This is a 3D model of a clitoris – and the start of a sexual revolution

Sep 16, 2016

By Minna Salami

This month, pupils across France will be able to use the first full-size anatomical model of a clitoris in their sex education classes. Considering all the technological, medical and scientific achievements humans have made, this seems to have taken a long time. The distribution of this model has been possible due to 3D printing technology; but even three-dimensional MRI scans, which previously produced the most accurate representations of the clitoris, only became available in 2009.

But it was worth the wait. The truth is, you might struggle to gain pleasure from a tool you don’t even know you have. In 2016, women finally know without speculation what the whole of their sexual organ looks like; and for many it won’t be quite what they imagined.

You may be wondering, what’s the big deal? Is the clitoris not the “small, sensitive, erectile part of the female genitals at the anterior end of the vulva”, as Oxford Dictionaries defines it? And isn’t the real issue simply whether it brings a woman sexual gratification?


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37 comments on “This is a 3D model of a clitoris – and the start of a sexual revolution

  • This model is fantastic! I have never seen this before even in medical books (I’m not a medical doctor so maybe this is in some of them).

    I’m really disappointed in the article though. It reads like it was written 30 years ago.

    I would love it if this model was used in U.S. sex education classes. The clitoris is usually ignored even though that’s Mission Control.



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  • Michael

    So why not post the image of the 3d model

    Well, for one thing its scary as hell. Probably needs a trigger warning….

    I loaded it into my CAD which told me it was nearly 6 feet across rather than 7cm. A sort of reverse Spinal Tap moment.

    Seriously, I think it rather beautiful, like an alien swan. At six foot it would make an impressive piece of public art.



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  • 5
    Pinball1970 says:

    “The truth is, you might struggle to gain pleasure from a tool you don’t even know you have.”
    Bullshit. Women know they have one and with some practice and luck they find a partner that is interested enough to try stuff that works, we are not in the Victorian period any more.
    That is how sex works it not about 3 D printers or models or anatomy classes.



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  • I am at work and clearly do not want to do the tedious stuff I’m here to do.

    This image shows what we are talking about.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5RUgiEM0ANI/UXrzra8SlsI/AAAAAAAAADo/2puC1y1B4hQ/s1600/clitoris-internal.jpg

    (Following this back beyond this page gets into areas NSFW)

    The pudendal nerve splits to ennervate all of this clitoral extent prodigiously. Most folk know only of the glans clitoris. Yes, this is the most sensitive spot on the body (of either sex) having 8000 nerve endings, an astonishing density unmatched by the glans penis.



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  • Pinball1970 – I know,right? Every woman I’ve ever met knows she has a clitoris, it’s getting her partner to get to know it that’s usually the problem. But this picture is cool! At least I always find the human body fascinating, especially the naughty bits.



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  • Sorry. this whole thing is just too interesting.

    The particular shape of the clitoral organ and its use of most of the arousing nerves in the area explains why Freud was an ignorant ass, why all orgasms are essentially clitoral and this

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/01/mystery-of-the-female-orgasm-may-be-solved

    excellent hypothesis of evolution away from eggs released by orgasm in earlier mammals to a timed release disconnecting orgasm from fertility. We may surmise that female orgasms became a mere spandrel or became a means of selecting better more attentive mates.

    Next the role of afferent C-tactile nerves (only recently discovered) stimulated by a very specific slow movement of hair follicles, releasing oxytocin, pacifying and encouraging bonding and its use in foreplay and then onto Skene’s glands, the truly vestigial and highly variable “prostate” in women.

    Sex ed. used to be a day off lessons…. It all could get quite complicated and hard work.



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  • 12
    Pinball1970 says:

    @6
    @phil “75mm vestibular bulbs”

    Revolting, if a woman asked me if I knew how to stimulate hers over dinner I think I would climb out of the gents window.

    The image of the 3D thing looks like some sort of sea snail.

    What happened to a little bit of mistery? A little playful investigation? Some things can remain sacred I think unless you are studying human physiology/anatomy.



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  • 13
    Pinball1970 says:

    @EP2016
    There is also the small matter of women being different and changing over time.
    Some can change over a weekend.
    A 3D model of the vistibular bulbs wil not help in that situation.

    Anyone else put off sex for while after reading this?



