Poilorama / Hairorama – part 4

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Hairorama  (4/10) ‘Cursed Fur’

Here is another installment from Arte that discusses the censorship of pubic hair and early attempts at photoshopping pubic hair out of ‘naughty’ pictures.

http://www.arte.tv/guide/en/060516-004-A/hairorama-4-10?country=GB

 

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the vagina in art history

imgres-2 ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’ by Jamie McCartney ‘ – Changing female body image through art http://www.greatwallofvagina.co.uk/jamie-mccartney

Last week I posted an image of Courbet’s racy painting, L’Origine du Monde (1866) to accompany the Hairorama short film.  A couple of you said the image was a little too graphic and an unexpected phone pop up as making dinner for the kids.  Point taken, however I thought then that I should give you a little background information on this piece of art.

Clearly still revolutionary for its open and frank depiction of the female form, it caused controversy when it was first released in 1886. and by the very nature of its realistic, graphic nudity, the painting still has the power to shock and triggers censorship today.

Social media giant Facebook  was  taken to court by a French user whose account was closed down after he posted an image of this painting. The video clip I showed last week included this image and was broadcast on TV Chanenel Arte.   Lots of social media sites including Facebook have a strict no-nudity policy, one which is currently hotly contested by the likes of Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus with the hashtag #Freethenipple.  Instagram recently banned photographs showing pubic hair sticking out of two girls underwear.  So in our society it is ok to bare, but not if its hair !  I don’t know how I feel about this outrage focused on the female body and the vagina when you consider the amount of blatant nudity and pornification that seems to be everywhere we look these days in magazine, films and mass media. Double standards I think.  Lets start our own mini revolution #freethevagina….

In 2014 the Musée d’Orsay, which houses the painting, filed a sexual exhibitionism complaint against performance artist Deborah de Robertis after she sat down in front of the iconic artwork, and recreated it in the flesh.

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I wrote this post yesterday and was saving it for later, but today one of my lovely followers, Graham posted a muppet version of L’Origine:

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If any of you want to see more vulva in art history, take a look at this Time Magazine piece.  Its art not porn.

https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/art/a-brief-history-of-the-vagina-in-art-slide-show

I’ve only had 5 votes so far on my pubic hair referendum – all REMAIN – does that mean everyone of you is over 30 ?

 

Pubic hair referendum: Vote Leave, Vote Remain — you decide

imgresA pubic hair referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part- LONDON GARDEN SUBURBS NEEDS YOU !

 

Well it is only fitting that I do a UK pubic hair referendum – right ?  I have around 50 avid (I hope) followers and I am now going to put it to a vote.  VOTE NOW – pubic hair stay or remain ?

 

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  1. Pubic hair
  2.  Removal of pubic hair is  unhygienic and causes razor bumps  ingrown hairs and rashes
  3.  Pubic hair is natural and sexy
  4. Pubic hair collects pheromones which attract the opposite sex
  5. No pubic hair means more skin on skin contact which means more STDs
  6. I think its my choice but actually I’m internalizing expected social norms
  7. Pubic hair is a visual sign of reproductive maturity
  8. Porn doesn’t represent female genitalia – it represents an unrealistic female form
  9. Don’t comply to the beauty myth: Skinny, white, hairless ideal that we everywhere in mass media

 

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  1. Pubic hair is dirty
  2. A smooth vulva is more hygienic
  3. No hair means more sensitivity and better sex
  4. Pubic hair is unattractive
  5. No pubic hair means less pubic lice
  6. It is my choice to do what I want with my body
  7. No hair is better for cunnilingus
  8. Bald vaginas make women look like young girls (infantilisation)
  9. European women are too hairy  ( don’t you remember 99 red balloons ? )

You can probably tell that I’m supposed to be writing an actual academic piece of work today, and of course am doing this instead.

Feral Cheryl update

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I left my laptop open this morning and my 14 year old read my ‘Feral Cheryl’ post.  Her response:
‘why does a doll have to look like a hippy to have pubic hair’ ?

Happily, I think my research has had a positive reaction on my daughter.   Is it having the same effect  on you ? is there any one out there that is thinking about changing your pubic coiffure habits, based on issues raised here,  or alternatively do you think this research is pointless  ? please share,  remember it is all in the name of academic research.   For those just looking, you can follow this blog by hitting the follow button on the home page and adding your details (if you want to post anonymously, give yourself a cyber name, the one to beat is  ‘smooth criminal’.   For those already following,  go on, get involved.  Her are some subjects I’m currently researching for future posts:

Pornography and the’ Hollywood’ look – are they related ?  – this is what most people think is the impetus for the popular shaven haven look

Hygiene: concepts of cleanliness (pubic hair as dirty and grotesque) – much of the previous academic research suggests that women cite hygiene as the main reason for removing pubic hair

What d’you reckon ?

