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Solipsism Is Not Feminism

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Naomi Wolf’s new book — by all accounts a disastrous combination of gender essentialism based on generalizing from her own personal preferences, anti-feminism in feminist clothing, evo-psych wankery, and New Age wankery — does have one undeniable virtue: it figures to generate some of most entertaining reviews since Liberal Fascism itself. I’ve already mentioned Ariel Levy. I think Zoë Heller may have actually topped Levy:

It is striking that when confronted with an evolutionary story that does not suit her prejudices—the idea, for example, that a cross-cultural male preference for a certain female waist-to-hip ratio might be an adaptive preference for fertile-seeming women—she is happy to reject it, without further elaboration, as “sexist.” Yet offered a no less controversial theory that happens to support her a priori convictions, she is all naive fascination. To support her view that vaginal orgasms are superior to the clitoral kind, she cites the phenomenon of “uterine upsuck” as proof that vaginal orgasms are evolutionarily “superefficient.”

Whether she knows it or not, investigations into the adaptive “purpose” of orgasms, vaginal or otherwise, are far more contentious and inconclusive than she suggests. The classic data on which the “upsuck” theory of female orgasm is based derive from one study, involving a single participant, conducted in 1970. And the fact that between a third and two thirds of women rarely or never achieve orgasm through intercourse would seem by itself a pretty conclusive argument against any evolutionary explanation for female orgasm. But there is a further problem with her argument. Why should a feminist woman who is having sex for nonprocreative purposes care whether what she is doing is “adaptive” or not? Wolf, it seems, has ended up in the dangerous position of giving certain sexual behavior greater value because it is “natural” or “evolutionarily valuable.”

[…]

There is a strange hubris in Wolf’s claim to understand how all rape affects all women. It is the same hubris that compels her to instruct us on how all women need to be wooed, and how all women feel when they come. Wolf remarks more than once in this book that she has no wish to be “prescriptive,” but prescriptiveness, alas, is her compulsion. She won’t be able to rest easy until all of womankind has heard her gospel and has started having sex that is not just pleasurable, but worthwhile. Her refusal to acknowledge the heterogeneity of female temperament, of female sexual proclivity, of female desire, would be galling, if it were not so dotty. As it is, her willingness to position herself as a visionary sexual prophet inspires a sort of affectionate awe.

Incidentally, you will learn far more from Heller’s recent novel The Believers than from everything Wolf has ever written put together, and the experience will be far more pleasurable.

Michelle Goldberg’s take is also excellent, although I’m obligated to note that the “earth tones” story is, like most of the War On Gore, a sexist myth. I also don’t know why her salary as an adviser was an issue. If her recent writings prove anything, it’s that she should be taken exactly as seriously as Mark Penn and Dick Morris.

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  • This graf from Heller is pretty damn good too:

    This would seem a very flimsy speculation on which to hang an entire theory about women’s hardwired need for precoital schmoozing. One of its several problems is that it fatally exaggerates the obliviousness of the orgasmic woman. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a female in the throes of more than culturally adequate passion can snap to attention with astonishing rapidity if one of her children happens to wander into her bedroom, and the response time might even be quicker if the intruder were a woolly mammoth.

    Anecdotal evidence FTW

    • ajay

      the response time might even be quicker if the intruder were a woolly mammoth.

      More research, clearly, needs to be done. We’re going to need forty volunteers (20 couples), approximately 600 second-hand brown toupees, and an elephant.

      • Bill Murray

        and a few attempts to define culturally adequate passion, so we know when the passion has exceeded this level. I suppose the 20 couples can do this.

    • DrDick

      I can guarantee you that the entry of children into the bedroom has that kind of effect on both parents.

    • herr doktor bimler

      It works the other way too. Woolly mammoths only died out because human beings kept wandering in on mammoth pairs during moments of passion and ruining the romantic mood.

  • Auguste

    “uterine upsuck”

    Hahahahaha.

