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Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva Paperback – November 16, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Herbenick, associate director and research scientist at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, as well as a sex columnist and author (Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction), and Schick, a social psychologist at the center have penned a book “for anyone who has a vulva, loves someone with a vulva, came from a vagina, or is just plain curious about their parts.” The two Ph.D.s cover a number of vulva-related topics, including the parts of the vulva, women’s attitudes toward their genitals, vaginal problems such as yeast and bacterial infections, and sexual issues. Anything but priggish or clinical, the authors also tackle such subjects as grooming genital hair and how to make a vulva costume or throw a vulva-themed dinner party. The book is also filled with fascinating facts about the vulva (for example, the word “cunt” may have evolved from the Asian goddess Cunti). While imparting current research and useful advice, the authors play with words (i.e., “The Age of Clitarius”) and include such humorous anecdotes as the tale of a woman who inadvertently used her child’s glittery craft washcloth to wipe her vulva before visiting her gynecologist. Readers “18 to 80” will find this informative yet lively text goes above and beyond in addressing everything they ever wanted to know about the vulva and vagina. (Publishers Weekly 2011-10-03)

This book about the vulva makes The Vagina Monologues seem tame. Written in a chatty style by two scientists at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, it gives explicit details about sexually transmitted infections, piercings (they may tear condoms), vibrators (nonporous materials, such as glass, are best), lesbian relationships (sex toys), tampons (they can’t get through the cervix), and pubic hair (Playboy models mostly shave). Chapters titled “Meet the Vulva,” “Vulvalicious: Vulvas and Vaginas in Bed,” “The Hair down There,” and “Evulvalution: Vulva Culture” end with a quizzes. A typical question and answer: “When do doctors recommend that an average woman should douche? Never ever.” The writers share stories about themselves, such as when Schick used pubic hair dye. Sometimes they get too cutesie, using such made-up words as “cunt-parisons” and “cuntclusions.” The photographs, which depict women’s vulvas and a knit vulva from the International Vulva Knitting Circle Collection, are certainly unusual. Herbenick and Schick’s intimate guide will educate and entertain women who grew up with birth control and Sex and the City. (Booklist 2011-10-15)

This diverse and informative tour spans health, sex, and V-culture. While the thorough health and sex chapters cover pretty standard sex-book territory, the numerous stops on the culture route pick up on less commonly mentioned size/shape variations, pubic hair styling and coloring, labiaplasty, V-knitting circles and other V-crafts, vulvas in prehistory and myth, V-activism, and a DIY vulva costume. Kinsey Institute researchers Herbenick (Because It Feels Good) and Schick bring extensive knowledge together with a welcoming-all-options attitude. References and an excellent resource list encourage readers to explore favorite topics further....Necessary and entertaining cultural content for 21st-century gals, teens and up. (Library Journal)

Lips are no longer sealed as Herbenick and Schick expose everything you want to know-need to know-about having a happy, healthy vulva and vagina. While remaining thorough, evidence-based, and inclusive, this easy-to-read advocacy effort will have you spreading 'em as never before, whether for self-care or stimulation.

(Yvonne K. Fulbright Ph.D, sexologist, sexuality educator & author of nine books, including Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover)

I didn't move my lips when reading Read My Lips except to smile often. Authors Debby Herbenick, PhD and Vanessa Schick, PhD., have a light touch, which is something much to be hoped for from anyone concentrating on women's delicate parts. Where else might one learn within the first twenty pages eighty different names for female genitalia, common health concerns that might afflict their owners, and how to attend a costume party dressed as a do-it-yourself vulva? This book offers excellent and thorough information and can be used as an owner's or user's manual, most preferably to be read together. (Isadora Alman, MFT, author of Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex)

Under-appreciated and misunderstood, our vulvas and vaginas need allies. Herbenick and Schick are perfect teachers, breaking down myths and engaging readers in practical and fun ways. An e-vulva-lution is definitely on its way. (Dr. Kat Van Kirk, sexologist and host of the podcast Sex Chat with Dr. Kat and Her Gay Boyfriend)

