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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Some of you may have seen that the internet is abuzz with pretty ferocious critiques of Naomi Wolf's new book: "Vagina: a New Biography". As an example you can read this review at The Guardian. I have not seen a single positive review so far, and most of the criticisms come from the many pseudoscientific or inaccurate statements that apparently she makes throughout her book, especially from a neuroscience point of view.  The criticism is not, of course that the vagina and the brain are not connected (I would argue the whole body is connected to our brain, one way or another!) but that she oversimplifies what is known about a very, very complex subject, and that many of the scientific statements in the book are even simply false. in other words, the book is not very well researched. I will have to read it to see why people are so irritated about this book, while Natalie Angier's "Woman, an intimate geography" was so well received ~a decade ago (it really is a good book). But I came across this very thorough article by Maia Szalavitz in Time magazine Healthland section, dissecting some facts about dopamine and sexual desire (hint: it is not "more dopamine = more sexual desire"), how she oversimplifies oxytocin by calling it a "female superpower", how she concludes that women are less able to control their desire than men because of their "brain chemistry", etc. Read the entire article, it's very, very informative. I love the conclusion: The brain and female sexuality are extremely complicated — and reducing them to simplistic formulations that deny women their humanity fails to do justice to either feminism or science. Properly contextualized, neuroscience can add to our knowledge of sexuality, but not if it’s twisted to support sexist ideas about women as “animals” who are so addicted to love that they become zombies.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/18/what-neuroscience-really-says...

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Replies to This Discussion

Natalie Angier is, of course, a Pulitzer-prize-winning science writer, and she is scrupulous about her sources and support.  "Woman, an Intimate Geography" is a wonderful book.  Naomi Wolf, in contrast, is a facile writer, quite engaging and forceful as a thinker, but she's also long been something of an avidbomb-thrower.  That said, the NYer review of her new book was pretty good.

I did not get to The New Yorker review; I'll read it. I now feel I should read Wolf's book before passing judgment, but it's not looking promising. She has been a bit of a sensationalist type of writer lately.

Natalia Angier, on the other hand, is always pure gold.

I think there is a lot more to discover with neurocience and female sexuality.

On another level so is it with men.  A friend that I have know for more than tewnty years  who became a quadraplegic in his twenties has made a a girfriend who got pregnant by him and now have a nice healthy teenage old daughter, so what about neuroscience and sex ?

That is an interesting story, and yes, we still have a lot to learn about human sexuality, not just from a neuroscience point of view.

I've heard that testosterone in women is responsible for her sexual desire! <- In my opinion, this would explain why women are not interested in getting married in early age!

I hate the "hormones" idea as the only factor of woman's sexual desire...Neuroscience makes more sense to me!

Hormones only are not the whole story, for sure. The idea is that human sexuality, whether male or females is very complex, because human behavior in general is VERY complex.

Thanks for the photo. I'd let that orchid sit on my face.

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