There’s more to a woman than meets the eye. You would think that being a woman would put you at the top of the list of knowing about ourselves. That just isn’t the case. There is a lot we don’t know about ourselves. Some we just assume, others we just try not to think about.
Natalie Angier has thought about them, researched them and comprised a book of them in Woman: An intimate geography. Angier, a Pulitzer Prize Award winner has numerous books under her belt. She’s also a regular writer for the New York Times science column.
In Woman: An intimate geography, Angier has divided the body into different areas where she goes into intimate detail. Her discussions include but are not limited to: the female egg, chromosomes, the uterus, menstruating, the clitoris, breasts, breast milk, ovaries, hormones (especially estrogen), female relationships, female aggression, muscles, and psychology. Everything you could think of relating to a woman and maybe some you haven’t. To keep things in perspective she hasn’t completely left out the men.
This has been an interesting read from beginning to end. In some areas the text is way over my head but the book is understandable and provides reams of data that I didn’t know about myself and women in general. It also reinforced some things I did know. On a personal note, I learned there is such a great variance in breasts and menstrual bleeding that I’m normal after all. According to Angier, Hornet talk and “mastering words and barbed insults are an essential task of childhood.” And here I thought we were just surrounded by little bitches.
“We are all women with many pasts. We are old primates and neohominids. We feel drawn toward other women, we feel a need to explain ourselves to them and to impress them, and we run away from women, we disavow them, or we keep them around only until the real thing comes along. We can do each other mischief, even violence, but we can do each other good as well. Both options are open to us, in the plastic opportunistic flow chart of our strategies and choices,” says Angier.
I believe she’s given us a better vessel with which to understand why we are the way we are and the many different forms of whom and what we are. She is positive. She is honest. No aspect of what she says makes any female form inadequate and unappreciated. Her book is a successful delivery of who and what we are and what we have the potential to become.
An Intimate Geography would be of interest to young ladies or senior citizens. We’re never too old to learn about our bodies. It provides a framework for discussion with other women and helps to put us at ease with one another and ourselves. The 367 pages are well-worth the time.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999
Originally published 5/4/2004 at Large & Lovely, BellaOnline.