Rachel Gross – Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage

Rachel Gross – W W Norton £19.99

There comes a time in every woman’s life when her body bumps up against the limits of human knowledge. In that moment, she sees herself as medicine has seen her: a mystery. An enigma. A black box that, for some reason, no-one has managed to get inside.”

This was the experience of Rachel Gross, who found that the standard treatment for her own (very common) condition was practically medieval. As a science journalist her response was to research the present state of knowledge, and investigate in detail the biology and background of the female reproductive system.

Vagina Obscura explores the structures, purposes and functioning of the whole system, as well as adumbrating the reasons that it has historically been the poor relation in anatomical studies. Femaleness was for centuries, an inferior version of maleness, and even quite recently femaleness was regarded, as Rachel Gross says, as “the iPhone factory setting while maleness was all the bells and whistles.”

Vagina Obscura is a highly readable report from the front line of present knowledge of women’s anatomy. It turns out to be much more interesting, complex and dynamic than the medical profession ever imagined. Who knew?

About Johnny Mindlin

Johnny Mindlin, the producer, spent 10 years in high-end speech radio, producing book programmes, entertainment / review shows and politics/discussion shows. Tim Haigh is a radio presenter and broadcaster and books reviewer. He also writes for national papers on books and literature.
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