By: Bella Baxter
My single mother and two lesbian aunts raised me. Feminism is a flag they are constantly, energetically flying. In our family, any topic as long as it’s interesting and pertinent to the plight of women, is welcome.
During Christmas lunch this year there was a slight lull in conversation before my Aunt asked, “For God’s sake, where did all the pubic hair go?” I put down my fork loudly. She continued “It’s an erogenous zone; women are effectively removing erogenous zones! Do you see men doing this?” I looked at my family sitting around the masses of food, paper crowns on their heads looking suddenly forlorn for all the shaved pubis in the world. “Soon pubic hair will be mythical,” my other Aunt whispers. I decided to pipe up, “I don’t have pubic hair”. As a side note this is not always true. Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t. My vulva is attached to my person- ergo personal. I do with it what I will. I understand the origin of removing pubic hair and I understand that it was important biologically, so when I shave it into a crescent moon, or grow it like a wonderful 70’s bouffant, or have it just a little bit prickly like a lovely triangular cactus, I am making an informed decision. My family looks at me with equal parts horror and disappointment. Not because I am childless. Not because I am up to my eyeballs in debt. Because of my stylistic interference with my own pubic hair.
Let me say that I’m not doing this for the pleasure of men, or to honor some archaic notion of hygiene, or to mimic the hairlessness of youth. I do it because I have an untethered, whimsical free soul. I like the fact that if you see me nude, you might have questions such as: “What shape have you managed to shave into the apex of your thighs?” And “why do you have a tattoo of a majestic war horse complete with skulls around its neck, on your ribcage?” Well, A: it’s an ‘Om’ symbol but clearly I need more practice, and B: Because I’m riding into battle, baby.
Not to gloat, but I have been styling my fur for years. Almost two decades. In hindsight I wish I had taken a photo of each style so that I could now exhibit them all as a wonderful brunette montage entitled ‘The Bush Chronicles.’ If I had an exhibition like this (and I might, it still could happen) I would want people to exclaim, “what an expressive vulva!” I would not want them to doubt my ferocity as a feminist. Nor would I want them to feel like I was being obnoxiously subversive, because I’m not. Here is what I’m doing, I’m supporting the idea that there is nothing wrong with shaving, waxing or growing your pubic hair. What’s wrong, is that other people think it’s their business what you do with it. And of course, this transcends pubic hair and self grooming – but the general historical fixation with choosing and molding what a woman should be… right down to her privates. I truly believe the world be so much lovelier if we all agreed to leave women’s vulvas finally, beautifully alone.