Episode 44: Are You Cliterate? With Sophia Wallace
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[INTRO WITH EV’YAN]
Hey everyone, I'm Ev'Yan Whitney. And this is the Sexually Liberated Woman. I have such a treat for you today because in this episode, we're going to bring some celebration and demystification to one of the most important players in sexual pleasure, and also the most misunderstood and pathologized - the clitoris. There is so much cultural baggage, misinformation, and ignorance surrounding the clitoris and I've experienced this firsthand because, here's a confession, even though I was masturbating at a very young age, and I was having sex since I was 15. I didn't know what my clitoris was until I was about 19. Which is sad, but not totally uncommon, because I've heard from other clients of mine who have also had the same experience of not being properly educated about their clitoris. And it really just illustrates how neglected and disrespected the clitoris has been. And not just the clitoris, but women and femmes sexual pleasure as a whole, which for some of us, the clitoris is at the center of. So to put this conversation into motion, and to bring some actual facts into some of the most stubborn myths about it. I brought Sophia Wallace onto the podcast to talk all about the concept of cliteracy.
Sophia is a mixed media artist, and honestly, I don't know if she would identify herself as this, but I consider her to be a "clit activist", and she has used the literacy as a main subject in her work. So when she came on the podcast, we talked all about her work and how it was she decided to center the clearest and her art. We also talked about the omnipresent existence of the penis in our culture, about the demonization of clitoral pleasure. We talked about the exact anatomy of the clearest which spoiler the clearest is not just that tiny, external little button above the opening of the vagina, but a vast internal network. And we also talked about the importance of the language we use when we talk about the sexual pleasure center of the body. So as you can see, there's a lot in there, and you'll probably learn some new language today as well. So keep your ears perked for the words crura, narcissexual, and of course, cliteracy, which is the practice of being clitoris literate. Because in this day, in this age, in this year of our Lord 2019, there is literally no excuse not to have this information, there is literally no excuse to not be cliterate, if you will.
So my hope is that this episode will help you to know the body and know thyself. And if you don't happen to have a clitoris, it's likely you know, and love someone who does. So I encourage you to listen and learn, and also share this podcast episode with your clit having friends. Because as Sophia says, later in this episode, none of us have full access to our citizenship if we don't have a right to pleasure in our own bodies. And I, 100% agree with that.
Before we get into it, I'm not sure if you've ever checked out the show notes of an episode of the Sexually Liberated Woman before or if you've ever gone to the brand new website for the podcast, sexuallyliberatedwoman.com. But if there was ever an episode, where you clicked through the show notes, it would be this one. There's a ton of resources and links that you can click to give you some visuals and more information about Sophia's art, education to debunk some of those stubborn myths about the clitoris, and what cliteracy looks like in practice. So definitely check those out after you're done listening, and be prepared to have your mind blown.
[INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIA]
Ev’Yan: Hi, Sophia, thank you so much for being on the Sexually Liberated Woman.
Sophia: Hi, I'm so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ev'Yan: Yeah, I am such a fan of your work. I remember I stumbled across cliteracy around the same time that I started doing this work, maybe not as long, but I feel like your work has been such a part of my own sexual liberation and just sexual education. And so I'm, I'm doing the best that I can to not fan girl but just know that like, I am so happy to be talking to you.
Sophia: That's amazing. I actually had no idea that, I came across your work when you did that post, which I thought was so touching and profound and vulnerable and genuine and, and really eloquent. And that's when I first came across your work, but it really kind of stuck with me.
Ev'Yan: Which posts are you talking about?
Sophia: You posted... I just have a vivid memory of the photograph. And there's like yellow flowers in it. And then there's like some sort of like close up abstracted image of your body. And I think you're holding maybe a clitoris pen or maybe something like that.
Ev'Yan: Oh yeah! That was when I bought Illest Clitoris, the pen. So yeah, I was like so thrilled. But yes, I had no idea that you even like knew who I was.
Sophia: And then I was like, wow, this is really this I really kind of took me aback and like made me pause and like ponder what you were what you were talking about. And the way that you said it. And I don't know. It's just really beautiful. So thank you for that.
Ev'Yan: Wow, that's so cool. I had no idea that you even knew who I was. So that is that's awesome. I'm glad that we could finally connect sort of IRL, at least in real time. And I'm really, really stoked to pick your brain a little bit about cliteracy about clitorises. Actually, I want to ask: is there a plural for the word clitoris? Like, is it clitori? Or is it like? [laughs]
Sophia: Apparently it's clitorides, which I think is a very strange word. So I never used that word. I just say clits. You know, because it just rolls off the tongue. And it's just such a strong word. And, you know, like, the letters together look really strong. And then the sound of it is kind of strong, like a punch, you know. So, yeah, I just always shorten it to clits.
Ev'Yan: That is smart. I think I'm going to adopt that into my vernacular, because anytime that I've been trying to talk about multiple clitorises, I'm like trying clitorises sounds weird clitorides sounds weird.
Sophia: Yeah, yeah, yeah, clits.
Ev'Yan: Amazing. So I, I heard somewhere way, way back, probably when I first started doing my own sexual liberation work that the clitoris was discovered literally 30 years ago. [laughs] Which blew my mind. And I wanted to know, like, what you know about that, like my first question for you is going to be like, why is that? Like, why did we only discover the clitoris 30 years ago, but I like that's a rhetorical question because I know why. But yeah, any any insight or context that you can give? That would be awesome.