Informative, entertaining, empowering, and compassionate; this book almost made me wish I was straight. This book will save lives-sex lives and otherwise. Buy three copies-one for your daughter, one for your son, one for yourself. (Dan Savage, Savage Love columnist and founder of the It Gets Better Project)

Riveting - I read the whole book, cover to cover, in a single sitting. Written from the perspective of a warm, non-judgemental and super-knowledgeable best friend, this book is invaluable for anyone who is parenting a daughter. This book will make a huge contribution to the lives of women and girls - helping them to know and appreciate their bodies more, keep themselves healthy, and experience greater sexual pleasure. Read My Lips will answer questions you didn't even know you had! (Robin Milhausen, Ph.D., Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph, Canada)

A delightful guide to the vulva that doesn't neglect the star of the show, Ms. Clitty. Drs. Herbenick and Schick demystify everything from labiaplasty to pubic hair trends to female ejaculation with the latest research. A book that will inform both women and men of all ages; parents included. A celebration of everything vulva! (Betty Dodson, Ph.D., artist, author, and sexologist, www.dodsonandross.com)

The Goddess Inanna sang songs of praise to her "wondrous vulva," and now you can sing along! Read My Lips is a must-read for owners of vulvas and all the people who love them, a complete guided tour to some of the most amazing territory a person could ever explore! (Carol Queen, Ph.D., staff sexologist, Good Vibrations and Founding Director of the Center for Sex & Culture, San Francisco)

This book is a must have....This is an entertaining and informative step into the demystification of the vagina. (Twisting the Lens)

Nothing is left out of this book. Whether explaining, with humor, the differences between a vagina and a vulva, or writing in a more serious vein about what it means to take control of your sexual health, the authors make serious topics more accessible to the average reader. (Feminist Collections: A Quarterly Of Women's Studies Resources)

About the Author

Debby Herbenick, PhD, is Associate Director and Research Scientist at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, the Sexual Health Educator for The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, and a widely read sex columnist for various newspapers and magazines. She is also the author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. She has served as an expert on the vagina and vulva (and other sex topics) for The Tyra Banks Show and The Doctors and writes about sex for MySexProfessor.com, Psychology Today, WebMD and Men's Health magazine. She is also a member of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease, the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health, and the International Academy of Sex Research. As a widely cited sex expert, she has been quoted in more than 500 magazine and newspaper articles including those in The New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, The LA Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Cosmo (US), Cosmo (UK), Women's Health, Men's Health and SELF. Vanessa Schick, PhD, is a social psychologist at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University. She has conducted a variety of studies on the vulva that have been published in peer reviewed journals ranging from the changes in the portrayal of the vulva in sexually explicit magazines to understanding how women's concerns about their vulva appearance impacts them in the bedroom. She has presented her work to a variety of diverse audiences ranging from the Kinsey Institute to students in the classroom to sex researchers at European Federation of Sexology conference in Rome, Italy. She is also a member of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease and the International Academy of Sex Research.

Dr. Herbenick and Dr. Schick are also two of the scientists behind the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442208007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442208001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Adam Shields VINE VOICE on November 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am a guy. So I waited until I was not the first reviewer. Take my perspective with a grain of salt. I am a nanny for two girls (2 and 4), married for almost 15 years and my wife and I lead a small group for newly married couples to help them develop stronger marriages. I spend a fair amount of time reading and thinking about issues of sex and marriage.

Because most of my perspective is on married sex (and within a church based, Christian context), there are subjects I wish were handled differently. But on the whole I think it was a very good book and I glad that books like this are written.

That being said, the book really is two books that are written together. One part (these parts are mixed together, not a part one, part two) is the sexual health and care questions and answers. This was of less interest to me (I am a guy) but I did learn a few things and had a couple conversations with my wife over them.

