Tag Archives: Clitoris

It’s Time for the Clitoris to Get Its Due in American Cinema

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) meets his clitoris-free lover for the first time.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) meets his clitoris-free lover for the first time.

Here’s what I learned about the future from Her, the Spike Jonze science-fiction movie about a man falling in love with his operating system:

1. We’ll all wear ugly high-waisted pants

2. Our operating system lovers will fake orgasms.

In the climactic Her sex scene, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is lying on his back in bed, dreamily talking with Samantha (voiced by Scarlet Johansson), his operating system. I wish I could touch you, he murmurs, wherein the conversation shifts into full-on Harlequin Romance mode and the screen goes black. Theodore then begins intoning about kissing her lips and her nipples, while Samantha moans appreciatively. All is well and good, if you enjoy watching phone sex masquerading as sex from the future.  Then Samantha purrs, “I want you inside of me,” and we hear Theodore and Samantha have what sounds like a simultaneous orgasm.  That’s when I began to get annoyed. “Why does Samantha have a virtual vagina but no virtual clitoris?” I whispered to my friend. Samantha never asks Theodore to fondle, lick, or in any way stimulate her clitoris, leading to the conclusion that the future looks bleak for all but the minority of women who receive orgasms from penetrative sex.

Continue reading

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Why Aren’t Women Bragging About The Size of Their Clitorises?

My Clitoris; Mike Litoris

Image from startedafire.blogspot.com

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.” Continue reading

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Let’s Give Female Masturbation a New Name

I love masturbating T-shirtJack off. Choke the chicken. Beat the meat. Spank the monkey. The rich vocabulary to describe male masturbation is directly related to our acceptance and even celebration of it. Women’s masturbation is less accepted, so the terminology used to describe it suffers as a result. If you asked a random person on the street to name euphemisms for female masturbation, they’d probably fail to name even one. I’ve read that Jill off is a female-specific term, but I’ve never actually heard anybody use it.  Since I spend a large portion of my life writing and speaking about female masturbation, I am routinely frustrated by the dearth of terms to describe it. (As you’ll note from this paragraph, I’ve always resorted to using the cumbersome phrase female masturbation).

Before we investigate alternative terms for female masturbation, it’s instructive to delve into masturbate itself. Masturbate most likely derives from the Latin manus (hand) and stupare (to defile), according to the OED. Its origins reveal that it once was a pejorative term, as many terms for masturbation are today. Etymology aside, masturbate is simply too cumbersome and unwieldy to form the basis of the go-to term for female self-pleasuring. Masturbate doesn’t so much as roll off the tongue as it does tumble in a cascade of inelegant syllables.

Not surprisingly, the Ancient Greeks had a few terms for female masturbation, one of which was clitorize, according to Rod L. Evans’ Sex-i-con Evans says that clitorize derives from the Greek kleitoris, whose etymology is uncertain but the OED says that it may derive from a Greek word meaning to shut. First-century Greek physician Rufus of Ephesus defined clitorize as “the lascivious touching” of the clitoris. In Latin there was maritate, meaning “to manipulate one’s vulva by hand; of females, to masturbate.”  It was derived from “maritus (husband), with the suggestion that one’s hand is acting as a husband,” according to Evans. Although I love the idea of having a hand husband, but I can’t imagine myself employing the word maritate in my daily life. Continue reading

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This Vibrator Wants to Replace Your Boyfriend

LadyHug Vibrator

Introducing Your Vagina’s New Best Friend: The LadyHug Vibrator
Image from AHAlife.com

Women’s sex toys are capable of terrifying the most secure man in the world. They’re  candy-colored, hairless devices that vibrate and pulsate with an intensity that no man can achieve with any part of his body. The human penis looks wildly unimaginative in comparison. Sex toys are proof  that intelligent design does not exist. If we really had an intelligent designer, men’s penises would wiggle in five million directions, their testicles would vibrate, and they’d ejaculate White Mystery Airheads candy. And, yes, with that sentence I’ve just put an end to all theological debate. You’re welcome.