Sophia: Yeah. So it's a very interesting story. So in 1998, Dr. Helen O'Connell, who's an Australian neurologist, and should have some major Medal of Honor some major scientific or recognition globally for her discovery, but like hasn't yet but we should, we should rectify that situation. She proved once and for all that the anatomy of the clitoris is the true anatomy that it is comprised of the glands and the bulbs and crura. And she and basically how she came to do this research is that as a urologist she was doing surgeries all the time on the penis and the vulva and clitoris, and she was really just, you know, disturbed when she was looking at the anatomy books because the penis anatomy, the major anatomy was extremely detailed. And then the minor anatomy was also just incredibly intricate. And with the clitoris, and the vulva, the the major anatomy is kind of limited, and then the minor anatomy is just non existent. So she was like, how do we know that when we're doing these surgeries that we're not regularly cutting, damaging the clitoris. And so she decided to do like the first anatomical dissections of the clitoris. And she proved like once and for all that, yes, the clitoris is this you know, larger internal organ and all these parts are actually connected.
Because even the way that they're named, you know, when you look at the penis anatomy, the clitoris anatomy, they both have bulbs, they both have glands, they both have crura, but on the penis, they're called the bulbs of the penis, you know, the glands of the penis, the crura of the penis, whereas in the clitoris it's just the bulbs of the vestibule as if it's like, you know, these bulbs into an entryway but not belonging to an autonomous integrated organ. That's, you know, that is, you know, within itself a whole and that's because, and this is, you know, O'Connell has speculated about this, but you know, her argument is that the female body has been studied in terms of reproduction. And it's the interest in it has been in terms of how it can produce pleasure and how it can produce babies. And it hasn't, there hasn't been interest in like actually the pleasure that women experience and avoiding pain for women.
So everything that didn't kind of affirm the narrative and also the idea, you know, this this trope of like, the phallus versus the lack, the object versus the non object, the gaping vaginas, supposedly, it didn't, you know, solidify this image was completely ignored. And you know, and for some people, and certainly not all, but for some people the idea that women and gender non binary and trans people with clits like have their own autonomous organ that is intact and is erectile and swells up and you know, and has multiple orgasms and is innately inherently sexually powerful. That is very threatening to certain people. So it has been avoided, denied, negated, and there are people that prior to 1998, who did connect the anatomy, George Cobell was a German anatomist who hundreds of years ago, he recognized the anatomy of the clitoris, but his findings were not adopted. Whereas Freud's belief that the clitoris was, first of all, just the glands, but also infantile and pathological, like these ideas were very much embraced. There were Italian anatomist who also found the clitoris, like hundreds of years ago as well. But again, there wasn't there hasn't been interest in it.
So it's been a complicated history of being known, and then being denied and negated, and being lost. And to this day, I think we're still in that kind of a moment. Because, you know, since I started my project Cliteracy in 2012, definitely a lot more people know about the clitoris, but in the grand scheme of the world, nobody knows. And most times when I'm walking down the street and meet a person, and they asked me what I do, and then eventually, you know, I start talking about what my work is, and then I'll show them like my tattoo. And they never know, you know, they never recognize what it is, right? And I always have to like break it down into like, "what?". That tells me something that we have a long way to go. You know, if you think about the history of visual culture and art and and all of these things like the penis so established, you know, it's everything from scribbled on like, you know, a bathroom wall or on like a desk and elementary school to like, inspiration for every damn monument by every nation with the obelisk and the clitoris is not, that form is not known, that symbol is not known. It doesn't exist in our history, which is so saturated with the female nude, like the place that people with clits feel pleasure is not eroticized, is not seen doesn't exist isn't recognized. Like that is a huge problem. And a huge loss and huge opportunity, I guess as well. We are like just at the beginning. I mean, I've been working on this project for seven years. But really, I mean, it's really just the beginning of changing things.
Ev'Yan: Yeah, I was laughing at what you're saying about how like, dicks are everywhere. Because I remember when I first stumbled across your project Cliteracy, it really opened my eyes to everything that you just said about how like, penises are everywhere, like they are such a part of our culture. And they have like, this very, I don't know this like, like, they're, they're used in so many different ways. It's not just about sexuality. It's about power. It's about aggression. It's about success, even. And I remember walking around my neighborhood shortly after I discovered Cliteracy. And I was just like, I wonder how many dicks I'm going to see like just like graffiti on the sidewalk, on a wall somewhere. I saw so many penises and it was like, and they weren't just penises. I mean, sometimes their penises just to be like funny, obviously, like someone drew a cock and balls just to, you know, troll us or whatever. But I mean, there was literally like fallacies everywhere like everywhere. It's so deeply entrenched in our culture. And I, these days I've been really trying to look out for whenever I see clits around, or whenever I see like vulvas. And I actually told my husband like a few years ago, I want to like start maybe like a, like a guerrilla campaign or even just like get a whole squad of amazing babes to just like, we tag the city with vulvas and clits because, like, as a way to, like, bring that back into our consciousness. We're out here.
