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Sep 17 2012

Moony allusions

No wonder Naomi Wolf’s book is so silly, if Zoe Heller gets her right.

For those familiar with Wolf’s career as a polemicist and memoirist, it will not come as a complete surprise to find her attributing occult properties to the female anatomy. Wolf, who has always understood feminism to be a spiritual cause as much as a civil rights movement, has made several moony allusions over the years to the numinous character of female sexuality. In Promiscuities, her memoir of growing up in 1970s San Francisco, she proposed that “female sexuality participates in the divine image.”

Feminism as a spiritual cause – ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

If it’s a spiritual cause there’s no need or place for it to begin with. Nobody minds if women are “spiritual” all over the place, as long as they don’t go demanding unspiritual things like serious work and freedom to wander and equal rights.

 

22 comments

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  1. 1
    sailor1031

    Ah yes: “numinous”. Now I understand. Probably “ineffable” too….

  2. 2
    Randomfactor

    “Ineffable twaddle,” I believe, is le mot juste. (Dr. Watson, to Holmes.)

  3. 3
    Ron Sullivan

    … “female sexuality participates in the divine image.”

    What does that even mean? “Is worn like a Popehat”?

  4. 4
    A. Noyd

    That whole review is full of win.

  5. 5
    ismenia

    Plus of course all this women are spiritual stuff often seems to lead to the claim that reason and logic are male characteristics.

  6. 6
    Emily Isalwaysright

    Germaine Greer had me laughing with this:

    “Wolf knows the neural networks that constitute her ”Goddess array” also involve the anus, but she chooses not to go there, which leaves a gap in the market for The Anus: A New Biography.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/her-twist-in-the-knickers-20120914-25wyh.html

  7. 7
    dirigible.

    “What does that even mean?”

    Orgasms can be fun, so let’s talk about God instead.

    Numinosity is the ketchup of the spiritual.

  8. 8
    Ian MacDougall

    Ophelia:

    ‘Nobody minds if women are “spiritual” all over the place…’

    [tries vainly to control mirth]

  9. 9
    briane

    … “female sexuality participates in the divine image.”

    What does that even mean? “Is worn like a Popehat”?

    I suppose it’s an improvement over draping and mutilating women because their sexuality is an affront to the very god that created them. But not much….

  10. 10
    sawells

    Given its derivation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numen ) I think we may need to file “numinous” alongside “spiritual” and “transcendent” and “divine”, as a class of words that mean “really, like, wow, just, wow, you know?”

  11. 11
    briane

    From Sawells link:
    an influence perceptible by mind but not by senses
    So it’s a priori or just made up?

  12. 12
    briane

    Actually, a priori isn’t an influence perceptible by mind, such as the senus divinatus, that later which shares the same property as numinous seems to share, non-existence.

  13. 13
    sawells

    @12: Ah, but the sensus divinatus really does exist. Those of us who perceive no gods are accurately perceiving no gods with our sensus divinatus. Unfortunately some people, like Alvin Plantinga, have the theological equivalent of tinnitus: they keep perceiving a god that isn’t really there :)

  14. 14
    sunny

    “female sexuality participates in the divine image.”

    - Precisely why it needs constant surveillance lest it be corrupted.
    - It is hard to believe that people make a good living writing such drivel.

  15. 15
    skeptifem

    If it’s a spiritual cause there’s no need or place for it to begin with. Nobody minds if women are “spiritual” all over the place, as long as they don’t go demanding unspiritual things like serious work and freedom to wander and equal rights.

    I completely disagree. Religion is almost uniformly patriarchal. There are feminists who fight against that and get into trouble in their religions for it, even if all they are fighting for is equal mention of female spiritual entities (like the heavenly mother issue in mormonism).

    It is a bit like the size acceptance movement and their focus on fashion/clothing- I think the system of fashion and clothing in a capitalist society is a terrible thing (with sweat shops and overt materialism and so on). However, that isn’t a great reason for people who see no problem with the system to be discriminated against. I don’t call it useless or needless for people to fix problems of access in their own communities because I don’t share their values.

  16. 16
    Ophelia Benson

    I don’t follow. Yes, there are feminists who try to make their religion less patriarchal. And?

    I think they’re barking up the wrong tree, because there are no gods, neither female nor male. I think they’re making a mistake by giving religion their votes (their support, membership, money, time). That doesn’t mean I think their religion should persecute them, it just means I think they’re fighting on the wrong ground.

  17. 17
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Skeptifem, the need to wear clothes is valid. The “need” to have a god is not.

    Also, you have a rather strange idea of what the fat acceptance movement is about. Fashion and clothing is not their primary focus.

  18. 18
    Kate

    …Was she always this weird? I’ve only read The Beauty Myth.

  19. 19
    Ron Sullivan

    dirigible: Numinosity is the ketchup of the spiritual.

    sawells: Unfortunately some people, like Alvin Plantinga, have the theological equivalent of tinnitus: they keep perceiving a god that isn’t really there

    Oh thank you. I really needed a grin today.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    Kate – same here, and I don’t remember that as being woo. Maybe she swallowed a woo-pill somewhere along the way.

  21. 21
    rosiebell

    “Wolf knows the neural networks that constitute her ”Goddess array” also involve the anus, but she chooses not to go there, which leaves a gap in the market for The Anus: A New Biography.”

    Thanks for the link – G Greer can still do it when she wants.

    I’ve always been exasperated with the female consciousness, part of the Eternal She Moon Goddess, logic and reason are male constructs, strain in feminism. Mister likes you Mystic – it stops you asking for rights.

    My own take is that if you put “Vagina” in the title of something it ups the attention you will get. Ophelia, for instance, should call her blog Vaginas and Wheels or Butterflies and Vaginas, and the traffic will increase by 23%.

    I and some commenters tried out a few title amendments here:-

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/a-vagina-of-ones-own-by-vagina-wolf/

  22. 22
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Kate: I don’t know about woo, but Wolf has long been a self-absorbed navel-gazer. She once wrote at length about how devastating it was when she was young and Allan Bloom put his hand on her thigh… and then, years later, sneered at Julian Assange’s accusers.

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