book review: The Female Thing

[this is an older book that I read for a challenge related to books on women’s studies]

Title: The Female Thing
Author: Laura Kipnis
ISBN: 978-0375424172
Pages: 192
Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition (October 12, 2006
Category: gender studies
Review source: own copy
Rating: 3/5

In The Female Thing, author Laura Kipnis, a professor of media studies at Northwestern University researches what she calls the “female thing.” To her she considers that the female psyche although much of the book focuses on the vagina through research and discussion on orgasm, rape, and sexual equality for women in pleasure, cleanliness, and confidence. I didn’t find any of her research or theses new but simply reminders that women still do not get the attention we need and desire in the bedroom. Kipnis also is quite funny in her wording and the way she addresses all the issues she brings up in The Female Thing. She breaks it up as: Envy, Sex, Dirt and Vulnerability. I found the sex chapter most interesting.

A few tidbits:

Please read what follows as an account of the female psyche at the twenty-first century mark, which is to say, in the aftermath of second-wave feminism and partway to gender equality, both factors having put many female things into question lately. [p.vii]

Face it, we all inhabit at post feminist world: it was, after all, feminism that brought women equal treatment under the law, voting rights, access to public life, some progress toward pay equity, and so on, and even the most diehard “I like being a woman” set, you don’t find too many arguing with the right to own property or wanting to hand back the vote or anything silly like that. [p. 6]

She wants to have orgasms the womanly way: during penetration, even though the therapists assure her that some 75 percent of women don’t. [p. 40]

Most recent studies still put the number of women who don’t consistently have orgasms as high as 58 percent (The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality) [p. 42]

While not an insurmountable obstacle, some percentage of the male population has yet to fathom these female anatomical complexities, despite the ongoing education efforts. And why were the organs of sexual pleasure and those of sexual intercourse not combined into one efficient package, as with the lucky male? [p. 44]

Many report that they simply can’t have orgasms with a penis inside them because they often dislike, distrust, or don’t want to “open up to” the men on the other end of them . . . [p. 55]

She Comes First is similarly girl-friendly: here men learn how to identify the eighteen parts (!) of the clitoris . . . [p. 56]

Orgasms are, needless to say, the Holy Grail, and male ineptitude the dark forest of ignorance through which the hero must traverse. Men! If only they could find the clitoris, the blundering idiots. [p. 57]

Proto-feminist novelist Doris Lessing also devotes a fair amount of attention to the dual-systems issue in her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook. Ella, a novelist, resents her lover Paul’s attempts to provide her with clitoral orgasms, which she regards as his flight from commitment and emotion. Even though the clitoral orgasms are far more powerful and thrilling, there’s “only one real female orgasm and that is when a man, for the whole of his need and desire, takes a woman and wants all her response.” [p. 60]

The G-spot is basically where the clitoris should have been located—this is, if sexual intercourse actually made sense from the standpoint of efficient female pleasure. [p. 63]

If you’re a chick, you’re sitting on some pretty valuable real estate. Is any other human body cavity so laden with symbolic value, not to mention actual monetary worth, particularly for exclusive access? [p. 123]

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