Good news for people with clitorises: research on pleasure and the female anatomy is finally a thing.
Between the 15th and 18th centuries, a few different scientist guys argued over which one of them could rightfully claim they “discovered” the clitoris. Once they realized the small sexual organ functioned solely for female pleasure (while some maintained it had no function at all), interest started to wane.
Today we still have no idea who “discovered” the clitoris, but we can be pretty sure it wasn’t any of those dudes. Science has certainly advanced since then, but research focusing on female pleasure hasn’t. After years of clitoral neglect from the science community, many of us have accepted the standard justification: “Everyone’s different! You just have to figure out what works for you.”
But our society devalues female sexual pleasure. In “sex ed” classes at school, female masturbation and sexual pleasure are topics that are often glossed over, or omitted entirely. (Even today, it’s not like you can just Google “female masturbation” and find a Wiki How step-by-step instruction guide. We tried.) This makes it harder for people with vaginas to not only figure out what they like, but to communicate those preferences effectively to their partners.
That’s why when we found out about OMGYes, it struck a chord. The service was created by Rob Perkins and Lydia Daniller, friends who suspected that while yes, everyone’s different, there must be some patterns or themes to female pleasure. Perkins and Daniller started doing research with friends, then friends of friends.
One thing led to another... and “another” in this case means that they teamed up with some independent researchers from Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute. This research produced a few key findings:
Everyone is different, but there are patterns when it comes to which techniques people respond to.
Because these patterns and techniques don’t have names, people struggle to discuss, explore, and refine them.
From these findings, the team developed a strategy: First, they needed to identify the scope of the techniques and patterns they’d observed. Next, they needed to create a vocabulary to talk about them. Finally, they needed to transform this work into tools people could use to discuss what they like, give feedback to romantic partners, and discover new methods to try.
The team conducted in-depth interviews with over 1,000 women-identifdied volunteers. As the research continued to clarify patterns and techniques, the vocabulary list grew into a full-fledged menu. Previously undefined techniques finally earned titles such as “edging”, “framing”, and “hinting.”
Once Perkins and Daniller had a solid list of techniques, they realized their pet project had become the real deal. It was time to share everything with the world, and they decided to go all-in: They’d use the best technology to build and share the sexual wealth.
“The tech took a lot longer than we thought,” Perkins said. “We tried lots and lots of different things, some of which are pretty funny failures in terms of prototypes.”
OMGYes eventually landed with “touchable video” technology to teach anyone who interacts with a clitoris how to harness the power of sexual pleasure. The techniques OMGYes teaches come out of extensive research with thousands of women.
The online service works sort of like a video subscription: For a one-time fee, you subscribe to a “season.” Within that season, you have access to a library of techniques and instructions for performing them. Then you practice. On a vagina. On a touchscreen.
Why? After testing many a prototype, it was clear users wanted the service to be more human than not. They needed an experience that felt as if they were learning from a good friend, or as Christina Vasiliou, OMGYes’ Director of Content Development, puts it, “a friend who is a teacher who is showing you her vulva.”
Yes. Brave volunteers offered forth their vaginas to be artificially intelligent user interfaces that detect the shape and speed of gestures. Different gestures trigger different types of feedback (e.g. “you’re going too fast”) depending on the technique being taught. With the tech in place, the service pitched itself as a way to upgrade one’s sexual toolkit and score more sex cred with one’s partner(s). As OMGYes evolved, it proved it could serve a variety of people and use cases.
And behind it all is a great application of science — one that goes beyond the "discovery" of the clitoris and puts you in charge of your own sexual exploration.