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  • Pin

    I am reminded of the Bill Tidy Grimbledon Down cartoon strip in the New Scientist.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimbledon_Down

    Population control via anti-porn.

    However there is something to be said for being prepared in a cool and informational fashion well ahead of the passion. John Ruskin’s wedding night horror at the novel geography needing navigating and not mapped at all in the neat arrangements of his beloved nude marble statuary might be the worst of it.



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  • She did. She was.

    Effie Gray, the film by Emma Thompson, was a sad disappointment. Effie was better served by the rather comical and knock about series on the BBC of the Pre-Raphaelites “Desperate Romantics”.



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  • 18
    Pinball1970 says:

    @15@16
    “that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April.”

    Perhaps she was able to draw 3D images of her person that disgusted her husband?

    Hard to get past that



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  • Disgust at our insides is common. Children brought up with illustrating books and practical examples are blithe about such things. These become simply the facts of the matter.

    Parental prissy disgust will therefore breed prissy disgust. Captain Fantastic (the movie) may have a message for us.

    This is about children’s education after all.

    No hope for you and me…



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  • I have always been fascinated with the subtle pinks and red tissues that make up the vulva! Making my wife sigh and moan with pleasure has always been a noble goal. The complexity of the organ is intriguing as well incidentally!



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  • phil rimmer #19

    Disgust at our insides is common. Children brought up with illustrating books and practical examples are blithe about such things.

    This is a huge and general point. After about 6 when my parents realised I might be a little mollycodled (I asked to be reassured that burglars were just made up for stories just like aliens), they always told it straight as best they could. So I never had any hint that I would do anything other than ultimately die just like Hammy and Gingy. Sex education was a bit of a problem for them, which they resolved with “booklets”, dispiriting little things with drawings I knew for a fact to be barely accurate printed on thin newsprint for easier ingestion if discovered reading the thing. Whatever, it worked and I never again was afraid of death (or sex).

    My own kids have a very balanced view about death, never having been promised immortality. The fatuous fantasy of virginity and the wedding night is unhappiness in waiting. The fatuity of heaven promised to children is plain cruelty, visiting them with your own folly and fears.

    Kids are tough stuff.



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  • 22
    Pinball1970 says:

    @21
    Sensitive I think kid like me, a product of innner city 70s Manchester – not the nicest memories.

    I dont like things that remind me of something else that I am not keen on, the sea slug ref was not an attempt at humour- I may have have the wrong species, I will get back to you on that.

    I think the pancreas looks pretty horrible as well, almost phallic, a diseased one possibly.

    Like I said unless you’re are a surgeon or something knowing the full extent of the anatomy is surplus to requirements.

    But that’s me, I am not squeamish but I must be a little Ruskin in some areas.



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  • 24
    Pinball1970 says:

    @23 No Phil

    “Art” and “dead bodies” to me do not sit together well.

    Art is to me is a Jan van Eyck or The Death of Marat by David (one of my faves- when I saw that at 15 I realised I would NEVER be able to create something like that)

    Not body parts in formaldehyde.



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  • Definitely not body parts in formaldehyde. This is not the Hunterian Museum.

    It is following in the footsteps of Vesalius and using an astonishing micro-casting technique with filligrees of nerves and capilliaries creating human poses in the same manner. Stunning. My kids and I missed it, but they love the images.

    I won’t post links if you are uninterested.

    Teaching photography and print making sometimes involved life classes. The models were most often dumpy middle aged women with a little too much eye make-up or quite grizzled and scrawney old men. The art pieces of these models were often the most tender and most connected.

    I would say, art at its greatest, and one of the deepest satisfactions in life, is discovering beauty where it is least expected.

    I need to stop, don’t I?



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  • bonnie (spelled it right this time)

    But every last body bit is gone dissolved in alkali.

    Highly appropriate for kids, even the affectionate poses.

    Steven, yesss! Delighted to hear this. Such early experiences make for sturdier and clearer minds and richer experiences later in life.



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  • For your entertainment and edification I recommend this show; Masters of Sex. Based on the life and work of Masters and Johnson, it’s the very thing for a binge watch on a boring day.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdO2Y49CBKU

    Masters of Sex is a combination of scientific investigation of the mechanics, anatomy and physiology of sex and the psychological component that goes along with all of that. It’s impossible to watch this show and not come away with an appreciation for their work. They were investigating a taboo subject in the American dark ages. The data that they collected made a big difference for many people.

