Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Clitoral Truth by Rebecca Chalker

I got a book in the mail yesterday! The Clitoral Truth! I proceeded to read the entire thing yesterday afternoon, since I didn't have anything better to do (other than occasionally tuning in to Spongebob). It was an interesting read, although I was a little disappointed by its lack of accessibility to both sexes. Obviously I'm not a man so I can't judge that with complete accuracy, but I felt like the author was clearly addressing a female audience. It is a book about female anatomy and female sexuality so I guess it's fair that she presumes her audience will be mostly women. I just feel like the author is a little patronizing at times, constantly referring to the heterosexual male model of sexuality and how men only seek to have an orgasm as quickly and efficiently as possible. I mean, I consider myself a feminist but is it really appropriate to pigeonhole men in a particular sexual stereotype? It isn't appropriate to do that to anyone, regardless of sex or gender. I was especially surprised by her tone throughout the book because I glanced at the Amazon reviews before mooching the book (from a man) and found that many of the reviewers were men. Obviously they were hoping for some sort of insight, but instead they found themselves being berated for trying to have fast and efficient orgasms...yeah...that doesn't sound like a great way to open up a dialog about pleasure.

Anyway, tone aside, I thought it was an interesting book that covers many aspects of female sexuality and how it has been covered up throughout history (and how it is changing today). The author provides many resources listed in the back. The first chapter extensively goes over the Feminist Women's Health Centers' anatomical definition of the clitoris, which includes 18 parts, some internal and some external (god damn!)

One aspect of this book that I found particularly interesting and invigorating was its attempts to examine female sexuality as something that a woman can experience for herself (i.e. with or without a man, or a partner of either sex for that matter). Chalker places emphasis on pleasure and sexuality as means of personal self discovery--a method by which we can not only gain an intimate knowledge of and love for our bodies, but also an understanding of our emotional and psychological selves (by examining our fantasies and what we find sexual or sensual). I think Chalker does an excellent job of explaining both physical and emotional aspects of female sexuality, and she does so by placing emphasis on the woman herself, not necessarily the interaction between partners.

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