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Vagina: A New Biography Hardcover – September 11, 2012


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Vagina: A New Biography + The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061989169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061989162
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

In sizing up the alleged boons of vaginal liberation, Wolf refuses to acknowledge the actual levers of oppression that subjugate bona fide vagina owners in this country today. This might be more forgivable if Vagina was more of an autobiography ... but Vagina is instead dressed up like a serious political tract with all sorts of utopian notions of healing the world, and the psychic wounds of all the world's women. —Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Review

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Naomi Wolf was born in San Francisco in 1962. She was an undergraduate at Yale University and did her graduate work at New College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Her essays have appeared in various publications including: The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She also speaks widely to groups across the country.

The Beauty Myth, her first book, was an international bestseller. She followed that with Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change The 21st Century, published by Random House in 1993, and Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood, published in 1997. Misconceptions, released in 2001, is a powerful and passionate critique of pregnancy and birth in America.

In fall 2002, Harper Collins published a 10th anniversary commemorative edition of The Beauty Myth. In May of 2005, Ms. Wolf released The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from my Father on How to Live, Love and See. The End of America, published in September 2007 by Chelsea Green, is Naomi's latest book.

Naomi Wolf is co-founder of The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization devoted to training young women in ethical leadership for the 21st century. The institute teaches professional development in the arts and media, politics and law, business and entrepreneurship as well as ethical decision making.

She lives with her family in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Overall it is a well written book that I found very interesting and informative.
Mary Jane
I found this book to be riveting in both the personal journey of the author, and the scientific findings that I found to be rigorous and well researched.
Megan Dalla-Camina
It should be required reading for any young adult and men and women of every age!
Caroline G. Muir

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Paige Ellen on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read some reviews of this book on Amazon that were written by men who are, it is obvious, deathly afraid of the requirements of the art of intimacy. Some tend to focus on and take personally, one small experiential part of the book, as if it were an affront to be taken personaly as an insult. I find such criticisms indicate a man who is insecure, threatened and afraid of women and their own feminine side. However, NW is quite clear about what kind of touch and behavior by or from men or other women, and the effect those behaviors are likely to have on target or witness of these acts. She goes into what some have called too much detail. Believe me, she could have been FAR more specific and detailed should she have so chosen. One point she does make unequivocally clear from the start is that this book is written about WOMEN, the woman's body, and the effect that those (described in delicious or frightening detail) behaviors and touches are likely have on women. She makes it clear, by saying so, that in certain areas she is writing about women and their over-all situation and that it may well be that men need their own book, their own research about how their bodies work.
However, this is a great book and it is an important book. I think it is required reading for anyone with a vagina and/or has a relationship with someone who does. This book's importance is NOT in its description of just what a man or woman can do to truly open up and deepen what I will call a "vaginally populated relationship" (it's a clumsy phrase but I like it so I am keeping it.)This book's importance is the scientific evidence regarding female and male interactions. I'm sixty three and I thought I was pretty well informed.
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67 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Dale Thomas on October 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
most authors, even good scientists overstate their case these days. It seems to me like she struck a raw nerve with certain people and she's getting slammed, not just critically reviewed. Wolf is a journalist, not a scientist and she makes a typical layman's mistakes when looking at scientific data. she consulted scientists and clinicians whom she trusted, looked at the facts they gave her, and drew some conclusions based on those facts. She has constructed a convincing and plausible theory based on the information she was given. Her mistake was to promote a good theory as fact, rather than as speculation for further research. In my view (I'm a psychotherapist with an MS in psychology), she draws logical conclusions from her data, but, as most non-scientists do, she forgets that even logically consistant propositions still need to be proven true. I would guess that many of hers will be, if anybody cares enough to do the work. Assuming her conclusions are true, they have important consequences for many women and their partners as well.

Theories aside, the information she presents is vital in it's own right, and needs to be more widely disseminated. She presents compelling evidence from multiple sources on how trauma to the vagina impacts the brain far more than other kinds of non-sexual trauma do. She presents good evidence that this is because of the extensive neural connections between the vagina and the brain, with each one gives feedback to, and influencing the functioning of, the other.
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100 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Tevis Fen-Kortiay on October 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 Zoë 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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