Raise your hand if you learned about the clitoris in sex-ed. Anyone? Chances are you were never filled in on this incredible part of your anatomy—the one that contains nearly 8,000 nerve endings and is majorly responsible for your pleasure during sex. In fact, if you’re like much of the population, it’s possible you only recently got clued in about the existence of the clitoris, much less what it actually looks like.
This widespread lack of clit knowledge is exactly what inspired 24-year-old Laura Kingsley to help get the word out about the elusive female body part. How? By drawing anatomically-accurate clitorises on the ground all over the world. Her awareness campaign and Instagram account, called Clitorosity, is aimed at teaching the world all about the clitoris. “We learn about our lungs, our ovaries, our fallopian tubes, our kidneys, but we don’t know as much as we should know about the structure of the clitoris,” says Kingsley, who is based in New York City. “But it’s so important because it helps us understand female sexuality, which has traditionally been more oppressed.”
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The idea all started while Kingsley was still in college, when it struck her that “in our culture we get so many sexual messages: We’re encouraged to have sex in everything from ads to magazines to movies, but we don’t have conversations about real anatomy.” In response, she started conducting sex-ed talks on campus, focusing on the clitoris.
“What struck me was how surprising and empowering and enlightening learning about the actual structure of the clitoris was. From that, I kept thinking I wanted to do more,” she says.”I started thinking about how I could get people to engage, and that’s when I came up with the idea of drawing clitorises on the street, so people would see them.”
Her very first drawing took place last October, in NYC’s Washington Square Park. (Kingsley also dressed up as a clitoris for Halloween that year!) It was simple and straightforward. Kingsley, along with the help of some supportive friends, drew the vibrant illustration on the ground, captioned it “Be curious about the clitoris,” and waited for reactions.
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“A lot of people came up and asked me questions, which was really exciting, because I had no idea how people would respond,” she says. “People were curious, people were talking to us about it, and many were shocked they had no idea about this part of their body.”
According to Kingsley, “How am I this old and I didn’t know this was in my body?” is actually one of the most common reactions she gets, closely followed by “It looks like an octopus.”
But very few people actually know what it is right away, says Kingsley. “I didn’t have anyone guess what I was drawing right away until my 20th drawing.” That happened while she was in New Orleans, and a man who was on a run took one look at the image and stated: “It’s a clitoris.” When she said he was the first person to identify it so quickly, he shrugged and replied: “I went to med school.”
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A post shared by Clitorosity (@clitorosity) on May 6, 2017 at 12:10pm PDT
However, her favorite reaction to her art, thus far, happened in London. There, a woman on a bike ride with her two young daughters saw Kingsley’s drawing and was elated. “‘Ah, it’s a clitoris! The whole thing! Look girls! Isn’t it pretty?'” Kingsley recalls the woman saying. “And when her daughters asked ‘what’s a clitoris’ she responded, ‘it’s a really awesome part of the female body!’ I remember looking at the girl I was with, and I’m pretty sure we both had tears in our eyes.”
A post shared by Clitorosity (@clitorosity) on Oct 24, 2017 at 9:24am PDT
That said, not everyone has such a positive reaction. Kingsley remembers that one time, while doing a drawing in a touristy area of New York City, a family with three kids passed by, and the mom looked visibly upset. The woman asked what she was doing, and the friend Kingsley was with explained their mission. “Then my friend asked her something very interesting: ‘Is this obscene to you?’ She replied: ‘No, but this should be private. Some things should be private,’” remembers Kingsley. “I don’t judge her for that, but I personally disagree, because it’s been private for so long.” Kingsley points out that the model for her drawings was taken out of the Gray’s Anatomy textbook, and that research about the clitoris wasn’t often funded until recently. “It’s odd to me that the clitoris is the thing that has to be private, but so many other things about sex aren’t.”
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But this confusion and frustration only fuels Kingsley’s mission even more. And now, she’s drawn clitorises all over the country, and internationally, including in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, and Sweden. And whenever she’s in a place she’s not familiar with, Kingsley is always sure to check in with a friend who lives in the area, to figure out a caption that will be compelling and relevant in that language and culture. “I also want to make sure I’m not saying something culturally insensitive,” she says.
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For example, in Portugal, she wrote “Voa, Pombinha” because “Pombinha” (translated as “little pigeon”) is a cute phrase that’s used to teach girls about their private parts. So the caption plays on that, and translates as “fly little pigeon.”
What’s next for Kingsley and Clitorosity? “Right now, the drawings are the main way I’m spreading awareness to more people,” says Kingsley, “But I also want to figure out ways to give people more resources to go to from the moment they realize ‘oh this is the clitoris? I didn’t know that, now what?’”
What’s most important to Kingsley is getting knowledge of the clitoris to as many people as she can. She hopes her drawings will help people see that the clitoris isn’t a small and insignificant nub, but rather a much larger internal structure that’s responsible for women’s pleasure sensations. “Understanding that is so empowering, and allows more people to experience it,” she says. “We all deserve to have the pleasure we’re capable of, and knowledge and information about the clitoris can only help with that.”
Source: Women’s Health Mag