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Sex ed in France just got more inclusive, thanks to this 3D-printed clitoris

It's a word that elicits giggles from adults, let alone children. That's one of the reasons the sexual organ is surrounded by misinformation and mystery. And that is very serious business — especially when it comes to the fight for gender equality.

But French public schools are tackling this problem, using tech to address gender inequality in sexual education. This school year, children in France are going to become familiar with the clitoris and its function — and it's all thanks to 3D printing. 

An anatomically accurate 3D model of the clitoris was developed by sociomedical researcher Odile Fillod for use in primary and secondary school sex ed. The hunk of plastic, which resembles a wishbone with some additional protruding features, was created by Fillod after she began work on a series of anti-sexist sexual education videos. In her research for the project, she came to realize the clitoris was misrepresented and overlooked in the majority of school textbooks. 

“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated,” Fillod tells The Guardian. “In understanding the key role of the clitoris, a woman can stop feeling shame, or [that she’s] abnormal if penile-vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick for her. Given the anatomical data, that is the case for most women.”

The lack of information was a problem she couldn't ignore — so she looked to solve it.

Soon after her realization, Fillod began designing the model clitoris in collaboration with Fab Lab at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, the largest science museum in Europe. The model was created for a sex ed video, produced with the support of the national Ministry of Education, with the goal of helping to achieve greater gender equality in the classroom. 

Fillod says the 3D model will also be distributed to primary and secondary educators in France to help children learn about sexual pleasure of women, not just men. 

You can watch the development and printing of the 3D clitoris — complete with a sexy soundtrack — below.

Advocates says comprehensive sex education is essential for school children — both in France and beyond. International guidelines on sexual education by the United Nations state that the global education sector plays a critical role in educating youth about sexuality and reproduction. But the UN has been critical of the current state of sex ed around the globe, partially for its sole focus on the pleasure of men, often ignoring women's sexuality completely.

In June, a French government organization focused on gender equality published a scathing report criticizing the sex ed curriculum in France's public schools. The group reported current curriculum enables boys to learn about sex in the context of pleasure, while girls are made to focus on love. 

The report called for strengthening of sex education in the region, greater gender equality in education and the encouragement of sexual empowerment for all French youth.

Fillod's 3D-printed clitoris, which seeks to be a part of those outlined solutions, is currently on display in the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. If you happen to have a 3D printer lying around, you can print your own clitoris using the directions here.

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