Can We Out the Clitoris? Finally?

lilith land's picture

Well, I am going to start off the new year with a bitch about Google. The world's foremost web browser (among other things) apparently doesn't much care for one of the finer parts of the female anatomy -- the clitoris. If you set the filter on Google search to strictly filter out adult content, it also filters out the word "clitoris".

That is, you will get nothing if you type the word in Google search. Absolutely nada. Apparently, Google has put this medically correct term for a woman's primary sex organ on its list of dirty words that are not "family friendly" for safe search. However, if you type in "penis" you get 196,000,000 returns. A man's dick, it seems, isn't obscene but a clit is.

However, even scientific journals suffer from lockjaw around the clitoris; so, maybe I shouldn't be mad at Google.  Researchers Shirley Ogletree and Harvey Ginsberg looked at the terms used to describe genitalia in the PsychINFO database (a prominent psychology database) from 1887 to 2000 and found that penis was used in 1,482 sources, vagina in 409, while clitoris was only mentioned in 83. They also analyzed 57 books listed in a computer database for sex instruction. In the majority of the books, penis was the most commonly discussed body part – mentioned more than clitoris, vagina, and uterus put together.

How fucked up is that?

Like most women, I grew up hearing everything "down there" called "vagina" -- oh, scratch that, I grew up hearing nothing at all. Lol. My bad. (This also seems to be a common theme among women). Many feminists (including me) object to calling every nook and protrusion on the female genitals "vagina". Are we being uptight stick-in-the-muds wigging out over semantics? I don't think so. I think limiting the female genitals to the term vagina is the equivalent of a semantic castration.

Where's the clit?

All this does is keep the clitoris in the closet, and confuse young women about their bodies. It is also a way of not talking about the clitoris -- which nobody wants to think about anyway because it is such a transgressive little organ. The 17th century scientist Jacques Duval once referred to the clitoris as "a temptation, the spur to sensual pleasure, the female rod, and the scorner of men".

 I also think calling a woman's genitals by the wrong name  is one reason why many women don't masturbate. Scientists have known since Kinsey that women masturbate less often than men and often don't take up the habit until later in life. Women often start their sex lives with a partner with little self-knowledge regarding what makes pussy go purr, which basically means she's starting the race off with a bum leg. I know a lot of people believe that women don't masturbate as children because of parental repression. But I don't think that this is necessarily always the case. I never remember being told not to masturbate as a child, but since I didn't know jack shit about my anatomy, it never occurred to me to doing anything. Maybe I was an unadventurous child. I don't know.

My theory is that it is primarily women with hypersensitive clits who masturbate as children. I say this  because so many women seem to report a childhood masturbation history using some weird, indirect form of stimulation, like humping Teddy till his ears fall off and his nose is bent out of shape. I suspect that women who are less sensitive (like me) and need more direct stimulation are not as likely to discover masturbation on their own. We need knowledge. And calling everything down there "vagina" simply keeps us in the dark.

We are less likely to explore our bodies because we don't know what is going on with our anatomy. The pussy is just some weird no man's land with a sign that says "no trespassing allowed". Also, this sad situation leads to massive confusion during sex with a partner. Men are less likely to understand the clitoris's importance because they never hear about. And if something isn't talked about, it usually isn't considered terribly important.

I used to believe that the female genitals should be called "vulva". Mainly, because that term included the whole shebang -- inside and out. But I have come to the conclusion if we use the term clitoris, maybe the female crown jewel with her 8,000 plus nerve endings might get some respect. It makes sense, we call the male anatomy by its most important part -- not some odd amalgamation of penis and testicles. Saying vulva leads to less press for the clitoris and makes it less clear what is going on.

So, just say clitoris.

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