Certain feminists, like children discovering that certain words shock their mommies, like to talk dirty. Or at least naughty. Naomi Wolf climbs on this bandwagon once more with her eighth book, "Vagina: A New Biography." She joins aging shock jock ("jockette"?) Eve Ensler in shouting the word in a marketplace crowded with female monologues.
Wolfe, who helped Al Gore with his "earth tones" to make him more attractive to women in his presidential quest in 2000, imagines that she has grown up now and seeks to prove it by "liberating" a certain word in the female anatomy.
Contemporary feminism sprang from the heads of smart women who, like Athena, sprang from the head of Zeus. They changed the way women asserted themselves. Some of their rhetoric suffered from hyperbole, about bra burnings and witch sightings, but the most credible of the sisterhood addressed legitimate complaints about prejudice against women in the workplace and the objectification of women as sexual objects in cultural stereotypes.
Wolf's new revelations are what's wrong with so many contemporary feminist perceptions that gain such easy attention (and notoriety). Middle-class women have attained so much of what they sought in work and love, for better and for worse, that they've become sexual satires of themselves. They cheerfully gave up childhood dreams of a knight on a white horse, but they're disillusioned and unhappy now when they find themselves on an old gray mare in the rodeo of life.
As a revolution, it produced low-hanging fruit, ready for the picking, and the revolution coincided with the development of the pill, which gave women the ability to determine whether they would bear children, when and how many. The changes didn't usher in a perfect culture, as revolutions rarely do, but women got a new way to think of their bodies, their abilities to work outside the home, and how they could combine work and nurturing. This inevitably opened Pandora's box, letting loose all manner of new and unexpected vices, abusing language and love.
Naomi Wolf gives her repetitious sexual signature a patina of faux scholarship, claiming insights in the tradition of transcendence, described by William James in "The Varieties of Religious Experience," the moments of glory articulated by the poet William Wordsworth (when he finished his dance with daffodils) and the sublime as achieved through meditative states, such as those of the Dalai Llama. That's quite a tradition for someone with a taste for displaying sexual habits.
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