Sasha Grey is a 22-year-old alt-porn star. The ‘alt’ part means she looks like a fairly ordinary, doe-eyed hipster girl with no apparent silicone enhancements. She also has a tendency to intellectualise and aestheticise the extreme sex acts she has become famous for committing to film.
Grey has done non-pornographic acting as well. Having suffered through Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, I can tell you there are planks of wood more likely to win an Oscar.
However, this week Grey appeared, as herself, in Entourage – Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) was dating her. The episode was called ‘Hair’, and by this the writers meant pubic hair. The episode whipped viewers into a Twitter frenzy of disgust because… in a full-frontal nude shot, Grey had actual pubes. Or, as Americans grotesquely refer to them, “bush”.
If you want to check out Grey’s hairstyle yourself, click here (NSFW).
Now last weekend I went to see the Carol Jerrems show at Heide. Jerrems was a Melbourne photographer who took lots of nude shots during the ’70s, and I can say that I found the luxuriant pubes on some of the women quite startling. So when I clicked through to see what all the Sasha Grey fuss was about, that was the sort of “’70s bush” I was expecting.
Instead, I thought it looked quite manicured. It annoyed and saddened me that the Twitter critics would consider this neat triangle to be ‘overgrown’, ‘enormous’, ‘wild’ or ‘disgusting’. Have these people never seen a woman who has a snail trail of hair down her stomach? Whose pubic hair continues down the tops of her thighs? Who has a hairy arse-crack? Have they seen Demi Moore’s pubes (really NSFW) from back in the early ’80s?
If Sasha Grey – a woman who makes her living from sex – is supposedly so repulsive, think of the shame that other women might feel, imagining how men might talk about their bodies behind their backs. I’ve heard some of my male friends talking openly about the body hair of the women they’ve fucked in ways that made me feel embarrassed for those women. Some poor chick had hairy nipples (“and not just one or two hairs – that’s normal – she had really hairy nipples!”), while another had trimmed her pubes rather than waxing or shaving, which my friend charmingly likened to a ‘toothbrush’.
On the other hand, think of women who enjoy grooming their body hair – who consider it part of their general beauty routine – and are told that having little or no pubic hair ‘pedophilises’ them and makes them dupes of a pornified culture, surrendering their womanly pubes in order to meet with men’s aesthetic approval.
In many ways, the arguments circulating in regard to women’s pubic hair remind me of the arguments around body shape and size. An artificial dichotomy is set up – whether that be skinny/fat or hairy/hairless – women are made to ‘take sides’, and both sides are made to feel ashamed, as if neither has a claim to be a ‘real woman’.
To anyone who feels moved to comment on a woman’s body hair, or tell her to shave it off or to let it grow… fuck off! It doesn’t belong to you.