Kate's breasts, Pussy Riot, virginity tests and our attitude on women's bodies

By Naomi Wolf, Special to CNN
updated 3:29 PM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012

Editor's note: Naomi Wolf is the author of "Vagina: A New Biography."

(CNN) -- It seems as if we are in a time of unprecedented struggle over the meaning of women's bodies and sexuality. Controversy is swirling about an American University professor who breast-fed a baby in class; topless photos of Kate Middleton have been released; and a Time magazine cover showing a mother breast-feeding her toddler sparked even more tittering in May.

It is not just the breast that is contested: Pussy Riot, the punk band, was sentenced to two years in a Russian prison after a staged performance in which they did high kicks that showed too much of their bodies. They tried, from prison, to explain "what pussy meant" and "what riot meant."

Michigan representative Lisa Brown got into hot water -- and fought back -- for using the words 'my vagina' in the Michigan statehouse. Michigan women supported her by standing in front of the statehouse with a giant "V" symbol and spelling out the words 'VAGINA' in pink letters.

Naomi Wolf
Naomi Wolf

Young women in Tahrir Square protesting in the Arab Spring were punished by imprisonment -- and vaginal exams by armed strangers for "virginity tests." This is not so surprising when you understand the delicate brain-vagina connection that my new book documents -- female sexuality around the world is targeted because through traumatizing the vagina, you can intimidate women on multiple other levels.

What is going on?

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