Extremists Messing With The Vajayjay

Are right-wing extremists obsessed with controlling women’s sexuality because screwing with a woman’s vagina-brain connection can weaken women and give men control?

Sounds crazy, but Naomi Wolf, famous for her book The Beauty Myth, suggests that’s what is happening.

The premise, laid out in her latest book, Vagina: A New Biography, has met mixed reviews from both scientists and the literati. But I found her thoughts interesting enough to give them some space here.

Wolf’s notion was sparked, oddly enough, when her spinal cord was repaired. Before surgery she had lost both her sex drive and her creativity. After surgery both returned. Curious, she began exploring how women’s sexuality might be connected to their broader empowerment and passion for life.

She began her journey by exploring more conventional notions of how society and power structures affect desire. But something was missing. So she moved on to biology, learning how the vagina, clitoris and cervix are connected to the brain. She found out that when neurotransmitters related to sexuality are blocked, an “anhedonic state” akin to depression can arise.

The science comes largely from Dr. Jim Pfaus, a researcher and psychology professor at Concordia University — and a defender of her book.

Next, Wolf suggests that extremists try to repress women’s sexual selves because sexuality allows women fuller, more productive and empowered lives. As she explains in the Huffington Post:

The data is sound elucidating the brain-vagina connection that many critics are struggling with. Dopamine builds confidence and motivation, oxytocin is about bonding and intimacy, and opioids are about bliss and ecstasy. If you know really what that cocktail [activated during sex] does [in the female brain], then it makes sense why patriarchy always targets female sexuality, always targets the vagina, with female genital mutilation, rape, and war, you know, derision, mockery. If you get that female desire and the vagina can be a medium for women of positive mindspeak unrelated to sex, it makes sense that the vagina is continually being targeted. The whole takeaway of the book is that the vagina is not just a sex organ. If you want to demean women, you demean the vagina.

I don’t know whether Wolf is right. (Are fanatics really that bright?) But interesting that sexuality seems so related to living a full-fledged, empowering life.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in feminism, politics/class inequality, psychology, reproductive rights, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. The connection between sexuality, creativity, and fulfillment is very interesting. Wolf was in a unique position to explore those relationships fully, and maybe she did, but espousing this notion that a bunch of old white guys sat down in a smoke filled room one day and said if we break the connection between the mind and female sexuality we’ll be able to make them miserable forever seems an unfortunate use of her energy that overshadows some of the ideas that could really make a difference in women’s mental and sexual health.

  2. Since a failure of reproduction would end the species – it’s centrality to our lives is unsurprising. That it connects to our creativity is intuitively sensible: we get creative in order to impress a mate (as many animals do with their mating dances).
    As to the vagina as a locus of oppression; I think the important distinction which clarifies NW’s idea is between intended and casual causality.
    Intended causality: The notion that men attack the vagina because they understand it as the epicentre of women’s fulfilment and know it will cripple their creativity is indeed ludicrous.
    Casual causality: The idea that men attacked women in every way they could, and through brute experience discovered what hurt them the most, is so obvious as to be mundane.
    As an observation of men’s behaviour stemming from casual causality NW’s account seems reasonable.

  3. “(Are fanatics really that bright?) ” This is an important thought here. Thanks.
    Alice

  4. Your point makes a lot of sense to me as well and I completely agree with the last statement from Wolf that “if you want to demean women, demean the vagina.” so much pressure is put on the women to in a sense, be more like men, because in our world is so dominated by them that is sad that they think they cant embrace there full womeness. If that makes sense.

    Thanks,
    Brooke

  5. I think that maybe what Wolf is trying to say can be true. I actually know someone that in their mind doesnt want to have sex,and when they even try to do so,they dont want to or even try to. The mind works in mysterious ways and maybe our vagina does have connections to our brain. Our vagina is targeted by extremists because we can reproduce and we are the ones at the guys need at the end of the day and they also think that we have power,which in a reasonable idea we actually do. We can bring someone into the world. I feel as though if we can control ourself,not everyone will view us as just them “females” with vaginas.

  6. I agree with wolf that the vagina is indeed connected to the brain because in reality if a women isn’t emotionally connected while having sex and her brain isn’t responding to her body the sensation out of having sex isn’t gonna be pleasurable. Women need that desire, that sensation, that sex drive and if our brain isn’t connected with our vagina how would women enjoy sex? But the vagina is a really huge organ that plays a really important role in a women’s life because our vagina is everything to us! we give life, we have pleasure, its a sensitive part of our body’s and its what makes the world go around so i think the last statement mention was very interesting because if you did really want to demean a women all you would have to do is “demean her vagina.” Because having a vagina comes with a lot of pressure.

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