Vagina: A Re-Education

Atlantic. Sept. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781911630029. pap. $15.95. HEALTH
Journalist Enright explores the systemic cultural, linguistic, and medical ways in which the vagina is ignored, minimized, and concealed in ways that prove detrimental to women’s physical, psychological, sexual, and social well-being. Here, the author takes an expansive yet well-documented and carefully researched approach to disentangle myths and stereotypes from realities. Books such as Amanda Laird’s Heavy Flow have looked at the subject, but this title considers sex education, symbolic structures (e.g., the hymen), the clitoris, orgasms, fertility and pregnancy, with a significant amount of time spent exploring theory and practice. Enright reminds readers that “we are denied facts about our own bodies because female bodies have been ignored and overlooked by science.” She shares her efforts to overcome shame and embarrassment in order to learn more about her own body. In the process, she identifies her own biases, and presents information that shows us how much we have to learn (or unlearn) about the vagina. Interviews with doctors who have been misguided and women who have been misdiagnosed provide additional insight.
VERDICT A necessary resource on an often-stigmatized subject, this book will appeal to anyone looking to learn more about the vagina and women’s health.

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