A few years ago, I was appalled to find out that Google didn’t care much for one of the finer parts of the female anatomy — the clitoris. At this time (2010–2012), if you set the filter on Google search to strictly filter out adult content, it also filtered out the word “clitoris”.
That is, it would return nothing back in Google search. Absolutely nada. Apparently, Google put this medically correct term for a woman’s primary sex organ on it’s list of dirty words that were not “family-friendly” for safe search. However, if you typed in “penis” you would receive 196,000,000 returns. A man’s dick isn’t obscene but the clit is.
Since that time, that issue has been resolved, and Google now displays the word in safe search mode. This wasn’t the first time the clitoris has been dispatched to verbal Siberia and probably won’t be the last.
Even scientific journals suffer from lockjaw around the clitoris. 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 the clitoris, the vagina, and the uterus put together.
How fucked up is that?
We Don’t Talk About the Clitoris
Like most women, I grew up hearing everything “down there” called “vagina” — oh, scratch that, I grew up hearing nothing at all. (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. Calling the female genitals “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. 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 have sex with a partner before they have any self-knowledge regarding what makes pussy go purr. This means they’re starting the race off with a bum leg.
Some women don’t masturbate as children because of parental repression, but I don’t think that this is necessarily the only reason. I never remember being told NOT to masturbate as a child, but since I didn’t know jackshit about my anatomy, it never occurred to me to do anything.
Silence can easily prevent self-exploration.
I believe that childhood masturbation is influenced by clitoral sensitivity levels. This is just an observation of mine based on what I have read and my own personal experience as someone with a less sensitive clitoris. Women who do report a history of childhood masturbation often say that they used some indirect form of stimulation like pillow or teddy bear humping. Indirect clitoral stimulation works best for the very sensitive, and it is something that a child could stumble upon by accident.
On the other hand, women who are less sensitive, and who need more direct stimulation, are not as likely to figure it out on their own (I had to read about it in a book). These women need knowledge. And calling everything “vagina” simply keeps us in the dark and confused about what is going on “down there”.
Sadly, so many women come to regard their genitals as a dirty no man’s land that might as well have a sign that says “no trespassing allowed” for all the attention they get from their owner. This situation leads to massive confusion and less sexual pleasure for women.
What Isn’t Talked About Isn’t Considered Important
Men are less likely to understand the clitoris’s importance because they never hear about it growing up. And if something isn’t talked about, it usually isn’t considered terribly significant. Naturally, this has a huge impact on the ability of women to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm with a male partner.
I used to believe that the female genitals should be called “vulva”. Mainly, because that term includes the whole shebang — the clitoris and other external parts (in some references, it includes the vagina as well). But I have come to the conclusion that if we use the term “clitoris” to refer to the female genitals maybe our crown jewel with her 8,000 plus nerve endings might get some long-deserved respect. Or, at least, a little free press coverage.
About the Author:
Kaye Smith PhD is a social psychologist, life coach, sex educator and fine art photographer. She is also a crazy cat lady who drinks too much tea. Check her out at https://kayesmithphd.com/