Project Bush

I’ve been asked lots about the background image of the blog:  On initial viewing most think it is a series of cocktail glasses instead of a wall of vaginas.

Mother_ProjectBushExhibition13

The image is an art piece that was shown in a public (not pubic) exhibition entitled Project Bush that was developed by ad agency ‘Mother’ in 2013

According to the blurb, Project Bush was  “a call to action for women to stand up to the pressures of modern society and present their bushes in all their glory. Whether waxed or never tended, young, old, black, brown or white, we want to display London’s lady gardens in all their variety, and demonstrate the choice that many young women –particularly – may not realise they have when it comes to waxing.”

Like this blog, the whole point of the project was to open a discussion on what women do with their pubic hair and why.  Do women feel pressured into waxing or shaving by porn culture, celebrity, media, fashion and peer pressure to conform to certain ideals ?

(I’d like to add here that as my research continues, I  think men are starting to be effected by similar pressures). Look out for my post on  groin grooming.

A journalist at the Huggington Post at the time when the project was exhibited,  talked to the vagina photographer who explained her motivations for getting involved with the project. “Initially,” she says, “I didn’t quite understand the concept. Then someone told me that girls as young as 11 or 12 were waxing their public hair and I thought yes, that was an  important issue.  Existing research into pubic hair practices has confirmed that younger women and girls are more likely to heavily groom.   The first ever comment on this blog that I received was from an 18 year old girl who had a very similar story, feeling pressured by boys from 12 or 13 years old to get rid of  her pubes.

This is one of the main motivations behind me researching pubic hair and writing this post.  I have a teenagers.  Yesterday, I nonchalantly ask my daughter and her friend if pubic hair had ever been talked about in school.  My daughters friend was quick to respond “yes, a boy in our class recently said” ‘I’m just putting it out there, you girls need to get rid of the hair on your pussies‘.  What could I say.

In the Huffington Post article the photographer when on to say that “The women who were photographed came in for different reasons.  A very small percentage were completely comfortable with stripping off, the majority were nervous and then full of energy afterwards. And they all had different reasons – some were concerned about how the media portrays women in general, others were concerned about the world their daughters were growing up in. Most thought: “This is one small thing that we can do.”

Choice is key here but are these choices well informed ?  If women want to wax and be in pain to get the desired effect then that is their choice. But if they’re doing it because they think it’ll please someone else, or that they aren’t beautiful if they don’t, or that it is more sexy, then that is where it gets complicated.

I think we need to focus on the next generation – the young people being pressured by other girls or boys or the media, constantly supported by trans-national beauty campaigns that sell us a hairless ideal.

Life is short.  Isn’t it time to refocus our time and energy on friends and family, enjoying life instead of wasting  time, energy  and money on trying to meet ridiculous standards of beauty?  This is not a call to arms to embrace hairy pits, legs and a full bush (or groin)  – I just think it is time we start to really take notice of these so called irrelevant issues.  Yes, pubic hair has been removed throughout history (as explained in earlier posts) but it is the WHY in current times that needs further investigation. Please share you thoughts on the issues raised here.  London Garden Suburbs Needs You !!

Poilorama / Arte / Hairorama

060516-001_2062580_32_202-1

I’d like to thank one of my readers ‘Ruggier’ for drawing my attention to a French art based TV station called Arte.tv whose content is in French but translated into four languages.  Each week I will post one of series of 10 shorts entitled Hairorama, which of course is all pube related.   Here is our first installment:

Hairorama (1/10)  ‘Horrible, Dirty, Smelly’

http://www.arte.tv/guide/en/060516-001-A/hairorama-1-10

Come back to me with any thoughts on these shorts.  They touch on a lot of interesting points.  I’m loving the image above – be curious if anyone would like to try to give it an artistic reading !  Also if you have any pubic hair questions – ask me a question and I will do my best to answer, backed up with whatever theory (or media discourse) that I can find.

Btw, I got 269 views in one day last week which translated into 18 new followers ! Thank you.  The user names you choose continue to make me laugh, my favourite to date is ‘Smooth Criminal’.

 

 

 

 

London Garden Suburbs needs you !

kcl-logo

As you all know, this research blog is for a thesis project I’m doing at Kings College London on pubic hair practices in contemporary society. I need followers and commentators so I can analyse what you say in conjunction with academic theory.  This will then be added to existing (but limited) data on pubic hair. My main interest in considering how media text (film, advertising, video, telly etc) engage in a discourse that situates pubic hair in its natural state as unacceptable (dirty, ugly, just plain wrong), and how this influences the decisions we make when engaging in our own grooming practices.  Pubic hair discourse is everywhere and is very topical, but it is also important  to figure out why it is such a hot subject right now because so many of us (usually younger members or society) are regularly removing their pubic hair.  It seems to cross gender boundaries as men and women are increasingly and very regularly removing their hair. It seems to cross class and racial boundaries as well. Its fascinating but also worrying (I have talked to lots of young people that agree) that there is an expected pressure today to be hairless.  I am a mum of three, and I don’t want my kids to feel this pressure, but sadly I think they will.  I am reiterating this again just in case some of you didn’t really grasp what I’m trying to do here.

