How can you talk about something if it doesn't have a name?
That was the important question raised in Sweden back in November, when the Swedish Association for Sexuality Equality (RFSU) pointed out there was no Swedish word for "female masturbation." So they launched a contest to pick a word, and now we finally have a winner: "klittra."
Because women masturbate, but they don't do it exactly like men do. And that's exactly the point.
Recognizing women's pleasure: As Mic previously reported, masturbation still carries a stigma when women get to talking. A 2014 survey from Australian Study of Health and Relationships showed that far fewer women masturbated in the past year then men (72% vs. 42%), and men were more likely than women to have masturbated in the last four weeks.
Even as more and more women grow comfortable with it, it's still not quite the topic of conversation it is with men, both on the personal level and culturally. The personal discomfort takes a cue from cultural conversations. "We talk about male masturbation. Movies, TV shows, jokes, pop culture references. There is a near endless list of slang terms for men getting themselves off," wrote Jenny Block for Jezebel. "But when it comes to women, it's near radio silence."
"There is a near endless list of slang terms for men getting themselves off... But when it comes to women, it's near radio silence."
Finding the accurate words: Block makes an important point: It's easy to talk openly about male masturbation because we have the words — more than enough words, in fact — to talk about it. For women, not so much, as this funny Refinery29 video, "What Do You Call Masturbation?", makes clear. Petting the cat, buttering a muffin, downstairs DJ — all silly, none truly descriptive.
Which is why Sweden's new proposed term is particularly awesome. The clitoris is essential to many women's orgasms (researchers have found that upwards of 75% of women are unable to come without clitoral stimulation). Aside from that, plenty of women report not getting enough or the right kind of clitoral stimulation during sex.
That is, unless they're masturbating. As the terms from Refinery29's video suggest, many women don't focus on or even bother with penetration when masturbating and instead go for the clit. The Local reports that "klittra" isn't in the Swedish dictionary just yet (RFSU is campaigning for its inclusion), but we already like the word better than "jerking off."