The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Hey, That’s My Bush!

Posted by Mel Campbell on August 13, 2010

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.


12 Responses to “Hey, That’s My Bush!”

  1. Katte said

    Great post Mel.

    As with a lot of issues I think there are feminist and non feminist choices – but as individuals we can’t (and shouldn’t have to) always make the feminist choice.

    I will never think that time consuming and painful hair maintenance is a feminist choice, but it is not my job to police what women do with their bodies (too often that is throwing stones in glass houses). I will champion women who go against the pressure but not at the cost of demonising those who don’t.

    • Amelia said

      i think the “feminist” part IS the choice. it’s the choice to do what you want, without feeling pressured to do one or the other thing because of fear of being thought of as “disgusting” or unattractive.
      true choice can only come when no one is telling women which is the right (or even the most “feminist”) choice for their own bodies.

  2. Hannah said

    Well-said- the whole debate is a “pubes you lose, no pubes you lose” thing for women – whatever we’ve got, we end up feeling wrong.

    And yes, I would rather be beaten around the head with a plank of wood than have to watch The Girlfriend Experience again. But that had nothing to do with the state of Sasha Grey’s pubes.

  3. Keri said

    I understand that people have the right to find a certain aesthetic appealing, but to require someone to remove their body hair and look like a pre-pubescent? Anyone else find that more than a little creepy?

    I stopped any kind of maintenance in that area when I met my current partner, and I find it so bloody liberating to not have to worry about shaving rash, wax burn, ingrown hairs or any of that stuff. And frankly? Things feel BETTER with a bit of friction happening. It wasn’t because my standards dropped, but because they’re higher. I expect more of myself than subjecting myself to what most men would consider torture for no reason better than “but menz might find it icky”

  4. Fair enough – how a woman wants to groom her topiary is her choice.
    For what it’s worth, my preference is for how nature intended things and I am sure (I hope!) that there are many guys like me out there who are tired of modern pornography’s portayal of what a woman is “supposed” to look like.

  5. KO said

    “Fuck off! It doesn’t belong to you.” YES.

  6. planetearth said

    men men men men… it is all their fault.

    Personally, I have never had a man tell me to shave my bush, but it is still all their fault for voicing their preference, ever (in a public or in a priviate discussion).

    See, I have zero standards (except for personality) when it comes to my suitors, people (men) should be more like me.

    I declare that more men should allow me to sit on their face with my rank and over grown jungle getting between their teeth.

  7. Mel Campbell said

    I’ve approved this last silly comment, with its 14-year-old sarcasm, to show how some people are still keen to put their two cents in on how others should look. Cos, y’know, otherwise you’ll turn into a man-hater whose body is disgusting.

  8. planetearth said

    I apologise for my last comment. I was just dumbfounded by your article.

    What really is the issue with people voicing their opinion on what would please them or is to their liking?

    This is human nature. It is the reason why we dont walk around the street in patato sacks or why we put on deoterant or different types or perfumes, or why we get our hair cut in a certain fashion.

    You are an individual and you have the power to decided whether or not you want to conform to your desired suitors criteria or not.

    Remember, there are some people who like the bush… there are also some that dont. People need to deal with that.
    Whatever decision you make, you need to realise that the repercussions (for the positive or negative) are due to your decision.

    Let me ask you this, do you believe people should be entitled to have criteria for their potential suitors (sexual/emotional/what ever)?

  9. Mel Campbell said

    Of course people can have criteria for potential suitors. But here’s something I’d like you to ‘deal with’ – you don’t get to demand that people share your criteria, and belittle or disrespect them if they don’t.

    It’s the most appalling bullshit to claim that a woman has to anticipate and manage the ‘repercussions’ of her choices. Rather, you are responsible for how you react to another person. It is not something the other person must mould themselves to.

    I honestly don’t know how much simpler I can make this basic point.

  10. planetearth said

    you’re a fucking idiot. no body is demanding that you share their criteria.

    Stop being so weak and interpreting every sentance a man utters as a for of demand.

    ofcource a woman needs to anticipate and manage the “repercissonss” of all her choies. Just like how my dog needs to anticipate and manage the repercussions of when he pees on the carpet or how that stinky co-worker needs to anticipate and manage the repercissons of having BO.

    if you have so much trouble with the notion of shaving your ming. I’m scared to think about the rest of your personal hygiene.

  11. Mel Campbell said

    Honestly, at this stage I just feel sorry for you – a sad person who’s so invested in the idea of shaven ‘ming’ that you need to call someone a “fucking idiot” and compare women to dogs in order to feel that all is right with the world.

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