The Tryst Betrayed jVe coitus I can send her galloping off on a magical unicorn of orgasm across a technicolor rainbow of pheromones from my arm pits and a love potion number 9 of feel good hormones and neurotransmitters absorbed from my semen This is all good stuff and I loved reading about it and yes I am exaggerating but only slightly what Wolf has said in the book But I can also understand where many women may not uite like the idea that their thinking is so strongly colored by their vaginas or that they need a man to help them see in technicolor I also think the Wolf is getting worked over with some past due karmic debts from some feministsI saw numerous references to Julian Assange in many negative reviews While I consider myself a pro feminist supp Why does the author feel the need to write a book about the vagina Because as many as 30% of western women report that they get little pleasure from making love Because bad sex is linked to depressionA lot of my readers who are in their twenties their first concern is about porn addictionPo This book was like tearing the scab off a freshly healed wound It s been so long since I ve had to deal with the shittiness that is evolutionary psychology and then Naomi Wolf comes along and reminds me ofust how terrible it is all over againWell let s do thisVagina A New Biography is Wolf s syncretism of Eastern teachings about sex particularly Tantra with Western medicine with a particular focus on the way women in the West regard their vagina It s the fifth book in the Banging Book Club an awesome monthly reads group about sex and sexuality run by Hannah Witton Lucy Moon and Leena Norms I have enjoyed all of the previous club reads to one extent or another but I don t think I can say that about Vagina What starts as a promising book about women s relationships with their vaginas kind of like a scientific look at the same ideas explored from an emotional angle in The Vagina Monologues eventually turns into a poor mash up of biological determinism and evolutionary psychology Here s how Vagina went from good to boring to bad to worseI was actually very excited to read Vagina for so many reasons I was aware that Wolf has been a source or topic of controversy in recent years but I had genuinely appreciated The Beauty Myth and will stand by the idea that it s a seminal work of feminist scholarship I was also looking forward to learning about vaginas because I don t have one and men don t really learn enough about them in school I m always interested in learning about perspectives that are by dint of circumstance inaccessible to me It was with some exhilaration that I proudly read this book in public during my flights home from a work trip as well as in the airport lounge on the layover I wanted people to see a man reading a book called Vagina and if it led to any genuine conversations if I could help people see that there is value in deconstructing stereotypes about gender and what is appropriate knowledge for our genders then cool Indeed my seatmate on my last flight actually asked me about the book after we had already struck up a general conversation However at that point I was only a few chapters in and the book was still good and interesting so I was much positive about it than I feel nowPerhaps Vagina is so promising because of its context Wolf opens with a lengthy anecdote about a reduction in sensation felt as a result of pelvic nerve damage something she eventually fixes thanks to medical consultations and surgery She expresses her amazement that if she hadn t linked the disappearance of her rosy afterglows with a physical ailment she might not have discovered the problem at all During this period she learned about how the vagina is connected to the brain and it apparently awoke a deeper curiosity in her Hence a biographical look at vaginas I guess And I was totally on board because as The Vagina Monologues asserted a decade before this book our society has a hang up on vaginas They are a taboo subject yet beneath the surface so many of us brim with intense curiosity and fascination And I agree with Wolf that women have too long have been made to feel dirty or ashamed and that many of the modern standards of beauty tell women that their natural vaginas are bad and need to be perfumed made up even altered to become acceptableAlthough initially unsettled by the title of Part 1 Does the Vagina Have a Consciousness and its implications of far too much mysticism for my taste Wolf s zealous commitment to scientific language and citing research won me over I was learning things about female physiology that I hadn t known And Wolf explores many of the physical explanations for why many women have difficulty achieving orgasm as expeditiously as men This whole idea of course is hugely parodied and constantly referenced in our comedy men ust want uickies women need candlelit dinners and flowers course is hugely parodied and constantly referenced in our comedy men ust want uickies women need candlelit dinners and flowers commitment and then there s some kind of punchline that is almost certainly misogynistic and sometimes also emasculating We re socialized to see women s needs as unimportant at best and weak or repugnant at worst without ever really stopping to ask why So I approve of Wolf attempting to uncover some of the science behind these differencesAlas even in this first part there are moments when I had to pause and blink and maybe do a double take Wolf likes to make a lot of