With all the vagina power rhetoric being bandied about, you’d think that women would be taking pride in their large clitorises. But the opposite is happening. Women in the U.S. are actually shrinking the size of their clitorises via barbaric practices like clitoral reduction surgery. And although the majority of large-clitorised women aren’t resorting to surgery, they also aren’t bragging about the impressive size of their lady penises.
Women usually get genital cosmetic surgery–which in addition to clitoral reduction, includes labiaplasty, hymen restoration, clitoral hood removal, and g-spot enhancement–for the same reason they get breast enlargements: they think that a change in their physical appearance will improve their emotional state. However, according to Virginia Braun’s 2010 article about female genital cosmetic surgery in the Journal of Women’s Health, “Despite some surgeon claims of drastic transformations of psychological, emotional, and sexual life associated with the surgery, little reliable evidence of such effects exists.”
You need only to turn to the websites of the doctors who perform the procedure to determine that clitoral reduction surgery is all about reducing the shame that large-clitorised women feel. Here’s plastic surgeon Dr. Gary Alter’s explanation for why women bestowed with big clitorises should get them reduced:
“These women are usually very embarrassed, both in and out of clothing and when sexually aroused.”
To give you a sense of how bizarre this trend is, let’s note that female genital mutilation is illegal in the U.S. if you’re doing it for religious or cultural reasons and you’re non-white, but if you’re having your clitoris mutilated and you’re a rich (presumably white) woman, it’s labelled a cosmetic procedure and is perfectly legal.
It’s also simply unimaginable that the same pitch would be used on men. Let’s rework the language to show how ridiculous this sentence would sound if it were a penis-reduction pitch:
“Large penised men are usually very embarrassed, both in and out of clothing and when sexually aroused.”
Could you ever envision a man being embarrassed because he had a huge penis? Could you imagine Jon Hamm being mortified that a picture of his large penis is making the rounds of the internet? Would a man hide the size of his enormous penis from potential sexual partners out of a deep sense of shame?
Feminists have been at the forefront of improving women’s genital self-esteem. And for that I’m grateful. Their take-away message is that all vulvas are beautiful, which is fine, but all vulvas don’t need good PR. It’s only the big ones that do. Small external clitorises are considered dainty and petite, just like their owners. (I say external because the internal clitoris is very large and wraps around the vagina). But large clitorises signify manliness and masculinity in our culture, not high sex drives. Large clitorises need to be made sexy and not simply in a fetishistic way, but they should serve as a general marker of a woman’s sexual voracity, as a man’s penis does. Currently, having the largest clitoris on the block doesn’t win you the type of bragging rights that having the biggest penis would. And that has got to change.
So consider this blog post my call to celebrate large-clitorised women the world over. Women with huge clitorises should compare their clitorises to other women in the locker room and feel pride, not shame, that theirs are big. They should brag about their two-inchers on Match.com and bake bulbous clitoris cakes in celebration. Large clitorises shouldn’t need our help. But they do. And at no cost to yourself, you can save a clitoris from a lifetime of shame. So what are you waiting for? —Hallie Lieberman