    Wait, that’s really in the fucking book?

    • Karen

      This is the only correct use of “fucking” as an adjective describing “book” in existence.

      • Halloween Jack

        I have quite a few books in my collection that refute your statement. Some of them even have more text than pictures.

    • DrDick

      *sigh*

      In fairness to Wolf (not that I have any desire to be fair to this execrable screed), here is some basis for this notion of “vaginal upsuck.” Non-human mammalian females experience vaginal contractions during intercourse, which are believed to be the antecedents to human orgasm, which help move the sperm into the uterus. Women also experience vaginal contractions as part of orgasm (which is a uniquely human phenomenon in females), but also experience what most of us think of as orgasm. The latter is quite clearly produced by clitoral stimulation (something confirmed by neurophysiology as well as observational studies). It is also the case that all primates engage in a wide array of sexual activities which do not involve inserting a penis into a vagina and seem to find all of them highly satisfactory. Among our closest relatives, the chimps and bonobos, females in heat mate pretty much indiscriminately with essentially any available male (or female or inanimate object if that is what is available).

  • Vance Maverick

    Might need a NSFW Courbet warning for the Heller link. ;-) (And incidentally, is the NYRB suggesting that that paradigm of the male gaze is similar to Wolf’s attitude toward the vagina? Or an improvement?)

    • Vance Maverick

      Who knows what the editors intended, but it does well illustrate Heller’s point that “The veneration of vaginas does not equal the veneration of women.”

    • Anderson

      I think it’s more like, if you’re the NYRB, the only pic of the female genitals you’re going to run is one with a little snob appeal.

      It was that or an O’Keefe flower, presumably.

      • Bill Murray

        the only pic of the female genitals you’re going to run is one with a little snob appeal.

        so Kate Beckinsale’s?

        • Anderson

          Alas, no.

        • Halloween Jack

          Kate Winslet’s, one hopes.

          • Anderson

            Oh god, when was the last time you could go to a Winslet movie and NOT see her vag?

            I’ve slept with people whose genitals I’ve seen less often.

            • Hogan

              That’s how I felt about Sharon Stone after 45 minutes of Basic Instinct. Oh God, not that again?

              • thusbloggedanderson

                Oh, I get a kick out of Basic Instinct – flawed movie, sure, but how can you not laugh when they’re driving her to the police station, or when Gus hollers “she got that magna cum laude pussy done fried up your brain!”?

                Agree there could be 75% less sex & the movie would still work just fine. Never quite figured out the R rating.

            • To be fair, I think Kate’s nether parts have more acting ability than Sharon Stone’s whole.

              • Hogan

                Oeuvre?

              • I guess you never saw Casino.

                Who would have guessed that the greatest acting performance in the history of gangster cinema would be by a woman?

                • Uncle Ebeneezer

                  I did, but I think I already disliked Stone so much by that point that I didn’t give her, or it, a fair chance.

                  My vote would still go to Joe Pesci in Goodfellas for best mobster movie performance. The combination of hillariously-funny, and yet scary-as-hell-crazy, was incredible.

      • Vance Maverick

        The Guardian went with the O’Keeffe. The New Yorker used a jokey photo. I think you’re right about the snob appeal — the particular shade of snobbery known as “uptown”. No Lisa Yuskavage, or Carolee Schneeman.

        • Vance Maverick

          And while I’m on this politics-of-art rant: I mostly-seriously blame the reactionary/oracular side of Wolf — and of Camille Paglia — on Harold Bloom.*

          (*I’m speaking of his intellectual influence, obvs. I take Wolf’s accusations against him more seriously than she would have us do.)

          • Scott Lemieux

            I’m probably making this inevitable by pointing it out, but I must say it’s refreshing that Paglia does not seem to have any inexplicable pundit gig at any venue I might read now.

  • I find nothing more devastating in Heller’s review than the quotes.

