Epistemology Of Ignorance

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Sex is rarely a topic that is allowed to encroach on ‘polite’ conversation, but it is an authentic part of the lives of most people. Even so, the female orgasm is often treated like dirty laundry that should stay hidden, rather than be aired out in public. In her article, “Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance,” Nancy Tuana tackles the question of how our understanding of female orgasms has developed over time. It also discusses how ignorance has guided that transformation. It is the trail
While ignorance is defined by a lack of information, it is not as simple as that. One of the most powerful ideas from the article is introduced quickly when Tuana writes that ignorance is not “a simple omission or gap but is, in many
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Each time that there seems to be a step forward, there is another doctor or scientist arguing for the former belief. Renaldus Columbus even argues that the clitoris, a pleasure center for women, is basically “a sort of male member” (qtd. in Tuana 200). This is also seen early in medical history as women were considered to be a slightly distorted male figure, rather than separate from men. They were less than men and this showed in the medical knowledge that was purposefully left out of the textbooks. The information about men and their sexual organs is well-documented and the portrayal does not seem to have changed in decades. Yet, the information about women is lacking. Even when I received sexual education training in elementary and high school, there was no discussion about women’s sex organs. There were demonstrations of putting condoms on a penis (via a banana) and plenty of information about male sex organs as whole. Yet, there clitoris was a blip on the radar, only a nub in an area surrounded by reproductive organs, while the ‘G Spot’ did not even exist on the chart. The pleasure of women was forced into a box of vaginal intercourse only. Speaking of pleasure, Tuana focuses a portion of her article on the subject and how men and women’s pleasure are treated differently. The goal of sex was supposed to be reproducing and there was an ‘understanding’ that for women, pleasure was not a necessity to achieve this goal. This belief, along with another, create the basis for why Tuana believes the clitoris has been largely ignored in science and medicine. Her reasoning resonated with me, so I am sharing it in its
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