Saturday, 22 September 2012

Opening time

If you've written a mediocre book and you want it to get a flood of undeserved attention, all you have to do is give it a sensational and instantly memorable title. Like "Vagina".

It works like a charm. Naomi Wolf has been basking for weeks in the white heat of media publicity, as everyone dips into her long-winded tome expecting some perceptive (and saucy) insights into the much-loved female orifice.

Unfortunately a bevy of reviewers and commentators seem agreed that far from yielding shrewd insights, the book is disappointingly conservative and anti-feminist. For example:

"Much of the book boils down to the not-exactly-radical idea that a woman just needs a good seeing-to."  Anna Carey, The Irish Times

"....insisting that women have a physiological need to take delivery of flowers, to sleep with powerful men, and to receive large amounts of semen...."  Rachel Cooke, The Observer

"Wolf specifically disqualifies masturbation as a method of achieving high orgasm."  ZoĆ« Heller, New York Review of Books

"Vagina, then, is that very modern thing: a handbook for priggish sexual conformity masquerading as a manual for erotic liberation."  Laurie Penny, New Statesman

Not that any of the brickbats will bother Naomi overmuch. No doubt thousands of women (and men) are flocking to snap up the controversial text and see what all the fuss is about, proving once again that all publicity is good publicity.

It may be full of misunderstood science, mystical gibberish, slavish heterosexuality and trite platitudes, but what the hell? Everyone wants a "Vagina" on their coffee table.

What's the book actually about? Have a look here

Pic: Naomi Wolf


  1. Nick, why don't you read this book and then give us your perspective on it. This might be jolly.... or we could start a blog book club and then discuss books between ourselves, therefore negating the need for these reviewers.


  2. Scarlet: Well, it seems to me the reviewers are right - she has nothing new to say about the vagina or sexuality, she's just saying how wonderful the vagina is in a lot of different ways. Well, you and I know that already.

  3. I don't want that book on my coffee table. And from what the reviewer's are saying, I'm disappointed in her. I'm actually disturbed by all the anti-woman drivel that is being published lately. Like the abysmal Shades of Grey - the fact that there are so many women paying to read about a woman being abused and degraded. Shameful.

  4. i hadnt heard of it, living under a rock as i do, but you certainly have got me curious which just proves the point that any publicity is good publicity

  5. Agent: There are some more positive feminist books being published, but of course they're not getting the same publicity as Vagina. The runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey is alarming.

    Kylie: Don't bother to satisfy your curiosity, she clearly has nothing original to say. A shame, since her earlier book The Beauty Myth was a brilliant critique of the unattainable standards of beauty women are expected to conform to.

  6. Just trying to think of a new bestseller title myself!!!

  7. Suburbia: How about Breast? Or Gusset? Or Stiletto? Or Corset? Quick, grab one of them fast before Naomi thinks of it....

  8. Does that mean y'all won't buy my splendid new book, definitely a bestseller.

    Title: Penis

    Or as Daughter refers to it:



  9. www: I rushed to the bookshop to buy a copy but it was a big disappointment. Not a mention of the familiar organ, just hundreds of pages about sausages, frankfurters and salami.

  10. Nick, I am of an age when the very subject makes me yawn! Okay, I haven't had much opportunity to either theorise or practically indulge in the recent past, but it still does not make me salivate.

  11. Ramana: What, the word vagina doesn't make you surge with excitement? I shall make an appointment with your local therapist immediately, there's clearly something very wrong....

  12. Anonymous: I don't accept anonymous comments. I've deleted your comment.

  13. If anyone offered me ANYTHING with the title of vagina...and I would be runnng for the hills!


  14. John: Well, knowing your personal inclinations, that doesn't surprise me! Though if I were you I wouldn't run for the hills at the moment. You said it had been raining as heavily in Wales as it has here....