generalizations particularly when it comes to findings about hormone levels She begins to mix science with anecdotesI experienced some of the thoughts of the uterus myself In 2000 I wrote about how oxytocin had made me gentler conflict averse and basically nicer when I was pregnant My uterus was doing some of my thinking for me in spite of my will and mediating my consciously autonomous consciously assertive feminist brainNow let s be clear I have nothing against anecdotes Interesting stories are the life blood of non fiction What s problematic here is the way Wolf seems to accord anecdotal evidence the same level of privilege as scientific evidence She constantly mentions hundreds of responses she receives from people in response to articles she has written as if this correspondence should have the same weight as lab studiesIt s very EASY TO DO BAD SCIENCE LAST to do bad science Last Tonight with John Oliver very recently did a whole bit on this So a science writer HAS A DUTY TO HER READERS TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN a duty to her readers to distinguish between and potentially unreliable or flawed studiesWolf doesn t do this She relies a great deal on studies on rats and uses them to draw conclusions about human sexual behaviour and yeah we do tend to study rat brains and then draw conclusions about human brains but at no point does Wolf stop and remind us that hey rats are not humans and maybe there is going on here At one time she cites a study that had nineteen participants without mentioning anything about the possibility of small sample size biasWorse still Wolf compounds her habit of mixing science and anecdotesI conducted informal interviews with groups of women with whom I met both in person and online I told them about the possible effects of semen and then I asked them to remember back to a relationship in which they had at first religiously used condoms and then had stopped using condoms Same guy same sexual style same scent any differenceI saw looks of shocked recognition cross my interviewees faces Totally different said Julia a graphic designerEmphasis mineWhat No Do not do this Telling people about the effect you want to measure is called confirmation bias and it is a huge no no Entire scientific protocols are designed to avoid this very serious problem Further asking people to remember back is fraught with problems our memories are so very fallible Taken together it should not be surprising that Wolf got the reaction she did It s like telling people most robberies are committed by shifty guys in ball caps right before you ask them if a shifty guy in a ball cap was lurking outside a ewellery store that was robbed Chances are they will remember the guy vividly even if he didn t existThis is is also possibly a case of spurious correlation if the couples had progressed to a point in the relationship where the condoms came off it s likely there were other factors that made the relationship good and that could ver. Erly enthralling and totally fascinating Vagina A New Biography draws on this set of insights about the mind vagina connection to reveal new information about what women really need and considers what a sexual relationship and a relationship to the self transformed by these insights could look likeExhilarating and groundbreaking Vagina A New Biography combines rigorous science explained for lay readers with cultural history and deeply personal considerations of the role of female desire in female identity creativity and confidence from interviewees of all walks of life Heralded by Publishers Weekly as one of the best science books of the year it is a provocative. Y well be the cause of the better sexWolf goes on to sayBut I do think it is important to understand what may happen to the female mind when we do take in semen When a man comes in a woman s mouth she may feel energized when he comes in her vagina it can boost her tenderness and if Meston and Buss are right help elevate her moodSeriouslyNaomi Wolf is seriously telling women that semen has brain altering properties and they should get themselves of it In their vaginas In their mouths Just all the semen EverywhereLook it is possible that Wolf is right and semen does have such properties But because of the way she presents these ideas by conflating possibly unreliable scientific studies with anecdotal and unuestionably flawed stories we cannot responsibly accept her conclusion So I m not saying she s wrong about semen or about Tantra or about vaginal pulses I m ust saying that her writing undermines the credibility of her explanations This is not a scientific book it is a heavily opinionated book masuerading as scientific and that is something else entirelyThat whole semen thing comes from the last chapter in which Wolf dispenses advice for how to pay attention to a woman s sexual needs Some of it is cringe worthy while some of it is sweet and sensible and probably worth remembering Unfortunately Wolf presents this advice as a kind of lessons learned from all this scientific research and I have to take issue with that Science is great at explaining how things work but it is not a great tool for deciding why we should do things I hate evolutionary psychology so much partly because it is so difficult to distinguish between biological and cultural causes but also because it tends so dangerously towards biological determinism It s true on me level we re all Flashback My Life And Times In Bollywood And Beyond just suishy meat