Thursday, September 13, 2012

Katha Pollitt Reviews Naomi Wolf's New Book. I Think About Related Stuff.

Katha Pollitt has reviewed Naomi Wolf's new book, about the vagina.  Or Wolf's vagina, it seems.

I have not read the book yet, only Katha's deliciously biting review of the same. But if the review is correct, Wolf has skipped happily down a very odd essentialist path into romantic woods where candles are lighted and the lingam waved.  In honor of the yoni.

I do want to read the book (or at least put it in the long list of books to be read) because there's one sense in which Wolf is probably correct:  Our view about sex have changed in the last two decades and that mostly due to Internet pron.  The intended clientele of pron is predominantly heterosexually male and the dream stories told are therefore not going to be about what turns women on.  Or at least mostly not about that.

As I've written before, I worry about any young people whose first contacts with sex come through those images.  Pron is not real-world sex, but can young people distinguish between the two?  And to what extent are our current sexual expectations (what he will do, what she will do) based on those unrealistic scenarios?

So yes, it seems to me that the time is pretty ripe for some kind of a correction.  For instance, blow jobs are extensively discussed all over the net.  Cunnilingus?  Hardly ever.  And that concerns me.

Here's the problem about writing on the topic of pron and feminism:  We get into a vigorous debate about other questions, including the advisability of having pron at all and the prudishness of one Echidne-of-the-snakes.

But the question I really want to have answered is whether our sexual norms have changed in a way which might not be that good for women, in general, or not even for men, ultimately, remains unanswered.  I think silicone breasts and shaving the pubic hair are both caused by what pron actresses look like.   If that's the case, what other aspects of our sexual mores are similarly affected?

All these are musings based on the general topic and in no way do I imply that Wolf's book is the response I'm seeking for.  Or that it is not, either.  But, yes, we should have many books out on this topic, preferably with a basis in proper research about what it is, exactly, that causes the changes we can all observe and what their consequences are.