Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Okay, then, Smartypants, name this body part


Go on, take a guess.... I'll wait.

That, my friends, is the full structure of the female clitoris*--including the extensive internal parts. Yes, the clitoris has internal parts! Extensive ones! Am I the only one who didn't know this? I thought a clit was a tiny button there on the outside--the end. For 46-friggin'-years (many of them, to be fair, non-friggin' years), I've been walking around ignorant of my own damn anatomy.

I could choose to wallow in shame over this, but I'm not gonna be too hard on myself because a) I generally cut myself way too much a lot of slack and b) practically no one knows this stuff. 

We should have been learning about our extensive clititude way back in 1844 when Georg Ludwig Kobelt published his seminal (though that is undoubtedly the wrong word) clit research in Die männlichen und weiblichen Wollust-Organe des Menschen und einiger Säugetiere (The Male and Female Organs of Sexual Arousal in Man and some other Mammals). 

Kobelt discovered a bunch of highly useful info--that, ahem, science, would have been NICE TO KNOW--like: clitorises (the whole extensive lot) become erect when aroused, and have all sorts of parts that you (and by "you," I mean "me") never even heard of like crura, bulbs and other clitorally-related new words I will probably not be incorporating into my sexy talk. "Oh my God! My clitoral vestibule is sooo hot for you."

Although maybe I should be talking vestibules and such. If you're a guy and plan to be sliding your manhood into her sweet feminine folds, you actually do want her clitoral vestibule, as well as her two corpora cavernosa, to be hot for you. When these parts are erect, they'll tighten quite nicely around you.

According to the anatomical explanation in this article on the Museum of Sex blog which I could barely understand without consulting the drawing frequently:

Most of the clitoris is subterranean. The glans is connected to the body or shaft of the internal clitoris, which is made up of two corpora cavernosa. When erect, the corpora cavernosa encompass the vagina on either side, as if they were wrapping around it giving it a big hug! Near each of the crura on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral vestibules. These are internally under the labia majora. When they become engorged with blood they actually cuff the vaginal opening causing the vulva to expand outward. Get these puppies excited, and you’ve got a hungrier, tighter-feeling vaginal opening in which to explore!

If you're feeling sciencey, I highly recommend you have a look at Helen E. O'Connell's Anatomy of the Clitoris in the Journal of Urology. (Important caveat: article contains photos with such labels as "Fig. 2. Lateral view of dissected clitoris in fresh cadaver of 57 year-old post menopausal woman." Which, as a sentence, contains a surprisingly high amount of unpleasant imagery.)

"The tale of the clitoris is a parable of culture, of how the body is forged into a shape valuable to civilization despite and not because of itself," writes O'Connell.

In the oddly enjoyable article (Journal of Urology, who knew you were such a good read?), O'Donnell rails against the medical establishment for not providing decent diagrams and accurate info on clits--a "blinkered approach," she writes. (A blinkered approach that still exists.) She also describes the history of clitorical research with its ever-changing ideas about what goes on between a woman's legs, and the comical regularly that men throughout history have claimed to "discover" the clit, each one giving it names, culumella (little pillar), sedes libidinis (seat of lust) and landica (shhh, Latin profanity!)

In the 1500's, Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius disagreed with Falloppia (yes, he of the tubes) that "healthy women" had a clitoris and wrote: "It is unreasonable to blame others for incompetence on the basics of some sport of nature you have observed in some women and you can hardly ascribe this new and useless part, as if it were an organ, to healthy women." (On a related note: I can find no mention of a Mrs. Vesalius.)

So why isn't anyone bothering to tell us this stuff? It sure would explain a whole fuck of a lot and clear up the vaginal vs. clitoral orgasm debates, what a G-spot is, etc...  I mean, it seems like it's all just stimulation of various parts of the clitoris. Right? That said, I do think that orgasms feel different depending on what spot is being stimulated. An orgasm from the G-spot area, or cruca or whatever the fuck we're calling it today, really does seem deeper and richer to me than the more tinny, shallow feel of a clit only orgasm.

And...I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. I am writing to complete strangers (and worse, people I know) and describing the color and tenor of my orgasms. That, my friends, means it is so time for me to go today.

