• Clodagh Meaney

You've heard of the Bechdel test, but have you heard of The Clit Test?

This project is aiming to improve female sexual representation in pop culture.


If you're a feminist, you've likely heard of the Bechdel test - a means of measuring the representation of women in fiction - but have you heard of The Clit Test?

The Clit Test is a little bit different.


Unlike the Bechdel test, which to pass, a film or book must include two named female characters who speak to each other about something other than men, The Clit Test celebrates sex scenes that accurately depict that the clitoris is a central part of sexual pleasure for 80 to 95 percent of women and people with vulvas. 

These sex scenes can be in films, TV, songs, books or anywhere intercourse is depicted.



"Women who have sex with men are having alarming rates of unsatisfying, bad and even painful sex. For too long our sexual script has centred on penetration and male orgasm," says the project.


"The vast majority of women only orgasm through clitoral stimulation. But sex acts that reflect this are rarely depicted or even hinted at on-screen, and this reflects women’s experience in the bedroom."


"Too many girls - and the women they grow into - are left disempowered, confused and even ashamed of their own sexuality," the project explains.


"Lack of sexual enjoyment is linked to a range of problems including low self-esteem, and a sexual landscape that centres around only men’s pleasure can only feed into a culture of sexual violence. "


"This is bad for everybody. We all want to know that the person we’re having sex with is having a good time, which is one of the reasons women fake orgasms at ridiculous rates."


"We can fix this  - all it takes is for us to show and talk about sex that recognises women’s pleasure."



Research shows that during male-female sex, women only orgasm 30 percent of the time and faking it 67 percent of the time.

This is compared to men who orgasm 90 percent of the time.

This orgasm gap leaves women and people with clitorises at a huge disadvantage during sex, meaning our pleasure is notoriously overlooked, which feeds into the patriarchal agenda.


Television shows to pass the test include Chewing Gum, How To Get Away With Murder and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.


Janelle Monae's song Pynk, which is about the vagina, also passes the test.

A "Clit Test pass" occurs any time the clitoris is acknowledged. This could be a head or a hand disappearing under the covers, a mention of women masturbating or even someone expressing disappointment with sex that was only penetrative. 


Founders of The Clit Test

Founded by Frances Rayner, the 34-year-old became frustrated with sex scenes which often implied that women are able to orgasm through penetrative sex only. 25-year-old Irene Tortajada so joined the project after realising how little progress had been made to help her generation understand female pleasure.

“Growing up, I was entirely clueless about my own pleasure because no one had ever told me about the clitoris," Frances said.


"From a young age I knew all about blow jobs, penis in vagina sex and male masturbation, but nothing in any of the culture I consumed taught me how women’s bodies worked beyond periods and pregnancy."

“This misleading ‘sexual script’ is one of the main reasons women and girls who have sex with men have alarming rates of disappointing, bad and even painful sex."


Frances said that culture has had a big impact on the kind of sex she had.

"I’m 34 now and I’ve spent a year reading academic papers to check I’m not an anomaly in either my anatomy or my ignorance."

“The responses we’ve received since starting the campaign suggest that a lot of very young women are having similar experiences to the ones I had 20 years ago."


The campaign has been celebrated by two of the leading academics and authors on female orgasm, Professor Elizabeth Lloyd (The Case of the Female Orgasm) and Dr. Laurie Mintz (Becoming Cliterate).



It has also been celebrated by Emmy and Global Globe-winning star and co-creator of the hit show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rachel Bloom as well as bestselling writers Holly Bourne and Wednesday Martin.


"The clitoris is one of the most important body parts there is and for too long it has been kept in the shadows to the detriment of both clit-havers and their partners," said Rachel Bloom.


“The work that The Clit Test is doing is essential and long overdue."


"This damaging sex myth infects all media - from the obvious suspects like pornography and Hollywood movies, but also otherwise-empowering feminist TV shows, or award-winning literary novels," said Holly Bourne, author of The Places I've Cried in Public and Am I Normal Yet?


"Nobody seems to want to tell the truth about vaginas."

“I spent many years working with young people as a sex and relationships advisor and saw countless women thinking there was something wrong with them because they couldn’t orgasm through penetration."


"They carried huge amounts of shame - worried this made them ‘bad in bed’, or frigid, and they were often convinced they were the only one who had this ‘problem’ and all their friends were having better sex than them."



Holly said it's not surprising when in practically all sex scenes women orgasm almost effortlessly through penetration alone, even though that experience is only true for 5 to 20 percent of women. "It’s not just the easy orgasm that’s the pervasive problem, but also how easily a vagina can be ready to receive a penis. "


"We often see minimal to no foreplay beforehand, which, in real life, leads to dry and painful sex. I’d also love to see more depictions of how sexual trauma impacts woman’s sex lives."


"Considering 20% of women have been raped or sexually assaulted, you rarely see the work survivors and their partners need to do to overcome this."


To mark the launch of the project, they're asking for people to get involved on social media by sharing their favourite sex scenes that pass the test, using #ClitTestPass and thanking the people who made them. 

© 2020 by EMPWR

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