robots But we re suishy meat robots with a diverse cornucopia of cultures and practicesBiological determinism is hugely problematic in the fight for socialustice It s a bedrock of arguments to support oppressive practices And Wolf demonstrates surprising support for these ideas and for ideas about gender essentialism She continually refers to male brains and female brains as if these are concrete things they aren t It is true that there are sex linked differences to the brain but they are far nuanced and complicated than inferred from Wolf s casual use In particular there are epigenetic factors at work Plus neuroplasticity means that cultural influences could potentially affect our brain wiring as well Wolf is at best being irresponsible in failing to elucidate the complexity of the origins of these perceived differences in the brains of men and women A reader could be forgiven for thinking from this book that the differences between the sexes were a settled matter of scientific record rather than the intense source of debate and further study they continue to beI should probably have seen the red flags earlier on In her introduction Wolf casually mentions she is going to ignore LGB experiences because they deserve whole books of their own It was basically a bald faced this is hetero white feminism deal with it and I remember a few alarms going off when I read it but I trudged on In retrospect considering the other problems with this book that statement is so much harmful Firstly notice that Wolf doesn t even mention the T A etc Not everyone with a vagina is a woman and not every woman has a vagina but Wolf blithely uses one as synecdoche for the other Secondly claiming you re only going to talk about straight women to keep things simpler isn t City Improbable just a cop out it s offensive to everyone It further others ueer women setting up heterosexuality as normative and ueerness as deviant something that can be sidelined for later books It might be less obvious but I also don t see this as a great thing for straight women it asserts a rigidity to sexuality and gender identity that does not necessarily exist It s possible to be straight bi gay or ace but it s also possible to locate oneself somewhere outside of in between or in transition between these restrictive categories Wolf seems so intent on liberating the understanding of the vagina but for who Why gatekeepWolf is also super moralistic when it comes to porn She minces no words as she describes the way habituation to porn affects men and women creating impotence While I agree that there elements to porn that are problematic and need to be addressed Iust find it so disappointing the Wolf chooses to be utterly polemical here She talks to a bunch of male and at least one female sexual healers or whatever but does she ever talk to a sex worker To a porn actor To anyone who makes porn or erotic art I kind of feel like they have interesting things to say about vaginas and sex but I guess Wolf wants to discount themSo I guess what disappoints me about Vagina to bottom line this already ridiculously long review thanks for sticking with me if you ve read this far is that it tries to be too many types of book at once It wants to be scientific but it leans on anecdotes and mysticism It wants to be mystical yet it insists on trying to find parallels between the East and the West and I can t speak for Eastern practitioners but I m sure they are very tired of Westerners coming around and borrowing appropriating their exotic beliefs for other purposes It wants to be empowering yet it carves out a specific category of woman and then speaks only to them There are some really interesting facts in this book and even some good science but these are buried beneath layers of poor The Big Bookshelf journalistic choicesI want to be clear that I m not taking issue with the idea or intent of Vaginaust its confused and unsound However if you read the book and liked idea or intent of Vagina No Future for You just its confused unsound execution However if you read the book and liked I d be happy to have some civil discourse about it in the comments Or comeoin us in the Banging Book Club Goodreads group Why is this book not a must read for everyone who owns a vagina and everyone who does not own a vagina but hopes to have a partner who will share hers The biology is important to Naomi Wolf s argument as is the chemistry but if you don t like that sort of thing ignore it and focus on The Goddess Array What woman does not wish to be treated according to the Goddess Array If treating a woman that way makes her happier healthier and willing to share I mean her life not SOS Schlank ohne Sport - just her vagina then what man in his right mind would not be willing to study the Goddess Array learn it and apply it throughout his lifeThat said there appear to be doubters everywhere many of them women beginning with the female critic who savaged the book in the New York Times I turned to GoodReads and also found reviews by women readers here who savaged Vagina As if enough vaginas had not been savaged already What am I missing here Why am I so attracted to this book which others find badly researched badly thought out and badly writtenPerhaps at this point I need to establish my bona fides as a man I am a husband of 43 years father of three grandfather of 7 I was an infantry platoon leader in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam Since then I have been a bicycle racer a coach and a scoutmaster