Friday, December 01, 2006

Language and the clitoris

I was having a conversation last night about the plural of "clitoris". I know what the plural of "penis" is - penises.

Is it "clitorises"?

I then began thinking of all the names there are for the penis: cock, dick, knob, willy, rod, bratwurst... :)

What are the alternative names for the clitoris? Are clitorises (?) mentioned in literature and porn? According to etymology online a male anatomist claimed to have discovered the clitoris in the 16th century and called it "the love or sweetness of venus" (bit long-winded). Women knew about it before of course, but what did they call it? Does anybody know?

Language as it exists now developed under patriarchy, and as such words for the clitoris seem to have assumed little importance. There is not even a word for the act of the clitoris being stimulated manually by one's partner. "She/he masturbated me" doesn't seem quite right when you've got "a hand-job" for the almighty penis. (Blow-job. Hand-job. "Jobs". Did these terms originate in prostitution?)

There are plenty of words for the vagina as we all know, sadly. Things like "slit" and "gash" come to mind as some of the worst offenders. Words for the vagina are used with abundance in porn and literature but what of the clitoris? I've heard "button" (bit functional) and "jewel" (bit sentimental). Any more?

The clitoris is of little importance, and as such has few alternative names because, unlike the vagina, men have no use for it.

So, what do you call yours? I'm still trying to think of a nice name for my vagina.


Blogger sparkleMatrix said...

I know that frig is used in reference to female masturbation, meaning quiver. As for other names for clitoris hmmm got me beat. You are probably right; it has no importance to men so it never developed any other identity. Though I do love that it is the only purely pleasure organ of the human body. Penis envy bah! Clitoris envy more like ;-)

5:17 PM  
Blogger spotted elephant said...

Right-it completely escaped attention, so no names. I'd give anything to know how many straight men don't know what the clitoris is.

Sparkle-Clitoris envy indeed!

7:39 PM  
Blogger sparkleMatrix said...

SE-I believe many on them think it is in the back of our throat, next to the vulva…sorry I mean uvula ;-)

10:21 PM  
Blogger Antonia said...

pleasurenut is a good name

9:55 AM  
Blogger stormy said...

The only other name I've heard in general use (by males) is "clit".

I've never really sat down to come up with a plural, as I only have the one. Perhaps clitoris is like 'deer', both plural and singular? Or perhaps the plural should be a bit more latin-sounding "clitori"? We need linguistic experts to get onto this anomaly straight away!

Sparkle is of course right as always, clitoris envy seems to be going on. The penis is more like a swiss army knife, all the functions are contained together (pleasure, urination, reproduction). Women have all the functions done by separate parts, and we know that separate, specialised 'tools' for any job, are better than multi-function tools (and more expensive), so that makes females more up-market and top-of-the-line, not like bargain-basement, cheap knock-off males.

11:23 AM  
Blogger witchy-woo said...

From Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

"The clitoris is pure in purpose. It is the only organ in the body designed purely for pleasure. The clitoris is simply a bundle of nerves: 8000 nerve fibres, to be precise. That's a higher concentration of nerve fibres than is found anywhere else in the body, including the fingertips, lips, and tongue, and it is twice...twice...twice the number in the penis. Who needs a handgun when you've got a semiautomatic."

12:22 PM  
Blogger jo22 said...

Frig is an ugly sounding word, as is clit. But that's just my opinion.

5:39 PM  
Blogger LibraryTavern Liz said...

According to my dictionary, the plural is clitorises.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:15 AM  
Blogger jo22 said...

Liberal dyke hags suck?
Excellent. On it right away.

12:24 AM  
Blogger stormy said...

"martha's" exact same message was posted to the Speakout blog. Suffice to say it got marked as spam and written up at Trollbuster.

Hit the delete icon, ya know ya wannto...

12:40 AM  
Blogger Anji said...

I've always liked the term 'jilling off' for female masturbation. :o)

4:18 PM  
Blogger stormy said...

"Jilling off"

4:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

jilling off! hehe love it!

1:31 PM  
Blogger Anji said...

Also, I've just found out that the plural of clitoris is apparently "clitorides". No joke!

6:41 PM  
Blogger jo22 said...

Clitorides? Sounds like a disease. So even the dictionaries can't make their minds up.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

When a man hits a woman, it is called battery.
When a woman hits a man, it’s called empowerment.

When a man deserts his family, he is called a deadbeat.
When a woman deserts her family, it’s her choice.

When a man cheats, he’s a pig.
When a woman cheats, she’s a victim.

When a man goes into landscaping, he’s called a failure because he didn’t become an engineer.
When a woman becomes a hairdresser, she’s a victim because she isn’t paid as much as men.

When a man kills his kids, he’s a heartless murderer.
When a woman kills her kids, she’s a victim of emotional stress.

When a woman doesn’t want a child, she has an abortion because it’s her choice.
When a man doesn’t want a child, he’s irresponsible and is forced to pay child support.

When a women on TV hits a man, people laugh
When a man on TV hits a woman, people sue.

When a woman on TV is portrayed as dumb, the show is sexist.
When a man on TV is portrayed as dumb, we laugh.

When women, who now attain degrees more than men, leave the workforce at 40, it’s her choice.
When a man doesn’t go to college so that he can work in the labor industry, he’s a failure.

Liberals call this progress.
Conservatives think it’s sickening and unethical.
Businesses don’t care because they make money.

8:01 AM  
Blogger suitable said...

I'd like to respond to "Language as it exists now developed under patriarchy, and as such words for the clitoris seem to have assumed little importance. There is not even a word for the act of the clitoris being stimulated manually by one's partner." How about "rub your nub"? "Push your button"? "Flit your clit"? Not "a word" but a phrase in each case, but there is some variety, and this is only the memory of one guy. Surely the patriarchy didn't prevent women from choosing their own terms, even if they might not have been admitted to standard dictionaries.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if any of you guys and gals saw this:
It is quite amusing regarding 'clitoris envy'.
I came across it, at the same time as this blog, cos I was thinking, maybe clitoris envy is the deep rooted cause of all of the worlds problems...

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The beauty the (imagined) possibilities, no envy, longing to get in touch with one. I think of it as a pearl

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

I always liked the name 'cookie' for a clitoris. Also I think Jilling Off is a great term. Hehe.

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pearl . . . important in deep sea diving

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No really.

6:27 AM  
Blogger jo22 said...

Oh, the idea of men arguing about which one of them discovered the clitoris and who should name it.

I just...just..argh.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nubbin, trigger, bean, pearl, spark plug, man in the boat, love button, clit, clitty...

12:46 PM  

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