Sophia: Right? Exactly. And we're proud and our gens are amazing too, you know what I'm saying like, clits are dope, clits are amazing, I don't know what it's like to have a penis, I'm sure it's great. But just saying like, clits are so dope. And I like I love having one so much and it is amazing. And there is nothing, you know, there hasn't been anything like throughout, you know, my entire childhood and young life until I started working on this project. I never felt like there were things that were rapping for. I mean, you know, there's like me, I think about like hip hop. And I think about like Lil Kim, or, you know, Foxy Brown. You mean, I think like female MCs we're trying to represent but there's still something different when representing always has to be done through the male body. And what's so powerful about the clit is that its sexuality is completely independent, and it can engage as it wants to, but like, it's just about pleasure, for pleasure, pleasure, pleasure. And then that is so threatening in terms of thinking about, you know, female and femme sexuality is the idea of receiving pleasure without necessarily giving anything. Like there's no babies coming from this. There's no like, guarantee of your orgasm or pleasure. It's not about you, like it's about. it's about the clit. And it doesn't need anything else, it's completely autonomous. You know what I mean? And I think that's a very radical, that's a radical idea for for a lot of people.
Ev'Yan: Big time. So we keep talking about Cliteracy. And I want to make sure that everyone knows knows what that is. Can you tell us about Cliteracy, your project?
Sophia: Yeah. So in 2012, I started this project called Cliteracy. And I really didn't expect to start this project I was, I was kind of terrified to do it, actually. But it was a combination of two things that kind of came together and overwhelmed me, and I had no choice. One of them was discovering the true anatomy of the clitoris. And being like, what the fuck like, how, how am I just finding this out now? How do I not know my own body? How have I been misled about my body my whole life? How have I gone to every doctor's office and the drawings are wrong? And the models are wrong? Like how is this possible? And then the second thing was that I found out that my grandmother had never had an orgasm her whole life.
Sophia: I think this is something that a lot of our elders in our life have experienced. Elder women, and it's just not talked about. But it's so common.
Ev'Yan: How did how did she talk to you about it?
Sophia: I mean, basically, it was sort of the end of her life. And she's, you know, we're all kind of telling stories that, you know, in the last few days of her life, and my uncle said that she had recently like, sort of lamented this to him. At the time, it was kind of like, well, wow, that's a little bit, like how sad but also, like, well, that's a little bit inappropriate. But then it's also like, well, when is it ever appropriate to talk about this, and then I don't stand up for my grandmother, like, who will. And she's the one who created this whole family, and she gave birth to five children, four of them survived. And like, she deserved to have orgasms. And for sure, my grandfather was having orgasms his time with her all those years. And this is a person who is like so gregarious, so outgoing, so fun, loving, so athletic. So, you know, like bubbly and fun. I mean, I just have no doubt in my mind that like, she could have had orgasms if her body was being attended to or if she felt safe to attend to her body, right.
So I think that just outraged me. And I felt like I had to call bullshit on the complete absence of the clitoris in our culture. And the lie that pleasure for people with vulva is primarily comes from penetration, penetration is wonderful. But that is not where the vast majority of the nerves, the nerves originate from, and the ones that are internal or from the clitoris, not, not the vagina, and they usually get engaged through the glands of the clitoris first. And those are like, also P.S., the weakest orgasms, you could have solely from some penetration. So those that want that that's fine, but just know that like, you're not superior, just because you got it from, from penetration. And in fact, you could be having much stronger ones by having, you know, multiple things happening and engaging the place where 8000 nerves are.
So, you know, there's been such a privileging of everything. I mean, basically, the way that sex that I, you know, this is generalization, but I think this is pretty true. What we've been taught about sex and sexuality has always revolved around the male erection that is like the source of all sex, and you know, every everything sexy comes from that. But in fact, like the clitoris has its own apex, and it is amazing and it deserves to be treated as in the way that's unique to it, it's been treated like it, you know, for people that wanted their external clitoris stimulated, there was something it's always said as if there's like this extra thing that they need. As if that's not scientifically, biologically how it fucking works. Like there's 8000 nerves there! Yes, that's where you touch. Like, you wouldn't expect a dude to orgasm. If you're just casually bumping against his dick with your abdomen occasionally, you know what I mean? Or your arm is like brushing by it.
But the way that our society treats sexuality is like, you know, women are supposed to just orgasm when their clits are indirectly being bumped into and a dude is getting his, you know, his primary erotic area, the glands of his penis stimulated constantly. And that's normal, that's normalized as the natural, the best, the ideal, the lucky way. And that's just not that's just not based in science and facts. So I think that one of the first things that I had to do was just call bullshit on that. And really centralize the clitoris as, as a subject and talk about sex from the perspective of the clit and talk about you know, and really try to denaturalize sexual incompetence, and call that out, and as corny, as outdated, as, you know, lazy, as unattractive and really tried to, you know, reposition this whole narrative around, like how sexuality is discussed.
So I mean, to get to your, your, your question, and it's such a layered thing, because I've been working on this for so long, but yeah, yeah, so such a big thing to take on. So when I started out with her project, you know, I had these concerns, and I was working as a photographer at the time, and I knew that I couldn't use photography as my medium. Because like, everywhere, we see images of sexualized women and femmes, and yet the place that they are feeling pleasure, and their true authentic desire and embodiment is not seen. So I knew that the camera like wasn't the answer. And a lot of what I wanted to talk about was the unseen of this body, the unseen experience interiority and subject hood. And so I wanted to say like you can't- everything that's real, and and precious and meaningful, can't necessarily be seen on the surface. And don't be so arrogant as a viewer to think that you can just like, walk by take a glance at a policy and you know, what's going on? You don't know anything about it. You don't know anything. So the first thing was, I made 100 Laws of Cliteracy.
