A woman writing on a blackboard. Photo: Aline Lesser/Image Bank Sweden
Members of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Equality (RFSU) selected “klittra” from a shortlist of words put together after launching a national competition last year.
The group said it wanted to encourage a single, nationally-recognized word for the activity after noting the absence of such a term in Swedish, while there are numerous words that directly refer to men having solo sex.
News of the planned contest went global when it was first launched November 2014 and the organization received more than 1,200 emails, comments, postcards and letters, and around 200 unique word suggestions.
It later published a shortlist of 40 words for the public to vote on, with “klittra” proving the most successful and “pulla” and “runka” the next popular alternatives.
The RFSU's final decision to promote the word “klittra” was reached following a poll at an RFSU conference in Västerås, north east of Stockholm, over the weekend, and gained prominence in the Swedish media on Wednesday.
“Historically, women's sexuality and not least female masturbation has been taboo,” the RFSU said in a statement.
“Women are not expected to have desires and be turned on in the same way as men, which is reflected in the lack of words [for masturbation],” it added.
The statement noted that one advantage of “klittra” is that it “highlights the importance of the clitoris for pleasure”.
RFSU is already starting to campaign for the word to be included in the next edition of Sweden's official dictionary (Svenska Akademiens ordlista or SAOL).
“Now RFSU members have had their say, the obvious word for female masturbation is klittra. Now we hope that the public begins to use the word so that it is only a matter of time until we see it in SAOL,” said RFSU's spokesperson Kristina Ljungros.
Ljungros has previously told The Local that more needs to be done to encourage Swedes to discuss female sexuality.
“We are trying to put sexuality on the agenda – the positive aspects, not just the negative ones like sexual abuse. We want to focus on the good parts, the lust,” she said.
“When it comes to masturbation, people mostly think about just men doing it and we don't think of it as common for women. If we don't have a word in the language, how can we even talk about it?”