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Naomi Wolf: live webchat TODAY, Thursday 6 September, 12pm to 1pm

(410 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 04-Sep-12 15:22:16

Naomi Wolf is joining us for a live webchat on Thursday 6 September at 12 noon. Naomi's latest book, Vagina - A New Biography, has attracted major media attention this month and we're delighted she's joining us to tell us more about the book and answer your questions. 

Described as 'exhilarating and groundbreaking', Vagina combines cultural history, physiology and personal memoir to explore the role of female desire and how it affects female identity, creativity and confidence.

Naomi Wolf is author of seven books including the bestseller, The Beauty Myth. She travels regularly to speak about gender equality and social justice. She lives in New York and is working towards a doctorate at New College, Oxford University. 

Please post your question to Naomi in advance, or set the date in your diary to join us this Thursday at midday to chat to Naomi 'live'.

MooncupGoddess Wed 05-Sep-12 17:55:36

From my reading of extracts and reviews, the book is essentialist (it argues for an essential femininity located in the nervous system) and also heteronormative (there is a lot of emphasis on sexual-romantic relationships with men and the importance of male pheromones in women's lives).

What does your book have to say to women who are lesbian, single (by choice or circumstance) or who just don't see their sexual relationships with men as a primary part of their identity?

Derkyderpy Wed 05-Sep-12 18:07:38

Naomi, is lack of oxytocin implicated in depression? Given that oxytocin is sometimes called the "hugging hormone", if someone is deprived of physical contact, could the lack of oxytocin in itself lead to depression?

Clearly I'm leaving out the question of orgasm, which for the purposes of my query is a separate issue.

Greythorne Wed 05-Sep-12 19:17:47

I remember reading something that you wrote once along the lines of "any woman who balances her own cheque book at the end of the month is a feminist". I absolutely loved that because in a nutshell it encapsulates women being (a) educated enough to perform a simple financial calculation (b) she has her own bank account (c) is writing her own cheques, spending her own money, has financial independence.

Do you remember the exact quote? I have spent many hours seaching for it, but never tracked it down.

How do you counter the "I'm not a feminist" brigade today, esp among the young?

Greythorne Wed 05-Sep-12 19:19:00

Have you got the book handy? I'll be doing this from memory. I think the botton line for me is that there's a huge corpus of primary sources and analytical literature by prehistorians which examines the meaning of palaeolithic and later prehistoric 'things', which Wolf just ignores. She 'does' prehistory in a few hundred words, referencing only a couple of secondary ultra-interpretive sources. To me, it's just lazy.

Oh, yes I see now. thx, I will re-read that bit.

digerd Wed 05-Sep-12 19:31:40

Shouldn't boys and girls be educated in the truth about a female orgasm, and how she achieves it. It could,of course, cause many problems , and that is why women for centuries have kept quiet about it.

PlentyOfPubeGardens Wed 05-Sep-12 19:43:39


FastidiaBlueberry Wed 05-Sep-12 21:07:12

Hi Naomi
How do you think promoting rape myths and defending the right of men to penetrate women who are asleep and therefore cannot consent to sex, fits in with calling yourself a feminist? Also you appear like other Assange fans, to believe that if a woman consents to sex with a man, that means that she consents under any terms and doesn't have the right to set conditions, like for example that he must wear a condom. Can you explain how that is a feminist position? Because it sounds to me very much closer to a rapey position.

And Mumsnet, how does having a woman who defends the right of men to penetrate women without their consent if they have had previous sexual intercourse with them on for a webchat, fit in with your "We Believe You" anti-rape campaign?

msrisotto Wed 05-Sep-12 22:13:36

Hi Naomi. The beauty myth was exceptional work. Was it misrepresenting you as a feminist though? In light of your recent position on rape these seem to be utterly conflicting politics.

ShirelyKnort Wed 05-Sep-12 22:46:50

I would just like to "LIKE" FastidiaBlueberry's post and politely request an answer.

I would also like to add my weight to the growing concern that Ms Wolfe has been given credence here considering the We Believe You Campaign.

mcmooncup Wed 05-Sep-12 23:55:21

Have you been misquoted as saying that women living in Muslim countries, wearing the burkha etc, are not oppressed and repressed?

What is your stance on anonymity for rape victims - you seem to have expressed support for both sides of the fence? confused

BoerWarKids Thu 06-Sep-12 08:26:10

<marks place> This is going to be interesting grin

AliceHurled Thu 06-Sep-12 08:59:16

Naomi, why, when reflecting on the Assange case, did you feel it was a priority to use your power and influence to fuel the rape myths already predictably being perpetuated widely?

MNHQ, I'd also like to add my voice to those asking how this fits with the We Believe You Campaign.

ComradeJing Thu 06-Sep-12 09:38:01

I'd also like a response to the issues raised on this thread regarding the Assange case and one from MNHQ regarding the We Believe you Campaign.