However, if you want to weigh in on matters orgasmic, bring it on. You know I like it when you talk like that to me.

xoxo
jill

* Is it CLIToris or CliTORis? According to Wikipedia, which offers audio pronunciations so you can hear the words, each is correct. So use them both as you please! Wikipedia also offers a pronunciation guide for the UK version, /ˈkltɒrɨs/which is completely non-helpful gibberish to me, and sadly, does not come with a corresponding audio version. Because my inner 5th grader would really really like to hear a crisp British voice intoning patiently, /ˈkltɒrɨs/.


For more IBWMW info on orgasms (or, in light of new developments, possible misinformation):   


14 comments:

James Ash. said...

He's no Laurence Olivier, nor especially patient,sounds fairly 'clipped' though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clitoral_Erection.ogg

Can't keep anything to myself said...

Hilarious and delightful read as always, but way to make me feel like a weirdo because I knew about this at age 19. Then again, I was reading every sex related thing I could get my hands on. Although I didn't discover it on the internet. It was actually in a book if you can believe that.

Lost.in.Idaho said...

So, in short, the more I turn my woman on, the more erect her clit gets, and the tighter she feels?

Sounds like win/win to me...

Gia said...

Mmmmm anatomy is sexy!

Okay, maybe not sexy exactly. But interesting. And good to know for sexytimes.

Anonymous said...

clitoral tissue also encircles the anus - basically everything down there can get you off

Sandra Davies said...

There's things you know without needing words for them ... and things that react perfectly adequately whether named or not. Thank goodness.

Katsidhe said...

I was aware that there were like "roots" for lack of a better word that extended from the clitoral nubby thing, but I didn't realize that it was quite THIS extensive.

This smartypants apparently doesn't know much about what's in her pants afterall.

bettyfokker said...

I feel smarter now, and am going to find Sweet Babou for 'research'.

Cagey-C said...

To be somewhat fair to Vesalius, he did a great service to the field of medical research by daring to artistically render the human anatomy--based on his explorations of actual human bodies when that was still verboten. So while his conclusion about clitori was a bit off, it may be true that the only versions he saw happened to be on women who were dead. And it's very hard to find a dead woman who is also healthy.

The bit about men 'discovering' and 'rediscovering,' naming and renaming, ladyparts would be hilarious if it weren't also a sad reminder of scientific endeavor as corporeal imperialism. Okay, it's still pretty funny, though.

This is a fascinating post, as usual. I've got to agree with Sandra Davies, though. I'm very glad that the beloved and I haven't had to know the names or graphic representations of things to find them through some enjoyable experimentation.

Cagey-C said...

Oh, and I'll just comment that my very first reaction to the post title was, 'Umm, Josephine?' But then I started to read, and the post itself was so damned smart that my smartassed response seemed juvenile. Which, I suppose, still hasn't stopped me from sharing it. Sigh.

Dan said...

ahhHA! this post indeed rounds out and confirms the knowledge imparted to me one fun and fumbly and well, fucking awesome night (well a few nights) by a lady doctor a few years back...she didnt use diagrams though...it was a more 'practical' explanation heehee....

Vesta Vayne said...

And here is another British dude saying it for you: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=clitoris&submit=Submit

He sounds a little uncertain, right? Like he really needs to read your post so he can figure out what to do with it.

in bed with married women said...

Oh James, You are an enabler is what you are. And thank you, I am beyond pleased.
Can't, I'm feeling like the weirdo b/c I didn't know this. Let us agree that none shall feel weird.
Lost, yes! I was hoping that would be a conclusion made from this info.
Gia, oh, i'm sorry to report that it gets even less sexy on the next post.
Anoymous--thank for your info. and i guess it is generally smart to post as "anonymous" when your comment involves the word "anus."
Sandra, I know. I am still uncertain whether I am pleased with my new knowledge.
Kat, it's a whole damn little penis thing in there. see today's post. yikes!
betty--recommendation: do not use the word "bulbs" during sex.
Cagey-C--ugh and I also apologize to you for getting even more graphic and diagramy in the next post. can't help myself!
Dan--good. i take vicarious pleasure in your night(s) of learning
Vesta--Ugh! He sounds so slimy. "clitoriiiiiiisss." However, I am so very pleased that you brought this to me.

anhonestmom said...

Thank you, oh thank you, for writing this. I am blown away by those diagrams. My clitoris can hug my vagina?!?! As if I needed more reasons to love it...
Also, it is A CRIME how little known this is by the masses. Methinks if the scrotum could hug the penis, there would be a whole line of t-shirts and bumperstickers and beer cozies celebrating it.

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