What is your relationship with your clitoris?


Have you ever stopped to think about what your relationship with your clitoris is?  Have you met? Are you friends?


Adrienne marie brown’s recent book Pleasure Activism defines pleasure as a “feeling of happy satisfaction or enjoyment,” and “to give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to another.” It is not merely sexual pleasure that she advocates for, but to be in pursuit of “joy, wholeness, and aliveness.” My relationship with my clitoris brings me joy, and I want others to discover the potential their bodies have as well.


The word clitoris is a Greek derivation that means “little hill.” But it is not little hill. The clitoris as we know it was discovered to its full extent in 1998 by Dr. Helen O’Connell, an Australian urologist. In “Anatomical Relationship Between Urethra and Clitoris,” Dr. O’Connell et al noted that the clitoral vestibule have been incorrectly labeled. The clitoris wasn’t even in her anatomy

textbooks, "They left it out," she is quoted as saying, "It boils down to rivalry between the sexes: the idea that one sex is sexual and the other reproductive.” Before her, when urologists would try to address female urinary incontinence, they didn’t have enough information about clitoral nerves and blood flow, so the patient was very likely to end up with permanent nerve damage.


(image from Helen O’Connells 1998 paper: “Anatomical Relationship Between Urethra and Clitoris”


The clitoris has 8,000 nerves. It is the only organ in the human body that is made exclusively for pleasure. Artist Sophia Wallace’s Cliteracy is an attempt to address the fact that the clitoris is never visually represented. “This project takes aim at the false logic of society that often pathologizes sex for pleasure and allocates shame- both literally and symbolically- in the female genitals.” A way to break this pattern is to have a vocabulary about your body, and to experience orgasms, which Sophia says are “fundamental to full citizenship.” What does your clitoris have to do with your citizenship status? Sophia (and adrienne) argue that pleasure is a right, and that freedom could be measured by the “distribution” of orgasms in a society. That people with vaginas are experiencing repression every time they have sex with someone that has a penis and they themselves don’t orgasm. Orgasms and the pleasure involved are a form of freedom for those of us that have a clitoris.


(image via Sophia Wallace)


So I ask you again, what is your relationship with your clitoris? Have you met? Are you friends? Do you know them by name?