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A Mind Flayer from Stranger Things? The Brooms from Fantasia?! No, Friends…It’s the Clitoris!

Tales from an impromptu poll among friends…and a challenge for you.

illustration of Macenzie Piper

By Mackenzie Piper, MPH, CHES

August 3, 2023

Afew months ago, I was getting ready for a for a sex ed workshop with a group of adults. In preparation, I decided to purchase another anatomical model to add to my trainer’s toolbox. Not but a week later, a beautiful gold-colored 3D clitoris model arrived at my door. (Cue the excitement!)

Without much thought, I sent a photo to a group of close friends. “Look at this beauty!” I wrote.

3-D Clitoris Model

What is it?” I heard back.

“What is it?!” I thought. “It’s only the most nerve-rich, pleasure-centered, glorious piece of anatomy to ever exist!! It’s the clitoris, of course!!”

“What is it?!” I thought. “It’s only the most nerve-rich, pleasure-centered, glorious piece of anatomy to ever exist!! It’s the clitoris, of course!!”

While this text exchange should have been just a blip on my radar that day, it did make me wonder how truly prevalent this clitoral mystery really was.

And thus began my unscientific (but still enlightening) 12-hour experiment.

Over the course of that day, I polled 44 subjects (a.k.a. 44 kind and consenting friends) with the photo.

Some of my favorite interpretations of the photo included:

  • ,The brooms from Fantasia
  • The mind flayer from Stranger Things
  • Thumb people from Spy Kids
  • A bird trying to tiptoe and not get its feet dirty
  • An overworked person carrying their briefcase
  • Something for curly-haired people like you see on TV—to get perfect curls with no effort
  • A sculpture of Godzilla attacking an unsuspecting city
  • A paper weight
  • A wine bottle opener
  • A massager
  • Ovaries
  • A head scratcher
  • A napkin holder
  • Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars
  • A vibrator
  • And so, so many more…

Out of 44 respondents, only 8 correctly identified the model as a clitoris. This meant that 82% of polled friends mis-identified the model! I had hoped that this was a simple case of confusion. Perhaps folks were actually quite cliterate, but the photo experiment was rigged? (To be fair, it is a gold model after all—and that isn’t exactly anatomically correct!). But, in conversations and workshops that followed, the truth pointed to something deeper…something that is unsurprising given our biased and repressive reproductive history, the upsetting state of sexual health education in our country, and the reality that those traditionally researching the human body have been men.

We (the royal we) don’t know enough about the clitoris! And it is time that changed!

Here are 3 facts about the clitoris that every human has the right to know:

The clitoris is a sex organ present on bodies that are assigned female at birth, and some intersex people.

The clitoris is the pleasure center of the vulva, and it is one of the most sensitive erogenous (or “feel good”) zones in the body due to its high concentration of nerve endings. It is mostly made up of erectile tissue, so, like the penis, it enlarges (or swells with blood) and become erect when turned on. It has approximately 8,000 nerve endings—that’s two to three times as many nerve endings as the penis. And its sole reason for existing? To provide pleasure! (Cheers to that!)

The clitoris is SO much more than what meets the eye!

Often when people think of the clitoris, they assume it is just the visible/touchable “nub” above the urethra and vaginal opening. Similar to an iceberg, nearly 90% of the clitoris is actually internal (or under the surface)! The complete clitoris is about 3.5 – 4.25 inches (or, 9-11 cm) long. Check out this website to see and read about the clitoral structures in their entirety.

It took thousands of years for the clitoris to be mapped and understood, in all of its glory.

In 2005 (yes, only 18 years ago!), a female urologist, Helen O’Connell, and her colleagues used magnetic resonance imagining of living women to help describe all of the important internal clitoral structures. It was about dang time!

Friends, the clitoris is just another (magical) body part and has deserved the same attention as the eye the knee, or the kidney. But, we know that hasn’t been the case for far too long. In fact, for most of our history, the clitoris has been misunderstood, deemed unworthy of understanding, and demeaned. So, in the name of all things that are good, right, and that feel good—join us in telling the world about the clitoris!


Send a picture of the clitoris model, like the one featured in this article, to a friend (or 10) and ask if they know this body part! If not, kindly share some facts you learned here. We can all be healthier and happier beings when we have information about our bodies! Tag @healthyteennetwork on Instagram, in your post or IG story, and tell us about your educational campaign!


Mackenzie Piper, MPH, CHES, is passionate about all young people having access to comprehensive and inclusive sexual health information and services. She has experience providing training and technical assistance to healthcare and social service providers, and facilitating comprehensive sex ed programs to young folks. Read more about Mackenzie.