    Like Phil, my parents were puritanical and offered a pamphlet on menstruation. It’s the best they could do. Luckily I’ve always been a reader and found my own way to books that explained pretty much all I needed to know. Some of those books were the series The Happy Hooker that was on the best seller list in the mid seventies. I used to babysit for pocket money as a young teen and many of those moms had these books on their nightstands. Not the best source of knowledge for a young teen but in combination with certain other more standard books on development and anatomy it made for some interesting reading.

    Women need to know about the anatomical information provided in the article above. I’m not sure how widespread this ignorance is amongst us but I’ll bet it’s not widely known that those nerves cover that much area.

    When women can’t achieve orgasm by vaginal intercourse and have no way to find out that orgasm by that route is unlikely anyways then they will assume that they are dysfunctional. This is very sad. If women don’t know how to produce an orgasm in themselves then they won’t communicate this to their partners either. She’s lucky if she finds a partner to help her get there with the knowledge that he/she has, but I’m a second wave feminist and one of our goals was to have women take responsibility for their own orgasms with knowledge and experience and assertive communication with partners to get what we want and what we need. For this to happen, women require blunt instruction on anatomy and advice on technique given in a sex positive attitude. Then they can experiment on their own and then interact successfully with a new confidence.

    The only suggestion I have for that 3D model is that it would be helpful to see it in context with it’s surrounding anatomical structures. I’m thinking of those clear human forms with all of the inner organs as colorful components that snap together and can be taken out and put back together as a puzzle. I think I had one of those as a child. It had no genitals at all though, in keeping with “wholesome” puritanical family values. haha.

    A book I highly recommend is:

    Woman: An Intimate Geography
    Aug 5, 2014
    by Natalie Angier

    Angier is the author of that article we had here a few days ago on bonobos. She’s one of my favorite science writers. I gave Intimate Geography to my daughters because of Angiers positive and lighthearted attitude that she took in delivering important information having to do with the female side of sex and reproductive issues. One thing I remember her saying in the book (paraphrasing) is that when a girl has her first period it used to be tied up in shame and disgust and that this has to stop. She says that it should be a celebration of a biological system that is complex and wonderful and a rite of passage that will lead to motherhood and all that it entails.

    She also discusses some suggestions for women who have trouble achieving orgasm. I’m not sure how widespread this problem is. Women who are having this difficulty are not always forthcoming with the truth. Some women aren’t sure if they’re having one or not. If you’ve never felt that sensation then you don’t know what you’re aiming at. For women who aren’t sure, watch your (male) partner; except for ejaculation, do you think you are experiencing the same thing he is?



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  • It seems that with religious fervour, “sex education” is somewhat different!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37439161

    Sierra Leonean police have released a woman accused of female genital mutilation following pressure from a powerful society of circumcisers.
    Elsie Kondoromoh was “tentatively” released after a large number of cutters protested against her arrest, police inspector Marty Tarawallie said.

    Stick-wielding cutters have also protested at a hospital where her alleged victim is being treated.

    The uniform-clad cutters have a society, known as Soweis, representing them. Ms Kondoromoh is the national vice-president of the Soweis council.

    Alleged victim Khadija Balayma Allieu, 28, said that she was blindfolded and dragged into a room at a home in Kenema by up to five or six cutters.

    “One sat on my chest, one each held my hands. Another two held my legs and spread them open. They gagged me as I shouted. Then she [Ms Kondoromoh] started cutting,” Ms Allieu told the BBC.

    “I felt her cut towards my vagina. She dipped her hand inside my vagina and I felt her pull something and cut it. They held my head down and continued cutting. I started bleeding profusely. I tried screaming but there was [a] cloth inside my mouth,” she added.

    Ms Kondoromoh has denied any wrongdoing but has admitted to circumcising her.



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  • How is this [enlarged] “actual size” version of the clitoris stimulated to orgasm? Does the woman
    need a vibrator (finger or penis) that penetrates 4 full inches to massage the entire length and surface area of the organ for maximum orgasmic satisfaction? Are some smaller parts of the clitoris more sensitive, or more immediately sensitive, to massage and manipulation? How could sexually aroused and active woman have failed to discover that they have access to an “extended” organ surface available for consummate pleasure?



