The “Female Penis” (Jan, 1964)

I have heard of women having their clitoris removed, but it is usually referred to as “genital mutilation” and is imposed upon women against their will. Do women still have their clitoris voluntarily removed because they think it is “unsightly”? Would a doctor actually perform that surgery?

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“Female Penis”
A distinguished researcher explains the role and function of the clitoris.

By John Money, Ph.D.

Dr. Money is Associate Professor of Medical Psychology and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. He is supported in research by Grants #M-01557 and #K3-MH-18635 from the National Institute of Mental Health, United States Public Health Seervice.

Do you have your own name for the clitoris? Most people have.

The clitoris has sometimes been referred to as the “female penis.” It is one part of the sexual anatomy for which there is no well-known American popular or slang word. Not enough people have heard the expression, “the man in the boat,” for that expression to be useful when a doctor wants to explain what he means by the medical word, clitoris.

In Europe, for some reason this is not the case. In England, the clitoris is known popularly as the “tickler”; in Germany this is translated literally into “Ritzier.” The French call it “le bouton” the button. In Spanish it is referred to as “la pepita” or little seed.

In the sex education of girls, it is often necessary to have a drawing or a model of the female sex organs in order to show what the clitoris is. The same is true for many grown and married women who need to discuss medical or surgical treatment of the sex organs.

The clitoris is the little pea-sized “knot” of flesh that hides at the top of the slit created by the lips of the female organs.

In the forming of a female before birth, the nubbin of flesh that becomes a clitoris is the same nubbin of flesh that in a male grows into the penis. Medically, the clitoris is said to be the homologue, or female counterpart structure, of the penis. Cases are on record where it grows quite large before birth and looks like a half-formed penis when the baby is born.

Like every other part of the normal body, the clitoris varies in size from person to person. Usually it is 1/4 to 1/2 an inch long, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Like the penis, it is made up of two parts, the head and the stem. The penis has skin wrapped all around it, which covers the tube of the urethra, or urinary canal. But the clitoris has, instead, a cape or hood of skin, the ends of which (called the labia minora, or small lips) stretch down inside the folds of the outer lips.


When a woman becomes sexually aroused, the clitoris becomes erect by filling up with blood. In some women, the head and the stem of the clitoris both swell up, whereas in others only the stem swells. After swelling up, the clitoris draws back under its hood, like a snail into its shell, and is hard to locate. It stays in hiding when the woman reaches her climax or orgasm of sexual excitement, and then slowly comes out again.

At the moment of sexual climax in the male, the penis throbs and seminal fluid is discharged. The “female penis,” the clitoris, is not active in this way. In the female, the throbbing of sexual climax takes place in the tissues at the entrance to, and just inside of, the vaginal canal, where the man’s penis penetrates.

Normally a woman’s sexual arousal includes stimulation of the clitoris. Of course, many other parts of the body are sexually sensitive too, like the ear lobes in some women, the breasts, the skin around the sexual parts or, indeed, the skin anywhere on the body.

It is an interesting point of difference between men and women that. when a woman becomes romantically aroused by erotic litera-ture or pictures, the “female penis” does not necessarily swell up, as the male’s penis does.

Some women can reach a sexual climax from continuous stimulation of the clitoris, and nothing else. In this case, the throbbing movements of climax take place in the vagina, as usual. These same throbbing movements take place in the vagina also for those few women for whom stimulation of the breasts alone is enough to bring them to orgasm.

Even though the clitoris is sexually very sensitive, it is not essential to sexual arousal and sexual climax. Girls born with an enlarged and unsightly clitoris usually prefer to have it removed, for the sake of feminine appearance. Afterwards their sexual pleasure continues nevertheless, through adjoining and remaining nerves and they are able to reach a climax.

The same is true for women who have had to have the clitoris and all the surrounding skin removed because of a skin cancer. Men, too, who have lost the penis either accidentally or through surgical necessity are still able to reach a sexual climax.