Please can I ask again that you share this blog with your friends and colleagues and empathize the importance of following the blog but also commenting, otherwise the project won’t work. I’m getting lots of site visits but not enough comments and followers.

Thanks,

LGS

Come on Barbie lets go party…

Inventory number: 2000-531 Date: 08/08/03 Photographer: Claire Richardson Copyright: Science Museum

1950s Lilli doll

831752e88585946cd75e30e8e7c84f4dI’m reading a book just now called ‘Pop Porn’ which is a series of essays that consider the influence of pornography on American culture.  I’ve only just started it, but had to share this little tit bit.  For one interviewee in the book she suggested that the ‘shaved vulva’ reminded her of a Barbie doll, you know, the Barbie doll that lots of young girls play with enacting being a grown up women.   Apparently the prototype Barbie was based on a 1950s  saucy, naughty high end call girl named Lilli, marketed in Germany especially for men… eek.   First created as a comic-strip character in the Hamburg newspaper Bild-Zeitung, the Bild Lilli doll became so popular that she was immortalized in plastic — and sold as an adult novelty toy.   The co-founder of Mattel in a Time Magazine article is cited as saying, “every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future, if she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave it beautiful breasts.”  But apparently pubes was a stretch too far..

baby-doll-wax

neoliberalism and its relationship to postfeminsim

 

2839006331_e59e3bb64d_o-1Last week I began to introduce the idea of how political ideologies may influences the choices we make when considering what we do down there.  Apologies in advance as today’s blog is theory heavy, but please bare in mind that I’m doing a masters – it goes with the territory.   For those with less time (or interest), don’t worry I will be considering celebrity culture and pornography soon and  intend to lower the tone and add loads of pictures !

Please remember to share your thoughts and feelings on this blog, it is all anonymous and very much needed to enhance existing (but limited) academic inquiry into the politics of pubes, the whys and hows.

Rosalind Gill suggests that ‘the notion of postfeminism has become one of the most important and contested terms in the lexicon of feminist cultural analysis’. However what is rarely contested is the intrinsic relationship between postfeminism and contemporary neoliberalism.  From this perspective postfeminism shares the same set of values and ideologies associated with neoliberalism, it is the voice of empowerment and a vocabulary of choice which Angela Mc Robbie suggests depoliticises feminist critique. Furthermore the female body and the representation of femininity in contemporary culture seems to promote an ideal of Anglo Western feminine beauty  being  young, slim,white and hairless women.

Gill equates postfeminism to a sensibility that is saturated by the pervasiveness of neoliberal reasoning. She notes that media texts are central in defining the evolving relationship between popular culture, femininity and feminism. She suggests that the choice rhetoric is so mainstream across all media that presents women as empowered agents, as long as they are in possession of a‘sexy body’. Through the rhetoric of choice, women are portrayed as empowered by their feminine, sexy, thin and hairless bodies in contemporary media texts and implicitly encouraged to attain these ideals. Furthermore she identifies post feminist media culture’s preoccupation with the body as a key source of female identity, idealised femininity as a result, becomes more internally focused.

McRobbie suggests that postfeminism can be explored through the notion of ‘double entanglement’ that she explains as ‘the co-existence of neoliberal values relating to gender, sexuality and family life with the process of liberation in regard to choice and diversity in domestic, sexual and kinship relations’.  Furthermore, she argues that media texts use the language of choice, notions of feminism and empowerment, whilst at the same time ignoring it and ultimately dismantling it. Latterly she points to feminism’s re-entry into the pubic cultural domain as further amplifying women by corporeal means to maintain existing dominant power relations. She identifies this as the ‘perfect’, by which she means a heightened form of self-regulation where women are on a treadmill of self doubt pertaining to their bodies; ‘did I maintain my good looks and my sexually attractive groomed body? (Mc Robbie, 2015 p.9).

Foucault’s identification of the body as a main site of power relations has proved significant for feminists when analysing contemporary methods of social control of the bodies and minds of women. Significantly, he noted that acts that seem the most innocuous, irrelevant, trivial and pragmatic practices of the self are often where the power structures are working most effectively.  Certainly I’d argue that pubic hair falls within the boundary of ‘irrelevant  and trivial’ both academically and culturally.  But why?  Why do we consider something that more and more of us continue to do as irrelevant, what is the driving force behind this choices’we are all making ?

 

Although Foucault fails to consider sexual difference, he provides a textured understanding of everyday practices and power relations. Under the prevailing influence of Foucault, Sandra Bartky’s detailed analysis of the female body and power relations examines disciplinary practices such as exercise and beauty regimes. She suggests that they produce a type of embodiment of feminine beauty which conforms to social norms that subjugate the women (and men arguably) that undertake these practices. Women’s willingness to perform such practices, she argues aids in greater forms of disempowerment. Susan Boro also understands female self-surveillance and regulatory practices as a form of disciplinary power. She suggests that female voluntary acts of body modification render women agents of their own subjugation.

Are we really all complying unwittingly to dominant ideals and power structures, and  making decision relating to our bodies and pubic hair because we are constantly being duped into believing it to be empowering and liberating ?  Have your say.  I think the postfeminist critique is fascinating but maybe a bit restrictive  – what about men (manscaping), and women of colour, what about the LBGTQ community ?