City Paper is not for tourists
I’m a straight woman who hasn’t had sex in five years. Why? Because every time I get close to a guy he’s shocked by the large size of my clit. I get, “What is that down there?” “It looks like a mini-penis,” and “I wasn’t sure what to think—guy or girl.” Is there anything I can do? Surgery? I live in Canada so I’m hoping our health-care system thinks this is as emotionally distressing as I do. Please help. I just want to have sex again and feel normal.—Big Clit
Big clits, small clits, red clits, blue clits—they’re all outside my area of expertise, BC, so I shared your letter with Alice Dreger, a medical humanities and bioethics faculty member at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dreger has worked as a patient advocate for people born with “different-than-average sex anatomies” for a decade, and she has tons of good advice for the differently clitted. (She also has a Web site: alicedreger.com.)
“Just like penises and breasts and noses come in different shapes and sizes, so do clits,” Dreger says. “Study after study keeps showing the same thing: Clits naturally vary a lot more than those diagrams on gynecologists’ walls lead you to believe.”
Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the memo—from your sex partners, BC, to the medical establishment.
“Lots of docs will be happy to operate on you,” Dreger continues. “Will the Canadian health-care system pay for it? Maybe. Should you get surgery? I wouldn’t in a million years, knowing what I know. Many women who have had clitoral-reduction surgery as children and as adults report diminished sexual sensation. Think about it, it only makes sense: Cut into a really sensitive organ and you’re messing with sensation. Take parts off, take sensation away. Worse yet, some women who have had this surgery report short-term or lifelong genital pain.”
If that’s not enough to dissuade you, BC, consider this: Most of the surgeons out there hacking away at different-than-average clits don’t know much about clitoral geography. “They’ve finally started confessing this in the medical meetings I attend,” says Dreger. “For example, the nerves turn out to be in different places than most of them thought. Oops! And most of them don’t know that most women masturbate by rubbing the shaft of the clit—which is kind of like how most men masturbate, by rubbing the shaft of their penises. Meanwhile the shaft is what surgeons typically remove, thinking only the glans (the nubbin at the tip) is what’s important. Oops again!” And women who get the surgery don’t wind up feeling “normal,” Dreger adds. “A recent study showed that, in fact, surgery cemented their feeling of being ‘different’ while interfering with genital sensation.” (You can read more about that study at isna.org/node/1039.)
So what should you do?
“First off, know this clit is normal for you,” says Dreger. “If it gives you sexual pleasure, don’t mess with it! Second, learn to prepare your sex partners for what they’re going to find when they head south. Explain what I did at the start—clits like penises vary in size, and you were blessed with a clit that makes it easy for guys to find.” And while some guys will appreciate your big clit for its easy-to-locate quality, BC, others will appreciate your big clit for its sheer big-clittedness. “I’ve had a number of straight women ask me how they can grow their clits bigger, because they and their mates are turned on by the idea. The notion that all men like petite clits is just plain wrong. (And the answer to ‘Can I grow my clit bigger?’ is yes, with testosterone, but you should be prepared for systemic masculinizing effects and medical risks.)” (Proof that some men love big clits can be found at MyBigClit.com, which is “not safe for work,” as the kids say—and not safe at any time, day or night, for squeamish faggots.)
One last word from Dreger: “There’s a small chance that your big clit signals some underlying medical concern. Big clits don’t cause any medical problems, but they can be a sign that something is up, something like adrenal hyperplasia. If you are having menstrual problems or other unexplained medical issues, talk to a trusted doctor.”—Dan
I’m 25 and have been with my 27-year-old boyfriend for five years. After a night of heavy drinking, we were talking to another couple (both 26, our friends for two years) about threesomes. The other couple invited us back to their place. We had some fun, mainly oral, and then the other couple decided it was time to “swap.” So the guy and I went in another room and we ended up having vaginal sex. When the girl found out, she was furious. My boyfriend was also upset.
Now, my boyfriend and I didn’t set clear boundaries, but I assumed the other couple had since they initiated the foursome. I betrayed my boyfriend, and I will work on that. But the thing is, I resent the girl thinking I betrayed her. I feel that I shouldn’t be responsible for crossing the line with the other girl, because she was into the foursome and her boyfriend initiated the sex, so I assumed she was OK with it. I want your opinion. Did I betray the girl, too?—Foursome UnderminesCouple’s Kinky Yearnings
Repeat after me, FUCKY: “I didn’t betray anyone—not my boyfriend, not the other couple. In the future, however, I will assume nothing and set boundaries. This will require explicit, thorough conversations about what is and isn’t mutually agreeable before any messing around, and occasional check-ins during the messing around. For while it may not be my responsibility to make sure that everyone is on the same page, it’s in my best interest to make sure everyone is on the same page.”—Dan
I’m 20 and have been in a relationship for two years. My girlfriend doesn’t want me going out with my friends. If I’m not at work or school, she thinks my time should be devoted to her. But sometimes I want to do other things. And I can’t bring myself to tell her off because it would hurt her. I’ve minimized going out with friends to once or twice a month, but she still makes scenes. She even gets upset when I send them text messages. I love her, but I don’t think this should continue. Maybe it’s my fault for making her dependent on me emotionally. I’m her only friend, and she doesn’t have anyone to tell things to.
—Wanting Time for Myself
Break. Up. With. The. Bitch.
A romantic partner that attempts to isolate you from your friends—you can’t even text them?—is an abuser, WTFM. Yes, yes, your girlfriend can reasonably expect to be your top priority, but she can’t demand all of your time. Men who attempt to isolate their female partners frequently use threats of physical violence or actual violence to get their way, making it easy for the world to see them for what they are: abusers. When women pull the same crap on men, it usually involves emotional manipulation—like, say, convincing the guy that he’s her only friend or getting him to blame himself for making her so emotionally dependent on him—and it can be harder to recognize the behavior as abusive. But abuse it is, WTFM, and the longer you let her get away with it, the worse it’s going to get. DTMFA.—Dan Savage
Dan Savage’s new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to email@example.com.