Sex differences in the naming of children's genitalia
- Cite this article as:
- Gartrell, N. & Mosbacher, D. Sex Roles (1984) 10: 869. doi:10.1007/BF00288510
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Children's knowledge of human genital anatomy was examined retrospectively. Of the 223 adults who responded to a questionnaire on this subject, 39.8% of males and 29% of females learned correct anatomical names for male genitalia as children. In contrast, only 6.1% of females and 17.7% of males learned correct names for female genitalia. Most respondents learned either euphemisms or no names for female genitalia as children. Whereas male respondents acquired a complete vocabulary for male genitalia by a mean age of 11.5 years, female respondents did not complete their anatomical vocabulary for female genitalia until a mean age of 15.6 years. The importance of recognizing that children have erotic experiences and that they need a vocabulary for describing their feelings is discussed.