Always the pioneers on the sexual frontier, the French are at it once again. This time, however, they’re focusing a largely ignored and/or erased sexual subject: the clitoris. Noticing the severe – and potentially dangerous – lack of coverage for female sexuality, sociomedical researcher Odile Fillod set out to bring the organ to light by turning to 3D printing.
Female sex organs matter
Starting this September, French classrooms ranging from primary to secondary levels will finally get a real sense of the clitoris in all its glory. The life-size, anatomically-correct model will give students a more concrete understanding of the components of the organ. Fillod notes that because the clitoris is a mostly internal sex organ, it is often overshadowed by the male equivalent, whose erectile tissue is entirely external and, therefore, deemed easier to understand and dissect. Fillod hopes that by having a physical representation of the entire clitoris – as we often have of the penis – students will then be able to think of sex organs equally, whether they are male or female. She explains:
“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated…I wanted to show that men and women are not fundamentally different […] Understanding that they have an erectile system just like men, I think women will start to experiment more.”
In the above video we see the development of the 3D printed clitoris from the anatomic design concept to the finishing pink touches. Available as an STL file here, the original clitoris was first created as a 2D drawing using accurate measurements from scientific papers throughout history. The drawing was then converted into a GCODE STL file using slic3r and then printed in PLA on a Mondrian 3D printer. Finally, the model was cooled, sanded and painted to resemble an accurate representation of the organ.
Although the original model was printed in a hardened PLA material, Fillod suggests other models can be printed in more flexible materials to further mimic the clitoris’ actual anatomic abilities. Fillod also further suggests demonstrating how the clitoris is positioned against the pelvis with even more 3D printed models including the pelvic bones, vagina, urethra and labia!
The 3D printed possibilities of sex organs are seemingly endless in sexual education classrooms. We’ve already become quite familiar with 3D printing technology in professional medical and dental fields, but it is also important to ensure younger generations have an accurate understanding of human anatomy. Fortunately, thanks to developments like Fillod’s 3D printed clitoris, generations to come will finally be given that opportunity.
Featured Image courtesy of Marie Docher for Company Handout