May is National Masturbation Month. It’s been celebrated since 1995 in response and protest of then President Clinton firing then Surgeon General of the United States, Joycelyn Elders. Her fireable offense? During an interview with the U.N on World AIDS Day, she agreed that masturbation should be taught as an example of sexual expression that doesn’t have a risk of HIV transmission. Sheesh. As much AIDS panic as there was back then, apparently there was even more masturbation panic.
Now, 18 years later, right in the midst of National Masturbation Month, we celebrate the first annual International Clitoris Awareness Week. I really love the month of May!
Why do clitorises need a whole week of awareness?
1. Clitorises are pretty much the best thing ever. Hello 8,000 nerve endings. Hello ability to have hundreds of orgasms in one sexual encounter. Hello making car rides on bumpy roads go from annoying to fun. Hello only organ in the entire human body with the sole function of pleasure.
What’s your name?
What do you do?
I expel waste fluids through urination, I aid in procreation as a conduit for sperm cells, and I orgasm.
What’s your name?
What do you do?
See, best thing ever.
2. Clitorises are so sadly ignored by society at large. Could you imagine if penises were never mentioned in health class? Could you imagine if in sex ed the teacher showed a diagram of the male reproductive system, but the penis was missing- only the testicles were depicted? Could you imagine if in every movie ever made in which there is a sex scene, the sex was portrayed as a man stimulating a woman’s clitoris, and that’s it. They roll over and it’s done. No mention of involvement of the penis whatsoever. Every single movie. Could you imagine that? Could you imagine if because of this lack of awareness, boys didn’t know until they were adults that their penises were even pleasurable to touch? Sure, they would look down and see it, but would have no idea it was any fun to touch until they were in their 20s or 30s, if ever.
Penises and clitorises develop out of the same embryonic tissues, blood vessels, and nerve endings. They are biologically homologous. They are biologically equivalent. Women need clitoral stimulation to respond sexually as much as men need penis stimulation to respond sexually. It’s that important. And yet, for society as a whole, it’s as if it doesn’t even exist.
3. 130 million clitorises have been mutilated and counting. Cliteraid (www.cliteraid.org) is the non-profit organization behind International Clitoral Awareness Week, and it works to surgically restore clitorises that have been mutilated in one of the worst human rights abuses currently happening on our planet. Millions of women and young girls are held down while their clitoral hood, or entire clitoris, is cut off, usually with a knife, glass shard, razor blade, or pair of scissors. Anesthesia is not used. Remembering that the clitoris is the biological counterpart of the penis, this would be the equivalent of young boys systematically having their penises cut off entirely.
Celebrate a clitoris in your life this week! They’re oodles of fun, have been hidden in shame for too long, are enduring horrific violence around the world, and are long overdue for a little awareness.
Dr. Jill McDevitt is a nationally recognized sexologist, and the only person in the world with a bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree in human sexuality, making her the most formally educated person about sex on the planet. Dr. Jill has reached a documented 8.1 million people in her relentless promotion of the idea that sex should be fun, and everyone has the right to enjoy their sexuality without fear of violence. She founded Feminique, her sex education business, at just 21 years old.