    In her new “biography” of the vagina…The vagina, properly understood, is, “part of the female soul” and the medium for the “meaning of life itself.”… women reclaim the “magic” of the vagina and restore it to its rightful place at “the center of the universe.”

    “the way in which any given culture treats the vagina…is a metaphor for how women in general in that place and time are treated.”

    Replace “indicator” with “metaphor” and this is a reasonable empirical question. But metaphor?!?

    “a very non-Western awareness that vaginas are pluralistic, individualistic, and have wills and intentions of their own,”

    Words fail me.

    …Wolf specifically disqualifies masturbation as a method of achieving high orgasm: “A happy heterosexual vagina requires, to state the obvious, a virile man.”

    Yeek.

    “Serotonin,” Wolf writes, “literally subdues the female voice, and dopamine literally raises it.

    WTF!

    • Scott Lemieux

      I find nothing more devastating in Heller’s review than the quotes

      Sad, but true.

    • herr doktor bimler

      “a very non-Western awareness that vaginas are pluralistic, individualistic, and have wills and intentions of their own,”

      “Non-western”? Diderot refutes her thus.

      • DrDick

        And she reveals that she is emphatically not a cultural anthropologist.

    • Malaclypse

      “a very non-Western awareness that vaginas are pluralistic, individualistic, and have wills and intentions of their own,”

      The typical male thinks with his dick.
      That’s how he rationalises shallow sexual conquest as a means of self-expression and fulfillment in a world of alienation and emptiness under modern capitalism.

      Unlike The Consolidated, Wolf’s work lacks a good beat, and you cannot dance to it.

    • DrDick

      Demonstrating that she knows absolutely nothing about primate sexuality generally. Back in the late 50s or early 60s, Sherwood Washburn (a pioneering anthropological primatologist) characterized primate sexuality as “not merely promiscuous, but positively indiscriminate.”

    • Anna in PDX

      EWWW I didn’t think I could despise this woman more than I already do. I think Camille Paglia would be an improvement.

    • herr doktor bimler

      “Serotonin,” Wolf writes, “literally subdues the female voice, and dopamine literally raises it.

      Stupid pop neurofizz speculations presented as indisputable facts make me sad. Probably by lowering my serotonin levels.

      • I just finished reading a good antidote to this sort of reductive trash, The Gender Delusion by Cordelia Fine, all about the brain studies that try like hell to prove that women are worse at math or whatever. It was a very good read and I recommend it if you need to replenish those serotonin levels.

        • herr doktor bimler

          Agree about ‘Delusions of Gender’. More importantly, the teenage Doktorling borrowed my copy, read it, and gave it her imprimatur as well.
          Rebecca Jordan-Young covers similar ground (at a more academic level with fewer jokes) in ‘Brain Storms’.

          I don’t have the heart to check whether Wolf has used Brizendine’s execrable compendia of gender stereotypes and fictitious research as part of her source material, but it wouldn’t surptise me.

  • And from Goldberg!

    “For women to really be free, we have to understand the ways in which nature designed us to be attached to and dependent upon love, connection, intimacy, and the right kind of Eros in the hands of the right kind of man,” Wolf writes.

    “Straight men would do well to ask themselves: ‘Do I want to be married to a Goddess—or a bitch?’” writes Wolf. “Unfortunately, there is not, physiologically, much middle ground available for women.”

    Uh…

    • herr doktor bimler

      the right kind of Eros in the hands of the right kind of man

      Heteronormality rules!

    • Colin Day

      Are straight men allowed to ask themselves if they want to be married at all?

      • William Burns

        Just so long as they don’t get any crazy ideas about wanting to be married to a human being.

  • Naadir Jeewa

    Suzanne Moore did an excellent review with an especially funny punchline.

  • This from the woman who wrote “The Beauty Myth?” I’m sad.

    Also, I have 0 interest in being a goddess. Blech. That kind of woo-woo talk makes me queasy.

