Book Review: The Vagina Bible
Ever the scholar, I was excited to get My hands on The Vagina Bible by Twitter's Gynecologist, Dr. Jen Gunter. You may have heard of Dr. Gunter for various reasons such as being unable to advertise her book on Twitter by name (*gasp* she said 'vagina'!), smashing the patriarchy or making jabs at Gwyneth Paltrow. Once I encountered her feminist fact-telling sass I was hooked, and had to read her book. Lucky for Me, My liberal public library decided to invest in an edition The Vagina Bible! Once I had obtained My copy, I was off (FYI library due dates are a great incentive for reading quickly).
When I first began reading, I was dreading the inevitable technical speak that tends to turn My brain off. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that Dr. Gunter speaks as if she's having a conversation with the reader, using slang and being a little more informal than one would anticipate from someone with alphabet soup behind their name. That is not to say that medical terms are shied away from; on the contrary, the author defines terms as she goes, making her work more accessible to those who might not have had as much (or any) formal education. Removing one of the gateways towards learning in this way is a great leap in informing others.
The level of accessibility is amazing; though one could start reading anywhere, I decided to jump in and read straight through. Dr. Gunter covers many topics such anatomy, pleasure, lubes, transitioning, childbirth, pregnancy, menopause, and STI's. Different topics are each listed separately in the beginning, then referred to and cross-referenced throughout. If you're reading cover to cover this does make bits of information somewhat repetitive, but overall it's the best approach with the greatest reach and therefore forgivable. I enjoyed the "I have a ..." section at the end, which helps the reader narrow down what might be wrong down below and prepare the reader to have an informed conversation with their medical practitioner. Google might be a free method to attempt to identify your malady, but The Vagina Bible won't lead you astray.
Dr. Gunter teaches the reader how to inform themselves, do their own research, and find factual sources so they don't fall down a GOOPy Google rabbit hole trying to find a cure in a moment of desperation or panic. Additionally, she debunks a lot of myths (some of which I thought were true) by tackling them in "Old Wives Tales". As a bit of a hippie, it was disheartening to see My mother's advice and natural cures be rendered worthless. However, there are some hilarious gems of erroneous advice which I had never heard of that were quite amusing.
One endearing quality of Dr. Gunter that I respect is her willingness to open up about her personal life in order to help educate others. In The Vagina Bible Dr. Gunter tells us about her own personal care routine, the products she uses, and her own vaginal health issues. Dr. Gunter even underwent various depilation techniques to give honest feedback for her readers. Some may think that's all TMI, but I think it's refreshing to hear how a medical professional handles these common "taboo" problems that other humans deal with rather than placing themselves on a pedestal.
Though very interesting for the target audience, I don't think everyone needs to read The Vagina Bible, yet most people would benefit from studying it. Definitely vagina owners and their caretakers (which does account for at least 50% of the population) should give it a read, as well as anyone trying to legislate female bodies. There is something for every vagina owner in this book, and I guarantee you don't know all the facts covered. The Vagina Bible is one that will be added to My home library and is sure to become well worn and dogeared.
About the Author
Jen Gunter, MD is an obstetrician and gynecologist with nearly three decades of experience as a vulvar and vaginal diseases expert. Known as the Gray Lady's gynecologist, she writes two regular columns for The New York Times called "The Cycle" (monthly) and "You Asked" (weekly), and has written for a broad range of outlets, including USA Today, Cosmopolitan, SELF, The Cut, and many more. An ELLE Magazine Woman to Watch, Dr. Jen is the star of a CBC series called Jensplaining. For more information, visit her on Twitter @DrJenGunter.