So along comes men’s biggest nightmare: the LadyHug, the empathetic vibrator that not only improves upon the penis but also gives the vagina emotional fulfillment. Fortunately for men, the LadyHug can’t quite pull off this persona. It’s marketed as a sex toy that “hugs” and “embraces,” but never “fucks.” A bright red palm-sized device that looks like a bargain-basement robot’s flying vagina, the LadyHug has tiny “paddled arms” that are designed to grasp the labia and clitoris and multiple downloadable vibration patterns so that a woman’s vagina never gets bored.The LadyHug “snuggles up as close as it can get while it vibrates.” And it’s also designed to bolster your self-esteem. “LadyHug is as intuitive and ever-changing as the female it satisfies,” the company proudly declares. Meanwhile, the vibrator itself looks like an alien weapon from BattleshipI can imagine it developing “intuition” and tearing off the clitorises of all human females in an attempt to build the universe’s most powerful pleasure device.

The problem with the LadyHug’s marketing campaign is that it miscalculates in its use of female stereotypes. I don’t want my vibrators to compassionately copulate with me. If I wanted to be made love to, I’d become a feminist juggler in a Marxist clown troop, since they’re the only demographic who makes love anymore. Women don’t want to be friends with their vibrators. They don’t want their vibrators to compliment them or tell them that they look skinny in their new outfit. They don’t want their vibrators to be gentle or cuddly. They want them to be sexy and edgy and give them the best orgasms of their lives. The LadyHug assumes that every woman’s clitoris is a timid organ that needs to be gently coaxed into orgasm. But the clitoris doesn’t need platitudes. It needs to be dominated. And the poorly named LadyHug isn’t up to the task.

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Sex Toy Review: The Trojan Vibrating Tri-phoria

Trojan Vibrating Triphoria

The Trojan Vibrating Triphoria, un-boxed and mysteriously standing upright. Mine couldn’t do this. (Image from trojanvibrations.com).

After months of debate, I finally decided to purchase the Trojan Vibrating Tri-phoria at Walgreens early this morning. I came to this decision after I determined that no self-respecting dildographer could carry on her profession without trying out one of the most widely marketed vibrators in the United States. Trojan is one of the few companies that advertises their vibrators on TV, so chances are if you ask the average American to name a vibrator, the Tri-phoria or the Twister is what comes to mind. I think of Trojan vibrators as either introductory vibrators for those who are too scared to enter a sex-toy store or impulse purchases for women who stumble upon them in their drugstore aisles while searching for Kotex’s new multicolored tampons . Trojan’s brand recognition allows their sex-toys to serve as gateway vibrators. If you’ve already entrusted Trojan condoms to protect you from AIDS, buying one of their vibrators just makes sense.

I surprised myself in being mildly embarrassed while purchasing this at Walgreens. Maybe it’s because I’m a regular at this Walgreens. Yes, you can be a regular nighttime shopper at a local chain drug store, and I’m proud that I’m a member of this exclusive club. Anyway,because it comes in a beautiful glossy purple package whose cover lacks any images, it’s not too embarrassing to buy.

The Trojan Vibrating Tri-Phoria

The package that almost killed me.

Unfortunately, upon coming home and  tearing upon the box, I discovered that the vibrator was ensconced in one of those miserable hard plastic tombs that require rarefied skill to open. I had a Larry David moment where I screamed and poked at it with a pair of old, dirty scissors. When that didn’t work, I switched to a dull steak knife, which punctured the resilient plastic, but resulted in a small cut on my pinky. Continue reading

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Kris Jenner’s Vagina is Trying to Sell You Something

Kris Jenner's New Product (Image from Zestra.com)

Hearing the news about Kris Jenner’s endorsement of the sexual arousal gel Zestra filled me with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I am always happy to see sexual products in the news; on the other hand, I don’t really want to think about Kris Jenner’s dribbly vagina being slathered with copious amounts of Zestra by Bruce’s enfeebled hand. A botanical gel that’s applied to the labia and clitoris to heighten pleasure during sexual intercourse, Zestra is supposed to give women a “rush” that causes tingling and arousal within three to five minutes of application. For most women rubbing the clitoris will provide a rush within three to five minutes, regardless of whether Zestra is being rubbed into it. That’s why in a Kinsey Institute study (sponsored by Zestra), both women using a placebo gel and women using Zestra experienced increased arousal, but women using Zestra saw a larger increase in arousal. Even though I question whether a liquid containing Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamin C can really lead to more sexual satisfaction, I’m pro-clitoral massage, so if purchasing this product leads to more clitoral massage, I’m all for it.