    • Lee

      IMO, as a Jew I always found the Goddess-worshiping feminists to be leaning dangeoursly close to anti-Semitism. The basic theory is that the world used to be a Goddess-worship, feminist primitive egalitarian sex positive utopia than the Sky God worshipers, i.e. Jews, put a stop to this and instituted hierarchy, sex negativism, and patriarchy. The philosophy of Christian feminists also go to closely to the Jews messed up the world but Christian feminism makes it better line of thought.

      • I’m not sure Wolf can call herself a feminist anymore and I’ve never noticed any strain of anti-semisitism in feminism myself.

        I’m not just not into New Agey goddess talk.

        • Lee

          I didn’t say overt anti-Semitism, I just said that the more mystical strains of feminism lean closely to it IMO.

      • Hogan

        Sky God worshipers, i.e. Jews

        It always seemed to me that they were referring to the marauding northern barbarians who invaded and brought in male-dominated pantheons (Zeus, Odin, etc.) rather than the monotheists. Once they’d conquered Canaan, Jews pretty much kept themselves to themselves.

        • rea

          Yeah–this “Sky God” idea comes straight from Sir James Frazier’s The Golden Bough

        • Halloween Jack

          You can also lay the blame for the more hierarchical, expansionist and patriarchal version of the Judeo-Christian tradition on one Paul of Tarsus, who went from being a zealous persecutor of early Christians to being a Christian convert who told the other early Christians that they were doing it wrong, and also has a lot more to say about the role of women in the Church than, say, Jesus.

      • Leeds man

        Christian feminists

        That’s like Military Intelligence and Microsoft Works, right?

        • You’ve never spent any time around nuns, have you?

          • Leeds man

            No. And the media messages I get are rather mixed. Nuns on the Bus vs. Magdalene Sisters + Transformer Mother Teresa. All very confusing to an ex-Protestant atheist.

            • Nuns know more about resisting patriarchy than just about anyone else in our society.

              • Leeds man

                How’s that working out after 2000 years?

                • Hogan

                  It’s too soon to say.

                • It only goes back about 50.

                • Malaclypse

                  It’s too soon to say.

                  This thread was sorely lacking Zhao Enlai references.

                • Hogan

                  This thread was sorely lacking Zhao Enlai references.

                  It’s like a day without sunshine.

  • Lee

    Why does anybody give any credence to evolutionary psychology? Its nothing more than excuse for bad behavior and preferences. Heterosexual men say they can’t help liking young, nubile woman with a certain waist to hip ration, its evolutionary psychology. Heteorsexual women say they can’t help favoring tall men over short ment, its evolutionary psychology. Nobody ever uses evolutionary psychology to justify things about relationships they don’t like.

    • Cody

      Surely “instincts” exist and are the same thing, right?

      Of course, as human beings I’m pretty sure you can help what you’re doing. Maybe you’re attracted to a certain hip/waist ratio, but that does not mean you’re going to do anything about it…

      • DrDick

        Primate evolution generally and human evolution in particular is characterized by increasing emancipation of behavior from instinctual control and ever greater behavioral heterogeneity in the species.

        • increasing emancipation of behavior from instinctual control and ever greater behavioral heterogeneity

          I love this phrase! And the fact it expresses!

          • DrDick

            That is high praise indeed coming from you.

    • Why does anybody give any credence to evolutionary psychology?

      Oh, we’re hard-wired to do that. Because of the hunting and gathering.

    • tt

      You might as well ask why does anyone give any credence to neurology? Naomi Wolf isn’t an evolutionary psychologist and doesn’t speak for them. It’s an actual science with actual journals and such, so if you want to criticize it you have to look there.

      • JL

        A lot of it is pretty crappy there, too (though the stuff that gets called evopsych but is actually evoneuro is more legit).

        Evolution has clearly had some sort of influence on psychology but it is really hard to actually figure it out in any useful way, and I’m personally not convinced that we know enough neuro right now to pull it off.

