By Naomi Wolf
This is the first article I ever wrote for my original website...
this book is the beginning of it all!
I was recently in a book shop searching for something interesting to read, when this title jumped out at me. I couldn’t resist buying it. It took me a long time to get through it, as every page held new treasures or dark tales, of which I knew nothing. Which begs the question… how can I know so little about myself? I want to start by telling you about this book because it’s where the journey began for me.
More than any book I have ever read, ‘Vagina’ changed my life.
First of all it made me know myself in a completely novel way. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING a woman thinks or feels is all down to her vagina. The age old phrase ‘men only think with their penises’ should also apply to women and their vaginas. A woman’s health and happiness is absolutely dependent upon the health and happiness of her vagina. If the vagina is looked after, the woman is happy. If the vagina is abused and not healed, the woman can only hope for a slither of the happiness she could have had.
I am not going to go over the multitude of examples, facts and science that goes behind these statements- I will let Naomi Wolf do that- but I only want to demonstrate the affect it has had on me. Every time I think about a boy I ask myself if I would be making my vagina happy or doing her a dis-service? Every time someone talks of a vagina being abused (even in ‘rape jokes’), I feel it in my own vagina- like it’s been poked it in a particularly unpleasant way. I feel it in the pit of my stomach, like by just hearing the words I fear for the safety of my own vagina. This even happens when I hear the often used and misunderstood ‘see you next Tuesday’ word (and Naomi Wolf tells us all there is to know about ‘the worst word in the world’). She also talks about the ‘vaginal pulse’, which I feel all the time now I know about it- sometimes someone will do something good or unexpectedly nice for me, my vagina pulses- telling me she’s happy!
The second way the book changed my life was to explain to me
why and how women are so repressed in the world.
First of all is a background to the history of the repression of women- from the end of the ‘pagan’ religions (i.e the beginning of monotheistic religions like Christianity, which repress everything to do with the feminine and make us believe that one man is in charge of everything)- to the Victorian age. In spite of everything that went before it- monotheism, witch-burning and other evil medieval practices, Henry VIII who believed it was OK to chop off his wife’s head if she couldn’t produce a son- none of this was as damaging for women as the Victorian age. And having a Queen on the throne only made it worse- she would not even entertain the fact that women should have the right to vote. And this is the age when doctors decided that women should give birth lying down (probably the worst way to do it), because it would save the poor doctors’ backs aching.
Then is the chapter about ‘the abused vagina’. This took me so long to read because I kept having to stop, put it down to absorb the horrifying information, usually allowing myself a little cry in the process. I would say it took about 16 goes for me just to get through the one chapter.
If you think about what I have just written about how my own vagina reacts to different situations, isn’t it obvious that for anyone who wants power over women, the best way to do it is to attack the vagina? An unhappy vagina means a submissive woman- simple as that. So when I think about the one billion women in the world that have been raped or beaten in their life time- I know why. When I read about the millions of women who have been raped in the Congo and other war zones- I know why. When I wake up every morning thinking about the women and girls who are living with the effects of Female Genital Mutilation- I know why.
A woman’s vagina is directly linked to the brain- so if a woman is raped, maybe physically, emotionally and mentally she will recover, but her vagina NEVER will. As I said above, even ‘the worst word in the world’ hurts my vagina, makes it tense. If the most fragile and sensitive part of a woman’s anatomy is attacked it is in a permanent state of tension and fear.
Repeat- it NEVER recovers. And neither does the brain it is linked to.
And what this book has taught me more than anything else is that this need for people (notice I am NOT specifying MEN) to repress female sexuality by abusing or mutilating their vaginas is far from accidental.
Because women with healthy vaginas are happy, and so much more powerful, they are free and can achieve whatever they want.
Which brings me to the third way the book changed my life-
it helped me be closer to my mind, my heart, and aim in my life.
I will to use the power I am lucky to have to change other people’s lives,
and I hope to begin here and now,
by teaching others what I have learned.