When I read Vagina I realized that simply put I could have easily treated my wife better making both of us happier throughout our marriage by making the Goddess Array a part of our everyday lives What woman does not want candles and flowers to be touched lovingly to have her man look deeply into her eyes and tell her every day how much she is loved and valued and how beautiful she seems to him What woman does not want to be taken seriously to truly be listened to when she speaks and to be treated with decency and honorWhy do American Men treat their women like Goddesses when they are courting them and then ignore them denigrate them and treat them like the hired help after the honeymoonMs Wolfe has her theories and they may or may not be valid but I found the arguments in Vagina compelling I have asked my wife to read it but whether she does or not I intend to let the Goddess Array guide me for the rest of our marriage or until she tells me toust uit telling her that she is loved touching herlistening to her lighting candles and bringing her roses I don t think that Ms Wolf expects her to tell me to stop I don t expect it either. And deeply
book that elucidates the between a woman's experience of her vagina and her sense of self; her impulses dreams and courage; and her role in love and in society in completely new and revelatory ways sure to provoke impassioned conversationA brilliant and nuanced synthesis of physiology history and cultural criticism Vagina A New Biography explores the physical political and spiritual implications of this startling series of new scientific breakthroughs for women and for society as a whole from a writer whose conviction and keen intelligence have propelled her works to the tops of bestseller lists and firmly into the realms of modern classi. ,Engaging Book That Elucidates The
This is a difficult review to write I absolutely LOVE reading about sexuality neuroscience tantric practices and perceptions about orgasmic pleasure these are incredibly important topics We carry such burdensome beliefs concerning human sexuality barbaric beliefs that cloud our minds from what is otherwise life affirming bliss we are born Charming the Firefighter (In Shady Grove, judgment free and open unburdened by the labels and divisiveness that so many of us learn throughout life we learn dogma and ego and certainty shallow ideas that prevent us from experiencing the divine in our every breathI should have loved this book it should be amazingThese are wonderful topics I love where her heart is in wanting to write this book a richer and deeper understanding of both the scientific and spiritual aspects of sexuality so perhaps that s why I felt so disappointed reading this this disappointment climaxed during her visit to the sacred spot massage workshop where she writesI was skeptical still that a night in the hands of a stranger could be so life changing I couldn t imagine doing it myselfAnd then she went home really she went homeCould she seriously not imagine Did she actually lack even the imagination to do what every woman in the room was doing She then heaped condescending praise on those women somehow oblivious to the fact that every person in that room has a better story to tell than Naomi Wolf but in this book you re trapped in Naomi Wolf sudgmental ego and those beautiful stories of those nameless goddesses perhaps they went to discover transcendent pleasure and bliss those stories are completely ignored left to be told by braver and less Making India Work judgmental writersShe later makes an appointment with a sexual healer and then systematically refuses to do anything sexual She wants to learn but apparently not at the expense of challenging her crueludgmental world view Why write a book about what you refuse to learn about what you refuse to doImagine writing a book about cooking while refusing to cook or even eat the foods you write aboutShe then refers to this same sexual healer as a whore but you know the good kind like Pretty Woman in reverse She directly invokes the whore with a heart of gold stereotype and seemed cynically skeptical at his audacious and far reaching claims Ironically she remained ignorant of her own far reaching claimsIf you re at all open minded about sexuality or gender roles it s hard not to be continuously insulted while reading this bookMany reviewers have pointed out the problems with her scientific understanding although annoyingly it seems she has the right science but she goes about it with haphazard assumptions and makes a mess of it she stumbles and plods through research papers doing mostly guesswork and badly misrepresenting every aspect of scienceFor example she clearly has no understanding of what a control group is but continuously refers to control group where there are no obvious controls or where there wasn t even an experimentNaomi you are not a control group a single person can not be a control group that s not what a control group is Those dakinis you interviewed were not a control group those were human beings you were interviewingIn her conclusion she tells the story of seeing a forest fire near Petra while vacationing in Greece While watching the fire she realized that the original sin did not as the Judeo Christian tradition has it originate in human sexuality Our species original sin was in deviating from our earliest tradition of reverence for the feminine and for female sexualityPerhaps because I was not raised with such silly mythology I don t