But what bothers me about using Kris as an endorser is that Kris says she uses Zestra to “keep monotony out of monogamy.” This declaration comes just days after revelations that she had a hot 18-month affair with a man a decade her junior while married to first husband Robert Kardashian. Clearly Kris found a better way to reduce the monotony of marriage, and that was by fucking someone else.  As I’ve previously stated, I don’t think that sex toys can fix a broken marriage, but they can improve one that’s in a rut. I’m tired of companies promoting sex toys as a way to solve the problem of monogamy. Trojan’s new campaign for their Vibrating Twister plays off of this same theme, to an even greater degree. Trojan claims their vibrator can transform your spouse into the perfect husband, one who enjoys shopping for shoes, watching bridal TV shows, and doing laundry (see video below). Basically, they’re claiming that the Vibrating Twister can convert your husband into a gay man who also enjoys fucking you. And although that’s my dream man (if he’s over 50 and looks like Larry David), I don’t hold out any hope that a vibrator, or even a butt plug could effect this change. Not even daily pegging sessions could transform a heterosexual man into a doting gay husband.

Vibrators and clitoral lotions cannot solve the intractable problem of achieving sexual satisfaction within a long-term monogamous relationship. They should not be sold as sexual talismans.  That’s setting them up for failure.  They should be sold as products that can increase your sexual pleasure during intercourse or masturbation, not as products that can rescue a miserable marriage. Sexual aid companies continue to promote their products as a part of a family-values monogamy discourse because they want to normalize sexual devices. But this discourse needs to change. Singles should be featured in sex toy ads. More gays should be featured in them. It is time to challenge the narrative that the only normal way to use a sex product is in a monogamous heterosexual relationship.

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Why All Men Should Own a Strap-On Vagina

The Original Vee-String Vagina Prosthesis

When someone utters the word “strap-on,” I immediately picture a butch lesbian clad in a black leather harness with an enormous purple dildo protruding from her crotch. “Strap-on” possesses a masculine quality; it is reminiscent of the Snap-on Tools Company. A strap-on is imposing and intimidating; it’s a phallic bludgeon that destroys anything in its sight. But during my Thanksgiving vacation with my family, I came upon a strap-on of whose existence I was unaware. It was a strap-on that shattered my worldview, making me question the motivations behind the eternal human desire to create faux genitalia. Yes, I’m talking about a strap-on vagina.

You may ask yourself, “Why would any man want to cover his regal scepter with a flapping mass of labia, clitoris, and hidden urethra, a damp, mysterious cavern whose inner being was not revealed until the 1960s when Masters and Johnson deigned to spelunk inside this enigmatic organ with their camera-equipped dildo.  As a lifelong penis enviest, it is difficult for me to comprehend. If only I had been born with a  penis, I sometimes think, I would have written 15 books by now, received an M.D., and invented a better heating lamp for buffet food. But the genitals that other people have always seem more pleasurable than our own. Even men who love their penises have doubts that they have the best penis. Are uncircumcised men having better orgasms than I have? The cut man asks. Is my penis big enough to give my partners pleasure? Asks every man. So I will reluctantly concede that I understand why a man would want to experiment with a strap-on vagina. They came into the world through the vagina and spend their lives trying to get back into them: why wouldn’t they want to try one on for size if given the chance?

I now present you with the unfortunately named Vee-string Vagina Prosthesis, available in Original, Virgin, Masturbator, Sheath, and Bladder styles.  Made of latex, the vagina is customizable with seven different pubic hair colors and two different hairstyles. The most interesting and useful version of this strap-on vagina is the Masturbator. It has a hole for a man to insert his penis where the clitoris would be, allowing a man to truly understand what it’s like to be a woman.  The Masturbator should be given to all boys at the onset of adolescence as a training tool for their future sexual experiences with women. Even though most men recognize intellectually that the clitoris is the seat of female pleasure, subconsciously they insist that this is not the case. Only through the bodily experience of possessing a clitoris would a man truly comprehend female sexuality. If Freud had owned a strap-on vagina, he would never have invented the myth of the vaginal orgasm.

