Ariel Levy on Naomi Wolf’s New Book, ‘Vagina’

“To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain but also is part of the female soul — it is a gateway to, and medium of, female self-knowledge,” Wolf writes in “Vagina: A New Biography” (Ecco). She refers throughout the book to a “profound brain-vagina connection” but sometimes suggests that the vagina is, or ought to be, the rightful site of mission control.

Please read Ariel Levy’s glorious, muffled-smile dissection of Naomi Wolf’s new book, Vagina: A Biography, in this week’s New Yorker (the book is out September 11). “Anger the vagina,” Levy paraphrases, “and the woman will have no choice but to become a harpy. Biology is destiny once again.” It’s free online only for subscribers, frustratingly, but if you can borrow someone’s copy later on, it’s worth it for the part about rats alone.

(Also, unrelated, but “Naomi Wolf’s Vagina” — is there a phrase for the syntactic difficulty of pairing a person’s cultural contribution with their name? For instance, the Etta James obituaries — “Etta James, singer of ‘At Last,’ has died,” versus the other way around. In this vein, it seems smart to write/make something called Perfect.)

Elsewhere: an excerpt from Vagina.