A Book Talk About Vaginas

When the word “vagina” appears in a book title, chances are high that the book talk isn’t going to be a flop or a bore. Such was the case last night at Washington’s Politics & Prose Bookstore, where a mostly gray-haired audience piled in to hear author Naomi Wolf go on and on about vaginas.

Her new book is Vagina: A New Biography. The sad gist of it: About one third of all women are not sexually satisfied and do not reach orgasm. In other words, her vajayjay or hoo haa (terms Wolf despises to see in so-called serious publications) aren’t properly stimulated and eventually, their bodies say enough and they shut off.

“We need a Republican senator here to hear you!” a masculine, short-haired female audience member with no makeup shouted at the author early on. Wolf quickly acknowledged her and moved on.

Though Wolf never addressed politicians, she did pointedly bash the media for not taking the issue of women and sex seriously enough. “It’s my impression that serious media outlets should respond to these findings and not revert to baby talk,” she told FishbowlDC after her talk. “I think it’s unfortunate that serious media outlets can’t give serious coverage to a serious topic.”

She warmed up the crowd with a couple of self-deprecating vagina stories. This was a hearing aide crowd and a microphone was a must — Wolf wanted to get rid of it at one point, but the spunky marshmallows wouldn’t allow it. “I’m a real pacer and I’m wanting to pace about, but I have a short leash,” she said. They would have fought her to the death if she’d insisted.

“You did a great job saying vagina in public,” the author began to the woman who introduced her. “I’m still getting used to it.” If she felt uncomfortable about it at all, you wouldn’t have known, considering the sheer number of times she said that word, “fucking” and “penis” throughout the talk. For instance, “People don’t have long lingering kisses in movies anymore,” she said. “They go right to the fucking.” By far, the word “vagina” blasted through the book shop more times then we could possibly count.

Wolf recounted how absurd her relationship to the vagina has become and things to which she has grown accustomed. Like the time received a box in the mail with a big vagina label on it. The doorman asked, “Is this yours?”

 The author touched on a number of juicy topics last night, including sexual rat studies, the pitfalls of porn and why breasts are the way to a woman’s heart…

Wolf says society is stuck in “our idea” of what female sexuality is. Throughout the evening she pointed out a number of vaginal fun facts, some more serious than others.

* Women are attracted to different types of men depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. The closer she is to ovulating, the more dangerous a man she wants.

* She says neuroscience confirms that “when women don’t have good sexual experiences, the body shuts off.”

* Wolf explained that the clitoris and G-spot are all part of one structure in the body.

* “When a woman reports rape or sexual abuse their [bodies] do not respond the same to erotic videos. Talk therapy doesn’t dislodge these physical responses. To me these findings are very sad, but they should strengthen our hand in prosecuting rapists.”

* Wolf says the porn chapter included in her book attracts large male audiences to her book readings. She says men need to watch it with the porn watching. “This huge industry is basically exploiting male tendencies in the brain,” she says. “The male brain is hardwired. It’s not a pig thing, it’s a wired thing. When men masturbate to pornography, over time it habituates their responses so they need more extreme images. … the male brain bonding to the porn makes it harder to connect with a partner.” She says this can lead to erection and ejaculation problems.

* On average she says it takes women 16 minutes to reach orgasm. Men, on the other hand, require just 4 minutes.

* Wolf’s words of wisdom: “If you don’t want to fall in love with someone, don’t let them stimulate your nipples.”