Apparently the nerve fibers responsible for sexual sensitivity can still do their work, even when their endings in the skin have been cut away. The indispensable location of sexual climax, in the woman, appears to he the entrance way and first inch or two of the vaginal canal.

24 comments
  1. Caya says: July 4, 200712:37 pm

    I am of the belief that there is a time & a place for these things, and when I am reading my blogroll to chill out for a while, that is not it. I recognize that “modesty” and “decency” are thoroughly outmoded concepts nowadays, but there are still those of use that adhere to these Biblical concepts. This blog is off my blogroll now- too bad, because I really enjoyed many of the articles.

  2. Stannous says: July 4, 20071:30 pm

    John Money was an advocate of sexual reassignment surgery, the now-discounted practice of changing a child’s gender in infancy.
    Money is best-known for his involvement in the sex reassignment of David Reimer, in what later became known as the “John/Joan” case. Money reported that he successfully reassigned Reimer as female after a botched 1966 infant circumcision. In 1997, Milton Diamond reported that the reassignment had failed, that Reimer had never identified as female. At age 14, Reimer refused to see Money again, threatening suicide if he were made to go. Reimer began living as male, and at 15, with a different medical team, he sought mastectomy, testosterone therapy and phalloplasty. Reimer remained a man until his suicide at age 38.

    Sorry to see Caya go but I think this is legitimate science from the past and as such has little to do with ‘modesty’ or ‘decency.’
    Just like TV, you don’t have to watch (or read) everything. If you don’t like it, change the channel (or scroll past)!

  3. Blurgle says: July 4, 20078:42 pm

    I’m amazed (and to be honest, disgusted) that in the year 2007 people find medical articles indecent or immodest or think that talking about a MEDICAL matter is somehow non-Biblical.

  4. Tim G. says: July 4, 200711:33 pm

    Cayas’ comment is the exact reason science and religion will never mix. Sad to say that this is the “moral majority” that runs this nation, stunts it’s education, and down right misleads its’ followers deeper into ignorance. Jesus destroyed the temple because the money lenders perverted religion into a money laundering operation. Please, I actually challenge you Caya, to point out any religious organization that still uses Jesus as the cornerstone of the church, and not how many church members we can get to reach into their pockets more than once a sermon.
    Being in Orlando, we just had a church museum open. It actually said Jesus probably rode dinosaurs.I fell over laughing.
    The most enduring reasons science and god don’t get along? The bible says knowledge is the root of evil.
    That’s right, keep the kids dumb so they live in fear of everything tech. Good going Jesus!

  5. Charlie says: July 5, 20072:03 am

    Thanks gang, you’ve expressed pretty much everything I was going to say but much more nicely. I generally don’t respond well to any argument about my actions that includes the word “biblical”.

  6. Blurgle says: July 5, 20074:11 am

    Back to the topic:

    To say that Money is a controversial character might be the understatement of the year. He considered himself progressive and feminist, but most of his theories (especially the idea that intersex infants should be converted to one sex or the other at an early age, theoretically to make them “more normal”) have been strongly refuted both by peer-reviewed studies and by his former patients.

    Money’s words were also used by practitioners and parents to justify the clitoridectomies of girls who weren’t sexually appropriate – in other words, girls whose idea of sex wasn’t limited to the missionary position with a husband where everything that happens is designed solely to give the man an orgasm. Girls who masturbated, girls who identified as lesbians, girls who enjoyed premarital sex – all were subject to mutilation. Interestingly, there are no records of any woman having a clitoridectomy in North America due to vanity.

  7. Tim G. says: July 5, 200710:48 am

    very good Burgle!
    And you’re right, at my age I should know better than straying from the topic. Human sexuality is an odd duck. Homosexuality is the norm for most warm blooded animals. At time of high population a large number turn “gay?” for lack of better word. (Sorry folks, not bashing by any standard)
    So why is it so hard to understand that the human “animal”, because that’s all we really are, to react in the same fashion.
    And, again, Burgle hit it right on the head. How would any man\woman responsible for the care of, and preserving the value of life stoop to think that they would have the best view as to the sexuality of a hermaphrodidic child.

