Naomi Wolf’s ‘Vagina’: No Carnations, Please, We’re Goddesses


Katha Pollitt in The Nation:

It’s hard to keep up with Naomi Wolf. She wants women to take their sexuality back from the patriarchy—but she’s written in praise of Muslim veiling and Orthodox Jewish headscarves. In a notorious New Republic piece, she argued that pregnant women are indeed fetal vessels and blamed abortion on drunken sluttery. In the last dozen years she’s gone from paid adviser to the Gore campaign to Tea Party fan to champion of Occupy who made headlines by claiming on scant evidence that local arrests were organized from on high by the federal government. She waited decades to attack Harold Bloom in a New York magazine cover story for “encroaching” on her thigh when he was her professor at Yale, but today she thinks what rape complainants need is for their names to be made public—especially the names of Julian Assange’s accusers, whom she mocks as women scorned, frail Victorian flowers, or both. Even leaving aside the 2006 interview in which she described a vision of herself transformed into a teenage boy who saw Jesus, it’s been a long, strange twenty-one years since The Beauty Myth.

Perhaps opinion-mongering, black-and-white thinking and relentless TMI are the price of remaining a world-class celebrity feminist. In any case, that process has surely reached a nadir withVagina: A New Biography. What a silly book!

By now the whole world knows that the story began when Wolf found her orgasms becoming merely clitoral, losing their “Technicolor” glow and feeling of oneness with the universe. Surgery for a trapped pelvic nerve fixed her right up, which led Wolf to her big “discovery”: like every other sentient part of the body, the vagina is connected, through the nervous system, to the brain! Furthermore, every woman’s wiring is different! No wonder a touch that thrills one woman doesn’t do much for another. That is actually a useful point: even today, women fake orgasms rather than ask for what they want, and men can be quick to judge if what worked with one girlfriend doesn’t work with the next. Unfortunately, having “discovered” that every woman is sexually unique, she proceeds to write 300 more pages arguing that they are all the same, i.e., just like Naomi Wolf.