        • tt

          I actually agree that a lot of research that goes under evo-psych is pretty weak stuff, scientifically. But it deserves to be judged on it’s scientific product, which isn’t reducible to the caricatures people often make of it.

        • DrDick

          Almost all of it is grounded in highly ethnocentric assumptions about human cultural practices that bear no resemblance to the behaviors of modern mobile foragers, the groups most similar to our paleolithic ancestors (where most of the actual evolution took place). These are societies where wealth is impossible and generosity and sharing are mandated and age, gender, and kinship are pretty much the only social distinctions.

          • tt

            Which assumptions are you referring to? I can’t make sense of your comment in relation to my knowledge of modern evo-psych; are you basing your view on primary sources?

            • DrDick

              Yes, I am basing them on primary sources. As far as I have seen, Evo-Psych mostly operates to prove that the way Western societies do things is ordained by biological evolution. This of course ignores the fact that the central tendency in primate evolution generally and human evolution in particular is increasing emancipation of behavior from instinctual (genetically programed) control and increased behavioral heterogeneity. I have never read an Evo-Psych article (in professional publications) that showed any significant understanding or knowledge of the actual human and primate evolutionary record or of the nature of mobile foraging societies like those which would have characterized most of our evolutionary history.

              • tt

                Here, to pick at random, is the most recent article on PubMed from the journal Evolutionary Psychology. It’s a very typical article. Can you explain how it “operates to prove that the way Western societies do things is ordained by biological evolution?”

                It’s true that the article does not make use of the primate evolutionary record, but I’m not sure how it would improve the paper. Would you like them to repeat their test on living primates?

              • tt

                Can’t link. Article I’m refering to is: “Sexual imprinting on facial traits of opposite-sex parents in humans.” First result on pubmed for “Evolutionary Psychology.”

                • Vance Maverick

                  We found that there was no perceived facial similarity between women’s partners
                  and their fathers. However, men tended to pair more often with women that were perceived as resembling the men’s own mothers. In contrast to previous studies, the quality of the relationship between participants and their parents did not predict the level of facial resemblance between the participant’s spouse and their parent.

                  As far as I can tell there’s no “evolutionary” reference at all.

                  Individuals were unsystematically chosen, all white, Caucasian, heterosexual
                  couples.

                  Unsystematically, indeed.

                • tt

                  It’s testing a hypothesis about imprinting derived from evolutionary theory.

                  Unsystematically, indeed.

                  When you run a small study you want as little heterogeneity as possible. If you fund them to expand their sample I’m sure they’d be happy to look at differences between groups as well.

                • Vance Maverick

                  Why do you say their hypothesis “derives from evolutionary theory”? Other than its being published in a journal with “evolution” in the name, I don’t see the evidence.

                • tt

                  There’s an evolutionary hypothesis in the background, which is discussed in the Bereczkei paper they cite. But I think your reaction is the right one–like psychology in general, Evo Pscyh is becoming more and more empirical, and more interested in figuring out what’s really going on than in coming up with just-so stories.

                • DrDick

                  When you run a small study you want as little heterogeneity as possible.

                  Not if you want statistically valid results you don’t.

                • DrDick

                  Also that study is not typical of Evolutionary Psychology studies that I am familiar with (it is much more restrained in its claims), other than its use of a heavily biased sample which does not allow you to generalize from their results to the human species. When you have such a homogeneous sample, all you can generalize to is the group from which it was selected, white, Caucasian, heterosexual Poles in this case. From the clearly inadequate description of sampling methods they also seem to have been mostly professional class, which further limits the ability to generalize.

                • Vance Maverick

                  So, tt, this study is an investigation of some behavior in a little slice of a contemporary Western society. I think the only way to rescue it from the accusation of “proving that the way Western societies do things is ordained by biological evolution” is to say that it doesn’t really address evolution at all.

                • tt

                  Not if you want statistically valid results you don’t.