  8. Nova says: April 5, 20083:20 pm

    Ok, this is a hot topic for sure. Here’s the catch- We are all sexual creatures_ God gave us sex as a pleasure for us to share. DO we share it as children, No, I think it is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids to be RESPONSIBLE FOR THERE OWN CHOICES_ something that comes with time and experience. We should share that(our personal experiences) with our kids as they hit puberty- that is how it is done in most of the ‘third world or ‘primative’ cultures”. ALso sex is not taught to be dirty there. IT isn’t, it is a part of life, a damn good one if you ask me! There they are tauch how to be sexual creatures, and how to take care not to hurt or be hurt, like happens to our kids in America. We abdicate the throne of our homes, throwing our kids to society to teach, and then complain when we don’t like what they learn.

    AS to Money, I have three kids, 22, 12, and 10. I am married to a straight man, I am bi, my oldest is bi, we shall see about the other 2. IF I had a child the was born both sexes, it would be up to that child, not some doc, to make a choice when they were ready.

    God gave us a brain, He expects us to use it, not allow others to make choices for us. I Understand that Caya was upset, but medicine and Faith are just too different to mix, sometimes they walk hand in hand, but it take a special case for that. God gave us brains to understand how our bodies work, so we can learn how to be healthy. He wants us to use that brain.

    Sorry, TIm, I am not some mere animal, I am more than that. BUt you can be one if you want to. (smile)ANd if animals were “gay”, they wouldn’t survive as a species. Homosexuality is a choice. One I support. Not my choice for me, but that is kool too.

  9. jeremy pedrozo says: April 16, 20082:11 pm

    I’m a student in Sweet Water High School. The information in this site should be taught. Not for pure amusement, but for informational reason. Kids around probably don’t even know how to locate that part of the vagina, and if they do they wouldn’t know how it works like how it explained in this page. Thank you for the info.

  10. What is the clitoris? | Sextoysforladies says: October 5, 20099:13 am

    [...] say that the clitoris is the female equivalent of the penis.  I say the penis is the male equivalent of the clitoris.  Both have an abundance of nerve [...]

  11. Roger says: October 16, 20097:06 pm

    When John Money published this article, I was on the cusp of puberty. And I agree with him that there was little talk about the clitoris among teenage boys and none among girls. Most women of my generation learned about the clitoris from reading Our Bodies Our Selves in college. I don’t recall the slang term “clit” before the 1980s.

    I fully agree with all of you who have posted that John Money, now dead, has a tarnished reputation as an authority
    on human anatomy and sexuality.

    Money seemed to believe that the clitoris was sensitive but not orgasmic. That is blatantly false. All women have the capacity to masturbate to orgasm without dildoes or inserting fingers in the vagina. The sexual capacities of the clitoris
    are quite similar to those of the uncircumcised penis. The present day understanding of the clit has banished penis envy once and for all. A good understanding of the clit also makes cunnilingus much more exiting.

  12. addie says: December 20, 20094:14 pm

    I have always thought that a penis as a kind of rediculously over developed clitoris. No I havean’t. But this article is based on a pretty insulting idea.

    Blurgle-well said.

    Caya–some people’s religion allows them to have a camp sense of humour or to even learn things outside of what they hear in church. Learning means reading things we sometimes do not agree with. If your religion does not allow for that, you should just be glad you are in America and have the choice to avoid the things that you find so offensive. Oh, or change religions.

    addie B)

  13. Louis Varricchio, M.Sc. says: December 25, 20096:15 pm

    Caya is just going to have to figure out how to escape the 21st century if this sort of things is “inappropriate”. God made all things from le supernovae to le bouton. Well, I think it’s a cute lil’ guy–er, gal. Cute as a button.

  14. Garron says: February 4, 20108:13 pm

    What people are not so willing to discuss is how biased,prejudiced and intolerant scientists can be.
    Science,IN PRACTICE,not principle,has been notoriously just as intolerant to “heretics” as “religion”.

