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Hip Hop Evolution Files: What’s so special about tight vaginas?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Keri Hilson with Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne’s monologue really says it all:

mami i dig your persona right,
you look baby mama type,
i know that got you kinda hyped,
my ice is albino white,
i hope your vagina tight
i go underwater and i hope your piranha bite hahaha

Why does vagina muscle tone matter? I’m sure Wayne (and many men) would say that it’s more pleasurable. There is more friction in intercourse that both men and woman can feel. And human culture is complete with references to vagina tightness – both old and current.  I’ve overheard older women talk of vagina tightening recipes to recover from child birth or conceal ‘extra-curricular’ activities from husbands.  Most of these recipes included douches with alum, the pickling spice that causes the mouth to pucker.  Women & Mid-wives once swore by these methods. Obviously, some women still do. Have you heard of 18 Again? Dr. Rubididum at Thirty-Seven at Scientopia, deconstructs the bad science behind these methods – old and new – that claim to return vagina muscle tone to teen-age like conditions: 18 Again: Vaginal tightening quackery?

I see an opportunity to share a little science. Vagina tightness is always presented in the context of male attraction to females. So what does vagina tightness communicate to males?  At least how it is referenced culturally, I would say it is fair game for intersexual selection with some males judging female condition (and quality and perhaps reproductive value) based on her muscle tone down there.  Add to that the cultural response of many women – across culture, time and geography – to preserve or modify muscle tone to retain partners, then you have all of the plot elements of a very good adaptationist story.

For heuristic purposes (only) I present vagina muscle tone as a phenotypic trait that indicates female condition.  It communicates age, health, perhaps even a clue as to previous reproductive success.  Physiologically the female body changes with age – and reproductive capacity. As women approach and pass menopause – muscle tone changes. The body AND vagina becomes is less taut and produces less moisture. Plus, the elasticity of the vaginal muscles change with pregnancy and child birth.  Tight vaginas indicate virginity.  I have been told (by very crass men) that it feels ‘different’ down there with a woman who has had natural child birth. I’ll take their word for it.  But if men believe they can judge a woman’s previous sexual or reproductive history from the strength of her vaginal contractions, then that’s all that really matters. This adaptationist story of sexual selection has legs!

Whether the science is there or not, the market for tighter vaginas sure does exist.  And the best, most effective, affordable, and safest way to get a tighter younger-feeling vagina is to do Kegel exercises.

Obviously, people are getting the memo. Even the Real Housewives of Atlanta Starlets are on board. Former Xscape Member, Singer-Song writer and now Real Housewives of Atlanta Starlet Kandi Buress now hosts her own Adult Pleasure Line: Bedroom Kandi.  She sells weighted Ben-Wa balls called Hold On To Me.  There’s also a very good educational video about the product.

Well, what say you? Is the hype about vagina tightening just hype or is it something men (and women) are really concerned about?

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. JohnMKeen 10:53 am 12/13/2012

    The inclusion of rap lyrics marginalizes this entire article. It disappoints me to see slanguage like “baby mama” penetrating informative and cherished sites we come to for scientific enlightenment.
    Are these lyrics supposed to contain some sort of philosophical weight that I simply don’t get? Never thought I would see such utter trash on such a great website.

    Link to this
  2. 2. DNLee 11:16 am 12/13/2012

    Hi John,

    Why does science have to be so formal? I know that Scientific American Magazine has presented science enlightenment in a certain way and this is definitely a break from that tradition. But that tradition seems to attract a very homogeneous demographic: mostly white, middle-aged, white-collar administrative-type males. That’s not an attractive package for science for so many people.

    You clearly missed the entire frame of this post and this blog. I routinely use rap lyrics and videos to introduce or illustrate scientific concepts. I mean, didn’t you see the title: Hip Hop Evolution Files? Bridging Hip Hop and urban cultures to STEM is what I do. *Doing it and doing it and doing it well*

    The rap lyrics do not marginalize the article at all. Perhaps you don’t get the philosophical weight the lyrics. It isn’t for everyone. I know. But I do write for a particular audience in mind – those that listen to rap music – which includes folks who represent COMPLETELY different demographics mentioned above. I write science for mama and ‘nem and the baby mamas.

    Now, run tell that!

