By ADINA LAKSER
“The world will be a happier, healthier place when this shape is as familiar as the old John Thomas.”
Australian artist, Ali Sebastian Wolf, explains some of the reasoning behind her art piece the “Glitoris,” the giant, sparkly, anatomically correct clitoris she has created.
And while the art piece, like the clitoris itself, is a “hell of a lot of fun” ultimately the project is about educating people about this often-misunderstood part of the body and addressing the shame or discomfort many of us have around even saying the word “clitoris.”
As one of the pioneers of our clitoral shame, Sigmund Freud enforced the idea that there were two types of female orgasms—vaginal and clitoral—and that the vaginal orgasm was the mature ideal. Women who needed clitoral stimulation for orgasm, Freud posited, were immature and sexually inferior. Through this focus on vaginal orgasm, he was essentially promoting a patriarchal model of sex, one in which women derive all their sexual satisfaction through penetrative sex, which often is not enough for a woman to have a fully pleasurable experience.
Even though it’s been over a century since Freud counseled clients, Wolf ‘s artwork brings up the issue of how little we still know about the clitoris.
In a less glittery fashion, here are some interesting, important and orgasmic information about the body’s tiny powerhouse:
1) it’s not just the glans
Most of us know of the clitoris as the little “nub” at the top of the vulva, hidden under the hood. While that may be the only part that is visible to the naked eye, like an iceberg, underneath the surface, there is a whole lot going on.
The clitoris has many parts, including the crura, corpora cavernosa, and the clitoral vestibules. These names may not sound very sexy, but what it means is that the clitoris is working inside the body to stimulate the G-spot, plump up and tighten the vagina, and get the blood pumping. As the Museum of Sex article informs us “Get these puppies (vestibules) excited, and you’ve got a hungrier, tighter-feeling vaginal opening in which to explore!”
So while we may only be able to play with one part of the clitoris directly, understanding how the whole structure works can help enhance sexual pleasure.
2) All about pleasure
The clitoris is the only human structure whose sole purpose is pleasure. It doesn’t help us pee or get pregnant like any of the other sexual organs. And it’s full of sensation. The glans of the clitoris has 8000 nerve endings, unlike the penis which has 4000 (if we are getting competitive). The glans spends most of its time under a hood to maintain its sensitivity and stop us from getting to distracted by it in day-to-day life.
Not all women (acknowledging that not all women have vaginas and not all vaginas are in women) enjoy the same level of attention to their clitorii. Some like strong direct pressure while others prefer stimulation around the clitoris rather than directly on it. And often these needs and desires can change for a woman day to day or sexual exploration to sexual exploration. So even if you have “figured out” what works for yourself or your partner, don’t be surprised if that is not a constant.
3) There can be too much of a good thing
Because it is so sensitive, the clitoris can only stand so much handling. When she has had enough, the clitoris lets you know. And if you don’t heed her warnings, unfortunately, the pleasure can turn into downright pain. So, if you are spending time with your own or your partner’s clitoris, I would highly recommend checking in frequently to ensure it’s still all good.
4) An orgasm is an orgasm
The debate about whether or not a clitoral orgasm or vaginal orgasm is best is still on. However, as Dr. Jane Ussher, Professor of Women’s Health Psychology, wrote in her article “Clash of the Orgasms”:
“Some women enjoy vaginal penetration – with penis or fingers – and gain considerable sexual pleasure as a result. Other women prefer to be touched, use a vibrator, or receive oral sex. A lucky few have orgasms in their sleep, in the absence of any physical stimulation. And some prefer to have a cup of tea.”
No two people are alike, and so no two people enjoy sex in the exact same way. And even the same person doesn’t always enjoy sex in the same way. Maybe we should spend less time debating and rating women’s sexual responses and spend more time getting it on!
As we learn more about the clitoris, the data collected is not meant to shame women or dictate what sexual pleasure should look like. We should just remember that many women don’t orgasm without some stimulation of the clitoris. If penetrative sex isn’t doing the whole trick, she shouldn’t think there is anything wrong with her or her partner. It’s just those 8000 nerve endings want some attention!
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Adina Lakser is a Winnipeg-based sex coach, writer and mother. Visit her at nakedparts.wordpress.com or her Aquarian column Pillow Talk at www.aquarianonline.com under the Columns tab.