    A man such as Eric Laithwaite made sound and amazing but simple discoveries concerning something so foundational as gyroscopes but because he suggested that Sir Isaac Newton MIGHT be wrong,he suffered immediate career assassination.
    At the time,he was one of Britain’s premier scientists.

    I notice that much of the tones and attitudes on both sides of these kinds of discussions are strikingly similar if you look past the details.

    “People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true”.
    -Sir Isaac Newton

    What does science offer us in place of the conscience?
    The ego?

    Since Darwin,nobody has seemed to notice that his famous(or infamous,of course,depending on where you’re sitting)theory
    has become something that he never intended:
    a “philosophy” to live by.
    The law of the jungle,or “kill or be killed”is more widely associated with him by the masses than
    natural selection.

    I believe,sociologically speaking,that this “bad science” error has:
    A.caused as many problems as “bad religion” errors,such as war,genocide and many other social catastrophes.
    B.directly propelled man into the abuse of all the incredible power that we have had for such a short time.

    As Einstein said(paraphrased)after being overwhelmed by the events following the Manhattan Project,
    “It has become painfully obvious to me that man now has far more power than he can safely handle.
    To make matters even worse,he wants more!”
    This was over 50 years ago.

    The abuse of moral freedom and theories of convenience can lead into anarchistic disasters as lethal as dictatorships…
    which unfortunately often follow.

    What we learn from history is that most people learn nothing from history.
    That is why history repeats itself.

    Lastly,I would say,as a remorseful scientist ashamed of the behaviour of my colleagues and the wide spread arrogant abuses of our fields,that science and politics have butchered far more people than “religion”.

    The 20th century saw more murder and genocide than all prior centuries combined.

    It is not science or politics themselves that are to be blame any more than Christ can be blamed for wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    It is the rampant and reckless abusive arrogance that has corrupted so many fields in basically the same way it has corrupted TV preachers.
    Too much power,too fast in the hands of those who probably shouldn’t have any.

    In short,hypocrisy is by no means limited to “religion”.
    It is a human dilemma that is rabidly escalating as power-based knowledge increases without the discretion,diligence and discipline that must accompany our developments that they may become advancement
    instead of racial suicide.

    Science offers no cures for rancid pride,deceitfulness and greed.

    Someday,perhaps but what will come to pass in the mean time?

    Christ still does.

    “I don’t have a problem with Christ….
    it’s Christianity that confuses me.”
    -Mahatma Ghandi
    (again,paraphrased)

  15. Firebrand38 says: February 4, 20109:49 pm

    Garron: Well obviously pharmaceutical science has failed you horribly. Your rant reminds me of some of the preachers in Monty Python’s Life of Brian “And he will wield a nine bladed sword against all wretched sinners, just like you sir!” http://www.youtube.com/…
    I mean Laithwaite? Bloody hell.
    If that’s the best example you can come up with. Afterward even Laithwaite admitted he was wrong about gyroscopes becoming lighter. Maybe he was in on the conspiracy too? Moron.

  16. Jon says: April 19, 20105:28 pm

    What a ridiculous comment by Caya. Religion is an outdated concept and knowledge and science are the new religion. By being religious (Christian etc) you are basically condemming yourself to live like they did in ancient times. Where slavery was okay, and you could stone to death prostitutes.

    We now know alot more then we did in ancient times. Knowledge is good! We continue to learn more everyday. The human race pushes on!

    If you feel shame by reading about things like this, it’s not the scientific material’s fault. There weren’t even pictures. Heaven forbid that there could actually be pictures of the human body explaining how it works. What blasphemy that would be!

  17. K says: May 11, 20102:21 pm

    Agreed with Blurgle, its 2010 and EVEN NOW I find that life saving cancer, steam-cell, HIV research and “preference” surgeries are being halted by completely IGNORANT and INTOLERANT religious FANATICS, who cling to society like parasites; use medical, technology and general scientific discoveries, then complain and try to deny others THEIR RIGHT to have life saving or preference medical procedures. Of course this procedure is somewhat deviant to my logic, however, judging and denying someone else a freedom of choice and preference THAT IS truly staggering and unacceptable.

