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The Traumatised Vagina
January 19, 2013 COMMENT comment
     
The Traumatised Vagina
Naomi Wolf(Author)
 
 
For women, a fully functioning pelvic nerve is crucial for producing the dopamine, oxytocin and other chemicals that raise levels of perception, confidence and feistiness. Would injury or trauma to the vagina and the pelvic nerves materially interfere with the neural pathway’s delivery of those intoxicating chemicals to the female brain? ... Could that be why women’s vaginas were targeted with violence millennium after millennium? I could not argue that this was consciously tactical. But could it have been established, subconsciously, over the millennia, because it is effectively tactical? It is hard to repress and control a majority of the human population. What if this was discovered as an efficient tool?

In other words, just as men over the course of generations, in our earliest history, would have noticed
what we can now understand as a biologically based link between a sexually empowered woman and high happiness, hopefulness, and confidence – would they have noticed the effect of a corresponding biologically based link between a sexually traumatised woman and a lowered ability to muster happiness, hopefulness and confidence? When you spend time in a rape crisis centre, as I have done, it is hard to avoid wondering if men are monsters. Why is rape a constant in every society?

Why does war always include mass rape of the enemy’s women? Feminists such as Kate Millett in Sexual Politics, who argues that ‘rape is generally the result of male sadism and hatred of women’ and Susan Brownmiller, in Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, who argues that war turns men into perverts in order to turn them into rapists, tend to follow the individualised reading of sexuality posited by Freud. Thus they tend to psychologise all rape, which leads to the alarming possible conclusion that all men as individuals are potential sadists. But what if some rape is not personal but instrumental and systemic? ... Radical feminism sees rape as simply a demonstration of unequal power relations and takes as its motto the assertion that rape is about power, not sex. This is closer to what I now believe to be the truth, but it still misses the ultimate insight: If it is just about power, why involve the sex? Why not just beat, threaten, starve, or imprison a woman? You can get plenty of power over women in ways that are nonsexual.

But if your goal is to break a woman psychologically, it is efficient to do violence to her vagina. You will break her faster and more thoroughly than if you simply beat her – because of the vulnerability of the vagina as a mediator of consciousness. Trauma to the vagina imprints deeply on the female brain, conditioning and influencing the rest of her body and mind.

Rape is part of the standard toolkit in ... genocidal army tactics. This insight allows us to understand that many men who rape – and perhaps most men who rape in war – are not doing this as a function of personal perversion. Understood in this way, rape is instrumental. Rape is a strategy of actual physical and psychological control of women, traumatising via the vagina as a way to imprint the consequences of trauma on the female brain.

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