think of the original sin when I see a forest fireI don t think seriously of original sin Consider our understanding of ourselves this earth this universe there is knowledge in this world much of it available for free on wikipedia that far transcends such archaic and cruel notions of original sin But to Naomi Wolf there IS an original sin and it will burn down cities in Greece and kill innocents all because we deviated from our reverence for the feminine I ll agree hers is slightly less barbaric than the original sin described in the bible but it s an awful and hateful belief to carry around in ones mindThis is where the reader also has an epiphany that Naomi Wolf is so steeped in her own Judeo Christian social constructs that she really cannot imagine allowing herself a sacred spot massage or experiencing first hand transcendent orgasmic bliss instead she holds in her mind that humans are suffering under an original sin Now sure she claims that our original sin lies in five thousand years of shaming it I thnk she means the vagina but when she describes ancient tantric practices yoni worship she describes ancient tantric practices yoni worship The Goddess Array
I Guess Those Didn Tguess those didn t in the last five thousand years or does she Everwar (Cal Leandros, just mean this is a western original sin Or does sheust mean this is a silly idea in her head that has no relevance to the beautiful myriad of human sexual experienceOccasionally she makes strong assertions without any reference which are completely falseFor examplethe porn industry is now larger than conventional film records books and video combinedYou can Google this the porn industry is smaller than each of those industries Porn brings in about 14 billion per year whereas conventional film records and books bring in 40 billion 15 billion and 28 billion respectively I m not sure what she means by video I certainly hope she s not referring to the 90 billion cable television industry or the 20 billion local television industry Porn may be big business but it s smaller than each of her examples and obviously much smaller than the combined revenue of those industriesOther times she makes inarticulate statements that don t seem to relate to her topic and somehow still gets things wrong here s a fun example where I bet no one else will call her onIn Manhattan the Private Eyes Gentlemen s Club advertises with sings on top of taxicabs A few years ago the women s faces in such ads simply looked fetching and seductive About a year ago the women began to gaze into the camera with an expression that was slightly frightened or angry Recently I noticed faintly but unmistakable on a sign for the Private Eyes strip club that on the upper cheekbone of a lovely model advertising the club there was now a single drop Was it a tearI don t particularly care about strip clubs but Private Eyes sits right between the Broadway Dance Center and the Al Hirschfeld Theatre and my apartment It s literally ust two buildings down from where I live On the same block there s also several restaurants a homeless shelter luxury condominiums and well it s New York Private Eyes is ust a strip club They have a simple logo of drawn COMIC BOOK eyes staring over the words private eyes I pass by it every day as I walk to work there s no tear there s no anger it s not even a photo Google private eyes nyc and you can see for yourselfAll that said I did uite like her artful descriptions of her own orgasms I could read an entire book of Naomi Wolf describing her post coital seemingly synesthetic oy the singing dancing colors oh Naomi don t stop But unfortunately that s not the book she synesthetic oy the singing dancing colors oh Naomi don t stop But unfortunately that s not the book she Instead she plods through topics of science and spirituality with haphazard guesswork doing no ustice to any of the very fascinating topics she referencestl dr go find a beautiful lover that thinks you re wonderful and don t read this book I really enjoyed Naomi Wolf s new book Vagina A New Biography Of course I would I am a heterosexual male monogamist and a first class flake so I was like a kitten with a bowl of warm milk It puts me in mind of that song from The Sound of Music These Are A Few of My Favorite Things In a way I wish some one else beside Wolf had wrote the book then I would not be forced to acknowledge that much of the world thinks this is a silly book and most of the people who think that are women I really like the idea that a woman s vagina and brain are one We men have been accused of thinking with our little heads for centuries so it refreshing to see a feminist make such a claim for women and their vaginas I also like the idea that my wife is a goddess and her yoni is sacred and by appealing to her goddess array and engaging in deeply penetrati. An astonishing work of cutting edge science and cultural history that radically reframes how we understand the vagina and conseuently how we understand women from one of our most respected cultural critics and thinkers Naomi Wolf author of the modern classic The Beauty MythWhen an unexpected medical crisis sends Naomi Wolf on a deeply personal ourney to tease out the intersections between sexuality and creativity she discovers much to her own astonishment an increasing body of scientific evidence that suggests that the vagina is not merely flesh but an intrinsic component of the female brain and thus has a fundamental connection to female consciousness itselfUtt.