The New Yorker Review of Naomi Wolf's Vagina: A Biography Contains Unexpectedly Delightful Passage


The Beauty Myth author and feminist Naomi Wolf’s Vagina dropped this year (sorry—just to be clear, it’s her new book Vagina: A Biography), and makes a variety of claims about “the conscious vagina,” a concept that suggests—among other semi-terrifying things—that sexually-satisfied vaginas are what gives women their creativity. There aren’t a lot of things that unite Slate writer Katie Roiphe and The New Yorker’s Ariel Levy, but being sort of horrified by the intimation that women are nothing more than a host body for the vagina is one of them.

Levy’s review—which is really entertaining and you should absolutely read in its entirety—dubiously takes on Wolf’s talk about “yonis” and her worship of a onetime investment banker turned “yoni-tapper” who addresses client’s vaginas with the words “Welcome, Goddess.” (Writes Levy, “If my vagina heard a potential partner murmur ‘Welcome, Goddess,’ she would turn to me and say ‘Get us out of here now“). But the inarguable highlight comes when she addresses the idea that the vagina can actually be verbally bullied:

Wolf claims that vaginal slander – referring to the vagina by its ‘awful’ feline moniker, for instance – ‘apparently affects the very tissue of the vagina.’ She bases this conclusion on a study of female rats whose vaginal tissue showed signs of change after periods of stress. The experiment did not, however, entail researching yelling ‘Rat pussy!’ at the animals; stress was manufactured physically. Wolf’s interpretation of the science is, as usual, rather free.

The phrase “rat pussy.” In The New Yorker. For the first and last time. You’re welcome.

‘The Space In Between’ [The New Yorker]

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