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Clitoris

Definition

The clitoris is a sexual organ in the body of female mammals. The visible knob-like portion is located near the anterior junction of the labia minora, above the opening of the vagina. Its particular function is inducing sexual pleasure and orgasms.

Recognition of existence
The external part of the clitoris amounts to a small, sensitive protrusion at the anterior end of the visible female reproductive anatomy. The clitoris is obscured by the folds of the labia minora in this photo.Medical literature first recognised the existence of the clitoris in the 16th century. This is the subject of some dispute: Realdo Colombo (also known as Matteo Renaldo Colombo) was a lecturer in surgery at the University of Padua, Italy, and in 1559 he published a book called De re anatomica in which he described the "seat of woman's delight". Columbo concluded, "Since no one has discerned these projections and their workings, if it is permissible to give names to things discovered by me, it should be called the love or sweetness of Venus."

Columbo's claim was disputed by his successor at Padua, Gabriele Falloppio (who discovered the fallopian tube), who claimed that he was the first to discover the clitoris. Caspar Bartholin, a 17th century Danish anatomist, dismissed both claims, arguing that the clitoris had been widely known to medical science since the 2nd century.

Noted researchers Masters and Johnson, Boston based researcher John Garabedian, and Dr. Matt Jaeger at the University of Kentucky all conducted extensive studies of the clitoris.

In the 1970s, the word clitoris was considered offensive in the spoken English language and is still seen as a taboo word by many people. The first use of clitoris on television in the United States is believed to have been by Dr. Rich O'Brien, a Harvard colleague of Garabedian's, on the Dr. Ruth Westheimer show. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoris [Aug 2005]

The Bon Bon of Love

"The clitoris is the bon bon of love." That's how Dr. Francesco Plazzoni described it back in 1631.

Female Genitalia [...]

The Clitoris in History

Unlike the penis, of which it is usually described as the female homologue, the clitoris does not enjoy an array of nicknames, euphemisms or slang terms. There is even some controversy as to its pronunciation, whether this should be clitt-oris or cly-toris, dictionaries vary and some give both as correct (although the OED prefers 'cly-toris) but this means that there is still a decision to be made which may cause hesitation in referring to this organ in speech. The derivation of the word is commonly alleged to derive from the Greek 'Kleis' meaning key but there is some philological debate about this, as discussed in a 1937 article by Professor Marcel Cohen reprinted by Thomas Power Lowry in The Classic Clitoris (1978).

The anatomy of the clitoris was described in 1559 by Renaldus Columbus of Padua, who claimed that previous anatomists had overlooked the very existence of 'so pretty a thing'. His primacy was however contested by another eminent anatomist of Padua, Gabrielo Fallopio. Although they claimed to have discovered this organ, since antiquity there had been a powerful belief that mutual orgasm was necessary for conception, which suggests that, though unnamed, the clitoris was known to be there. Like his namesake, Renaldus had discovered something that had been there all the time, if not named or mapped, and which other people (though not, perhaps, the people he would recognise as colleagues) and other traditions had already known about -- Oxford Companion to the Body

Female circumcision

Female circumcision is a term that loosely refers to a number of procedures performed on the female genitalia and which are generally of a cultural, rather than medical, nature. It is a very nearly universal practice in parts of Africa and is frequently practiced in the Arabian Peninsula and Asia.

The practice is rejected within Western Civilization, where it is usually regarded an unacceptable and illegal form of involuntary body modification and is often called female genital mutilation (FGM). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_circumcision [Sept 2004]

Deep Throat (1972)

  1. Deep Throat (1972) - Gerard Damiano
    Deep Throat Linda, frustrated that her hugely energetic sex life leaves her unsatisfied, seeks medical help. The doctor informs her that the reason for her problem is that her clitoris is mistakenly located at the back of her throat - but there is a very simple remedy, which the doctor, and various other men, proceed to demonstrate...

    Damiano's Deep Throat (1972) became porn's cross-over hit, as Damiano recognised that, with changes in structure and publicity, its explicit content could be rendered acceptable to a wider audience. Unlike most previous porn films, Deep Throat was feature-length, with a script and a plot, its sex scenes thus being justified by their narrative context. The film played in mainstream cinemas, its success being dubbed 'porno chic'. --Matthew Hunt

Books

  1. Tales from the Clit - Cherie Matrix
    Deep Throat Sex is important to us all because sex is how we got here -- it's a fundamental drive. Puritans of every faith and political persuasion forbid depictions of this most precious and fun moment, and the short essays in this book lash out at those puritans. Each of the writers experienced an epiphany of freedom after reconciling their attraction to whatever kind of pornography snared their imaginations. Each continues to struggle against the forces of law, conformity, religion, and repression that waste our time with preposterous threats of social collapse and eternal damnation. Their discoveries, preferences, prescriptions, playthings, and proselytizing made excellent reading for me. In part, I found the essays moving because many of the writers experience the same sorts of ambivalence I've had toward porn. Additionally, the essays are intensely personal statements of individual sexual philosophy and history. "Tales from the Clit" is like a pile of letters from outrageous friends -- if you choose to be friendly with women who like porn. --Leonard Cook for amazon.com

  2. The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips - Rebecca Chalker, Fish (Illustrator) [amazon.com]
    Sashaying boldly where others fear to tread, this manifesto on women's genital anatomy and sexual response includes discussions of the entrenched male-centered model of sexuality, an attempt to show women how to redefine their sexuality to emphasize full body pleasure, and advice on how to acquire a stronger sense of being independent sexual beings. Anatomical illustrations and caricatures by San Francisco artist Fish.Book News, Inc., Portland, OR -- From Book News, Inc. This highly informative tour of the clitoris is written with the clarity, exuberance, and accessibility of a sexuality workshop. Growing out of the author's work as a member of the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers, the study begins by debunking myths and inaccuracies and replacing them with anatomically precise detail. Containing personal accounts, comprehensive illustrations, and a thorough appendix of female sexuality resources, the book will help women and their partners understand and expand their sexual interests and potential for pleasure. --Book Description

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