  18. Firebrand38 says: May 11, 20103:04 pm

    K: Wow, you use capital letters so you must be serious. I’m familiar with the limitations on what I’m assuming is stem cell technology, but what cancer and HIV research has been halted by the fanatical bogeymen?

  19. Norm says: May 30, 20105:49 am

    Jon, knowledge is good. One of the things we’ve learned that “a lot” is two words, not one.

  20. [...] An interesting article to support the notions of them being one in the same as well: THE FEMALE PENIS [...]

  21. Taro says: October 18, 20103:44 am

    Jon – you are a naive jackass. Slavery and the stoning of prostitutes did not end because of science. They ended among western civilizations due to the compassion of Christianity and Judiasm. You might note that slavery continues unabated in many regions of the world that have not experienced the enlightenment of Judeo/Christian thought. On the other hand, you might want to move out of your mom’s basement before you delve into the difficult task of actually knowing something about the world before declaring that knowledge and science are religions. I can’t help but wonder if you know what the difference is between science and religion. You seem to be incompetent at both. Go back to sleep.

  22. Firebrand38 says: October 18, 20106:35 am

    Taro: Speaking of naive, I can’t help but notice how Judeo/Christian thought was used in this country to defend slavery into the 1800′s. It was pretty much military science that put an end to that practice.

    http://www.religioustol…

    Old Testament: However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    Ahhh, that crazy Leviticus. God must have been having a bad day when he inspired that book.

    New Testament: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

    You’d think that J.C. could have spent less time cursing fig trees and just once say that slavery is a BAD THING.

    Next time Taro, don’t try to be such a self righteous pompous ass. As your bible says in Romans 3:10 “As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous–not even one.” NLT But you knew that.

  23. ResearcherForScience says: October 18, 20103:07 pm

    I did some research for 3 months into ‘the clitoris” and discovered that most people don’t
    know even the slightest bit of, true, information about it.

    What’s more interesting is that there are many good sites that go in depth about it.

    I recommend that you take as much time as you can spare
    .. whether a male or female to get to interested in how very much the clitoris
    is very much like the penis..

    Now it gets facinating. Because we don’t know much about the penis with regard to
    how, best, to understand what you feel ..with it.

    So my wisdom to a few words goes like this:

    We begin into puberty, as boys, finding that our penis has a kind of life of its own.
    Now we find we’re not alone with this as our friends are more than willing to talk about
    it.

    Then when girls begin to talk about it or sex this is one key thing I’ve noticed about
    what they say. They say, usually, that all boys masturbate the same way.

    I have to admit that’s true based on literally hundreds of hours spent watching porn,
    reading blogs or forum posts, and observing the emotional condition of men and
    their penis. Sadly men don’t get the most out of it.

    Then the females are wrong , right? All men do it the same? Well they’re not wrong
    but they perpetuate the problem when they have a change to get a hands on feeling of
    the penis themself. They ‘do it’ to boys and men the same way boys and men do it to
    themself.

    Well anyway this gets too long but I recommend that you watch and research how a woman
    reacts to her clitoris when alone and masturbating. Contrast that with how a man acts
    masturbating. Then consider that if the man would treat that area similarly to how a woman
    handles herself the man , or you, will gain much insight into fixing a man’s behavior by
    making behavior better and feeling better.

    And we only discovering that the clitoris is much larger than we gave it credit for.

    All I’m wanting is more people knowing why boys end up ‘doing it’ the same way while
    females all seem to have a different relationship with their clitoris than a man with his
    penis.

    To get success tune into the emotional status of men or women when you watch them
    (in porn for example). Then find other outlets where you can study behavior.
    A good example are video’s aimed at mutual satisfaction. An example is the Kama Sutra.

    If you asked, of me, to explain what the KSutra is about I could say in a few words.
    Simple. It’s about taking time to be together. The male behavior will go out the window
    if he learns that he can feel really good for a very long time without blue balls or frustration.
    She has to learn this also.