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  3. 3. JohnMKeen 11:55 am 12/13/2012

    While I applaud your effort to reach out to a new demographic, I find articles such as this to exclusive rather than inclusive.
    I also found your patronizing response, “Now, run tell that!” a knee jerk response to what you perceive as a slight. My “trash” reference was a reference to the content/context of the lyrics.
    Your articles are insightful and exceptionally well written however, rap/hip-hop lyrics simply lower the bar for its intended demographic: our youth.

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  4. 4. DNLee 12:40 pm 12/13/2012

    Who are you to judge what is low bar? What is trash and why do you get to appoint yourself as the decider of what is trash and what can or cannot be included in ‘good science communication’?

    Your only problem with it is the hip hop reference. Should I remove it to make you feel better? Why are your feelings more important than my own – the author of this blog? What about you – as a person – gives you authority to dictate what is ‘good enough’ to be included on this science site?

    Come on with the patronizing. Really?
    You come to my cyber home and sneer at my set up & my target audience.
    My use of rap is exclusive to whom?
    You? Because you don’t enjoy or appreciate the educational opportunities in Hip Hop or Rap Lyrics (Hip Hop Education Pedagogy)….
    So, because this frame isn’t inclusive to YOU, then somehow it is laudable but faulty.

    Please. Don’t get it twisted, because I certainly won’t.
    You don’t like or appreciate or have any use for culture mash ups and science, then that is fine. Perhaps my blog and my Hip Hop Evolution posts are not for you.
    That is your choice. There are dozens of other writers and science communication styles here at SciAm to meet your standards. But check your privilege at the front door before crossing my virtual threshold.

    Now, if you (or anyone) would like to make a comment about the topic – sex, Vaginas, the cultural construct of vagina tightness, the f/utility of vagina tightness in the context of sexual selection or evolutionary psychology, or intersexual selection then let’s get to it.

    Or better yet, challenge my song reference. I would LOVE for readers to offer additional/better song references for this topic…Now that would make a nice conversational thread.

    But my approach and incorporation of Hip Hop & Rap into my science blog posts are not effective use of comments. Lest we’d only talk about that in EVERY single one of my Hip Hop Evolution posts. It wouldn’t be productive. In case you missed it at the header: The Urban Scientist – A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences

    Okay, Homeboy?

    Link to this
  5. 5. Lynne_up_north 1:42 pm 12/13/2012

    When an article is attempting to communicate about an aspect of popular culture, who could have guessed that it would “lower the tone” to “trash” to include bits of the popular culture.

    …..As a comment on the science – actually, as you noted early on, there’s the issue of “male pleasure.” If you assume that there is an actual physical sensation associated with that, I think that you could probably stop your analysis of this particular cultural pressure (so to speak) right there, given that the commodification and shaping of women’s body parts for male physical pleasure is a pretty well documented phenomenon.

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  6. 6. DNLee 2:04 pm 12/13/2012

    I’m getting some very candid and descriptive discussions from male friends on Facebook (and little from Twitter) about sensation from vaginal tightness and ability to detect differences in ‘grip strength’ among female partners..but nothing expressly about *that feeling* and female sexual/reproductive history.

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  7. 7. Lalsox 2:21 pm 12/13/2012

    The inclusion of rap *contextualizes* this article. What’s disappointing is John Keen’s supposition that the language of “scientific enlightenment” is limited to such a narrow slice of polite discourse. The topic is vaginas, what drives desire, women’s perception of desirability, and the potentially risky behaviors they may undertake to achieve it. This is not the time for dry academic discussion.

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  8. 8. jtdwyer 3:18 pm 12/13/2012

    “I have been told (by very crass men) that it feels ‘different’ down there with a woman who has had natural child birth…”

    You may consider those men crass for telling you, but for men, I think it is almost entirely a sensory experience – IMO, at least, it is women and not men who search for sexual ‘communication’. Sorry…

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  9. 9. Don Quixote 5:43 pm 12/13/2012

    Interesting article, though pretty superficial…but you didn’t intend it to be in-depth, just a conversation starter, which it is.

