cover image Vagina: A New Biography

Vagina: A New Biography

Naomi Wolf. Ecco, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-198916-2

The latest from bestselling feminist author Wolf (The Beauty Myth) begins with her “traumatic loss” of the “experience of sex as being incredibly emotionally meaningful.” Although still orgasmic, the depressed Wolf reaches out to her gynecologist, who diagnoses her with an injured pelvic nerve. Corrective surgery, which includes having a 17-inch metal plate implanted in her back, happily restores her ecstatic orgasms and creative powers, and inspires this investigation. Defining the vagina as “the entire female sex organ, from labia to clitoris to cervix,” Wolf investigates the science of female sexuality, including new findings showing a powerful connection between the vagina and brain. Citing history, science, Tantra, and her own online questionnaires, Wolf concludes that the vagina is “the delivery system for the states of mind that we call confidence, liberation, self-realization, and even mysticism in women.” Neither scientist, sociologist, sex-educator, physiologist, nor psychologist herself, reporter Wolf draws liberally and uncritically from work in those fields. Her study of Western science is amplified by her own startling “Tantric explorations.” She offers “points of exploration” for pleasuring a woman, which she calls the “Goddess Array,” a series of surprisingly mundane suggestions: bring her flowers; dim the lights; relax her; hug her; cuddle her; take her slow dancing. Her last words call up the chant of teenage girls, at a high school assembly in Manhattan: “ ‘Vagina vagina vagina.’ ” Indeed. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman, Inc. (Sept.)