The desire to squirt
“Have you ever squirted?”, I ask my companion as we leave the auditorium. We just watched Christine Gaigg’s performance Go for it let go, a piece about female ejaculation. Interestingly, what I thought I would like to be able to do and experience feels less desirable after this evening. It’s more like: each of these women, who talked about their ejaculation on stage, experiences it differently. Some can do it, others can’t. And an orgasm with ejaculate is not necessarily more intense.
Squirting was mentioned twice in Gaigg’s most recent pre-pandemic piece, Affair. This caused some irritation, she explains at the beginning of this new work about sex, which is part of a series on the social conditions of sexuality. Why is it that we find it strange that women are able to do something that we generally only attribute to men? For Go for it let go Gaigg went in search of women who were familiar with jet-like climaxing. Three of them are now part of the performance. Due to Corona, one of these women is absent from the premiere. She is only represented by her voice, photos of her are visible on the screen above the cozy salmon-coloured sofa placed on stage. This wasn’t a play in which she could simply recast a role, Gaigg says at the outset, thus reinforcing the claim of authenticity. Almost everything here is real and therefore even more intimate because it’s genuine. A live camera on stage acts as an interlocutor, creating even more closeness at various points in the piece.
The performance feels a little like a sex education class. We, the audience, seated around the stage on three sides, learn about the topic of female ejaculation. Gaigg serves as host, holds books up to the camera, asks questions: “Do you talk about ejaculation with your friends?”; “Have you ejaculated all along?”; “Can you do it by yourself as well or only together with someone else?” We find out that female ejaculation used to be thought of as stress incontinence and that in ancient times it was speculated that two fluids were required to create life. One performer describes the ability as a ‘special skill’. Another insight is that the moment of ejaculation is very emotional. And that it can create a special bond. “When I squirt, I’m almost in a trance-like state.” The liquid doesn’t smell, or smells slightly of urine, if at all. There’s a porn category called ‘squirting’, and even female ejaculation has reached capitalism: anything that can be marketed is being marketed, including the ability to squirt.
The most beautiful moments in Gaigg’s performance essay are the anecdotal ones. Like the story about a one-night stand in a love hotel, for example, who wanted to pause during sex to talk about the liquid. Or an encounter with a bookseller with whom one of the performers experienced her first ejaculation. He had recommended a book on the subject to her in the sex section earlier.
In between, Cardi B raps about her ‘wet-ass pussy’, and the band Schapka sings: ‘Ich kann leider gar nicht flirten, das fällt mir so schwer. Aber manchmal kann ich squirten, das gefällt mir sehr.’ On screen, two hands make a vagina discharge; the wet stain on the bed sheet keeps growing. A naked performer enters. Her appearance comes as a surprise in the sofa landscape setting, where ejaculation is being discussed in a calm and matter-of-fact way. She sits down on the floor in front of the audience with her legs apart, exposing her vulva: a nod to the woman who became known as ‘Naked Athena’ when, at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portland, Oregon, she “disarmed the police with her naked cunt”. It makes Gaigg happy to see the occasional image of an erect vulva in answer to the many erect cocks that exist in the art world.
At the end of Go for it let go four naked women are lying on the floor. They masturbate, they moan: the camera focuses on them. “Squirting as self-empowerment” was a comment made at some point in the piece. And: “I envy you for being able to squirt by yourself.” But none of them will ejaculate that evening. After all, this is a performance evening that has persisted in remaining a claim: moans, orgasm, silence, darkness.
Sara Schausberger studied German Studies in Vienna. She works as a theatre critic and author for the weekly newspaper Falter and is a co-founder of the Literaturbagage association, which reads, discusses and awards prizes to books with children and adolescents.