Google thinks clitorises are unmentionable

// 24 November 2008

The word “clitoris” is on a Google list of words ‘banned’ from its safe search option, according to Susie Bright.

Google’s filtered search option is, largely, a good thing in my view – for one thing, it means I can search for images at work!

But Google is set up so that if you search for the word “clitoris” with safe search options turned on, you will get zero results. A similar search for “penis” turns up 33 million results, Bright says.

Ever since the Breast Cancer Support group on AOL got shut down by the parent company for using the word “breast,” it’s been clear that women’s health, bodies, and sexual politics are “Not Safe for Work,” and beyond the pale of decent conversation and discourse.

Comments From You

Riot Kitty // Posted 25 November 2008 at 4:19 am

That is just sexist beyond belief.

Leigh // Posted 25 November 2008 at 11:44 am

Vagina is allowed and gives 21,000,000 results, less than penis at 37,000,000.

Not very pleased with Google for this. I will send them an email complaining.

Leigh // Posted 25 November 2008 at 12:02 pm

Okay sent them:

“Not sure where to file this- but I am objecting to your policy of censoring searched for ‘clitoris’ but not ‘penis’ in your safe search filter. Seeing female sexuality as worthy of more censorship than male is part of an unfortunate history of misogyny in western society, and I would have expected Google to be aware of this and above it. If you are going to continue to exclude searches for ‘clitoris’ from Safe searches, please also exclude ‘penis’, or make exceptions for both that in searches that include ‘health’ or similar phrases. I await your response at the email address above.

Many thanks,


I sent it through the privacy feedback form because I could not find a better means of contacting Google, not even an email or a websearch general feedback form. Anybody else who wants to might also think to include this new story.


Lizzie // Posted 26 November 2008 at 1:10 pm

I just checked this out and true enough, on strict safe search ‘clitoris’ ‘did not match any documents’ (wtf?!?! why give that explantation?), wheras penis, vagina and anal sex (which i searched out of curiosity because of the taboo) were all allowed.

So is the chief organ of female pleasure more ‘explicit’ than men’s or even sodomy? Apparently Google thinks so.

Unsuprising, but still disgusting.

Leigh-I’ll try to contact them too.

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