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Monday, September 24, 2012

I Haven't Read Naomi Wolf's Vagina: A New Biography.

Posted by Alison Hallett on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM

But I am enjoying the hell out of reading reviews of it. Over at the Millions, the "Feminist Hate-Read Book Club" conducts an email discussion of Wolf's new book, which is apparently about how the essence of the female experience dwells in the vagina—like a tiny troll!—which requires specialized massage from a yoni-guru in order to achieve the full-body orgasms that indicate evolved womanhood. Or something? I don't know.

I like this part, from Hairpin books editor Nicole Cliffe:

I am not an evo-psych person, not even a little bit, but I AM an atheist who is reasonably relaxed about The Void We Stare Across (zerooooo pun intended), and as a result, this book just made me want to grab her and say: it is a fucking gap in your body which evolved to vent menstrual fluid and infants and to give you enough physical pleasure so you might get conned into the latter.

I’m not a vagina/brain scientist (and this article suggests Wolf is not either) but it is not A Concept, it’s more like your armpit than it is like your soul, and I think if one MUST write a cultural history of a body part (I await the Sack Chronicles with bated breath), it does not follow that you need to say, unblinkingly, a series of made-up things and wave your hands and say GOSH SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE! IS IT A POMEGRANATE OF DELIGHT OR A CAVE OF DESPAIR?

(Cave of despair!)

I have a strong aversion to the every-woman-is-a-goddess strain of feminism—the kind of vaginal exceptionalism that posits certain emotional realms are only accessible to women, or that there is some "essential feminine" we're all connected to, whether we like it or not. (Not.) It's damaging, and also kind of icky, which is why pointed takedowns like this piece in the New York Times Book Review are so satisfying to read.

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