Ev'Yan: Which I love, by the way.
Sophia: Oh, thank you. Yeah, so I made like 100 text works and the text work are like, a Universal Declaration of Rights for the clit, basically saying, it has a right to be known in its true anatomy, it has the right to dignity, it's, it's so dope, it's so amazing. I mean, there's you know, there's laws that deal with like, just basic science and facts about it. And then there's like, kind of remixing like pop culture and hip hop lyrics for the clit. And then there's commentary about art and architecture and everything in between, you know, Anne Frank talks about her clit.
Ev'Yan: She did?
Sophia: She actually asked her mom what it was, and then her mom just discouraged her. And so she didn't know she was, yeah, yeah. Um, so so the hundred laws, hundred laws are sort of like my establishing text. And with that, as the foundation, then I started working on the form of the clit, and, you know, the sculptural work, and then making patterns and making, you know, the clitoris assemble and putting these patterns all over the place. And you know, the patterns, I think, is very powerful in terms of counter to the hierarchy of the phallus, where it's about, like, the big building that towers over everything. Pattern is about like the power of the small and the many, like coming together and using the so called weapons of the week to create different types of resistance says, and also, like, when I'm using patterns, people just think it's like, decorative, and they don't know what it is. And so it's not censored as much as like, when I have the gold clit encounters a lot more, not only resistance with people who like actively want to destroy it, and like, bring it into submission, and like, you know, symbolically rape it.
Sophia: Yeah, it's like a different way to just address like, the complexity of the story and like, resist without doing it on sort of like the terms of the phallus. So, yeah, I mean, so I've been working like so I've been working on this project, so many different ways. So I've always had like the part that's in the gallery world. And then I also do street art anonymously, because it can't just be in the art world. It has to be a bigger conversation. And then I have, you know, I have like, things that I sell as well, like, you know, pins and T shirts and jewelry. And I really, I never expected to be doing that. But I you know, when I first started the product, I made this cliteracy eye chart, and I made a cliteracy definition.
Ev'Yan: Yes, that's that's the I think that's the, the first time that I came across cliteracy was the eye chart.
Sophia: Amazing. Yeah. So I made this and I just was like, in my little, you know, studio, like, I was like, you know, making my prints. And then people were coming up to me, and they're like, what is that? I want that, like, I need that, like, can I get that? And I was like, whoa, like, no one has ever done this before. But people were just like about it. And they were very, they just like, took a very different, I don't know, response to the work. And I kind of knew that I was I was creating something that was valuable and was needed. And I think I mean, even solid gold clip t shirt, you know, it's like, what does that mean? I mean, at the time I made it. I mean, I remember I was like, I was listening to a lot of MIA at the time. And I was just thinking about a gold chain bouncing on my neck. And I was like, you know, yes, like repping for the clip. That's what I was thinking about. And it was just very, I wanted to bring that kind of energy and that kind of like pride, and, you know, swag to the clit. And it wasn't really meant to be that serious. But there's just something about when you see this text that you know, you're expecting to see to be like pink and purple and all soft and floral. And it's just, you know, bold and minimal and large and simple. Like, it's just a different, there's just like a different weight to it.
Ev'Yan: Yeah, I'm so glad that you brought this up. Because I think one of the things that was so striking for me about stumbling across your project, Cliteracy, was that most of the things that I had witnessed up until that point and then even like, honestly, today, regarding the clitoris, regarding vulvas had to do with like flowers and glitter and honey and like I don't know, I and I understand the aesthetic of that, like I understand why folks would make those connections. But I have to tell you like it kind of like I don't know, I kind of roll my eyes these days, whenever I see someone being a flower dripping nectar to evoke, you know, and I actually wanted to ask you, because it seems like it was very intentional for you to use imagery that wasn't floral and frou frou and pink.
Sophia: I mean for its likes for so many reasons. But very intentionally, I think that when people think of vulvas, they tend to think of soft, small, weak, because that's what we've been trained, you know, that's our inheritance. And I know, like, you know, we're all trying to change that. In terms of, you know, you, me, I'm sure your podcast listeners like we are, yeah, and lines of trying to change that. But still, this is the inheritance that we've been handed, unfortunately, through society and religion. And so the representations have, you know, even though they're attempting to uplift, I think a lot of times they fall, they accept a lot of things that shouldn't be accepted. And they, and they just embody them. So using, you know, using yarn, and using floral things, and doing everything small and doing things, everything, everything accessible. I think, for me, I wanted to dignify the clit and give it swag and give it a ticket to a place of honor and fierceness and more of a sort of regal clit, where you have to look up to it, it's you know. Like my sculptures taller than you know, it's like six foot three, basically.
So it's like taller than most people. You know, you have to kind of you know, and it stands so that you're sort of face to face with it. And that's what I wanted. That's how I wanted people to confront it. I wanted them to confront it like subject to subject, not as something that you always get this disinvited woman with her legs spread and you get to look inside of her pussy. You know, I wanted to be like, what if you're not getting anything from her and you just have to, like engage her face to face? It's a very good relationship of how are you thinking about the female genitals. And with the hundred laws, you know, they're also you know, there's 101 of them, because the last one is that there are more laws. But it takes a very long time to read them and they're big, you know, it's there, they're quite large. So they're bigger than anyone's body, it takes a long time.