    Vaginal tightness is something men definitely pay attention to; that’s kind of a no-brainer. I’m not a crass man (just a white, middle-aged, white collar administrative-type), but I can add a little veracity to your ‘tightness’ suppositions. Natural childbirth does create a distinct loss of tightness, but can be overcome by concerted effort with Kegel’s. It takes months or longer, but it works. Women who don’t want to try – you may not hear complaining from your partner, but he is thinking it. Like it or not, it does matter. A degree of tightness is an expectation. It’s not everything, but it is noticed if it’s not there. Eventually, it’s something women can’t completely overcome, but by that time we (older men) are generally just happy you’re still having sex with us :-)

    With that said, I came to your blog to see if the title actually reflected the contents of your article. SA has a number articles and blogs that are far more reflective of society’s interests rather than having any real link to hard (or soft) science. They touch on scientific aspects of popular topics, but then ramble off into the mere speculative and unsubstantiated. Your topic has potential, but (sadly IMHO) limited itself to the superficial. I prefer your research on voles; much more interesting and reflective of your research and literary talents. IMHO, this article was more appropriate for a women’s magazine. Not trying to piss you off, Dr. Lee, just my two cents.

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  10. 10. DNLee 6:19 pm 12/13/2012

    Hey Don,
    Thanks, You really think it would be a good fit for a Women’s Magazine? That actually excites me. Finding new ways to introduce science concepts to broader audiences is a goal of mine (and many in the science communication circles).

    I admit some of my posts can feel superficial, in the sense that I don’t go too deep into the science, jargon, LOTS of details of the evolutionary significance of anything. My overall goal is to find ways to engage non-traditional and scientifically naive audiences in science discourse.

    It is meant to be a conversation starter and I was hoping to engage some new voices to the convo…which it has. On Facebook and Twitter it has engaged some friends – who don’t typically comment on science blogs as well as (feminist) sex educators.

    I am glad you like my posts on my ‘hard research’. Thank you very much for visiting. Hope you drop by more.

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  11. 11. MonarchSov 11:26 pm 12/13/2012

    ha ha everyone knows what’s so special about them. ;)

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  12. 12. jackjack 3:17 am 12/14/2012

    Very thoughtful.

    Here is my contribution to this scientific discussion:
    1. “I like big butts and I cannot lie!”
    2. “I want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed!”
    3. “Got 99 problems but a b*tch ain’t one!”

    I think it sums it up nicely – there is a lot of conflicting emotion. I want to be hip (to the hop) but I also want to be smart!


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  13. 13. Bigems 6:38 pm 01/12/2013

    DNLee, I am a hip-hop listening science lover… something I find to be very rare. I also teach high school science and math in Brooklyn where most of my students listen to hip hop. I applaud you for trying to reach out to other audiences. It occurs to me that many of our people don’t like science because they don’t understand it. Words like phenotypic will put off many hip hop listeners. I’m not trying to say my people are dumb but it is what it is. You might try lowering the reading level just slightly or giving more context clues. I have a master’s degree and don’t know what “phenotypic” means, so I can imagine what my students would say if they saw that word. The difference is, I will look it up where most won’t.

    I will check out your other blog posts, but this article didn’t really make a point to me. Tight vaginas are obviously better than loose ones. I’m speaking from experience I’m not sure what the surprise is here. Your title mislead me to think there was a scientific explanation to why it feels so good when your swimming in a tight vagina. Instead you seem to be asking if it actually is better, when no man would disagree that it is. I’ve never heard a man say, “man i’d love some loose pussy right now”, lol.

    With all that said I’m not feeling how John Keen came at you in that first comment and I loved your response. I belong to a black science group on Facebook and I will share some of your articles with them. Keep up the good work. Our people need some science in their lives.
    -Mr. Lewis

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  14. 14. jazzymom 2:20 pm 01/25/2013

    While I was pregnant I was on a natural childbirth obsession. #failed But I learned a whole lot about my body. Anyway, the midwives and doulas said that more women who had successful natural childbirths were actually tighter that those that had c/sections. It seems kind of confused but maybe those that have natural births push more effectively than those that push hard and fail and then and up getting a c/s. Then there is the idea that women who have vaginal births are more diligent about doing Kegels because they have a fear of being loose. I think there is a real lack of research but a lot of stigma about women and childbirth.

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  15. 15. rosiemarley 3:30 am 04/26/2014

    You have just done amazing work by writing down this post and can be very informative as well as helpful to every women. Because 90% of the women suffering from similar kind of problem and its not easy to get cue them in the short period of time. I am also working as lady doctor and recommend to use <a href="" because its a herbal product and also have no side effects. And some exercises like kegel exercises are also beneficial to some extent.

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