                  Huh? No, you’re wrong. I work in a medical lab that does mostly small studies. You want to minimize the effect of confounders and that means you always try to standardize on age, gender, ethnicity, health status at the least.

                  does not allow you to generalize from their results to the human species

                  You are correct. It’s one paper. This is exactly how stuff works in medicine too, so if you have a problem with it your problem is much bigger than Evo Pscyh. Most psych studies are done on undergrads. Lots of medical studies not relating to disease are done on med students. It’s a money thing.

                  Also that study is not typical of Evolutionary Psychology studies that I am familiar with (it is much more restrained in its claims)

                  May I suggest that a possible problem is that the papers you are reading are somewhat old? Evo Pscyh has evolved over time along with the fields it is related to. I read a fair amount of Evo Psych and this paper is entirely typical in the ambitiousness of its claims.

                • tt

                  I think the only way to rescue it from the accusation of “proving that the way Western societies do things is ordained by biological evolution” is to say that it doesn’t really address evolution at all.

                  Well, in a trivial sense its rescued from the accusation in that it’s mostly a negative result. They only have one weak positive finding.

                  That said, if your objection to Evo Pscyh is that most studies look at a narrow slice of humanity and generalize outward more than can be justified, I think that’s very fair. This problem, however, does not primarily lie in the conceptual foundation of Evo Psych but rather in the lack of resources for doing large, broad, powerful studies. I can assure you that psychologists of all types would love to do the kinds of studies which would address your objections.

                • DrDick

                  Huh? No, you’re wrong. I work in a medical lab that does mostly small studies. You want to minimize the effect of confounders and that means you always try to standardize on age, gender, ethnicity, health status at the least.

                  I have problems with some of those kinds of medical studies as well (it is one reason why minorities and women are often poorly served by medicine). As a social scientist who has taught research methods, I can state categorically that if you want to generalize to the human species as a whole, as Evolutionary Psychology explicitly claims to do, then you need to work with a sample which is at least somewhat representative of the diversity within that population. Otherwise, you are simply doing what I said in the first place, which is reifying Western cultural practices and attitudes to biological imperatives.

      • laura

        Yeah, I think the main case against evo psych is that it’s the go-to science of social scientists and pop science writers who don’t actually know much about hard science* but dig the big-picture explanations evo psych allows them to draw. I expect the picture of it we get from the popular press doesn’t do the actual discipline much justice.

        *ftr I count myself firmly among those social scientists who don’t know much about hard science.

  • Sly

    Toward the end of Vagina, Wolf offers two inspirational instances of the sort of “Goddess-focussed” sexual practice she wishes to promote among her readers. The first is the “sacred sexual healing” administered by Mike Lousada, a self-described “somatic therapist,” who provides massage, masturbation, and intercourse to “erotically suffering” women in his north London studio. The second is a weekend Tantra workshop in Manhattan, at which female attendees get to select the male attendees who will give them “sacred spot massage” in their midtown hotel rooms on Saturday night.

    No one could have predicted that an author who writes a treatise on female sexuality that is virtually indistinguishable from the pseudo-scientific nonsense of Deepak Chopra would also venerate a rather long and inglorious tradition of shameless medical hucksterism.

    • But but upthread it says masturbation is not the way to mystical orgasms or whatever.

      • Anderson

        Not mystical, maybe, but not bad either.

      • Colin Day

        Perhaps she is equivocating over “masturbation”, once treating it a solo sex, and another time treating it as manual stimulation (whether by oneself or someone else).

    • Cody

      Is “Mike Lousada” a male prostitute?

      I take it Wolf is pro-prostitution judging purely by what I’ve seen in these quotes.

      • Leeds man

        Is “Mike Lousada” a male prostitute?

        From Goldberg’s piece;

        …a London-based investment banker turned vaginal masseur

        So, more or less.

        • Lee

          From one dishonest profession to another.

          • witless chum

            What’s dishonest about prostitution?

