Interviews, even with the most amazing people, are still only as good as the interviewer. At Brooklyn Magazine, we all get lucky with the fab Marian Ryan, who is right at home with Elizabeth and her debut, I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris (TS Press, 2016).
Here’s an excerpt:
MR: As I was reading, I found myself becoming a little bit indignant at some of the shade thrown at the clitoris, like when Freud compares it to a pile of “pine shavings.” What the actual fuck. Did you find yourself getting pissed off a lot during the research?
EH: I definitely got pretty angry. Actually, there were a lot of things that I cut from the book—I had to make that choice, because there is so much in Freud and others where they go on about large clits and that kind of thing. It gets really absurd. This was also why I wanted to talk back to the text. That’s the glory of the writer, that you get in your little asides. Freud is one of those people who’s deeply problematic, but it’s fun to poke a little fun at him.
MR: There’s something of a surge in writing about the body, the primacy of the body of knowing and experiencing. Yet women’s sexuality and pleasure, even in that context, seems so under-explored. Why do we still have trouble seeing it?
EH: We see it and we don’t see it. With the saturation of porn culture, you don’t meet many people who are young who don’t know about the clit. People stream this stuff from such a young age. Yet the scripts have not necessarily changed when it comes to heterosexual couples actually having sex. That’s something that Shere Hite wrote about in the 1970s in the Hite Report—that the knowledge of the ease of the female orgasm, where it is centered, how it happens, was not translating to actual changes in sex. I think that in terms of sex—beyond just knowing about the clit—is just that it requires really intense focus, and to be present. So it’s not that people don’t know about it, but maybe we haven’t really, fully explored the real implications of what it means to live a clitoral life.