CardgamesFTW Thu 06-Sep-12 09:53:35

I'd also like a response on that.

hellsbells76 Thu 06-Sep-12 10:17:42

grin what's the betting Naomi suddenly finds herself with a pressing prior engagement?

Margerykemp Thu 06-Sep-12 10:27:16

Hi Naomi!

I heard you on women's hour yesterday.

The bit that caught my attention was when you were talking about Sweden. I have a Swedish feminist friend who works for rape crisis in the UK and she shares your sentiment that Sweden isn't the feminist utopia some people in the UK and US seem to believe.

She says that although some social structures like maternity/paternity provision / childcare cost and availability and the cultural hegemony that a woman's place is at work rather than in the home benefit women they still have lots of problems resulting from misogyny such as rape culture.

So I'd like to ask you why do you think that women-hating is so universal, regardless of a particular country's laws and culture?

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 06-Sep-12 10:29:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aufaniae Thu 06-Sep-12 10:37:26

Hi Naomi, a few years back you gave talks about "the End of America", about how the US seems to be sliding towards becoming a fascist state.

A few years on, and with elections looming in the US, I just wondered if you have any updates on these ideas? Do you think it's more or less likely now?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Sep-12 10:45:51


I'm finding it very difficult to understand how Ms Wolf's participation in a webchat does not invalidate the We Believe You campaign since Ms Wolf has spent the better part of the past 2 years spreading rape myths about a case she clearly does not understand since she has consistently made fallacious remarks about what constitutes rape under Swedish law and fails to understand the legal process in Sweden.

Hi there,
From what I've gathered in the last week (and I may well be wrong) Naomi's position isn't this wasn't rape, it's that Assange's deportation is politically motivated and that under normal circumstances a case like this wouldn't be prosecuted. But far better for her to speak for herself, I'd say.

TunipTheVegemal Thu 06-Sep-12 10:47:46

Naomi, I just re-read the original Huffington Post piece you wrote about Assange here and once again am utterly gobsmacked by the viciousness of the tone and your choice to deploy that tone against woman victims in a way that serves to promote dangerous rape myths, such as the belief that women regularly 'cry rape' because they are upset about the behaviour of their male sexual partner. I understand from your 'correction' that you blame the Mail for your failure to get the facts straight before writing this; however I would like to ask, how, as an experienced journalist, were you so quick to jump into writing an attack piece against these two women without the most cursory checking of the facts? And how can you do that whilst calling yourself a feminist?

I would also like you to justify your frankly bizarre claim on Newsnight recently that the 6% conviction rate is the result of victim anonymity. (Quote: 'It had wonderful motivations, but the upshot here is that in Britain, only 6 per cent of reported rapes, which is a small fraction of all rapes, get convicted') How many rape victims do you think would report if they did not even have that basic right of anonymity? Seriously?

MNHQ, I admit in the light of the splendid We Believe You campaign I am a touch surprised at your giving airtime to Naomi Wolf. Please promise you won't be getting George Galloway on next.... confused

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Sep-12 10:48:27


I'd also like a response to the issues raised on this thread regarding the Assange case and one from MNHQ regarding the We Believe you Campaign.

Hi ComradeJing - see answer to SGM below. Think it makes sense to us to ask Naomi where she stands and have a reasoned debate don't you? After all she's an extremely influential writer and leading feminist, as evidenced by the enormous about of publicity her book has generated this week.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 06-Sep-12 10:54:39

So what is your position on Assange then Naomi?

If we accept your premise, that this prosecution is politically motivated, does that mean it shouldn't go ahead even if those women in Sweden are claiming to be raped?

Should we ignore women who describe being raped in cases where we like the politics of the men accused of raping them?

I totally agree with you that in normal cases, rape victims are treated shamefully badly and rape allegations are not taken as seriously as they ought to be. But does this mean that because most rape allegations are not pursued with the vigour that they should be, it's wrong for a state to pursue rape allegations in the case of men the state might not like and the rest of us might admire or agree with on other issues?

Because you do realise that if that is your position (and it is the position of may people on the left) then it's not a feminist position, don't you? It's a position which says that although women's rights are all fine and dandy, when it comes to the really important things in life, like fighting imperialism/ poverty/ racism/ insert worthy cause here, women's human rights have to go to the back of the queue? You do understand that feminism does not accept the premise that women's human rights come last, don't you?

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 06-Sep-12 10:55:54

Actually Mumsnet, I'd bloody love it if you got George Galloway on. grin

CreativeFL0 Thu 06-Sep-12 10:57:58

This is a very informative article re the legal mythology surrounding the Assange case, particularly regarding the rape allegations.

It may be useful in the context of this webchat.

OatyBeatie Thu 06-Sep-12 11:02:32

Regarding the "enormous amount of publicity her book has generated this week", I wonder whether that is testimony to her being a "leading feminist" or on the contrary a testimony to how effectively publicity is generated by marketing strategies, of which appearing on this webchat is an example. I've not seen anything about her appearance in the press etc this week that speaks of anything more than the usual book-release chatter. It's an artifice.

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