The part that I think is more useful generally and I was more interested in, is the sociological look. This is somewhat reminiscent of Mary Roach's book Bonk. It is funnier than the sexual health parts.

A good example of the discussion is a study that traces how nude models are shown on Playboy. They share a research study about how all of the Playboy centerfolds have been presented. This is one of those studies that many will make fun of, but there is a real point. One interesting point that the authors are concerned about is that never was the labia actually shown (the inner lips that are quite variable among women), they are either hidden by the shot, or airbrushed out.
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Format: Paperback
This is a review of a book about vaginas and vulvas. If you faint at the sight of Janet Jackson's breast or if spicy talk makes you swoon, best keep moving, things are about to get real.

First off, when people are talking about vaginas, the region they are speaking of is actually the vulva, the vagina is only the inner part (so right there, I learned something new). Vulva and Vagina are not interchangeable terms and should not be used as such (also new info).

Here are some more gems of wisdom from the book;

1. Don't Douche, it damages natural flora and causes infections.

2. If you like the idea of unusual pubic hair, there are now plenty of color options for you to try.

3. Vulva dyes are bad news unless you like the sensation of fire ants biting the skin of your ultra sensitive labia majora (imagine that, fire ants on your L-A-B-I-A!).

4. Try to avoid perfumed products, soap too.

5. Love your vulva and it will love you back.

Vulva Crafts - bet you didn't think a book about vulvas would have a lot of crafts, well, it does. Watch out Martha Stewart, craft'd!

Here are some of the more interesting crafts

1. make a vulva shaped tampon cozy, you will be the envy of all.

2. make your own merkin (why would someone want to make a pubic hair wig, I don't know and will probably never find out)

3. make paper panties, invite some friends to make some too, "Hey Betty, wanna hang out this weekend? We can catch the new romcom or, hey, we could make some paper panties! Squee!"

4. Pube-encils - Make a stencil for your pubes! Yeah, I added that exclamation point there at the end to simulate excitement, but strangely I'm not feeling it. Stencils are so 2004.

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First, I want to preface that I am a Christian, married mother of three. Okay, so this book is full of a lot of beneficial information regarding all things that have to do with our "female parts". Even if your mother was more open and shared with you some information about your vulva area, this book is very helpful! I would have given it four stars, because there were some parts of the book I could have done without having to read, but since that is purely personal preference and my own sensitivity, I had to give it five.
It is not a book to read to your hormonal teenage daughter, but excellent for older, more mature women. It also has helped me a lot in how I speak to my girls about their bodies and how to care for them. It also dispels some old wives tales that most of us grew up on on the the care of our delicate areas. It is a book that helps to not only understand, but also appreciate what God made! I am very glad I purchased this book, but I am not putting it out on display in our family library. Hah!
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Every single women and girl should read this book - I am not exaggerating, I think this book has information and to the point advice on how to take care of the part of us that school or even your mother doesn't know about.

You need to know how it will affect your `lady parts' if you shave off all hair, or if you clean up with perfumed wipes before a visit to the obgyn. The book talks about what's what, what happens, when and how to honor the feminine part of us.

Read My Lips is definitely a must read book to all women, not that men wouldn't get information off of it but it's for girls, let's face it. The book is a singing praise to all things `vajayjay', the coloring, the trimming, the washing, vattooing, vafacial, vajazzling and why not to douche, and truthfully it goes bit over board with the `lady bits' craft projects, because as much as I now respect my `sassy' (thanks to this book) I'm not gonna make larger than life copy, or do a theme party around it. The thought makes me smile, but no thank you.

Wither you have a love or hate relationship or indifference to your `pussy cat' you wanna read this book because there are thing you aren't aware of with you are middle class of highly educated - and trust me you want to know what goes on `down there' not just for health but also for pleasure! Read My Lips will make you appreciate your vulva ( yes that's what it's called scientifically even though your lady parts include a lot more variedly named parts, like the vagina ), the information is told in a fun and sassy way making you feel proud to be a woman! With just two words, informative & empowering!
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