Vagina: A Re-education by Lynn Enright, explores everything from the labia to the hymen, from the vagina to the clitoris.
Enright acknowledges that today, the word vagina is frequently used when what is really meant is vulva, and this makes it even harder for women to discuss their own bodies.
The book looks at how cultural attitudes have affected women’s relationships with their bodies. She writes about infertility, sexual assault, bikini waxes as well as periods , endometriosis,the menopause and orgasms.
In particular she discusses something 30% of women experience at some stage in their life, pain during penetrative sex.
What the book clearly does, is show how we all benefit from more openness and knowledge about the vagina so many others need not suffer.
I found the chapter on the hymen particularly interesting, because, as it turns out, it’s not so much a covering but in the majority of people more like a crescent.
What’s also great about this book is that it’s highly readable, as it’s part memoir, revealing Enright’s own stories of sexual assault and struggles with infertility.
Her attempts at inclusivity succed as she concedes that not all women have vaginas, that not everyone with a vagina is a woman, and highlights the lack of data on those people’s experiences while also talking to trans women and men.
This is one of those books that should be handed out in schools. Educators really need to start teaching young people the truth about their bodies instead of omitting any reference to the clitoris during sex education. This book certainly is a great place to start.