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  • I think there are quite a number of people who have not explored all the possibilities of their allotted kit. It is fascinating that tribadism is rarely discussed but figures quite highly in the lesbian repertoire indeed-

    Masters and Johnson’s 1979 study on lesbian sexual practices found that vaginal penetration with dildos is rare, and that lesbians tend to do more overall genital stimulation than direct clitoral stimulation,

    This indirect clitoral stimulation is a slower affair. I suspect this works better with the sex in the head thrill of sustained intimacy with another.



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  • Mae West allegedly said something to the effect (I couldn’t find the quote on google):
    “When sex is good, it’s very good and when it’s bad, it’s still good.” That sounds like it was
    written by a man.



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  • Further to #32 –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40491311

    The NHS in England recorded 5,391 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the past year, data reveals.

    Almost half involved women and girls living in London, NHS Digital found.

    A third were women and girls born in Somalia, while 112 cases were UK-born nationals.

    The practice is illegal in the UK and it is compulsory for family doctors, hospitals and mental health trusts to report any new cases in their patients.

    FGM – intentionally altering or injuring the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons – carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.

    It is the second time that NHS Digital has released annual FGM figures for England.

    Most of the cases were spotted by midwives and doctors working in maternity and obstetric units.

    The majority had originally had FGM done to them abroad and as a young child.

    The NSPCC says more should be done to end the practice: “FGM is child abuse. Despite being illegal for over 30 years, too many people are still being subjected to it and it is right that health services have started to properly record evidence of this horrendous practice.

    “It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family. But we need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.”

    Anyone concerned about someone who has suffered, or is at risk of FGM, can contact the NSPCC FGM Helpline anonymously on 0800 028 3550 or visit nspcc.org.uk.

    Wendy Preston, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex-and-relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk.

    At long last legal systems are starting to tackle the abuses inflicted by those besotted with indoctrinated faith-thinking religious delusions, in the name of “morality” or “purity”!



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  • Wendy Preston, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex-and-relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk.

    In one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books she explains that incoming immigrants need direct no nonsense explanation of the laws and expectations of their new country. I thought this was a bare minimum policy for any effective assimilation to occur.

    If I was the one writing up this policy I would recommend having the assimilation sessions in separate male/female settings. They need to be informed as to the details of laws regarding genital mutilation of both boys and girls – that circumcision is legal (details depending on which country we’re living in) for boys but that any GM of girls is against the law and the parents will be arrested and face years of jail time.

    Also that there are laws about age of marriage that will be enforced. This is a tricky one because the very cultures that are in favor of marrying girls off at a young age also don’t necessarily care about legalities of civil marriage licenses and prefer instead a religious in home ceremony because then in the eyes of God the relationship is sanctified and permanently established in the minds of both families and society. The paperwork is just an annoyance.

    Immigrant families need to know that their sons will be held accountable for any sexual assaults and rapes that they perpetrate and they need to know what the exact penalties are for these crimes. Victim blaming, still alive and well in other cultures will not be tolerated in the West.

    These are just a few of the issues that need to be bluntly explained to immigrants and it needs to be followed up by social workers directly face to face in the immigrant communities. A social worker friend of mine told me that when dealing with immigrants here in the Boston area where she works, she has been instructed to tell families that “It may be legal and considered good to beat your children in –fill in name of country— but in America that is a crime and you will be arrested and your children will be placed in foster care. Do not hit your children.”

    These blunt statements directed to the adults in the immigrant family are very important. Plenty of people hold onto old cruel ideas because they believe that these practices are in the best interest of the family and of the child. They don’t want their children to grow up disrespectful and badly behaved. They want their girls to be sexually pure for their own good and the good of the family. They want their sons to be circumcised for cleanliness and what they consider to be attractive in that way and to be in compliance with what Allah has demanded of them. If these families have never heard of a single criticism of these practices from anyone around them, which is often the case, then they probably think that it’s how everyone manages their family everywhere.

    This is why these conversations with immigrant families are so important. It may be the first time they’ve ever heard anything negative about marrying their teens off as soon as possible, cutting off the clitoris of their daughters and cutting off the foreskins of their sons, retaliation against their daughters for their private relationships with men or women they choose to be involved with and basically all aspects of tribal justice that may be the only framework they’ve ever known in the lives.

    Strong warnings by state agencies in the communities and then medical checks on regular basis to assure compliance. This is the minimum action to make a difference.



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