If someone put a blank piece of paper in front of you and told you to draw a picture of a clitoris, could you do it? I’m not talking artistic ability here, but rather whether you actually know what it looks like enough to be able to come up with a reasonable facsimile. Yes? No? Kinda?
Conceptual artist Sophia Wallace maintains that lots of people – men and women alike – can not. And it’s because, she says, the clitoris has been long ignored throughout history. In fact, it’s only since 1998 that the true anatomical scope and size of the clitoris has been known to science. 1998? Really? Polio has been cured, man has landed on the moon, mapped the human genome, and wired the world, yet the one organ in the human body that soley exists for pleasure has gone largely ignored. Well, no longer! It’s high time, says Wallace, for the world to #getcliterate. This is what’s behind her art project, Cliteracy.
Hmmm. Sounds stimulating! But what exactly does being cliterate mean? According to sex therapist Ian Kerner, being cliterate is about understanding and respecting female sexuality. Wallace herself adds that it includes “the ability to navigate the clitoris, based on an understanding that is fundamental to the female orgasm.”
This all sounds like a fine idea to me. After all, in an ilclierate society, sexual partners fail miserably to give their partners the big O. A little education could go a long way. Frankly, I would strongly argue that romance novels, especially those veering toward the more sensual (just the way we like ’em at Lady Smut), are a Cliteracy lesson unto themselves. Lovemaking and sexual encounters sure as heck don’t leave the female high and dry without achieving satisfaction. And the descriptions are hot and detailed to let readers know exactly how the heroine gets happy.
Of course, as a writer of erotic romance, one real Cliteracy problem myself and fellow writers face is looking for synonyms for the clitoris. I mean, you can use the word itself and its shortened version, clit, but the hotness factor is doused like a wildfire if the word is overused. Writers have come up with euphemisms like pearl or button or bud and, while those might work, they’re not particular sexy or sensual. And don’t even get me started on bean or pea. It’s not a veggie tray.
Jenny Block, author of O Wow: Discovering your ultimate orgasm, says we need to “start introducing the clitoris at dinner parties.” Um, well. A huge swath of the country still shudders in horror at an exposed breast on TV, so casually talking about the clitoris at dinner sounds ambitious. I get her point, although methinks that conversation may be a little … awkward. But hey, maybe I’m being invited to the wrong dinner parties.
Sophia Wallace’s Cliteracy art project brings together art, textiles, and photography to rid the world of ilcliteracy. Interestingly enough, she suspected – and received – backlash, but her effort also produced a groundswell of endorsement. People have begun talking about the clitoris. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s just nothing wrong with that.
What do you think? Is Cliteracy a topic of discussion in your house? Should it be? Sound off in the comments below. And when you’re done, hop on over to Goodreads and sign up to win one of four copies of The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires. We’ll be giving them away next month.