Naomi Wolf's new biography of the vagina has enraged and enraptured critics in roughly equal measure. In today's Guardian, she argues that bringing new data about the sexual experiences of women into the public domain is the feminist thing to do:
"The radical new findings on which I report have to do with the female body and with female sexual response. The new findings are updating our understanding of female pleasure and the mind-body connection in women on many levels. Some new findings are important for understanding the harm of sex crime more fully, and others have to do with the numbing effects of porn on desire. In a time when porn co-opts young men's and women's responses, is it "feminist" to withhold new data about its potentially addictive nature and depressive effect on a habituated libido?
Should we not know about this data? I come from the feminist school that believes knowledge is power."
She goes on: "The feminist mission remains the same, even in the light of new data about the vagina, female desire and the female brain. New data should not derail us from fighting for a world in which all individuals are valued equally, and all differences treated with respect. Yet if we are to have intellectual integrity we must not flee from new insights but engage with them. I for one prefer to look at the new evidence directly, not avert my eyes from it – knowing that the truth always empowers – and meanwhile to keep up the age-old fight for women's freedom."