What’s in a Name?

When I was growing up in the 1940’s, I had no name for my female sex organ, however, since no one ever talked about it, it didn’t matter to me. When I say “no one”, I’m including adults, my friends and boyfriends. Perhaps my high school gym teacher used the term “vagina” in her lecture about changing our pads frequently. “Down there” was used to refer to modesty situations, like in “keep your legs together and your skirt down, so no one can see down there”, or to refer to physical conditions like “I’m bleeding down there, or I have an itch down there.”

I was aware of terms like “pussy” and “cunt” that were used, usually in an insulting fashion, but in the white suburb of Glendale, California where I mainly grew up or in the tiny village of Dale, Oklahoma (also white) where my mother took us for extended visits, these terms were not used around young females.

Like most of the girls at school, I had lots of sex as a teenager, mostly in the back seat of a car. It was exciting, but I never climaxed. I didn’t feel cheated, because I didn’t know about orgasms. Even later, after I got pregnant and dropped out of UCLA to get married, I was unclear about whether I had ever had an orgasm or not. Of course, when I had an orgasm while having sex with the man who became my second husband, all my doubts vanished!

Most females learn the term “vagina” when we’re taught the basic facts about fertilization and pregnancy at school or at a family planning clinic. Nowadays, our sex organ is called the “vagina” in polite society.

Thanks to films, TV, the internet, sex advice books or even pornography, we know a lot more about our female sex organ. We’ve learned that the erectile tissue, the clitoris, is much more extensive than the pea-sized bump that is at the top of the lips that frame the vaginal opening, and we know that when we’re sexually stimulated, it becomes big and puffy. If we have an orgasm, we may experience ejaculation. However, since the medical profession refuses to accept the results of research, our gynecologist may tell us that the ejaculate was just urine.

The reason we’re still confused is that our sources of information don’t have reliable sources of information themselves. Of course, pornography is unreliable, being entertainment for males, it presents a distorted version of female sexuality. Even the websites or sex advice books can be confusing, because experts use different terms, such as the vulva, the clitoris or vagina to refer to various parts of our sex organ without being clear about where exactly these parts or how they function.

When you look at the source of information the sex-perts rely on, medical textbooks, it’s obvious why the internet and sex advice books are confusing. Anatomy textbooks don’t mention orgasm and they don’t show all the parts which work together to produce orgasm. If they mention the G Spot or female ejaculation at all, they cast doubt on their existence, even though the G Spot has been talked about since the ‘80’s, and extensive research has existed for centuries to document female ejaculation and the anatomical structures that produce it. They omit the muscles that produce orgasm or show them in different sections, such as the muscular system or they show the female prostate in the section on the Urinary System. You can come away with the impression that female sexuality is still mysterious and that there might be other “lady parts” that are still to be discovered.

Our problem is that the modern medical profession’s continues to hide the facts. We feminists wrote about this four decades ago, but they ignored it. We found, through our own experience and through research into suppressed anatomy works that our sex organ will, if properly stimulated, produce orgasm, sometimes brief but powerful, sometimes multiple, and sometimes almost spiritual. And the medical profession refuses to recognize and name this marvelous organ.

We need to do to get a bona-fide internationally-respected name.

We need to put all the known research together. There are minor gaps. With today’s imaging technology, we need to do the vital work of researching how the these tissues, whether it’s the nerves, the muscles, the blood vessels, or the clitoris work together as a unit. Some of this research can come from those enlightened medically-trained people who continue work on sex research despite being ignored and kept out in the cold by the established medical profession. Collectively, we can propose a name.

As we are in the process of pulling the information together, we need to get all of the pro-sex forces together to demand that the stodgy, self-satisfied, backward medical profession include that name in the Terminologia Anatomica, which is published by the Federative International Council of Anatomy Terminology. Anatomy books need to show the complete female sex organ structure in one place under its name. Some suggestions have been the “clitoral complex” or the “cligeva” (a combination of “cli” for clitoris, “ge” for G Spot and “va” for vagina).

Why do we females and our pro-sex comrades need to do that? If we don’t, the medical profession will not get off its patriarchal, sexist butt. And because, as Corinne Loperfido said when she and I discussed this much-complained-about-but-neglected problem, “When it comes to respecting our Pussy, What’s in a Name? Just fucking everything!”

This article, written by Carol Downer, was originally published in the Pussy Power House ORGASM Zine, August 2018. Available at www.PussyPowerHouse.org