'The Clit Test' Is Here To Rate Female Pleasure In Film, TV And Books

Rachel Moss
·3-min read

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Watch a sex scene on TV and – more often than not – it’ll be painfully heteronormative and focus on penetration, with the woman orgasming easily after two minutes of wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

In real life, female pleasure rarely occurs that way. So, to encourage more accurate (and feminist) representations of pleasure in pop culture, two women have created ‘The Clit Test’ – think of it like the Bechdel test, for sex scenes.

The Clit Test celebrates TV shows, films, books and music that acknowledge the clitoris, not the vagina, is the source of orgasm for at least 80% of women and people with vulvas.

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Normal People (Photo: Normal People/BBC)
Normal People (Photo: Normal People/BBC)

Frances Rayner, 34, from Glasgow, created the test out of frustration with sex scenes she’d seen on screen, which often imply women are always able to orgasm through penetrative sex. Irene Tortajada, 25, from London, joined her, as she felt 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 told me about the clitoris,” Rayner says. “From a young age, I knew about blow jobs, penis in vagina sex and male masturbation, but nothing 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.”

A ‘Clit Test pass’ occurs any time the clitoris is acknowledged, say Rayner and Tortajada. 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.

Recent passes include Olivia Wilde’s teen film, Booksmart, Michaela Coel’s TV comedy, Chewing Gum, and Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other.

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Chewing  Gum  (Photo: Chewing Gum/ Netflix)
Chewing Gum (Photo: Chewing Gum/ Netflix)

The campaign is supported by two leading academics on the female orgasm: Professor Elizabeth Lloyd, author of The Case of the Female Orgasm, and Dr Laurie Mintz, author of Becoming Cliterate.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star and co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rachel Bloom, has also shown her support, as have bestselling writers Holly Bourne and Wednesday Martin.

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Sex Education  (Photo: Sex Education/Netflix)
Sex Education (Photo: Sex Education/Netflix)

The Clit Test campaign launches on Friday July 31, to coincide with National Orgasm Day. To mark the day, the women behind the Clit Test are calling on members of the public to share their favourite sex scenes that pass the test, and thank the people who made them.

You can share your passes and fails on social media using the hashtags #ClitTestPass and #ClitTestFail.

“In the context of market-driven porn being accessible to children as young as 7, there’s never been a more important time to reset our shared norms around pleasure,” says Rayner. “The Clit Test celebrates the people who are getting it right, in the hope we will inspire others.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.