imagine anything less romantic. A girl who can get me off that way is, like, a master at hand jobs. ‘Cause I hate hand jobs to begin with, ‘cause I can do it better than any girl, so why would I want a girl? Mouth, vagina, or let’s do something else, right? In an MRI machine with a German dude, no less, and a fucking stopwatch. Holy shit. That’s like describing sexual hell to me.

Nicole:
Yeah. This is the Dutch group, and I was cracking up when they described the protocol to me because those are some pretty high performers that you’ve got there.

Tucker:
Can you imagine that porn? I would watch that porn just for the humor, if they filmed that. Like, the German and the MRI study porn. Oh, my god.

Geoff:
And your head’s in a huge donut-shaped magnet and it’s loud, and you know that every brain response is being recorded and analyzed.

Nicole:
If that does it for you, maybe that’s the kind of volunteers they had.

Tucker:
I might have been able to do that when I was 19. Maybe. That’s about it.

Nicole:
They didn’t recruit folks that were all just young students. It was a whole smattering of different types of folks, but they’re also trying to some of this at Rutgers, we’re trying to do some of this in Pittsburgh.

Tucker:
Pittsburgh?

Nicole:
Yeah. So, in our case, we’re actually running a vibrator into the MRI and one of the big complications with methods there is we have to get something that’s strong enough and nothing can be metallic that’s in the environment. So, we can’t just take a magic wand into the…

Tucker:
You can get the…I don’t know. I’m not a dildo expert, but there’s the ones from the plastic…

Nicole:
They almost all have metal inside of them. There have been a lot of fun methods questions, trying to figure out how to get enough intensity into the MRI that we can standardize the stimulation.

Tucker:
Do you have a lab assistant holding it?

Nicole:
It’s worse than that.

Geoff:
If you have a vibrator with metal near the MRI machine, the magnet will pull it and knock the subject out and it’ll be a disaster.

Nicole:
Flying dildos, cuts everywhere.

Tucker:
That’d be amazing. Who’s holding the dildo? It’s not the woman.

Nicole:
Software is controlling the vibrator.

Tucker:
Wow. Well, I know when I fantasize, I think about lines of code.

Nicole:
So, this is what’s crazy about it. When we started this, we really wanted to try to automate it so we could say this is what we put into the system so we can say what the response was in a kind of standard way. We said, alright, let’s try it. Let’s see if we can come up with something that works. There wasn’t anything published that was really standard like that, and we wanted it to work for men and women. So, we came up with something that actually seems to be working pretty well and the feedback we’ve been getting from participants is that they are surprised, sometimes, that it works. They’re like, “I figured it was the machine, there was no way. I was just going to have to wait until you told me I could do it on my own,” which is the option we can give them towards the end. Like, if you’re not there yet, go to town. Let us know when you’re done. But it turns out, the stimulation pattern seems to work really well for most people, and it’s getting women off pretty consistently, which surprised us, frankly. We didn’t think it’d work that well.

Geoff:
One thing I was learning from our talks yesterday is you actually have to build a lot of your own equipment. You literally go to Home Depot and RadioShack and take soldering irons and shit and build stuff.

Nicole:
Yeah. Buy your stock in Arduino boards now.

Tucker:
I was going to say. Start a Kickstarter. I know a couple people who run sex toy companies. Those dudes crush. If you’ve got something that’s working, I’m not even fucking around. I’ll either connect you to them or we can run a Kickstarter for you. Just say, put 100 grand or whatever. Find someone to partner with. I can help you find someone and if it works and women like it, we can start the Nicole Prause Sex Research Institute based off sales off the toys that work. Then you can do all the research you want! You don’t have to worry about standards or ethics or whatever telling you that you can’t have a real penis or a real-looking penis. Instead, you have to have this robot penis.

Nicole:
Still got to have standards and ethics, but…

Tucker:
You know what I mean. The boards. The old men telling you can’t study women’s pleasure.

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