To Make Love as a Testee
The story of Ida Sabelis, the first woman who had sex in a MRI-tube
EDITORS NOTE: Ida Sabelis is a co-winner of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine. The prize was awarded to "Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, Pek van Andel, and Eduard Mooyaart of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Ida Sabelis of Amsterdam, for their illuminating report, 'Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Male and Female Genitals During Coitus and Female Sexual Arousal.'[Published in British Medical Journal, vol. 319, 1999, pp 1596-1600.]."
Although one of her co-authors (Pek Van Andel) did attend the Ig Nobel
Prize Ceremony, Ida Sabelis was unable to come. She instead sent this acceptance
speech to be presented on her behalf. It was read at the Ig Medical Lectures
at Harvard Medical School.
In the autumn of 1991 Pek (M.V. van Andel) phoned my partner Jupp. Whenever
he does that, he mostly has something special on his mind. The point was
to visualize with a modern scan how it really shows when a man and a woman
are making love.
As far as known it never has been done before and who knows which not foreseen,
never thought images should emerge.
Apart from that it would be very beautiful to image this act. Pek suggested
it should be just something for us, we are slim, and because of our background
In the spring of 1992 we were sitting in the train to Groningen,
each with a pad on the knees to write down our conditions. We wouldnt
be only testees but should have participation in what should happen with
My background in womens movement doesnt give me much reason to trust
in advance in the humane feeling of medical men, aspecially medical specialists.
And as everybody knows, shots of love acts can be used for goals for which
I wouldnt be available..
After the first conversations with Weymar Schultz and the other medical
gentlemen very quick there is a good atmosphere Part of my being armed
disappeares through the down-to-earthness and the humorous undertone of
the conversation. We rather like ach other, I believe, and thats the
first condition for further cooperation really.
From the control room you have a sight through a window on the big white
space where the MRI machine
is arranged.In the centre of the enormous cake-tin is a tube in which people
can be slide in and out by a sledge-bed. The tube is circa 60 centimetres
and the height on the highest point nearly 35 centimetres. Embarred through
the spectacle I withhold my thought that we probably never can embark that
machine. We agree that anyhow we will try.
After some shifting with dates, 24 of October was fixed as the day. I was
worried, now it was really going to happen, about the consequences. What
should colleagues say? And neighbours, friends, family? An approving Just
something for you or yet: How do you get this in your head to
be available for such a thing?
But the most and most important thoughts preceding the happening yet were
on ourself: how shall it be in such a sterile white tube? Would we able
to switch off the surrounding and just have a good time? To have to go in
such a tube needs a very great trust in what and how you do things with
each other.What shall we do when one of us shall get not any sexual arrousal
in that thing? How can we help each other to do that for which
we have come? Should there be some switch or such a thing with which one
could connect with the closed control room? Anyway, should we nearly be
stucked in that tube or still have any play-room?
Willebrord (Weymar Schultz) was waiting for us in the hall. The MRI-building
was accessible only for us. It was conspiratorial in a pleasant way, as
we were walking through the empty spaces. Eduard (Mooyaart) has tuned the
machinery. The window between cake-tin and control-panel is covered with
large blue pieces.
But how can someone starts such a thing? Again, as in the first conversation
with Willebrord, with a talk about the weather. Pek asks questions and is
telling about an article hes going to write about the things wre
doing now. Another cup of coffee and then I say "Jupp, shall we do
something..." Everyone comes into action: we look at, match and pee.
Suddenly I become conscious that I have a strange position: the only woman
between four men, on the verge of becoming intimate with my lover in that
machine, while the other three gentlemen in the next room, are operating
all sorts of machinery to take a shot of our inner side.
We undress ourselves, lying down on the sledge-bed and are slided in by
Eduard: We are lying on our side and facing each other.. Thats the
position unto which we decided and which comes the nearest to the expectation:
of the photographers gentry: on top of each other, male on top, female under.
In every way we reject the idea to ly on top of each other and packed together,
much too heavy and moreover a postion which for me produces hardly any arrousal.
Its narrow in the tube -- theres nothing other to expectate
-- but it goes...I can manoevre my left hand just to the place where I wish
him and above us the pitching of the magnets starts.
Than nothing for a little while. Confined by the space we make the best
of it and thats just not so uncosy. On a certain moment theres
sounding through the microphone "the erection is fully visible, including
the root." Again nothing for a little while. We report the control
room that their microphone has to be open as we dont know whats
going on. The first shots are taken: "now lay down very still and holding
your breath during the shot.!" Forty rythmic little bangs of the magnets
above us and then one may exhale.
We are giggling a lot, because excitement, let alone of which nature, and
an erection as the most visble, simply sinks down like an arrow when you
have to hold your breathe during many seconds... and then going on.
Its becoming pleasantly warm in the tube and we truly succeed in enjoying each other from time to time in a familiar way. When the microphone is telling us that we may come- insofar possible- and that only we have to inform them in connection to the photo, we burst out into a roar of laughter and some moments later we do what is the purpose.
Sniggering we lay down a while before we announce that we just now like
to go out. Like buns which are pushed out from the oven we are coming outside.
Enthusiasm everywhere, it works and. we get dressed quickly to look at
the shots in the control room. Of course some are blurred because of movement.
But some other are of an amazing beauty: that we are ! Not so much a passport
photo for daily use but surely a shot that shows so much that it makes me
There, its my womb and surely, on that place is Jupp, naturally in
a way as I know from my own sensation: below the cervix. Very clear all
details of our both innersides are visible up to and including the common
boundary between our both bellies.
Only two days later Im feeling a kind of pride: we tried and succeeded!
© Copyright 2001 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)