Q. Why is there so much misunderstanding about the clitoris?
A. If you look at most anatomy books you will see that there is no agreement among anatomists as to how many parts the clitoris has. (The same goes for the penis as well). This isn't true for any other organ in the human body-the heart, the eye, the knee, for example.
Since the 18th century when women's sexuality was defined as less passionate and powerful than men's, and Freud dictated that clitoral orgasms were inappropriate for mature women, the clitoris became less important-to anatomists, doctors, therapists, and probably men as well. Beginning in the 18th century, medical illustrations became less detailed, and parts of the clitoris began to "disappear" or to be assigned to the reproductive or urinary systems. By the 1980s, the "clitoris" was often illustrated by an unlabeled wavy line. This incomplete understanding of women's genital anatomy is a reflection of the second rate status of women's sexuality.
Q. Can lack of knowledge about the clitoris contribute to female sexual dysfunction?
A. This is a tricky question because there is no reliable definition of what female sexual function is. I think that lack of knowledge about the extent of the clitoris and it functions contributes to the widespread belief that women's sexual response is not as powerful and rewarding as men's.
Knowing that the clitoris is as extensive as the penis can help women acquire a more positive sexual self-image and feel more confident about their sexuality. It can also help women learn how to achieve orgasms regularly (if they want to) and discover how to have more varied and rewarding sexual experiences.
Q. What else is important for women to understand about the clitoris.
A. The clitoris is a powerful organ of sexual pleasure. The tip or glans alone has more than 8,000 sensory nerve endings-more than any other part of the human body. In addition, because of the requirements of pregnancy, women have a greater blood supply to the pelvic area and longer and stronger pelvic muscles. And unlike the penis, which produces a single, explosive orgasm, the clitoris provides the means of having multiple orgasms: several, a dozen, or in some cases, over 100! For these reasons, the clitoris could be considered even more powerful than the penis! But because women's sexual response has been defined by male standards, and intercourse is the focus of heterosexual sex, women's ability to discover their explosive sexual power has been denied. It's time that our understanding of sexuality includes women's needs and preferences,and that's the clitoral truth!
I would like to thank Rebecca Chalker, author of The Clitoral Truth for her enlightening answers to my questions. The Clitoral Truth is a must read for any women who wants improved sexual satisfaction. It's a fascinating book that expands on the issues discussed here, and provides a plethora of other useful information with detailed illustrations of the clitoris that you won't see anywhere else.