Fake French clitoris poll fools mocking Italians

A spoof French news website had the last laugh this week after a story that claimed most French men thought the clitoris was a Toyota model, tricked members of the Italian media into mocking the naivité of their Latin rivals in France.

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.

The ANSA version of events was even reprinted by the Corriere della Serra, 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 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.”

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Italy should ‘take back’ the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini

The Mona Lisa, the world's most famous painting, should be brought back home to Italy from France, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, before clarifying he was joking.

Italy should 'take back' the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini
Photo: Wikicommons
His comments come as French-Italian relations have nosedived following a series of rows over illegal immigration, domestic policies and personal attacks directed at French President Emmanuel Macron. 
“I announce that we're working with the French ambassador to take back the Mona Lisa,” Salvini said at a press conference to announce events commemorating 500 years since the death of the artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci.
“It would be more convenient for everyone who wants to see her up close,” said Salvini, who is also interior minister.
“Joking apart, obviously, we don't need more international crises.” 
Photo: AFP
Da Vinci was born in the Medici-ruled Republic of Florence in 1452 but died in France in 1519.
Salvini said he would visit Da Vinci's Last Supper fresco in Milan before May 2nd, the date of the Renaissance polymath's death.
“As for the Mona Lisa, as long as she is in Paris, that will take a bit longer,” Salvini said.
The painting, whose mysterious smile has long captivated artists and admirers, draws millions of people to the Louvre museum in the French capital each year.
France and Italy's relationship has soured since Salvini and populist leader Luigi Di Maio formed a government in June. The two governments have clashed on a variety of issues, including the Lyon-Turin train line, migrants and the loan of art works for this year's Da Vinci events. France in February recalled its ambassador after a series of “outrageous” statements by Italian officials.
On Wednesday the Italian government presented a wide-ranging schedule for celebrations to mark da Vinci's death over the next year.
“It's a holiday that will last all year and it's an opportunity for Italy to celebrate a genius, a genius that is ours, universally appreciated, so much so that the celebrations will take place around the world,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Dozens of events are planned until April 2020. A major exhibition dedicated to Da Vinci's scientific genius opened on Wednesday at the Scuderie del Quirinale palace in Rome, entitled “La scienza prima della scienza” ('science before science'). 

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP