Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I am reading Bonk by Mary Roach. I am already biased because I love her and have done since Stiff, but I think this is one of the best books of 2008. This woman is so damn funny! I learned so many things about penises and vaginas and I learned them in a way that was just scatological enough to make me laugh but not feel like a hick. The book is not about what I thought it would be...though I'm not so certain I can describe what I thought it would be about. Instead, she explores the science of sex.

This means she sometimes talks about the ways pigs and monkeys have orgasms. I couldn't wait to deplane Monday night from family reunion and tell Corey all about pigs having cork-screwed penises and girl pigs having clitorises inside their vaginas. Who knew? I also read a whole chapter detailing the artificial insemination practices for swine, baffling at the ways farmers use their fists as pretend pig snouts and really rough up the lady pigs before sticking the turkey baster in the pigs' vaginas.

Another fun fact that I learned not from the book but right now during spell check is that the plural of vagina is vaginae. As in human vaginae come in all shapes and sizes, the details of which are lavishly explained by Mary Roach.

So far my favorite fact of the book is that women who have had clitorectomies (female genital mutilation) can still reach orgasm. I get very upset about this practice, particularly after I talk to my teammate and doctor friend Linda, who does a lot of operations on Somali refugees to open up their vaginae after some village dude sewed it shut. I feel so sad thinking about these women destined to lives with no joy down there. Anyway, Mary Roach taught me that the clitoris actually descends kind of deep into the body and the mutilated women can still find sexual pleasure by rubbing on their scars, stimulating the inside bits. I am just so happy they can still have a little fun that it's enough to allow me to stop dwelling on the practice itself.

On a lighter note, the section I am currently enjoying details the hydrolic penis pump, developed to help impotent men achieve erection. Imagine telling people that's what you study? Asking for grant money to solve this problem? I think it must have been very similar to Mary Roach's experience telling her publisher, "I am going to write a book about monkey vaginae."

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