A bush in the bag is worth two in the…

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When George W Bush was president, an MFA student at the San Francisco Art Institute, put out the call to female friends and acquaintances: Shave your pubic hair, put it in a little plastic bag and send it to her in the mail (anonymously, please). Her rallying cry? “No Bush! — It’s not yours, it’s mine.”

This got me thinking about the politics of pubic hair or should I say, how politics effects our pubic hair.

Lets start with neo liberal politics and its relationship to post-feminism, which I think is a   particularly persuasive arguments when assessing why women are increasingly choosing to removal all or some of the pubic hair in contemporary Western society.

From this perspective, writers like Angela Mc Robbie and Rosalind Gill suggest that the rhetoric of choice, female agency and empowerment that are so omnipresent in contemporary society actually conceal new modes of gender regulation.  They suggest that these modes of regulation are so subtle and far researching, that women internalise the constant media representations of female beauty (thin, white, hairless, sexy), and offer subjective reasons related to free choice and increased female agency as the main reason they undertake pubic hair removal.

Arguably women in society are judged more than men on how they look and are under increasing pressure to conform to ideals of femininity, but could political ideologies really influence what we do with our pubes ?

The economic orthodoxy of neoliberalism was first introduced in Britain by Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and in 1980 in the United States by Ronald Reagan. By the 1990s both the Bill Clinton administration and Tony Blair’s New Labour government continued to implement neoliberal policies.  It can be understood as a macroeconomic doctrine characterised by deregulation and private enterprise; a regime that favors reduced state intervention, techniques of self governance and a winding back of welfare state provision. It is a form of political-economic organisation encouraging individual freedom, choice, democracy and personal responsibility. Furthermore, it is understood increasingly as encouraging entrepreneurial individuals to bare full (excuse the pun) responsibility for their own lives, often at the cost of society as a whole.

According to this perspective, this model of neoliberal govern-mentality is now so pervasive and dominant in Western society, that it is considered to have moved from the domain of economics and politics into the depths and breadth of cultural and social life – and the choices we make.   So if political doctrines are seeping into many areas of our social and cultural lives,  maybe our pubes are politicised ?mmm.   mull this over and tomorrow hopefully as the politics of pubic hair unfolds, it might all make a bit more sense.

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3 thoughts on “A bush in the bag is worth two in the…

  1. The politics of pornography/media maybe? Talking to students at school (seniors), some think that females should shave if they want but also they are aware at the images that are out ther and the pressures to look a certain way.

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  2. Speaking from the male perspective, I had never been inclined to ‘manscape’ until one of my close friends pointed out that: ‘that is what everybody is doing’. Neo-liberalism has competition at its core. Perhaps in the situation I was in, it could be read as not wanting to ‘lose’ to my friends, the same way I wouldn’t want to have a bad haircut or wear clothing in bad taste…

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    • Alex, there seems to be a lot of validation in terms of peer pressure and personal grooming. I’m reading a piece at the moment that examines peoples attitudes to body hair both from a lived experience (ie they asked people to grow out all their hair and keep a record) versus imagined experiences (ie how they thought they would feel about growing their hair out / hypothetically speaking). The ‘growers’ described unexpected social pressure to conform to norms as well as receiving negative and sometimes homophobic (you look like a hair lesbian, you will never get a partner etc etc) comments from family and friends. They also reported feeling dirty and disgusted about their body hair. Interesting stuff. I will write more about this when I’ve finished the reading. Thanks for commenting,
      LGD

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