This picture appeared in Wilder Penfield’s 1950s publication The cerebral cortex of man, whose title which kind of reminded me of Sally Slocum. You remember Slocum, I quoted her sassing the Man-the-Hunter anthro-bros in the introduction to Invisible Women:
The extent to which male-unless-otherwise-indicated permeates our thinking may seem less surprising when you realise that it is also embedded in one of the most basic building blocks of society: language itself. Indeed, when Slocum criticised male bias in anthropology, she pointed out that this bias appeared ‘not only in the ways in which the scanty data are interpreted, but in the very language used’. The word ‘man’, she wrote, ‘is used in such an ambiguous fashion that it is impossible to decide whether it refers to males or to the human species in general’. This collapse in meaning led Slocum to suspect that ‘in the minds of many anthropologists, ‘man’, supposedly meaning the human species, is actually exactly synonymous with ‘males’. (IW, p.4)
Anyway I have similar suspicions about Wilder Penfield’s use of “man”, given that not only was the clitoris ignored, so were the vulva and the breasts. This may well be because out of the 400 people involved in Penfield’s study, only 9 were women, which is a totally normal and fine representation of the default male race.
Anyway, the main issue scientists seemed to take with Penfield’s little dude was not the rather large female-shaped data gap in his drawings, but rather that they did not like where he placed the pen1s: according to Penfield’s findings, it did not follow the logic of the rest of the body, which basically went in order from head to toe, but weirdly appeared…under the foot???
Brave scientists decided to take on this myth and in 2005, armed with a toothbrush (to stimulate the pen1s OBVS, gawd how do you do it actually don’t answer that) and an fMRI machine, a group of researchers did it: they found that the pen1s (I’ve really said that too many times now) is more where you’d expect, in the middle of the body. Since then, their findings have confirmed by a bunch of other studies.
“Notably absent from this conversation,” says the article, “were distinguishing features of female anatomy.”