Why did we build this? Who’s it for? What’s next?

The Cliteracy Project was conceived of and built in Cyd Cipolla’s Tinkering in Feminist Technoscience course, an interdisciplinary seminary in The Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Throughout the semester students were expected to engage with feminist science thinkers like Donna Haraway and Carol Cohn, challenge their (mis)conceptualizations of science, knowledge, and feminist theory, and finally, to build a new thing.

The Cliteracy Project attempts to fill a gap that is all too often unaddressed: vulva education. Sex education in high school (if it is even taught) rarely teaches individuals how to have relationships with their own body or even the correct words for certain parts. Sex education often lacks conversations about what really goes on ‘down there’ by instead focusing on negativity and prevention: what not to do with your body, what not to do to other people’s bodies, etc. While one small interactive diagram cannot fix the myriad problems that arise in sex education, we hope that The Cliteracy Project will help individuals have positive relationships with parts of their body that are too often undiscussed and unexplored.

By constructing an interactive program using a simple embroidered diagram, users of the program have their own experience learning about each part. Audio definitions are played out loud once users click a key corresponding with each component. There is no correct start or end point; users explore the diagram however they like.

The Cliteracy Project was designed for anyone wanting to learn or teach about vulvae. In designing our project, we aimed to use language that does not equate sex with gender. Our diagram represents a very basic illustration of the anatomy of a vulva– anyone with any gender identity can have the anatomy we describe.

Our program may be used as an educational device in classrooms, mentoring groups, or for individual exploration. The intent was to design an extremely user-friendly model. Yet, there are limits to our production that are important to note (see our critiques here).

In publishing the project, process, and analysis online, we hope to create a discussion around The Cliteracy Project that creates new and improved iterations, more inclusive models, and ways to expand the project’s goal.

Who are the creators?

Lila Rimalovski is a student at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Class of 2019. She concentrates her studies at the intersection of feminist theory, technology, and sustainability. Lila is a political and social justice activist, organizer, and community leader. She’s passionate about using technology for public good and designing solutions to benefit both the environment and the people in urban spaces. She can be contacted at lgr5@nyu.edu.

Mimi Doan is a student at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Class of 2019. She is interested in creative and civic applications for computer science and technology and is the Co-Founder Hakook and The American Values Network. Drop her a line on twitter or on her website.