The 3D ultrasound was invented in 1984. Viagra, which works by inhibiting a single enzyme, was introduced in 1998. The first MRI of sexual intercourse was in 1999. The Human Genome Project, the mapping of 20,000-25,000 genes and providing a full map of human DNA reached completion in 2003. Surely we have a fairly good handle on something as basic as human anatomy, right? So, when do you think the first full 3-D scan of the clitoris happened?
It is just shocking to me that with all of this incredible technology, so few people have studied the clitoris. Seriously. It is the only organ in the human physiology that exists just for pleasure, and if it was on a man it would be worth studying, I’m sure. But female sexual pleasure? Pft. Why bother? Think I’m exaggerating? Consider the following: The Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy did a two-part MRI study of sexual intercourse in 2001 & 2002. In the entirety of both studies, the word clitoris never even appears. At least in the 1999 MRI study they noted they were unable to distinguish the clitoris, vaginal wall or urethra with their equipment.
More? Sure! In the SEER training modules, provided by the National Cancer Institute, the male reproductive system spans six pages, whereas the female reproductive system only has four, five if you count the page on breasts. There is one sentence about the clitoris: “The clitoris is an erectile organ, similar to the male penis, that responds to sexual stimulation.” Almost every description of the female reproductive system/organs contained no additional information. Honestly, it reads like it was written by Mister Garrison; it can only be described as being similar to a penis, in that it gets hard when it’s stimulated.
The thing is, historically, female sexuality has been seen as a horrifying thing. This article by the fantastically named Professor John Studd gives a concise but thorough history of the medical views on female sexuality. There is no way that I could write something better, at least, not in the time I have to blog, and that isn’t really what I want to talk about. Especially when watching the news is giving me rage-hives at how women are treated, particularly in regard to our healthcare and our sexuality.
So, science learned what the clitoris really is in 2009. It’s 2012 now. When did this information reach actual women? Oh, of course; the blog of the Museum of Sex in New York published this article on November 30. 2011. Because the discovery of what is effectively a previously unknown organ in the human body wasn’t newsworthy enough to mention. To be fair, CNN did an article debating the existence of the G-spot in 2010. The article mentioned Dr. Odile Buisson and Dr. Pierre Foldès, who did those 3-D ultrasounds. However, it failed to include any information about the clitoris at all. And when you realize what the clitoris actually looks like and does, it becomes laughably obvious that it is relevant. The G-spot is supposed to be somewhere along the vaginal wall, near the opening, right? Behold the actual clitoris:
Look at that. It’s freaking huge. It’s complex and beautiful and did I mention freaking huge? Up until I got tipped off to this magnificent discovery (thanks, TheMarySue!) I thought, like everyone else thought, that the clitoris was just that bitsy knob at the top. The little man in a boat. The pearl in the oyster. Lando Calrissian, hanging on just above the mouth of the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi.
Of course, that little button is only the glans, which is also the scientific name for the head of the penis. Beyond that, according to the Museum of Sex article, the clitoris is comprised of:
…two corpora cavernosa (corpus cavernosum when referring to the structure as a whole), two crura (crus when referring to the structure as a whole), and the clitoral vestibules or bulbs.
The glans is connected to the body or shaft of the internal clitoris, which is made up of two corpora cavernosa. When erect, the corpora cavernosa encompass the vagina on either side, as if they were wrapping around it giving it a big hug!
The corpus cavernosum also extends further, bifurcating again to form the two crura. These two legs extend up to 9cm, pointing toward the thighs when at rest, and stretching back toward the spine when erect. To picture them at rest, imagine the crura as a wishbone, coming together at the body of the clitoris where they attach to the pubic symphysis.
Near each of the crura on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral vestibules. These are internally under the labia majora. When they become engorged with blood they actually cuff the vaginal opening causing the vulva to expand outward.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s this beautiful, graceful organ. The yellow color of the scans make it look almost like a halo. It has a human-like shape with long, slender arms. Or an ankh, or (to be more prosaic) a wishbone sitting on a napkin ring. The way it interweaves with the rest of the reproductive organs is amazing. The fact that it has roots and branches seems fitting, too, like it is the root system of one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers.
I’m honestly surprised at my own reaction to it; all this poetic description and shit. Especially since I’ve made jokes about vagina-worship and twat-art. But hell, I mock everything, so there you are. Aside from the impotent rage at the way women have always been treated (which, again, is seriously aggravated by reading the news), there is this honest sense of wonder. That it exists only for pleasure makes it that much more awesome to me. Female pleasure may not have been considered worthy of study, but the fact that such a unique and complex organ exists means that it, and the magnificent orgasms it provides, must have some evolutionary purpose. Even if we don’t know what that is.
I think that this is incredibly important information for women to have. Something that has been studied is the mind-body connection and women’s orgasms. Scientific American’s article The Orgasmic Mind is a great resource to learn more about the chemical changes in the brain. But what it comes down to is that knowing more about our bodies can only help us learn to enjoy them more. I cannot see any compelling reason why this discovery/research/information/whatever you want to classify it as hasn’t received any attention. Why are we denying something so fabulous? Why was this never on Oprah? Why isn’t it a category on Etsy?
Really, how can ignoring this glorious information be anything but uselessly blinding? I mean, men might like to know too. Hey guys, guess what? You just leveled up and unlocked a map. A fucking map. A map for fucking! And ladies! Think about walking around your house in the dark. Better when you know where everything is, right? You get where you’re going a little easier, you don’t end up stubbing your toes, and, in general, you just have a better time. Lets get this news out and learn the layout of our living rooms!