When the editors of Le Gorafi, a fake news website known as the French version of The Onion, ran a “story” claiming 89 percent of French men thought the clitoris was a car, they can’t have imagined it would provoke more than a knowing chuckle from regular readers.
Apparently, though, they didn’t count on the eagerness of sections of the Italian media to show up their romantically “confused” French rivals.
At least six Italian news outlets this week rushed to report, with relish, the “findings” of the TNS-Sofres survey mentioned by Le Gorafi, whose name is derived from the (real) French newspaper Le Figaro.
"89 percent of French men confuse the 'clitoride', which in French is called the 'clitoris', with a car from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota,” declared leading Italian news agency ANSA.
“Probably a confusion with the Toyota Yaris," they helpfully explained in a story they placed in the “Motoring” section of the website.
"For 89 percent, the clitoris is a Toyota." Photo: ANSA/Screengrab
The ANSA version of events was even reprinted by the Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s oldest and most respected broadsheet newspapers
Sardinia’s leading newspaper, L’Unione Sarda, didn’t miss what must have seemed like a golden opportunity to get one over on French men when it comes to erotic worldliness.
"Along with Italians and Spaniards, they are universally considered to be the best Latin lovers in the world. And yet almost nine French men out of ten confuse the clitoris with a car," the paper scoffed.
"The clitoris? For nine out of ten Frenchmen, it's a car made in Japan." Photo: L'Unione Sarda/Screengrab
‘The clitoris has something to do with an Egyptian goddess’
The story in Le Gorafi was reasonably convincing, at first glance. It featured a survey conducted by a prominent polling firm (TNS-Soffres), in collaboration with a real French women’s magazine, La Causette.
It requires a certain “suspension of disbelief,” however, to accept the poll numbers presented in the article.
Some 89 percent of French men surveyed thought the clitoris was a Japanese car, seven percent “thought it had something to do with an Egyptian goddess,” and four percent had never heard of it before.
The implication? Not a single one of the “2500 men surveyed” could correctly define or identify the clitoris.
The now-infamous ‘clitoris car’ story went further, mentioning a previous study (once again conducted by a reputable firm for an established newspaper), which found that 45 percent of French teenage boys thought the “uterus” was a planet in our solar system.
'All articles featured here are fake'
The folks in the Italian media, apparently in a rush to embarrass their romantic rivals on the other side of the Alps, neglected to do the small amount of research it would have required to find out the whole thing is a fake.
In the ‘About’ section of Le Gorafi’s website, a statement reads: “All articles featured here are fake (until proven otherwise) and written for a humorous purpose. The use of names of people and companies here is purely satirical.”
Furthermore, a quick browse of Le Gorafi's homepage would have shown other articles with headlines such as: "Man taken into custody for smiling too much on the Metro," and "Health Minister warns 'touching sharp objects might hurt you.'"
A source at TNS Sofres, for his part, confirmed to The Local on Friday that their pollsters had carried out no such survey on French men's knowledge of the female genitalia.
The source, who obviously saw the funny side of the story, joked "I think the Italian press need to check their sources in future. It was clearly nonsense."