    And when he learns how he can feel so good with just regular touches
    a change can occur in her and him. Their beliefs, about sexual behavior, changes. It’s less
    goal oriented for him .. either alone or for her.

    I think, very nearly all women in porn are there, because they like sex.
    But this is silly. A woman only does things she wants to do in a job. Eventually, if she
    doesn’t like it, she’ll leave it. So why would she like sex doing porn? It’s not the sex.
    It’s the strokes she gets from her manager.

    If I’m wrong just check out this. Watch women masturbate in hidden videos where they
    act ‘normal’ .. I’m assuming they don’t know in at least some of the hidden video.

    Then watch how women are treated in porn. Often they get no foreplay. Often the man
    is trusting right away. Contrast this behavior to her versus her masturbating.

    One is pleasant to her and enjoyable at her speed. The other is ‘put upon’ her and she has
    to try to accept it. I’m not saying it feels bad.

    What I’m saying is that she’s lacking the entire emotions she has when she’s alone. isn’t
    being with someone supposed to be more enjoyable than being alone? I woldn’t be
    convincedof that with females I’ve seen in hidden videos versus those in man/ woman porn.

    Note:
    1. I do understand that ‘hidden videos’ are not what they appear. After making a curriculum
    to study and understand the emotions .. it’s easier to determine which are truly alone.
    And, even if, the others aren’t truly alone.. only playacting.. they’re still allowed to be with
    themselves at her own pace doing what she like when she likes it.

    Just contrast her desired behavior and results with the actual behavior she’s subjected to
    in porn. And then

    Find a video of a loving couple having sex. I don’t mean the girl who’s boyfriend is there while
    she’s having a web cam chat for money.

    One example, recently , was a woman being asked to take off her clothes while her ‘man’
    filmed. She was tired looking but complied and was very much enjoying herself for
    several minutes. They began, together, after 10 minutes and you couldn’t easily see
    where the emotion of she alone was any different when they were together.

    The sex lasted over 30 minutes and was very surreal and loving. At the end..a baby
    is heard crying softly and then I realized.
    This was a mother who, in the beginning, was just a ‘girlfriend’ looking tired. But she
    feels so comfortable and safe and secure she begins (as above) .. When he joins the
    mood doesn’t change at all. They’re one person.

    At the end the baby is heard and it’s obvious they’re parents.

    Anyway I wrote to encourage you to learn how the man’s sexual organs are so very much like the
    female sexual organs. And when emotion, behind them, is right both men and women seem to
    behave the same during sex.

    The only difference is after. The man often is sleepy. The woman is rejuvinated and might
    get up to wash the car !

    However, in my research, if the man learns to enjoy his entire sex organs he will feel
    energized also. And the orgasm is simple another feeling, the same as, if an arm itched
    and then a sneeze came. They’re simply two feelings like is an orgasm.

    Enjoy. And if you read this. It’s all true as I can make it in a quick note. Be encouraged to
    learn and test what you know by reading what you can from a scene.

    If you want help consider reading a book by Paul Ekman or looking for a BBC video about
    lying which interviews Dr. Ekman – sorry I don’t have a name of the video handy.

    It’s, probably, better to get some data, first on your own before you go to read Dr. Ekman.
    I think it’s true because that’s what I happened to do and when I found him what he said
    made so much sense to me.

    Wikipedia article

    Paul Ekman (born February 15, 1934) is a renowned psychologist who has been a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He is considered one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century.[1] The background of Ekman’s research analyzes the development of human traits and states over time (Keltner, 2007). The character Cal Lightman (played by Tim Roth) of the television series Lie to Me is based on Dr. Ekman and his work.

    when they say they like it,

    So a place to read up for more

    through something like, but not
    exactly,

    Consider too some videos by porn actresses turning away from porn. The ones who talk about
    the business are often

  24. Firebrand38 says: October 18, 20104:46 pm

    ResearcherForScience: Three months of research! Was the first 89 days spent finding a woman?

    When their prescriptions run out why, oh why do they come to Modern Mechanix?

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