Today, I want to talk about my favorite new idiom: well-hung woman. As most English speakers know, “well-hung” is slang for a man with a large penis, so you might be wondering how a woman could be well-hung? Well, if you know something about intersex people, you may have already figured it out; but in case you haven’t, the answer is simple: men aren’t the only ones that can have large phalluses.
You see, all babies start phenotypically female, but in some cases, like mine, embryos veer off the beaten path (oh what a surprise, my rebellion started early!). Usually, if one of the embryo’s chromosomes is a Y, male hormones are released, which makes their clitoris develop into a penis. (This makes penises a little like Chia Pets: just add testosterone and watch them grow!)
However, an embryo might have XX chromosomes but still release enough testosterone to result in a girl with a well-endowed clitoris. There’s a wide array of cases like this, fyi, which are collectively known as intersex variations, and if you want more information about them, just visit OII-USA’s website at http://oii-usa.org.
Sadly, just as certain African societies perform infant genital cutting – called Female Genital Mutilation — Western society does too, on intersex babies. The reasons it’s done are very similar. As an excellent Harvard Law Review article examines, both intersex and African babies are subjected to clitoral reductions based on cultural ideas of what women should behave and look like. http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crcl/vol40_1/ehrenreich.pdf
However, as the article discusses, intersex and African women aren’t the only ones that have been deemed in need of “feminizing”. In the United States, female circumcision “continued well into the Twentieth century…. Behaviors ‘treated’ with the surgery included masturbation, hypersexuality, melancholy, and nervousness, as well as ‘[l]esbianism and aversion to men.’ Middle-class white women, the same demographic group agitating for women’s rights during this period, were the main recipients of clitoridectomies.” (p. 90).
It may seem shocking that women had their clitorises cut off for daring to masturbate or advocate for the right to vote, but it happened because society was sexist enough at that time to allow it. And while it’s easy to deplore abuses that are discriminatory by today’s standards, if you’re not speaking out against abuses that are currently taking place, it’s the equivalent to those who stood by a century ago.
Today, clitoral reductions are recommended because of notions of how women’s bodies should look and function. I experienced this right before my eyes once during a television interview, when a male doctor spoke about genitals just like mine with revulsion. He was an advocate of infant genital cutting, and he was trying to incite sympathy for his position from the audience. Fortunately, I exposed his views as prejudicial and got supportive applause. (If you have some time to kill you can watch the show here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMT0t3bOEog.)
Despite attempts to regulate women’s bodies, sometimes, even in places where clitoral reduction surgeries are readily available, an intersex baby escapes this fate and grows up with her unique traits intact. I’m one of those cases, and I like to celebrate it by calling myself a “well-hung woman.” It’s always been considered a positive trait for men, so why not apply it to women as well?
After all, if we disregard judgments about “appropriate” appearance, what we’re left with is simply an abundance of the only organ on the human body whose sole function is pleasure. And how, may I ask, is that a negative thing?
Women subjected to clitoral reduction surgeries often report feeling inadequate or afraid to pursue relationships because of the resulting sexual dysfunction. They also report being extremely hurt by the fact that their own parents chose this for them in an effort to “fix” them. Parents, in turn, often report feeling devastated by the unintended outcomes of their decision, and wishing they had let their child decide for themselves later.
Proponents of surgery imagine intersex girls won’t feel normal being different, but the actual experiences of the adults who’ve contacted me contradict this. My favorite was the one who wrote me about having an unusually large clitoris, saying, “I have four children and another one… on the way. Hearing your story made me wonder if I’m intersexed…. I enjoy orgasms and reach them easily.” Sounds tragic huh?
Are we really still saying, in 2013, that women’s sexual response should be eliminated, rather than celebrated? Really? Not me.