VAGINA by Naomi Wolf


A New Biography
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Cultural commentator Wolf (Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, 2008, etc.) explores the effect of new neurobiological discoveries on our understanding of female sexuality.

When the author began noticing her own distressingly diminished sexual response at age 46, she visited a gynecologist, who diagnosed her with an impacted pelvic nerve. Since this nerve connects women's genitalia to their brains, any damage to it can lead to sexual dysfunction or pain. After recovering from surgery and regaining sexual pleasure, Wolf set out to document the mind-body link with the goal of informing women of the crucial role that neurology plays not only in their sex lives, but also in fostering their creativity and sense of well-being. The author undoubtedly has good intentions, but her propensity to seek out research that mirrors her own beliefs too often reduces the wide scope of female sexuality to a one-size-fits-all approach. Wolf also frequently uses New Age terms like “Goddess Array” to describe the sexual techniques she claims all women crave, and she falls victim to tantric sexual healers whom skeptical readers will regard as mere charlatans. Wolf’s tendency to ascribe independent consciousness to the vagina as an alternately traumatized, depressed and sacred site further stretches her credibility. However, the author takes a more measured approach in the second section, a fascinating history of the way that various cultures have viewed the vagina throughout history. Even here, though, she emphasizes the belief that many ancient societies worshiped the vagina, despite the fact that anthropologists have largely debunked this theory. The author also cites informal polls and questionnaires on her Facebook page as evidence for her hypotheses.

An unwieldy attempt to graft science onto a personal memoir/sexual-advice manual.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-198916-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2012


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