So you really have to go inside of yourself, go inside your own body. And that's the way that I wanted people to engage this content, I wanted them to identify, I wanted them to feel intimate. I wanted them to be contemplated and quiet for a moment. Because I think so much of how we've been taught to think about sexuality is all about looking and the object but I think actually really, you know, real sexuality when you get into it, you know, once you're actually engaging it, it's it's interior, it's the feeling, it's like how it feels, it's how you connect and expand out of your body and you become, you know, energy with yourself or with another person, you know, it's beyond, it’s ineffable. And so I wanted to kind of go to that, that type of place, rather than give someone another photograph of an exposed pussy or, like, make a grid on a wall of like, 50 disembodied pussies. There's a lot of projects that, you know, to the point that I was trying to make earlier about accepting old ideas and tropes and inherited, inherited constructs that are really damaging and should just be fucking rejected on their face, the word vagina like, let's start there.
Ev'Yan: Yeah, I am so glad that you're bringing this up, like, because I have been wanting to talk about this for a long time. So please continue.
Sophia: And I was very happy to hear you say vulvas, yes, thank you. So the word vagina, it's a word that I, I say, you know, hyperbolically. But for a point, you know, that it's the it's the most misused word in the English language, but it is misused by everybody. It's used but misused by doctors. It's misused by feminists. It's misused in books, it's misused, and a new museum that's being created right now. And in the UK, the first ever so called the vagina museum. It's, it's the word that means sword holder, and it reduces the entire genitals, vulvas genitals to being the opening and the shaft and nothing more. it excludes the clearest it excludes everything external that you can see. And it means sword holder.
So, you know, for anyone who's listening who's never heard this before, like if you want to talk about everything that you can see everything on the outside and your clit and your and your pleasure, you know, vulva is inclusive. And clitoris is is where all of the sexual nerves are both the external clitoris and internal clitoris and then the vagina is just the opening. It's where you you know, men straight and penetration happens and there's almost no nerves in the vagina. If there were nerves there, it would be way too painful to give birth. The reason that, you know, penetration can be really pleasurable is because when the, when you're really aroused, the internal clitoris is engaged, and so it can make penetration feel amazing. Whereas, if you're not aroused, it can feel like nothing or can feel really bad. It's all about the engagement of the clitoris. And the G spot is just the internal clitoris and I, you know, I get annoyed that I feel like the G spot gets like a lot more love in the clit. And it's simply because, it's simply because you access it through penetration, which you know, so then it's like another excuse to like, not address the clit and focus on what is you know, stimulating for the penis.
Ev'Yan: Yes. Oh my god, there's so many good gems in here. Like for one, I'm, I'm so glad that you brought up the whole vulva vs. vagina thing. Way, way, way, way, way back in the day, I wrote an article where I got a little fiery about like, how we need to stop using the word vagina when we mean vulva. And when I posted this, I had comments engaged on my website at the time, people were like, why does it matter? Like I'm allowed to call it whatever I want to call it and I'm like, yo, you can call it whatever you want to call it. Sure. But like, I see folks calling vulva, vagina as like continuing to mislead and bring like a lot of like, mystery and just like lack of knowledge to our anatomy, you know?
And so I feel like for us to actually call it by the right fucking name. Yeah, it's such a radical act of like, reclaiming our bodies and calling our bodies like exactly what it is because I know for a fact that if I were to start calling penises, prostates, men would be all up in arms. They simply would not stand for it. So and I'm, I'm like, I'm very, I'm very passionate about that. Like, anytime I'm even sometimes I'm in a session with a client, and I'll have my client talk about her vulva, and she uses the word vagina, I'm like, okay, but actually, it's called vulva. And like, let's just like bring some, bring some education into here, because like, you're literally calling it the wrong thing. So like, it makes me feel so good to know that there's someone on this planet who is just as fired up and like, irritated about the way that we are misusing that word.
Sophia: It's so important, the language is so important. There's nothing, there's nothing benign about the language, the language dictates what we think is possible. What we believe our humanity is, what we think is our source of shame and embarrassment, like the language of everything. So I think it's so critical and I, I don't at all, I'm not a sex therapist or educator, so I, you know, I'm an artist. So I take a lot of liberties to just be like, this is what I think and that's okay, if you don't agree, you know, I'm not trying to be like everything for everybody. I don't think people should just say whatever. No, I really think it matters. Like, don't call it by the wrong name and don't use I mean, I frankly think vagina is a colonial construct.
Ev'Yan: Yes, oh my god.
Sophia: Yeah, right. It's about owning the female body and rights turning it into, you know, a subject for, for men for their use. And you know, and it's not just, you know, it's not just the word vagina, like in German. The word for labia means shame lips.
Ev'Yan: What? Wow.
Sophia: Yeah. And I know a lot of a lot of different languages the naming of female genitals has with the words you know, shame or dirty embedded in the language. So it's not just, you know, once again, it's, this is a global problem, right? Patriarchy and misogyny is like a it's a global system. So we have to be critical right? We can't we can't accept these things on their face. Like like Western medicine had a very, you know, it had an agenda and how it defined and constructed and studied the female body. Still does.
