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Vagina: A New Biography [Paperback]

Naomi Wolf
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Dec 2013

An astonishing new work that radically changes how we think about, talk about and understand the vagina - and consequently how we think about women and sexuality - from Naomi Wolf, one of our most respected cultural critics and author of the modern classic, The Beauty Myth.

Vagina: A New Biography combines cutting-edge science with cultural history to explore the role of female desire and how it affects female identity, creativity and confidence. Provocative and engaging, positive and inspiring, this book brings to light female impulses, history and dreams - and, in exploring what women really need - it goes to the very core of what it means to be female.

For any woman who wants to understand her body and her mind and the culture that defines her - Vagina is essential reading.

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Vagina: A New Biography + The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women + Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (12 Dec 2013)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 1844086895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844086894
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Naomi 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 . . . The science of female arousal is complex and woefully neglected, and Wolf has done us all a favour by trying to drag it into the mainstream (Jemima Lewis Mail on Sunday)

Wolf's tome could not be better timed . . . at a time when Western women's bodies have never been more highly politicised, the one person who might be able to shine a ray of light . . . has to be Wolf. Perhaps this history will do for 21st century activism what The Beauty Myth did for 1990s feminists . . . Wolf is exploring territory we haven't heard about since Germaine Greer in the 1970 (Viv Groskop Independent on Sunday)

Worth respecting, even celebrating . . . there is [here] a very intriguing thesis about love . . . If you are one of those School of Cosmo feminists who has been arguing for decades that women should be more like men sexually . . . then Wolf's take is genuinely revolutionary (Sarah Vine The Times)

Part memoir, part cultural history and part scientific journey around women's sexuality, the best elements of which illuminate how little women generally know about their own anatomy (Emma Brockes Guardian)

Writing with her signature blend of poetry and polemics, Naomi Wolf delivers a fiercely courageous portrait of female sexuality in the twenty-first century. As usual, Wolf writes what others are afraid to say. (Susan Cain, author of New York Times bestseller QUIET)

Book Description

The book that got everyone talking.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and essential reading 3 Oct 2012
This is a well researched, well reasoned book about the vagina. Historically and sociologically interesting, backed up by excellent medical research and interviews with experts. Naomi takes us on her personal journey where she experiences a debilitating condition which starts to affect her nervous system and hence, her sex life.
I read this book in three days flat. Eminently readable, sometimes laugh aloud funny and sometimes just so enlightening I read bits of it out to my husband. Other parts are sadly touching and others, just sad, especially the history of sexual repression against women and Naomi's theories about the use of rape in war (It's not personal, it's just a tactic). Other bits confirmed what I already knew, like why I like sniffing my husband's neck so much. :D

Do note that this book has been written from a heterosexual POV and non hetero people might find that there's not much that might apply, but I can't say that for sure. Naomi makes that clear in the opening and much of the book is based on female and male interactions with each other which are chemically driven. Saying that, I think a lot applies to female gay couples and would certainly be of interest.
This is a book that I'd hand on to my kids to read when they're old enough... late teens/early 20's. In this world of instant hook ups, porn and the fairly poor view people hold of the beauty of female sexuality, it's important to slow down, read the data and change the way we do things.

If you're an interested, vaguely intelligent woman who likes a good read and who would like to connect with your body AND your male partner more than you are, then this is for you.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Naomi Wolf's new book embodies deep problems with pop science publishers and their relationship with the media: her work brings in the bucks, so Ecco Press (HarperCollins) publishes what they refer to in their marketing blurb as "rigorous science" without bothering to double-check her claims with any neuroscientists. The media largely takes Wolf's statements at face value, understandably assuming that no major publisher would gamble their reputation by putting this stuff into print without at least a cursory round of fact-checking. But the "science" in this book is largely misleading or just wrong.

To learn the details, Google for these articles:
- Neuroscientists take aim at Naomi Wolf's theory of the "conscious vagina"
- Naomi Wolf's "Vagina" is full of bad science about the brain
- Pride and Prejudice, by ZoŽ Heller (The New York Review of Books)
- Feminist Dopamine, Conscious Vaginas, and the Goddess Array
- Of Mice and Women: Animal Models of Desire, Dread, and Despair
- Upstairs, Downstairs; `Vagina: A New Biography,' by Naomi Wolf (The New York Times)

Wolf leapt to fame with her 1991 book The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, which argued that culture's idea of female beauty is entirely socially constructed, primarily by men, in order to keep women down. Following publication, research by Devendra Singh and others confirm that both men and women from a broad spectrum of cultures (even those who don't have magazines or television) uniformly agree that they find women with a waist-to-hip ratio of between 0.6-0.8 the most attractive -- which makes sense biologically, given that a 0.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is life-changing 22 Mar 2014
By Natalie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've recommended and or bought it for everyone I hold dear. It should be taught in schools! The information relevant to sexual assault survivors is so important - but the entire book is important, for men as much as for women.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and amazing read 2 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Personally I think anyone in possession of a vagina or with a partner who has a vagina should read this book! My new bible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book 13 Jan 2014
By Jancy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I will keep this book for my children. Its a book I thing every human being needs to read. Well written, easy to understand. Amazing is all I can say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject,a lot of info 6 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a close relative had suffered for many years with iunresolved vaginal pain.I wanted to find out more about the brain fact the suggestion hear is that the vagina actually has a brain and retains memories.
May not be everybody'ds cup of tea...but it made perfect sense to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 1 Nov 2013
By Birchy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wholly enjoyable, insightful and a unforgettable read. In parts it made me cry, laugh and shout out loud. A must read for every female and male. I will be asking my son to read this when he comes of age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good to read 26 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book has opened new avenues for me. i have changed my notions about the sex once and for all.
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