cover image Juice: A History of Female Ejaculation

Juice: A History of Female Ejaculation

Stephanie Haerdle, trans. from the German by Elisabeth Lauffer. MIT, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-262-04851-4

Gender studies researcher Haerdle debuts with a bracing cultural history that traces shifting perspectives on the sexual fluids of women and people with vulvas from antiquity through the present. In ancient China, “female gushes” from orgasms were believed to have healing and restorative powers for the woman’s partner, and in India, Tantric Buddhists claimed the goddess Kubjika created the universe from her ejaculation. By contrast, ancient Greek and Roman texts disregarded female pleasure, considering women “a flawed version of men” whose sexual expulsions were underdeveloped imitations of semen. Eighteenth-century efforts to scientifically prove differences between the male and female body led male scientists to deride the previously widespread “notion of a shared seminal fluid” for suggesting a likeness between the sexes, generating skepticism around the existence of female ejaculation that continues to this day (Haerdle notes that it’s been illegal to show squirting in British pornography since 2004 because lawmakers insist such scenes actually depict urination, which is banned). The eye-opening history sheds light on how women’s sexual pleasure has been the site of controversy and contestation for millennia, and the overview of contemporary research enlightens, as when Haerdle explains that female ejaculation has been found to consist of two distinct fluids, one a viscous secretion from the “female prostate” and the other a “watery liquid produced in the bladder,” distinct from urine. Readers will be captivated. Photos. (Apr.)