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"Vagina: A New Biography" (Ecco), by Naomi Wolf
We have a pinched nerve to thank for the latest book from Naomi Wolf, author of the best-selling "The Beauty Myth," about the fashion industry's oppression of women.
At 46, Wolf began to suffer from a spinal nerve compression that diminished her pleasure during sexual intercourse, draining it of its "poetic dimension."
X-rays revealed that damaged vertebrae were exerting pressure on her pelvic nerve, which branches out from the base of the spine to the clitoris, vagina and cervix.
After going over anatomical illustrations, she has a "eureka" moment in which she realizes "that there is a profound brain-vagina connection" and that the female pelvic nerve is in some ways "the secret to everything related to femininity."
This sends her on a two-year quest to investigate female arousal and orgasm in female lab rats, world literature and New Age therapies like "sacred spot massage."
The result is "Vagina: A New Biography," in which Wolf not very convincingly argues that vaginal orgasms of the "full melting" kind, powerful enough to flood the brain with pleasure-inducing chemicals, stimulating to the clitoris and cervix as well as the vagina and soul, are the key to liberation and happiness for women, men and all the planet.
There isn't much here for readers interested in a thoughtful discussion of feminism at a time when the v-word is uttered unbleeped on network television. Instead, Wolf offers up a stew of scientific-sounding statements about women's neurochemistry and astonishing generalizations like "the vagina is a gateway to a woman's happiness and to her creative life."
Along the way, she offers advice to men on the best way to help their partners "reclaim the Goddess," defined as "a mediator and protector of women's highest, most joyful and most unbroken sense of self." Some tips: "Bring home a rose. Make the restaurant reservation. Tidy the bedroom. Light the candle."
In case you were wondering, Wolf recovers from her malaise. Surgery relieves the nerve compression, and in a matter of months, her orgasms are like "that transition in 'The Wizard of Oz' in which Dorothy goes from black-and-white Kansas to colorful, magical Oz."