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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » On the Clitoris in Sex Ed.

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Author Topic: On the Clitoris in Sex Ed.
Violet1234
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I am in 9th grade, and recently in Bio. we have studied "reproduction and development." Not sex ed, really, but we did cover how babies are made and "the miracle of life." We also covered STDs, and reproductive structures. Here's what gets me. The clitoris was not on the chart at ALL, while quite a lot of the testes were shown in detail. This is a fairly liberal area, so I'm confused as to why the people who made the text book decided that clitoris's are not important in reproduction. It's not like only human females have them, right? Other animals have them too. At least I think they do. I'm not sure if this topic has been covered in the respect exactly, but the part I'm bringing up is the whole education of young people about their bodies, and if a whole structure is being left out, what's up with that? If anybody has any thoughts or reasonings about this subject, I'd love to hear them. And if I've put this in the wrong section, I do apologize [Smile] .
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Heather
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Well, from all of what we know, the clitoris ISN'T relevant, at all, to reproduction. What it is relevant to, very much so, is sexual pleasure and sexuality.

Now, I'm certainly not saying that justifies leaving a body part (one whose external and internal portions are about as bis as the penis, mind) which is there out of information or diagrams. It's a body part. It's there.

But what I'm guessing it's omission was about was trying to avoid having to talk about sex as pleasure. Again, I think that's seriously not okay, too, since more people engage in genital sex primarily for pleasure than reproduction.

Were you able to ask, in class, where the clitoris was?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Kachina
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I think the clitoris IS relevant to reproduction, because in order to reproduce, you need to have sex, and the clitoris is one of the structures used during sex... If sex wasn't enjoyable to the female half of the species we probably wouldn't reproduce as much.

A diagram of female genitals that is missing the clitoris seems very strange. I would bring it up in class if you can.

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~Kat
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Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that. That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise. - Grace Hopper

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Heather
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Well, I hear you Kat, except that at this point in history, sex actually isn't required for reproduction.

I also think it's sound to recognize that the kind of sex that does result in reproduction isn't a kind most likely to stimulate the clitoris, not directly, anyway, and that plenty of people reproduce as a result of sexual assault or sex they don't enjoy.

Don't mean to nitpick, and I certainly agree that none of that is still any reason to literally erase a body part that exists from education about that area of the body.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wordnerd25
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This actually drives me nuts, too. Talking to my girl friends, I realized that most of us didn't even hear the word "clitoris" until we were at least 15-16, let alone know what it was for. As for me, I spent a lot of time having sexual feelings but not knowing what to do with them because I didn't know how to masturbate. So, I just sort of gave up on my sexuality, resigning myself to being frustrated until I could get a man (of course, not knowing that most women don't get as much pleasure from penis-in-vagina intercourse). It's only really recently that I've started thinking of sexual satisfaction as something I can achieve, but I wish I'd known how to start much earlier.
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Violet1234
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Thanks so much for responding to my post! These were the same arguments and counter arguments that me and my mom thought of, what with the fact that the clitoris isn't actually critical for reproduction the same way that the uterus is.

But in a class that was supposed to cover basic sexual safety (such as different types of birth control and STD prevention), I think it's odd not to discuss ALL the body parts that we tend to involve in PIV and PIA sex, so that the people who don't have great websites like Scarleteen know what they are!

As to if I asked about the clitoris in class, well, perhaps this is my own immaturity speaking, but I don't think it would have gone over well. Like you said before, as it's not directly needed for reproduction that kind of question might have been viewed as unnecessarily vulgar or off topic, and I didn't really feel comfortable asking my male teacher that, no matter how awesome he is about science.

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Heather
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I don't think there's any need to judge yourself about asking or not. By all means, calling out a teacher is intimidating enough, and doing it around a topic where everyone is often so uncomfortable to begin with can be doubly-so. I only asked because I was curious, if you had, what the response was.

But for sure, if this was an overall sex ed class, not JUST a class about how babies get made, leaving out ALL the parts of the genitals was unacceptable.

And erasing one body part, no matter what kind of class it was, is pretty outrageous in my view, no matter what.

When you and your Mom talked about this, did you two talk about the possibility of her calling into the school and complaining as a parent?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Violet1234
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That's a great idea, and no, I didn't think to ask! But me and my mom are close, so that's something I'm definitely going to bring up. It is possible that there are later sex ed. programs where ALL parts of the body are mentioned, and I want to make sure that if there are I'm not asking for something the school already provides, but if not then they should certainly teach students about them! I am out of school for the summer now, but I'm sure the school is still running so it's a perfect time to look into it.
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Heather
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For sure, you can probably still catch someone working in administration.

It sucks that this is the case, but often parent concerns will be given more serious address than student concerns.

I also pulled up an older Planned parenthood video for you this morning in the case that you/your Mom wanted something tangible and simple the school could be shown about how easy it is to be real about body parts (including the clitoris) for students in an age-appropriate way.

That's here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLgiyOcmTB0&feature=share

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Violet1234
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That's a great idea! I tell my mom to suggest it. Thanks Heather!
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Heather
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For sure!

(Suffice it to say, if you have any questions about the information you didn't get on the clitoris in your sex ed class, we're happy to answer them for you. [Smile] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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