Woman: An Intimate Geography

All baby clothes are adorable, whoever they’re meant for (and in the end, of course, they’re meant for the parents). All remind you of how vulnerable an infant is, how wholly incompetent and in need of adult largess. You don’t look at blue clothes and think “strong” or pink clothes and think “fragile.” You look at everything in these micromatized dimensions and think, “How precious! How ridiculous! What was evolution thinking of?

An internally conceived and gestated fetus is a protected fetus, and a protected fetus is a fetus freed to loll about long enough to bloom a giant brain. So we lend new meaning to the term egghead: from the cloistered egg is born the bulging frontal lobe.

Eternal love is a myth, but we make our myths, and we love them to death.

Giving a girl the impression that girlhood is an extended bounce on Barney's knee is like prepping a young gazelle for life on the Serengeti by dipping it in cream.

I’m less opposed to pink than I am to dresses, for the simple reason that I hated dresses and skirts as a child. I hated the way they impeded my mobility and playground power, and I hated the fear I had while wearing them that with one stiff breeze I would be exposed to the world, with no choice afterward but to slip quietly into a permanent vegetative state.

In a sense, evolution adheres to the classic twelve-step program: it takes things one day at a time. It does not strive for perfection; it does not strive at all. There is no progress, no plans, no scala natura, or scale of nature, that ranks organisms from lowly to superior, primitive to advanced.

Let’s reject the notion that men have exclusive rights to the sun. Must Helios, Apollo, Ra, Mithras, and the other golden boys take up every seat in the solar chariot that lights each day and coaxes forth all life? This is a miscarriage of mythology, for a woman’s egg resembles nothing so much as the sun at its most electrically alive: the perfect orb, speaking in tongues of fire.

Most keep their condition secret from all but a few close friends. Interestingly, many of them say the thing they regret most is not their inability to have children but the lack of menstruation, the event they see as a monthly voucher of femaleness.

My daughter’s eggs are silver points of potential energy, the light at the beginning of the tunnel, a near-life experience. Boys don’t make sperm—their proud “seed”—until they reach puberty. But my daughter’s sex cells, our seed, are already settled upon prenatally, the chromosomes sorted, the potsherds of her parents’ histories packed into their little phospholipid baggies.

Not all of the women were influenced by the pheromones, but enough of them were to elevate the findings to robust statistical significance and to demonstrate with fair firmness that human pheromones exist. What we see in this carefully controlled experiment is that women can push and women can pull, and they can respond to other women in varying ways, all unconsciously, without knowing why, without the benefit even of olfaction, for the women in the study said they smelled nothing when the swab was applied under their nose, save for the scent of rubbing alcohol used as a prep in the experiment.

Open the ovoid mother and find the ovoid girl; open the child and the next egg grins up its invitation to crack it. You can never tell a priori how many iterations await you; you hope they continue forever. My daughter, my matryoshka.

Our minds hurtled outward in all directions. We became absurdly creative, Homo artifactus, intolerant of bare cave walls and naked clay pots.

Perhaps eggs are like neurons, which also are not replenished in adulthood: they know too much. Eggs must plan the party. Sperm need only to show up- wearing top hat and tails, of course.

The attrition continues, though at a more sedate pace, throughout a woman’s youth and early middle age. At most, 450 of her eggs will be solicited for ovulation, and far fewer than that if she spends a lot of time being pregnant and thus not ovulating.

The brain is an organ of aggression, and there are many roads to this Rome of imagined conquests — so many that mental disorders, regardless of their particulars, often result in a derangement of our aggressive drive. Schizophrenics stand on the streetcorner screaming obscenely at passersby; depressives lie in their beds screaming mutely at themselves. Our gentle aggressions, the drive to be, prods us out of bed in the morning and draws us toward each other. And in each other we find what our aggressive brain desires: love. As we are wired for aggression, so we are wired to love. We are a lavishly loving species, aggressively sentimental. We are tirelessly in pursuit of fresh targets for our love. We love our children so long that they come to despise us for it. We love friends, books... We love answers. We love yesterday and next year. We love gods, for a god is there when all else fails, and God can keep all conduits of love alive — erotic, maternal, paternal, euphoric, infantile.

The clitoris not only applauds when a women flaunts her mastery; it will give a standing ovation. In the multiple orgasm, we see the finest evidence that our lady Klitoris helps those who help themselves. It may take many minutes to reach the first summit, but once there the lusty mountaineer finds wings awaiting her. She does noy need to scramble back to the ground before scaling the next peak, but can glide like a raptor on currents of joy.

They are, in fact, Cheaters, luring men into the foaming waters of carnality without even the vaguest possibility of conception. What a delight, what a subversion of expectation. The healthiest and most womanly of women are in fact a rendition of Amazon queens, self-possessed and self-defined, women whose bodies have an enviable integrity and a fleshy, nonreplicative beauty that razzes Charles Darwin. The buck, the stud, the bull, stops here.

They talk about myths: the myth that links testosterone to libido, for example, in both men and women. If the myth were true, then these women should have no sex drive; they can’t, after all, respond to the testosterone their bodies produce. Some sex researchers have said as much about AIS patients—that they’re frigid, uninterested, dead in bed. The women themselves come close to spitting in rage at that sort of talk. Whether or not they manage to inflate their vaginas sufficiently to have intercourse, their erotic nature remains intact. They fantasize about sex. They are orgasmic. They lust when there is somebody worth lusting after.

Touch is... one of the most ancient transactions, a defiance of the plasma membrane and the loneliness it brought.

We are all yeses. We are worthy enough, we passed inspection, we survived the great fetal oocyte extinctions. In that sense, at least -- call it a mechanospiritual sense -- we are meant to be. We are good eggs, every one of us.

We are all yeses. We are worthy enough, we passed inspection, we survived the great fetal oocyte extinctions. In that sense, at least—call it a mechanospiritual sense—we are meant to be. We are good eggs, every one of us.

We lived so long and so self-consciously that we assumed we must live forever, and we buried our dead with enough talismans and spare change for eternity.

We may love men and we may live with men, but some of them have said stupendously inaccurate things about us, our bodies, and our psyches.

What is wrong with looking muscular? Muscles are beautiful. Strength is beautiful. Muscle tissue is beautiful. It is metabolically, medically, and philosophically beautiful. Muscles retreat when they're not used, but they will always come back if you give them good reason. No matter how old you get, your muscles never lose hope. Few cells of the body are as capable as muscle cells are of change and reformation, of achievement and transcendence.

Women never bought Freud's idea of penis envy: who would want a shotgun when you can have an automatic?