—Hallie Lieberman

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Hysteria

I was so happy to be quoted in Friday’s article in the Toronto Globe and Mail about the history of the vibrator. Any time something like this happens, my parents’ embarrassment about my profession drops significantly, and even sometimes turns to pride that their daughter has become a full-time dildographer.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

And while women of the time didn’t necessarily know what masturbation was, Dr. Hall believes “doctors did.” For this reason and the threat of professional liability, she and other scholars suggest the treatment was performed on the fringes – the lineups of women in the filmic adaptation are sheer poetic licence.

“It’s making these people look like idiots and I don’t believe that was the case. Medical literature shows that doctors knew the role of the clitoris. And it makes light of women’s sexuality,” says Hallie Lieberman, a self-proclaimed “dildographer” and PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying the marketing of sex toys throughout history.

“[Maines’ book] really plays on this idea that the doctors didn’t know what the clitoris did, which I think is wrong,” said Sarah Rodriguez, a research assistant professor in medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Ms. Lieberman and others point to a number of sexual anatomy textbooks spanning from the 1820s into the 1900s that describe the clitoris as a primary sexual organ, one capable of erection. In 1890, physician Leonard Rau called it the “principal seat of sexual orgasm in the female.” An “electric bell” is how one gynecology professor put it in 1900. More accessible was Marie Stopes’ popular 1918 sex manual Married Love, which makes explicit reference to the clitoris and its role in orgasm. The book sold nearly 750,000 copies by 1931.

Ms. Lieberman suggests hysteria continues to enthrall modern audiences because with “women, it’s always a mystery, whether they’re aroused. … It’s hard to reliably give women a clitoral orgasm. There’s still a search for the Holy Grail of that.”

Indeed, in some sense the female orgasm remains elusive, as evidenced by pharmaceuticals’ failed hunt for a “pink Viagra” to treat the equally contentious FSD or “female sexual dysfunction,” a diagnosis in the current DSM, the go-to handbook for psychiatrists.

While Ms. Lieberman doesn’t go as far as to label the controversial FSD and its sister malady, hypoactive desire disorder, as today’s hysteria, she suggests the cure may be vibrators, of all things.

“I believe we should be having great sex throughout the life cycle,” she said. “Vibrators need to be promoted by physicians because they do give a lot of anorgasmic women orgasms.”

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Review: Foreplay Ice Frost Vibrator

Foreplay Ice Frost Vibrator

When the heat index was over 100 degrees in Madison, Wisconsin, I decided that nothing would be more appealing than a vibrator with a built-in cooling mechanism. I really wanted to like this adorable genital Popsicle for a number of reasons:

1. I pin my hopes on new vibrators, while dreaming of the day when men evolve to develop clitoral stimulators on their pubic bones.

2. I thought it was adorable.

3. None of my friends had it, so I thought that I could be an early adopter and start a trend that would spread through the University, showering happiness on all who laid hands on the magical vibrating ice device.

Alas, I was disappointed. Just as it burns to place ice on a sprain,  placing a piece of vibrating ice burns the clitoris.  There’s a reason nobody masturbates with Del Monte Fruit Chillers. I’m not going to discount the fact that I didn’t like the Ice Frost because  I have an especially sensitive clitoris, but I’m also not completely convinced that I do, considering I wore my clitoris out on this when I was 19 years old. Maybe if I’d used the vibrator during Bikram Yoga, I would have been transported to absolute bliss. Although it doesn’t bring me sexual pleasure, the vibrator is not entirely worthless. It is a beautiful object. The ice looks like a miniature studded globe and it secures to its silicone base perfectly. The detachable vibrating bullet doesn’t provide enough vibration because the silicone base is so thick, so its more of a muffled pulsation, but maybe a rapidly vibrating ice cube would be even more unpleasant.

Overall Score: Three clitorises. The only reason to purchase this vibrator is so you can tell your friends that you masturbated with an ice vibrator. Actually, that’s a pretty good reason. 

Scale:

1-3 clitorises: Ineffective for sexual stimulation, but it may have some aesthetic value.

4-5 clitorises: It may bring you orgasms, but its design is ugly, and you might have to hold it at a weird angle to get pleasure.

6-7 clitorises: Reliably produces orgasms, moderately attractive and effective design, definitely bedside-table worthy.

8-9 clitorises: Innovative yet practical design, easy to grasp/insert, clean lines.

10 clitorises: It will bring you sexual bliss like no other device, and it is so beautiful that you could unabashedly display it in your foyer.

What My Clitoris Felt Like After Using the Ice Frost Vibrator

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