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Ear to the Ground

Naomi Wolf on Kate Middleton Topless, Pussy Riot, and the Sexualized Female Body

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Posted on Sep 19, 2012
AP/Sergey Ponomarev

The Russian punk band Pussy Riot. According to author Naomi Wolf, some of its members were punished for using their sexuality to protest against President Vladimir Putin.

According to Naomi Wolf, author of “Vagina: A New Biography,” we are undergoing an “unprecedented struggle” among women, their bodies and sexuality. Citing recent examples such as Russian punk band Pussy Riot, the frenzy over Kate Middleton being photographed sunbathing topless, “virginity tests” in Egypt and recent efforts in the U.S. to legislate the female body, Wolf writes that female sexuality is being targeted around the world. 

But why is that so?

Well, according to Wolf, it is because of the brain-vagina link that she cites in her new book. As Wolf writes on CNN, by “traumatizing the vagina, you can intimidate women on multiple other levels.” In other words, sexuality under the aforementioned circumstances represents a bigger threat: power.

As a result, what passes for scandalous isn’t a staged strip show, but a public display in which a female shows she’s in control of her own body.

Naomi Wolf via CNN:

Porn 24-7 doesn’t threaten social control. Indeed, its addictive effects, in terms of new neuroscientific discoveries, actually turns out to be a kind of drug or sedative. This turns a potentially liberating sexual revolution into yet another marketable consumer product that hypnotizes people and is creating new health and sexual problems around libido, rather than setting them free.

In the struggle over sex, these choices are where the struggle lies: Who decides reproductive rights; who decides when and how breasts might be exposed; who decides who can say vagina and where; who decides who is a slut; and who must be punished with hard labor for asserting their right to define their own sexual and artistic identities.

The sexual revolution came and went, and yet women are still not as truly sexually free as they deserve to be—here or around the world. They are not yet, as these struggles show, fully free to define the meanings of their bodies and their desire, to assert their sexual wishes without punishment—including punishment by the state. And they are not yet fully free to claim the right to sexual pleasure and autonomy without enduring public shaming.

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—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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