Ev'Yan: And it's it's like it's, I even feel this way about the like, the the frou frou words around like people who want to say, vagina but can't say vagina. So they say things like a vajayjay. I'm like can we just like call it by by the name that it is. And I understand how some people have like trauma around these words, or they just, like feel about them. I completely understand that. But I think words have so much power and words mean so much. And the way that we talk about our bodies is really, really important. And I'm always trying to encourage and empower folks with vaginas, with vulvas to actually call it by their real name as a radical act of reclaiming their bodies has theirs.
Sophia: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think also, I think we need to make new language, you know, Cliteracy was a small attempt on my part, to offer something, I think we need more more terms, like we don't have a term for a clit erection but the clit is just as erect as a penis, like, people with clits wake up with directions in the morning. We don't even have a term for clit erection, like what would that be? You know, ask your listeners. Like, let's, let's create a word. Yeah. Yeah, I think words like, you know, narcissexual, it should be a term and where if someone like they always have orgasms, but no one who slepts with them does. There should be a name for that. And we should, you know, do you know what I'm saying?
Ev'Yan: [laughs] Oh, God. Yes.
Sophia: So, you know, and flip the script a little bit. And I, you know, and I think like, with cliteracy, it's like putting the idea out there of like, oh, it's valuable to have knowledge and understanding about this part of the body. And if you don't, you're illcliterate, and who wants to be that like, that really flips the script from being about like, oh, she's a slug, or she's loose. It's like, nah, man, you're sexually incompetent. Like that's the problem. And get it together, you know.
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[INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIA]
Ev'Yan: There's something else you said a little bit ago about you were touching on clitoral orgasms versus vaginal orgasms, which again, I wrote an article about this way, way back in the day because someone and this is a question I still get actually, from people who follow my work and also from clients that I've had who have been like, so I can only have clitoral orgasms I really want to be able to have vaginal orgasms.
And you had said a moment ago about how the reason why folks have orgasms through penetrative sex alone is because they're actually that penetration is actually stimulating the clitoris because the rhetoric is a whole network and I feel like more people need to hear that and like really understand that like there's no hierarchy in terms of like orgasms, you know, because I think that's the thing that I I've been hearing from my clients and even what I believed in my own self, which was that like clitoral orgasms are easy, but the vaginal orgasm that is for like the master like that is for the person who is able to really connect to your body and a know how to like please herself and things like that. And then when I realized that the vaginal orgasm equaled clitoral orgasm equaled vaginal orgasm, I was like, oh, wow, mind blown, like all of this nonsense about the hierarchy. It makes no sense.
Sophia: It makes zero sense. And it's purely about putting a prize on what the penis does and what pleases the penis and saying that is more important than anything else. Yes. And it's, you know, it's, it's as ridiculous as if we were to say, okay, like, it's really amazing. If a dude can orgasm through having his balls sucked. And if he gets like a blowjob, or he has, you know, you know, penis and vagina and, you know, orgasm, well, that's, like, so weak of them, and like, whatever, like, that's so lazy, I mean, it's ridiculous. But you know, just in terms of facts like which is, which is what we should bring it back to. The vast majority of the nerves are concentrated in the glands of the clitoris and in the glands of the penis. There have been a lot of stats going around saying there's 8000 nerves in the clitoris versus 3000 in the penis. Lately, people have been saying that 8000 numbers exaggerated, not really true.
So let's just say they're similar, right? 4000, 4000, I really don't care like it's not competition, who really cares. But the point is, that's where they're all concentrated, learning more internally, but the vast, vast, vast majority are there. So why would you not simulate the place where most of your orgasms are? And if you look at like little girls, pre society, humiliate them and shaming them about their pussies, how they masturbate? Yeah, they're rubbing their external clitoris and most people with all of us that are jacking off or rubbing their external clitorises is why because that's where they've had that's where the nerves are concentrated, that's where they get off. And, you know, penetration is wonderful. And I think everyone that enjoys it, like have it added have in the mix, but like, don't ever not be simulating your external clitoris at the same time, right? Unless you're just so overstimulated and you're like, oh, it's too much like fine, fine. But until she says, like, don't touch my external clit, you should always be touching it like you should never not be touching it if you're having sex with someone that has a clit, like never not be touching the external clitoris the whole time. He should, they should, whoever should but if you're having sex with someone with a clit, external clit should always be in the mix continuously. Not foreplay, there is no such thing as foreplay. There's only like, what pleases you and that's real sex. It's all real sex, if it gets you off and makes you happy doesn't hurt anybody. It's real sex. There's no such thing as foreplay. But like keep touching eternal clit until you know, you've had your sixth orgasm and you don't want any more.
Ev'Yan: Yes, and also demand that your partner focus on the clitoris.
Sophia: And if if the partner doesn't, then you do it, and you make sure that you have your orgasm, because that's what cis dudes have been doing forever. Like, if they're not done all the way they take care of it. You know, people with vulvas have not been doing that. And like, that is sad. Like that's, you know, I think it gets back to this idea of colonization because we haven't felt like we owned our own bodies. We didn't haven't felt like we our bodies were ours to touch,our bodies were ours, to say to dictate exactly what we want and how we want it and when we want it. And when we don't want it, you know? So I think that that myth is such a big one. And like, I was sad, because it's basically, it's basically a totally non anatomical, non scientific, like, it's like believing some kind of myth. You know, I mean, I have some laws in cliteracy, which say, you know, the Earth is not the center of the universe and, the penis is not the access of sexuality. And oh, another one is, oh, the earth isn't flat and women don't orgasm from their vaginas.
