I’ve had a number of straight liberal feminist type friends who have been enthusing about the publication of Naomi Wolf’s new book Vagina: A New Biography. As soon as I read the blurb I could tell that I was going to find this book incredibly annoying. First of all because it has the presumption of heterosexuality clear and centre, and second of all because quite a lot of concepts that the books draws on – e.g. the link between female sensuality/sexuality and creativity, the importance of the sacred and so on…well, actually, lesbian writers and theorists were coming up with those ideas in the 1970s and 80s as applied to lesbian lives. So thanks Naomi for pinching all of that, not acknowledging it and then making it all about straight women!
When I checked the index, lesbian sexuality was listed as appearing on 4 pages. 4 pages out of a 400 page book. I also couldn’t see any books or articles listed on the Biblography authored by lesbians that specifically covered lesbian sexuality, lesbian health, lesbian history, lesbian anything. Guess we lesbians don’t have vaginas like the rest of you. Or is it just that we use ours for non-male approved purposes and thus have to be completely erased, even though it seems that lesbian research and theorising silently underwrites quite a lot of the book.
In talking about Conquest and Control in Part II, there’s also the small matter of the deafening silence on the history of how Lesbian women specifically have been severely punished for pursuing and practicing sexual and romantic relationships with other women. Wolf also fails to acknowledge that harmful practices carried out against all women, e.g. clitoridectomy in the west, were also often justified or underwritten as treatments meant to stamp out lesbian tendencies.
Gee whizz thanks lib fems – you’re such good allies to Lesbians.