            • Lee

              Its the fact that he is using pseduo-scientific idiocy and emotional manipulation to justify his vocation is the dishonest part. He is a snake-oil salesman as much as a prostitute.

              • mpowell

                Well… he may be using it to avoid police prosecution. Prostitution is illegal in London, no?

            • Calling yourself a therapist.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Seriously, this is a grievous insult to the world’s oldest profession, many of whose practitioners provide a useful service people actually want.

              • laura

                To be fair, I’m sure this guy is offering a service a lot of people want. Women deserve prostitutes tailored to their specific fantasies (and he serves a subset of women.)

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Yes, to be clear, the guy is only useless when working in the financial services industry, not when he’s a prostitute.

        • sparks

          Wasn’t this trade once plied by Victorian doctors? Though it may have only been clitoral stimulation to calm “hysterical” women. I don’t remember much about the details any more.

      • Lee

        By all reasonable criteria, Mike Lousada is a male prostitute. I’m really not that sure whether prostitution should be legal or not. Making prostitution illegal doesn’t really help the victims of the sex trade but commercializing sex makes ill philosophically. However, I strongly associate romantic love and sex rather than seperate the two so thats just me.

        However, if prostitution is illegal than the laws should not be selectively enforced. What Mr. Lousada is doing is even more disgusting than what many street prostitutes do because of all the intellectually dishonesty and emotional manipulation involved. Put the sucker on trial./

        • Manju

          Put the sucker on trial

          I thought he uses his fingers.

        • Sly

          By all reasonable criteria, Mike Lousada is a male prostitute.

          A prostitute, yes. He is someone who provides sexual services for money. But he offers the ludicrous pretense that his services are not merely sexual, but have mystical healing powers that are grossly unsubstantiated. That makes him a huckster.

          Think of a less taboo occupation, like that of a chef. A chef prepares food for money. If that same chef were to advertise that his or her creme brulee had the capability of curing cancer because he or she used custard that possessed magical properties, that would make that chef a huckster.

          • laura

            He’s not a huckster exactly. He just promises his services will make women feel sexually satisfied and fulfilled. I’m in favour of (regulated) legal prostitution, so definitely in favor of people offering niche sexual services. Some women — Naomi Wolf for instance — do get off on being “Goddesses”. If they’re willing to pay for that plus a manually induced orgasm, who are we to judge? If they don’t get what they paid for — which is just as true on whale watching expeditions — they don’t go back. But the same would go for any escort you might hire.

      • Vance Maverick

        FWIW, Wolf isn’t making up his name — perhaps he did, but that’s the one he’s doing business under.

    • herr doktor bimler

      I remember the ‘orgasmic massage’ subplot from “Road to Wellville”. The tradition behind Lousada is long and inglorious indeed.

      …Google reminds me that “Die Handhabung Therapeutik” sounds better in the original German.

    • Halloween Jack

      Really, they should just call it a happy ending, just like the guys’ version. Isn’t that one of the nicest sexual euphemisms, anyway?

  • Ed

    Female party guest (Tisa Farrow):I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.

    Isaac Davis (Woody Allen): You had the wrong kind? I’ve never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.

    • Scott Lemieux

      FTW.

  • “Upsuck” pretty much defines Wolf’s rise to the top

  • Yet offered a no less controversial theory that happens to support her a priori convictions, she is all naive fascination.

    I knew Barack Obama sent the DHS to shut down Naomi Wolf’s lady-parts! I knew it! It all fits together.

  • Anonymous

    ROMNEY UP BY FIVE in new national poll taken from Sept. 4 to Sept. 7th! The bounce is over!

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      YOU WILL CHOKE ON MY PANCAKES! YOU WILL SUP ON MY JAM!

    • Vance Maverick

      Kevin Williamson has shown that Romney is more virile, because of his many male children, and Wolf in turn has shown that such virility is what the female voter needs. QED.