Yeah, I know, you want to think that and that makes you feel good about yourself. But that's just not science. You know? People got people got murdered by the Catholic church because they said like, no, like, the earth isn't the center of the universe. And yes, it's threatening to think that like, oh, the penis isn't like, the only sexual entity in the world, but it isn't, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, we have to engage facts at a certain point, and so agree, and I still see studies I mean, this gets me so frustrated, I still see studies that even though they're finally starting to admit that the glands of the clitoris is is important to sex they always feel phrase it as she still needs clitoral stimulation. Of course she needs clitoral stimulation! That's her sexual organ. You know, they phrase it as X percent of women still need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, as if that's some sort of failure on their part of their body.
Ev'Yan: Right? Right. I mean, I'd even internalize that myself. Like, there have been times when me and my partner are having sex. And it's like, penis and vagina sex. And I'm not getting there. Like I'm nowhere close. And I know that if I were to put a vibrator on my clitoris, I'm there immediately. But there is so much shame in my own brain, because I've been unpacking this a lot lately, as I've been trying to unlearn this bullshit. Like, in my own brain, and those moments when I'm thinking about, like, reaching for the vibrator, there's still that part of me.
And I mean, I don't, I've never heard of someone actually saying this directly to me, I think that I have internalized it indirectly from just like our culture and just the way that our culture hates women and people with with vaginas and vulvas but in my brain, I would think that oh, if I were to reach for my vibrator, that is like that's the easy out or that is the, that it's in mature of me like a real woman is able to, to have sex in this way and and not need something external to get her there. And I mean, I'm still having these thoughts in the back of my head today, despite the fact that like, I know that it's all bullshit, you know, so I can I have so much compassion for folks who, who are probably listening to this conversation being like, yes, I get it. And this shit is like, deep in there. It's so so hard. So challenging to unlearn it.
Sophia: Yeah, yeah, you're completely right. And I think it also doesn't help that. From a marketing and advertising for effective, everything that works for sexuality, people with clits has been pathologized and shamed. Yeah, it's been illegal and in some states, it still is. It's been illegal to advertise vibrators like illegal so meanwhile, like men can get condoms, no problem. They can get Viagra, they can get penis pumps, like they get whatever support that they need. But the things that would just as efficiently, quickly, directly. And without any side effects, by the way, guarantee women their orgasm have been shamed have been impossible to get have been made, you know, novelty toys made by very unethical producers without understanding the anatomy of women's bodies. So they've just been like super phallic, or unsafe. And then the feminist companies are trying to create these toys that are using them safe materials and making them not totally phallic oriented. They are high such a hard time. Because it's illegal for them to advertise anywhere. So I'm thinking about like Unbound Babes, I'm thinking of Crave, I'm thinking of BabeLand, you know, and this is a huge problem.
And so and then there's myths about like, oh, if you use a vibrator like then you get vibrator spoiled and you can't cum any other way. Which is completely not true and completely a myth. And my thing is like, I think everyone that has clits should have an amazing vibrator. I personally love Hitachi. I think it's unbelievable. I think it's like the holy grail of multiple orgasms. You know, a lot of I think the cheap vibrators, old school vibrators, they were very high and shrill and kind of burny and very uncomfortable. And they would like you know, you get you get numb from them. Hitachi is the opposite is like a deep thrumming, kind of like it, I unscientifically feel that it gets your internal clitoris is completely.
Sophia: So it's very like the entire thing, it channels to like orgasm, after orgasm, after orgasm. So it's like, it takes any pressure off of like, will I cum or not? It's just like you will, you know what I mean? It's more like how many do you want? How many times and how many ways and how many? And I think it's wonderful to use with a partner because then they can you know, their hands free. They can do other things, you know what I mean? You know, penis and whatever to please you. And you can take care of that or have it on the side. And you know, if you want it to there, you know and really, you know, because the clit has a direct blood supply that the penis doesn't have. It can recharge and recharge, you can keep having orgasm after orgasm, and then you've had Hitachi you're like, whoa, oh my god, like I can, you know, you could have more than you ever knew as possible. And I mean, it can be kind of overwhelming and tiring. And you're like I had to take a break right now, this is a lot for me.
Ev'Yan: [laughs] Oh my gosh, it's so funny because I keep hearing people tell me like you got to get on that Hitachi wand though. And I'm like, I'm scared because it looks so big and intimidating. But I mean, people keep saying that their tried and true. So maybe I should hit a Hitachi and ask them, hey, do you want to sponsor an episode some time so I can do a review.
Sophia: It's really it's a it's, it's really a game changer. I, I really, you should definitely have one. I mean, it's just and you can use it like over your clothes. You know, like, you don't have to just put it directly on me. It's very powerful. Right. But yeah, it's powerful in a way. I really don't know anyone who's ever encountered it that hasn't. And everyone pretty much that, you know, sees it from afar as like, oh, no, that's not you know, that's not for me, that doesn't call to me. But it's not about the optics. Like it's about what it does. And the tool of your test, you know, it's a tool. I mean, and tools are wonderful. And, you know, just having to take, you know, the fear of not coming off the table completely is a wonderful way to like go into a sexual experience.
Sophia: You know what I mean?
