Mary Roach Explores the Clitoris

Science Journalist and Author

Mary Roach grew up in a small house in Etna, New Hampshire. She graduated from Wesleyan in 1981, and then moved out to San Francisco. She spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the SF Zoo. During that time she wrote freelance articles for the local newspaper's Sunday magazine.

Though she mostly focuses on writing books, she writes the occasional magazine piece. These have run in Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many others. A 1995 article of herse called "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and in 1996, her article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award in the general interest magazine category. Mary Roach also reviews books for The New York Times.

Her first book, Stiff, was an offshoot of a column she wrote for Salon.com. Her other books include Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

 

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: What surprised you most about the clitoris?

Mary Roach: I was surprised with alarming frequency. Okay, I didn't know. I didn't know that women have nocturnal erections. That was a surprise to me. The whole... You know, clitoris as tiny penis. Sorry, penis is a huge clitoris, for our feminists in the audience. Apparently, you know, the erectile chambers, a little foreskin, little tiny smegma. I mean, it's this little analog, which, I guess I knew, but didn't really realize the extent of it and the fact that women on the same sort of cycle as men have these little erections, that was interesting. Male multiple orgasm, didn't realize that it was common as it is, not that it's common but it's not terribly uncommon. That was interesting to me. Just... And, I guess, also, you know, surprise... A lot of times the surprise was that somebody actually study that, you know, the female erection studies. Somebody actually took out a little tiny strain gauge and attached it to a clitoris, a bunch of women and actually went to the trouble of doing a well-controlled scientific study of that. And you got to love science, you know, that people are actually... inquiring minds want to know.

Recorded on: April 6, 2009

 


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