Jelto Drenth

The Origin of the World

Feiten en mythen over het vrouwelijk geslacht

Facts and myths concerning female genitalia

The Origin of the World is a revealing and liberating study of female sexuality. Sexologist Jelto Drenth writes on his subject soberly and well, and with an appealing touch of humour, thereby giving the impression that his work is perfectly normal. This is an achievement in itself, since public discussion of the most intimate areas of life is still exceptional in the post-feminist age.

Drenth believes that sex is pleasurable and fulfilling, but that to enjoy it to the full you must know ‘how it works’. The workings of the female genitalia are described in simple language – with the author even giving us a ‘guided tour’ of the vagina. Behind the subtitle Facts and myths concerning female genitalia lurks a truly encyclopaedic work, in which Drenth examines his subject not only in a sexological light, but historically, anatomically, anthropologically and biologically. He goes back to the Middle Ages, travels through non-Western cultures – clitoridectomy, virginity checks –, tests Freud’s theories on coitus, such a headache to so many couples, and deals at length with sexual desire, lovemaking and orgasm – including the use of the vibrator. He provides quotations from feminist and lesbian literature with illuminating critical marginal notes.

Anyone looking in such detail at female sexuality is bound to write a great deal about male sexuality too: consequently both sexes can learn as much as each other from Drenth, about themselves and about the other sex. Drenth approaches his theme from every available angle, jumping from scientific fact to myth and fantasy. The result is an anthology full of insights from the most diverse quarters – at one moment from a fictional novel character, the next from a historical text or a piece of direct testimony in which stimulating poetry and romantic literature are blended with historical, anthropological and medical data.

This is an important, well-written book, which deserves to become a classic.

de Volkskrant

The Origin of the World makes infectious reading.

NRC Handelsblad

Jelto Drenth has written a fine book. He has a profound knowledge of his subject.


The book reads like a novel one can’t put down. It is extremely well written, lucid and stimulating.

Psychologie Magazine


Jelto Drenth

Jelto Drenth works as a sexologist at the Rutgers Foundation in Groningen, famed for its woman-friendly, indeed feminist health care. He is something of an exception in the world of sexology, since, in addition to his original training as a doctor, he is also qualified in its more psychotherapeutic…

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De oorsprong van de wereld. Feiten en mythen over het vrouwelijk geslacht (2002). Non-fiction, 373 pages.
Copies sold: 3,000


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