Bored of 50 Shades? Yeah, we are a bit too. But fans of sexually-charged, ladybit-friendly literature fear not - there’s a new biography about, and it details the life of the vagina like you’ve never known it before.
Yes, it sounds crude, but it’s actually the latest tome from feisty Feminist writer Naomi Wolf. While Vagina: A New Biography may not be dominating public transport to the same extent as EL James’ efforts, it’s still being discussed in hushed tones. And it’s only been out a week.
The book has been controversial for several reasons, partly because of Naomi’s background herself. A Huffington Post blogger, she is known for being outspoken on issues of gender equality, rape and social justice, most recently with regards to the Julian Assange case.
Her recent appearance on parenting forum, Mumsnet, caused a stir (and you can read choice quotes from her webchat in the slideshow below), and she recently caused Jeremy Paxman to bring out his ‘sceptical horse face’ on Newsnight.
Secondly, well, it’s the basis of the book’s theory itself: in a nutshell, Wolf is convinced of a “brain-vagina connection”, which not only explains sexuality and women’s sexual pleasure, but also why women have been downtrodden for centuries. Quite how this happened before neuroscience existed is one of many things which isn’t quite explained.
Finally, it's how Wolf’s book reflects on contemporary feminism today. How does a book that concentrates solely on, nay details the life of, the vagina reflect on where women are and what they mean in today’s society? Have women come so full circle that they no longer have to escape their biology, but are able to explain it as being connected directly to their creativity and consciousness?
It’s possible that you may well read Vagina and be none the wiser. You may, of course, feel slightly more goddess-like, informed about sex (one of the motivations Wolf lists behind the book’s creation) and with a smattering of contemporary neuroscience. You may think it heralds a new scientific and sexual revolution. Or you may want to return to pre-biology class ignorance.
Here’s what the critics have made of Wolf’s latest. Do they make you want to read it? As for Vagina in her own words, check out our quotes slideshow below.
"My problem with Wolf is longstanding and is not about how she looks or climaxes – but it is about how she thinks, or rather doesn't. She comes in a package that is marketed as feminism but is actually breathlessly written self-help."
The Mail On Sunday
"Wolf has tried hard to look at female sexuality as it really is, not as pop culture or political correctness would like it to be."
"We are treated to the revelation that women tend to have really great orgasms when there is lots of foreplay and they feel intimately connected with their partner. If you didn't already know that, I'm surprised you’re reading this, because I'm surprised you can read."
The New Statesman
"Reading this book left me downcast. Has the Naomi Wolf I loved in The Beauty Myth really drowned in a soup of psychobabble about “energies” and “activating the Goddess array”? It seems so."
The New Yorker
"Is it going too far to say that Wolf’s book, which clearly belongs to the same realm of the erotic imagination as the Grey trilogy, is itself a kind of pornography? Wolf has found a mistress we must please, serve, and honor. There is a new dominatrix in town. And her name is Vagina."
"From the dawn of Mary Wollstonecraft through the Suffragettes and into the 1970s, writers have argued that women should not be defined by biology, that our wombs don’t make us too hysterical to vote or our menstrual moods exclude us from high office. And now Wolf, our self-styled leader, has declared that female consciousness, creativity and destiny all come back to our va-jay-jays."