Feral Cheryl

 

A couple of weeks ago I uploaded a post called porn star Barbie.  It was pretty disturbing so to compensate I thought I would introduce you to Feral Cheryl.

She is an Australian doll modeled after environmental protesters, who were nicknamed “ferals.” The doll has dreads, piercings, and,  yes pubic hair !

The doll started life as a joke after her inventor Lee Duncan made one for her sister in 1995 as a critique of  Barbie dolls.  She made a few for friends and family and did a radio interview in Australia which incited a bit of a media frenzy.  Cheryl was dubbed the Anti-Barbie and became so popular that Lee left her job and started making the dolls full time. She said in a an article that

“It was my opportunity to do a project that was feminist and anti-sweatshop, with everything being locally made,”.

What was essentially a backyard business was able to distribute all over the world through a burgeoning thing called the internet.  Lee estimates that between 1998 and 2004 she made about 1000 dolls.  There is one representing Australia in a toy museum in Spain. Another sold in Scandinavia on eBay recently for $2000. There are three songs written about Cheryl although I could only find one, and I didn’t like it enough to share.

Although started as a joke, Duncan created an alternative to the blond fashion doll: one that needs no accessories.  For those of you who want to empower your children not to follow social  norms and to dare to bare hair,  you can order your very own Cheryl here:

http://www.feralcheryl.com.au/contact-order-page.html

 

If you cut the leaves the tree looks taller…

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Does groin grooming / manscaping make men’s privates look bigger ?

When I initially  began working on this blog and didn’t really know what I was doing  I accidentally sent my entire friends list on Facebook my introductory post.  I was a bit mortified because I didn’t really want everyone, friends, family and all the random people I’ve collected to know what I was researching.  I wasn’t ready.  Anyway, I got a message back pretty much instantly from a male (family member) saying “I shave me balls, does that help with your research”.    I was surprised to hear this, and a little embarrassed  (me the one asking everyone to share their pubic hair anxieties and tales). I hadn’t really thought at that stage about pubic hair grooming and removal from a male perspective.  But as it turns it is quite common for guys to shave their nethers.  Manscaping, a term that became popularised in the show TV show ‘Queer Eye For The Straight Guy’  is on the up.

I decided to do a mini survey.  I asked some guys at the gym (clearly I now have no shame).  One happily shared his pubic hair stories and confessed that he had been shaving his entire body (including his pubes) since he was 16.  His main motivation was because he found body hair disgusting.  Another said that his girlfriend had always had a shaven haven and if she was doing it why shouldn’t he.  I have had repeated conversations now with  guys about their pubic grooming and most are happy to bare all in more than one sense.   Most of the guys I talked to were under 30 (with one or two exceptions) and as far as I know all are heterosexual. They were all happy to engage in conversations without embarrassment about their grooming practices which I think that is really positive thing.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, body hair removal and/or alteration has a long history for women, in fact women’s hair removal practices have been theorised as almost “compulsory” in contemporary society with a mundane “hairless norm”rendering almost any visible body hair unacceptable for many woman.   Until recently, hair removal might have appeared to be a clearly gendered practice, but it has been suggested that  a recent neutralization of differences in hair practices between the genders, suggests that the gender gap in body hair removal is narrower than you might think.  For Western men, body hair can be a significant body concern and body hair removal or alteration appears to be popular and potentially even normative according to emerging literature.   The reasons men provide for hair removal to some extent match those for women: attractiveness, hygiene, sensation, and sexual improvement; to emphasize body muscularity; and to increase perception of  penis size.  It appears that hairlessness, or reduced hairiness has been incorporated as an acceptable, even desirable form of  neo masculinity. The scope for male body hair remains broader than it is for women, with less social and psychological castigation, except perhaps for back hair.  Women still get a harder deal as hairy feminine bodies are much more prone to ridicule and shame.  A recent study on body hair practices in New Zealand found that 11% of participants endorsed the acceptability of body hair on women, while 81% endorsed body hair for men.  This indicates that body hair removal for women is more compulsory than men’s hair removal.

Advertisers  and the market that sells us hair removal products perpetuates the idea of hair free skin as a contemporary ideal.   It is a multi-billion pound/ dollar industry and arguably is in part responsible for our growing obsession with smooth, sleek, hairless bods.

I plan to take a long hard look at the effects of continual  bombardment by media texts and advertisements that sell us hairless ideals.

Here are two ads that promote shaving for men and women –  what came first the shaver or the shaved ?

 

More to follow, I am in the library today about to start my dissertation. All thoughts on male pubic hair removal  and / or the impact of advertising greatly appreciated.