Ev'Yan: Yeah okay, I'm convinced, I think I might need to get a Hitachi Wand and give it a go.
Oh, man, I could talk to you forever and ever and ever. But I know that we have to wrap up soon. So I want to just like, bring it all around. And just kind of like wrap things up by asking like, you know, we've been talking so much about cliteracy. I want to know, like, what can we do to practice our own cliteracy?
Sophia: I think number one is just educating yourself on which is very quick and efficient to do, what the true anatomy is. And, and respecting how it actually works. So giving it its proper recognition of how it works, then expecting it to be something else, not not believing the myth of the vagina and the vaginal orgasm, but like getting with clit is I think that's like, number one. And then from there, like discovering your own clit.
And like I, you know, I've had a lot of people come up to me, after talks and shows, or emailing me and saying, like, wow, I thought there was something completely wrong with my body and after encountering your project, like, I feel so much better, I don't feel ashamed, I don't feel like there's something wrong with me. Because I need my external clit simulated orgasm, and it's so it's like, it makes me really happy to get these emails, but also breaks my heart because little girls know where they feel pleasure, right? They know where all their sensation and all their nerves are. And then the society is obsessed with their vaginas. And don't, don't let anyone in there and don't get pregnant and you're going to have periods and it's going to hurt, and sex hurts. And that's how it is and you could get raped and don't get raped. And there's just all of this pressure and all of this pain, and there's no acknowledgement about the place that actually they actually feel pleasure. And, and it gets to the point that women don't believe their own bodies, they believe society more than they believe their own inter experience, and that just so profoundly painful.
And at the same time, it's really hopeful, because a little bit of information people can really empower themselves. So, you know, you can learn your own body, you know, just by having a little bit of information, you can go home, you can explore your own body, or your partner's body and figure it out for yourself. Because all you know, everybody's body is different, right? But at the same time, there are a huge number of nerves right in the glands. Like that's a fact for everybody. So if you're ignoring the glands, that's huge problem. And if you're tending to the glands, things are going to get better and better. Obviously, you have to do it with with a with care and finesse and paying attention. And you know, I would argue, you know, just on a baseline level, always wash your hands. Always trim your nails, always use lube. Don't ever touch a pussy with a dry dirty hands ever. Never, ever do this.
Ev'Yan: [laughs] Put that on a billboard, we need more.
Sophia: Yes! But yeah, and then I would say like, represent for the clit, you know, and and when people say, like, don't be such a pussy or whatever be like, yo pussies are amazing, like, pussies are like, I love my pussy, like, I don't know, I just I think that we should all, you know, rep for the clit and go hard for the clit and, and refuse to, like, accept this kind of shame that is still sort of actively out there. You know, one response that I get from from some people, but it's like a very predictable response. You're like, oh, you're working on the clit? Oh, like, I've never been able to find that. You know, we're like, oh, my wife doesn't have a clit, you know?
Ev'Yan: Oh my god.
Sophia: Yeah. And you know, that joke of like, impossible to find and are like, oh, your sculpture like I can't see it. And my response to that is, is one I mean, the clit is always in the same place. So if you can't find it, like, I don't know what to tell you, but you probably shouldn't be having sex with anybody.
Sophia: And you know, and then also, I mean, imagine if we were to go around to dudes and be like, oh, you have a penis? Really? Where? I don't see a penis. I can't even find it. Like what penis right? That would be considered so rude, so humiliating such a low blow. It's just like, so disrespectful. And the idea that we're supposed to be complicit and humiliate our genitals like, oh, hell no. Hell motherfucking no. So I just think we need to push back hard against those things and call them out when we see them. And just also, like, spread the good news about the clit because clits are amazing.
Ev'Yan: Yes, yes. Oh, my God, I love this. Okay, Sophia, thank you so much, again, for taking the time to talk to all of us today about cliteracy, I have learned so much from this conversation. And I also feel like I have gained a kindred spirit around cliteracy and vulvas and things like that. So thank you so much for taking the time to talk about all of this really important stuff. For getting fiery with us. And yeah, tell people how they can find you, how they could view cliteracy. Tell us everything.
Sophia: Okay, amazing. And thank you so much for having me. It's been really a pleasure. I'm on Instagram, Sophia Wallace artist. And I have a website, Sophia Wallace.com. So that has a lot more information about like my art and my shows, and you can buy, you know, pins, or jewelry or prints or anything like that on my website as well. Right now, there's a new episode that just came out with a French film crew doing a documentary series called the Clit Revolution. They just did an episode with me. So would love people to check that out.
I'll definitely check that out, too.
Sophia: Yeah, Clit Revolution, I mean, it's a brilliant title. And they're going all around the world and covering artists and activists who are fighting for the clit and fighting for women's sexuality. It's a great project. And there's another documentary actually coming out soon called the Dilemma of Desire that's also about this topic and features in my work. So I just would love people to stay in touch and, and, and, you know, to connect with you guys on social media, and just keep the conversation going, because this work is so it's really transformative. And yeah, I don't mean, cliche, but it is true that the personal is political.
Sophia: And I think that like, I just think I really believe that, you know, we don't have full access to our citizenship if we don't have a right to pleasure in our own bodies.
Ev'Yan: Yes, thank you. Thank you so much, Sophia, and I'm excited to keep having this conversation about.
Sophia: Thank you so much.
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