Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Naomi Wolf's Orgasms


Feminists have wanted women to receive more respect. They are not alone in that.

As a rule, if you want to be respected the best place to start is by showing greater respect for yourself.

Respecting yourself does not guarantee that others will respect you but it’s a step in the right direction.

It will allow you to know that you did nothing to provoke any disrespect you might receive.

You build your self-respect by practicing it. Since respect depends on how others see you, self-respect should not be reduced to something you feel.

It is universally true that human self-respect originates in the impulse to cover the external genitalia. When you expose your genitals in public you are diminishing yourself as a social being, and thus, will experience shame.

The roots of shame lie in immodesty.

In the old days feminists railed against being seen as sexual objects. They did not want women to be identified by their sexual behavior.

No one could reasonably disagree with the notion.

Now, however, leading feminist Naomi Wolf has written a book in which she apparently identifies herself with her vagina and declares that her exceptionally wonderful orgasms make her a woman.

Apparently, Wolf believes that the country really needs to have a national conversation about her vagina.

We would do better to discuss Wolf’s vulgar shamelessness and her efforts to reduce women to sexual objects.

I accept that she has a constitutional right to diminish, demean and degrade herself in public. I find it sad, however, that legions of feminists who do not know any better will read her book and conclude that they ought to talk about their vaginas. Others will think that there cannot be anything wrong with sending pictures of their vaginas to their closest friends.

Her book has not yet been published, but Wolf has done a pre-publication interview with the London Times. The London Daily Mail brings us Wolf’s discussion of a problem she started to have with her orgasms.

The Daily Mail reports:

Miss Wolf, 46, said: ‘To my astonishment and dismay, while my orgasms were as strong and pleasurable as ever, something very different was happening after sex, to my mind.

‘I realised one day, as I gazed out on the treetops outside the bedroom of our little cottage, that the usual post-coital rush of a sense of vitality infusing the world, of delight with myself and with all around me, and of creative energy rushing through everything alive, was no longer following the physical pleasure.

‘I felt I was losing somehow, what made me a woman, and that I could not face living in this condition for the rest of my life.’

I am confident that her lover is thrilled to see their intimate experience exposed to public view.  

Anyway, where to begin? Wolf is telling us something that we really do not need to know. No one who is not directly involved really cares whether her orgasms measure up.

Let’s be clear. Wolf is not saying that she is anorgasmic; she is saying that her orgasms have been missing something, a je-ne-sais-quoi, a special quality that, in her words, made her a woman.

This is breathtaking, and not in a good way. Naomi Wolf is telling us that orgasms are what make her a woman.

Does that mean that a woman whose does not have orgasms is not a real woman? Does Wolf want us to divide the female gender into women who have orgasms and women who do not? Does she believe that a woman who has better orgasms is more of a woman than someone whose orgasms lack the mental rush that she finds so thrilling?

Wolf’s problem is more conceptual than orgasmic. If the quality of an orgasm makes a female a woman, how does anyone else know it? Should we walk up to every female we meet and ask her about her orgasms? If we don’t know, does that mean we do not know whether or not she is a real woman? Does Wolf believe that women should assert their womanhood by following her dreadful example and publicizing their experience of sexual enjoyment?

And if they do, how do you, as an outside observer, know that she is telling you the truth?

Where did Wolf go wrong?

Being a woman, like being a man, is a public identity, a socially defined role. It involves behaviors that are immediately recognizable by other people. A woman dresses a certain way, comports herself a certain way and fulfills a certain number of responsibilities.

It isn’t a mystery and has nothing to do with her sexual enjoyment.

We are all happy that Wolf has mind-blowing sex, but, truth be told, she has grossly overestimated its importance in defining her identity.

Since I know you want to know, Wolf did manage to solve her problem. She learned from her gynecologist that the problem lay in her spinal cord, not her vagina.

Discovering that she was a physiological organism blew her mind.

In Wolf’s words:

I almost fell off my chair in astonishment…neural wiring? Not culture, not upbringing, not patriarchy, not feminism, not Freud?...

Is she saying that it’s not all a social construct? Does she mean that human civilization is not a vast right wing patriarchal conspiracy designed to deprive women of the mind-blowing orgasms that make them women?

What will advanced feminist theorists do now?

In the meantime, Wolf underwent surgery to correct her spinal problem. Thereafter she recovered the extra added orgasmic thrill that made her a woman.

Now, she feels like more of a woman. Unfortunately, for having shared her story with the world she looks like less of a woman to everyone else.

6 comments:

JP said...

I just read the article. She apparently had a spinal fusion.

Ouch. I wouldn't want to be her.

She's going to find out that you never have just one back surgery.

Dennis said...

Is it me, but I keep wondering why I should care? It is almost humorous, but many of these feminists are becoming the men their mothers used to hate. Once one has back problems it NEVER goes away.

Sam L. said...

Her orgasms might be good again, but if they're not multiple orgasms, she and/or her lover is/are at fault and she's not enough woman after all.

Bummer. Fortunately for me, I'm not sorry to have to be the one to tell her this. I'm so.....patriarchic.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I was a bit surprised, JP, to read that she had spinal fusion. I don't know about her medical condition, but I have been hearing that they now do many kinds of spinal surgery with lasers, saving everyone a lot of time, money and pain.

A friend of mine was was supposed to have spinal fusion surgery but had it done with a new laser procedure. It took her an hour and a half and she walked out of the clinic.

Anyway, it seems that spinal surgery is evolving...

Jeff Dorsai said...

my bet is she's paying for it ... could be why its not floating her boat ...

Anonymous said...

American women should work harder on deserving respect instead of demanding it.