The quality or state of being cliterate, especially the ability to navigate the clitoris based on an understanding that it is fundamental to the female orgasm.
This is one of five definitions provided by New York artist Sophia Wallace in her multimedia work entitled ‘100 Natural Laws of Cliteracy’ which she explains in this video. The ongoing multimedia project looks at the current problem facing women and the clitoris; despite the female body being sexualised everywhere, women still aren’t receiving the pleasure they deserve.
Wallace’s Cliteracy project aims to educate people about the clitoris ‘by using blasphemous language to break the taboo.’ Her ultimate aim through the project is to celebrate the power of the clitoris to bring women pleasure and to get more of us sharing information about it.
Among the project’s manifestations are posters featuring fascinating facts such as ‘the average time it takes a woman to orgasm through masturbation [of the clitoris] is 4 minutes’ and clever slogans: ‘the hole is not the whole’.
At the Wassaic Project’s Summer Festival in August Wallace teamed up with sculptor Kenneth Thomas to create a giant bronze clitoris that guests could – and did – ride in a ‘Clit Rodeo’ for prizes.
The project went viral almost instantly Wallace said and within two weeks of her posting the installation on Tumblr, she’d had 20,000 reblogs.
‘I want to get people talking about the clit and thinking about the clit and use it in equal terms as they use the penis,’ said Wallace.
So, we’re doing just that.
Firstly, why is the clitoris such a sensitive subject? There’s an air of mystery surrounding it, for both men and women – it’s like a kind of Pandora’s box (sorry, Pandora). I’ve heard the line ‘it’s the only part of the female body which exists purely for pleasure’ over and over again (sniggered and giggled as if from the back of a Sex Ed class), but what does that mean for women?
We’ve actually only known about the full anatomy of the clitoris since 1998, when Australian urology surgeon Dr Helen O’Connell revealed that it is much larger than everyone thinks. To see it mapped out clearly (crayons and all), watch Betty Dodson’s video The Internal Clitoris – you may find yourself crossing your legs at times, but I promise by the end you’ll be laughing.
Right, so you know what it is? Yep. You know where it is? Only too well now. So, what are you going to do with it then?
If you, like so many women, feel disappointed and even embarrassed when you can’t reach an orgasm during sex, don’t worry because actually, you’re in the majority. Only 20 to 25 per cent of women can get one through penetrative sex alone, and it often takes oral sex or intense clitoral stimulation to climax.
This also goes for the ‘G-spot’, which if you can’t find it, is probably because it isn’t that easy to pin down. Although G-spot surgical augmentations are in existence (ooch!), extensive surveys have revealed that it may not actually be a spot, but more of a G-area or G-zone, and most women’s belief in it is purely anecdotal. As Betty Dodson points out in her video, women do get erections too, but because we have been so repressed, and because it is all going on internally, we may not even realise it’s happening.
When you think about it, the clitoris is as significant for women today as it is a symbol for representing the oppression of women in centuries past. You might not want to embrace it quite like Sophia Wallace does (riding on a golden clitoris at a rodeo, or plastering clitoral facts all over New York underpasses), but brush up on your cliteracy, and make sure you know how important it really is.
Lydia Jones blogs at abitofwhatifancy.blogspot.co.uk
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