      • Well nothing gets me hotter than a 65 year old man in magic underwear.

    • I only eat Aunt Jemima syrup. Which is not technically even maple syrup. True story.

      • Me too. That “maple” syrup crap is expensive, even at Trader Joe’s.

        • psp

          But well worth the money. Corn syrup with carmel couloring does not make for good pancakes.

          • Erm, speaking as a foodie:food snob, I have to disagree. Aunt Jemima straight-up does not taste like maple syrup. Yet it’s my preference. So pancakes with real maple syrup would not be palatable to me. It’s a quirk.

      • Bill Murray

        I prefer fruit based syrups. Chokecherry, blueberry, peach even elderberry of which some people’s father’s smell.

        • Halloween Jack

          Your second apostrophe offends me.

          • Bill Murray

            but I used the preposition correctly and avoided a Winston Churchill joke, so I think I still win in the Romney sense

          • Hogan

            I think the comma that should have been there after “peach” wandered off.

        • Probably dumb jerks who don’t know an African swallow from a European swallow.

      • Halloween Jack

        I was about to make a “dark and sweet” joke, but decided to look up the history of the Aunt Jemima symbol, and… jeepers, had no idea.

    • Mitt Romney’s lead is eternal, like the Saginaw Plaza Hotel.

    • Anderson

      Well yes, if you fantasize that 76% of the voters will be white, then Obama will have a tough time of it … in your fantasy.

      Also, pancakes.

      • MAJeff

        They’re working on it.

    • DocAmazing

      Wait–I thought Obama was predicted to carry Vagina!

      • Sure, but Romney’s a dead lock to carry Viagra.

        He even looks like a guy in a Viagra ad.

    • DrDick

      My jammy pancakes will eat you!

    • laura

      WAFFLES!!!!

    • ChristianPinko
  • I like pancakes!

    • Bill Murray

      I like baseball. I like everything American

      • Leeds man

        Baseball has decimals, and blokes standing around idly, probably thinking critically when they’re not scratching their crotches or spitting. It is an abomination.

    • Halloween Jack

      I went on vacation a couple of times this summer, and at two of the motels that I stayed at (in Iowa and Illinois), the continental breakfast set-up included a couple of waffle irons and a batter dispenser. It was the best damn thing.

  • SeanH

    Laurie Penny is also excellent on the problem with Wolf and Wolf-like people.

    • Halloween Jack

      Warning: don’t fill your mouth with liquid of any sort before reading that first paragraph.

      • Anderson

        For a good time, do *not* open Naomi Wolf’s Vagina.

  • herr doktor bimler

    The last time I read one of N. Wolf’s columns, it was a response to the most recent mass shootings. She reckoned the answer was to make gun ownership contingent on convincing a psychologist that you’re sane, because it’s only those others — the crazy people — who are the problem, not us normal people.

    I was impressed by the confidence she placed in the infallibility of witch-sniffers psychologists, to make them the arbiters of who deserves constitutional rights and who doesn’t.

    • Bill Murray

      Witchfinder Major Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer was never wrong

      • Malaclypse

        Gaiman/Pratchett reference FTW!

  • thusbloggedanderson

    This is a test of the emergency Gravatar system.

    • thusbloggedanderson

      FAIL.

      • Anderson

        Success!

  • laura

    Heller’s article is great in so many ways and absolutely my favorite kind of feminism. That said, while Wolf has jumped the shark many times over at this point, she was an important figure who promoted a very good cause: the pro sex and pro male version of feminism which was, for a long time when she was first writing, under attack in popular culture. That said, when you’re recycling writing from 50 Shades of Grey (I can only hear the phrase “Inner Goddess” in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice), you need to re-think. Also, her defense of Julian Assange on the lam was asinine.

    Then again, I will gladly join any war on the word “vajayjays”.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I will gladly join any war on the word “vajayjays”

      Indeed. Generalizations do tend to be true at random sometimes, although I remain dubious about the general point.

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