The clitoris is still a foreign country

3 minute read

It could just be Irish ob/gyns who are oblivious about female anatomy, but we suspect not.

“We cross now to Dublin where our clitoral correspondent Cate Swannell is reporting live from the scene of the latest misogynistic mass casualty event. Over to you, Cate.”

Live cross to just outside a hospital door:

Yes, thanks Jim. I’m here at The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, where frankly the situation is laughable. People are literally doubled over trying not to wee with hilarity, and that’s before they even get inside the door.

Speculation is the hospital’s motto – “maternity hospital of choice” – in lit-up six-foot-tall neon lights above the entrance is what’s triggering the initial giggling, but history suggests there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Cut to footage recorded earlier inside a doctors’ lounge in the hospital, where four female researchers are questioning a female obstetrics/gynaecology consultant and showing her a labelled model of a clitoris.

Researcher 1: Can you name this part? (points to the corpus cavernosum)

Consultant: Ah that would be the … um … the … um … bit under the sticky-outy bit that feels good when you rub it.

(Researcher 1 blinks)

Cut back to live broadcast outside the hospital.

That was several months ago when researchers from within the hospital itself decided to find out what 10 consultants, 10 non-consultant hospital doctors, 10 midwives, 10 midwifery students and 10 medical students knew about clitoral anatomy.

Not one of the 50 respondents could name all five labelled parts of the clitoris, and, shockingly, 38 of the 50 could not correctly name one single anatomical part.

Cut to interview with lead author Dr Maeve White.

Correspondent: “Dr White, what’s happened here? How can you explain this awful situation?”

Dr White: “It is evident that there is a lack of knowledge of the anatomical parts of the clitoris among the medical staff included in this study. This reflects a lack of adequate teaching in this area in both past and recent years.”

Correspondent: “Surely this hospital should be shut down immediately until someone with some knowledge can be brought in to treat women?”

Dr White: “Despite this, we acknowledge that women’s health and sexual health awareness is improving all of the time, and we hope that this study can highlight the need for reformed teaching in this area.”

Cut back to live broadcast. Behind the reporter, women are running out of the hospital either screaming or laughing. It’s hard to tell.

You have to admire the optimism, Jim. But the fact is, when this study was published this week in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women have been leaving the hospital like rats out of a drain pipe. The men aren’t of course, because they don’t have a clue what all the fuss is about.

This is Cate Swannell for Vulva News Network.

Live cross goes black. Cameraman smirks.

Don’t give me that look, Dougal, or I’ll cut off your sticky-outy bit that feels good when you rub it.

Throws microphone to the ground and stomps off muttering.

Send anatomically informed story tips to

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×