This One is About Sex

Recently, I heard about a project called Cliteracy, work by artist Sophie Wallace that’s bringing attention to the world’s ignorance about female sexuality.

You’ll find a good collection of information here

The research that showed us exactly what the clitoris looks like in all its states was only published in 1998. We’ve known this information for less than 20 years, folks.

How long do you think we’ve had accurate, thorough information about the penis?

The woman (of course) who did the research had to do it on her own time on borrowed equipment, because she couldn’t get funding for the work.

Reading through this material, I’m struck by the repeated historical denouncements of the existence of the clitoris, of the insistence that there’s something bad about women’s sex organs (but men’s sex organs are never bad or evil or shameful, just women’s), and the outright disappearance of references to and illustrations of the clitoris in medical anatomy diagrams and lessons.

It’s as if the world wished that the clitoris didn’t even exist. This is the one organ in humankind that is designed purely for pleasure — unlike the penis, which has reproductive function — and it’s been excised from medical textbooks and disparaged by psychology for centuries.

I mean, I’ve known about the disparity in women’s healthcare for years, starting with the way women have been told their heart attacks are just “anxiety” because their symptoms differ from men’s.

And don’t get me started about the controversy over funding birth control by people who don’t bat an eyelash at funding erectile dysfunction drugs.

I was raised Catholic. We were told explicitly that “sexual relations” were specifically and exclusively for reproduction. End of discussion. And that was our “sex ed” component at the Catholic school, provided to us by a doctor and nurse. At home, the word “sex” wasn’t even uttered. The first time my mother was heard saying the word “sex” was when I was 20 years old.

My sister, by then 25, called me at 3 a.m. to tell me she’d heard my mother say the word. We marveled over that for hours.

But it turns out, sex is about SO MUCH MORE than reproduction. It’s about connection and love and enjoying your body with the person you love. Yes, many times children are made through this act of connection. But to limit our bodies to simply being delivery methods for the species is to reject one of the most powerful forces known to humans.

We truly are wonderfully and beautifully made, and that INCLUDES the clitoris, just as surely as it includes the penis and the vagina and the uterus and the testes. All of it. What numbskull decided to pick and choose what organs were better than others? Bring him here: I want to kick him in the nuts.

The clitoris is definitive proof that sex is NOT for reproduction. It is an entire organ (9 cm long!) unrelated to the creation or sustenance of human life, whose sole purpose is pleasure. The clitoris has two to three times more nerve endings than the penis.

Men sure enjoy using their penises, don’t they? They get a lot of pleasure out of that? I’ve seen it, I have a pretty good idea I’m right about this.

Women have the potential for at least TWICE that much pleasure. From an organ men in history (and as recently as 1998) decided to dismiss and degrade and disparage. This is the result of men running the world; the progress of history works to their advantage, and women are an afterthought, if they’re considered at all.

The Catholic Church has been lying to millions upon millions of people about our basic anatomy and the nature of our bodies for centuries. I bought the lies. My mother bought the lies. We were told to be good Catholics and ignore what our bodies were telling us; that it feels good, that being close to our husbands and lovers this way is profoundly enriching, that there is great joy in the act of connection beyond the heated moments of passion.

So go on, ladies; explore. Discover. Experiment. Find out how that fantastic organ works. This is our Atlantis, our voyage to the bottom of the ocean, our Star Trek; Boldly go where no man has gone before. You have an amazing, untapped potential right in the center of your being. Take that baby out on the road and see what it can do!

There’s a whole world out there beyond being just a vessel for carrying another human being. I wish I’d known that a whole lot sooner, but I’m sure as hell glad I know it now.

One thought on “This One is About Sex

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  1. Simply, well-said. I’ve NEVER understood why it’s perfectly acceptable for men’s sexual health/function to be talked about — heck, there are advertisements about male sexual aids that run during the Super Bowl — but women’s sexual health, well, if it’s even talked about, it’s talked about in whispers in very limited company. A sad, sad social commentary.

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