On a hot afternoon last July, while snooping around my cousin’s bedroom, the bright pink, boldfaced word hit me like a slap in the face: Vagina. This, my cousin proudly exclaimed, was the title of the book that had changed her life. I was fascinated. I had heard a little about the author, Naomi Wolf or her successful career as a journalist with strong political views on women in modern society. Her first masterpiece, The Beauty Myth (which I also highly recommend), was a bold bestseller suggesting that the image of female beauty, namely thinness, had a powerful effect on the brain, physically robbing women of their strength to be influential beings in society. Needless to say, I was intrigued by Wolf’s magnetic feminist persona and immediately overnighted my own Vagina from Amazon.
Start with the introduction (yes, the subject matter is so riveting that you’ll want to at least skim the intro) and see that Wolf gets to the point quick: she is going to share with her readers the magic behind the “brain-vagina connection,” a powerful force of sexuality that Wolf continues to relate to the “political and social empowerment” of womankind. Basically, orgasms are healthy, making women feel revitalized in every way, thus allowing them to see their world differently from a psychological standpoint. Likewise, a woman who’s been raped or abused will be affected by her sexual experience in a negative, catastrophic way, perhaps not reaching her full potential in life for this very reason. Wolf plays both scientist and storyteller, comparing the brain-vagina connection to other scientifically proven brain-body connections to weave her vibrant feminist argument.
While it’s no biology textbook, I think Wolf does an excellent job of breaking down the science into an enjoyable read. Part I’s “Does the Vagina Affect Consciousness?” opened my eyes to a whole new world of understanding. Did you know that the pelvic nerve, a complex neural network required to reach orgasm, is unique for every single woman? That being said, every woman will need devout attention from her partner to “get there.” Wolf compares this truth about sexual response to the jackrabbit sex that some think is enjoyable for both parties. Check out chapter three to read about “transcendental” orgasms and how they affect a woman’s creativity. Who knew your vagina was such a magical instrument?
After many captivating chapters on “The Traumatized Vagina,” “The Liberated Vagina,” and even “The Victorian Vagina,” I thought I knew everything there was to know about our lovely lady parts. But it wasn’t until the final chapter that I truly understood the profound connection between a woman’s well being and the sacred vagina. This may sound crazy, but bear with me: there is a whole set of actions (Wolf calls them the “Goddess Array”) that impact the way a woman will respond sexually as well as psychologically for her entire life. A lover’s gaze, for example, does much more than make a girl feel good—“The eyes contain nerve projections that lead directly to a key brain structure for empathy and matching emotions…” The gaze is just one of many parts of the Goddess Array, which Wolf spells out in the last, and most vital, 60 pages of the book.
After reading the final chapter, I knew I couldn’t keep such incredible knowledge to myself. I felt truly liberated. The fundamental takeaways:
- The vagina is a treasure and sexual response is key to true love and empowerment in a woman’s life.
- Many parts of the world, namely the realm of eastern medicine, have tapped into the possibilities granted through understanding female sexual response (Western culture has yet to keep up).
- Every woman deserves the utmost respect and love, especially from herself. She should never underestimate her power to change this world, nor should she be ashamed of her sexuality.
I was so excited to share this newfound empowerment with the women I love. For this reason, I’ve gone Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with this book, bestowing it upon one of my dear friends at school who will pass it along to another.
Ultimately, I can say with conviction that Vagina changed my life. I, like many women in the western hemisphere, have been trained to think that sexuality is something that a woman shouldn’t necessarily take pride in or discuss. But it’s not just sex; it is so much more. Women are complex beings and thanks to Wolf’s attention to the brain-vagina connection, we are one step closer to fulfilling our destiny as womankind and able to be our best selves in this life.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.