crotch anarchy: the bush administration
School swimming carnival, 2003. I remember this day as the day I realised that you were supposed to groom your body. I was crammed into my uniform one-size-fits-all maroon swimsuit and I kept my arms pinned down by my sides so that nobody would see the beginnings of my first armpit hairs. I felt, for the first time, pasty and disproportionate and a little bit fat. When they called registration for the 500m Butterfly, my terror increased exponentially. Partly because, for some inexplicable reason, my house official had put me down as competing, but mostly because I had this hair poking out of the pelvic seam of my bathers and I was going to have to take off my PE shorts to swim and the other girls would see it and OMFGWTF. I was so terrified I failed to coordinate my keyhole stroke and dolphin kick, or maybe my new pubes broke my streamline and slowed me down because it was definitely not due to my lack of athleticism that I came last.
It wasn’t until I started letting boys take my clothes off that I realised you were supposed to de-coif your map of Tassie. After being rudely spurned by a number of Humbert Humbert types, I considered my options. I quailed fearfully under posters in Essential Beauty advertising sculpted “landing strips”, and decided against a love heart/lightning bolt/initial of lover to adorn my vag. Epilators looked like machines of death, and after waxing my upper lip once I’d resolved never to apply that burning Satan-nectar to my innocent flesh ever again. And so it was that I marched off to the supermarket and stocked up on razors. I fast realised that it takes a certain level of gymnastic prowess to arrange oneself in the limited confines of a shower in such a position as to be able to shave one’s snatch. After a number of mishaps that I prefer not to dwell on, I mastered the craft and began a routine: twice weekly to avoid stubble, moisturise regularly to avoid ingrown hairs, never use cheap razors unless you want to get all Freddy Krueger up in your lady parts. My gentleman callers enjoyed a smooth, hairless reception and never spared a thought for the torture chamber that was my shower. Everything was peachy.
And then, sometime last year, I said fuck it and just stopped shaving.
The benefits of this decision were plenty. Shower time was cut down by a good fifteen minutes twice weekly. I stopped having to spend so much money on razors. I no longer had to get into a Bharadvaja’s Twist (yeah I know yoga poses or at least can Google them) on the shower tiles. I felt liberated, like I was staging my very own personal feminist revolution on my veejay. And I liked the way it looked. It was shamelessly womanly. I didn’t need to regress myself back to the days when I fit into a swimsuit. I was raising a figurative fist into the air. Crotch anarchy. Yeah. Fuck the world. Rage against the machine. The epilatory death machine.
But Humbert Humbert is still on the prowl. My shrubbery is usually greeted with surprise and, on occasion, disgust. I find this pretty weird. In my mid-twenties I’m no longer Lolita in a tennis dress and haven’t been for some time, so why the predilection for a pre-pubescent pants purse? Since when was a childish chacha the norm on grown women? In a world where it’s normal to have surgery to enhance your boobs and lips and womanly bits, I struggle to figure out why we’re still shunning a hairy vagina. Why it immediately stereotypes wearers of pubes to the fringe (no pun intended) of society. Why we who have condemned our Venus and Nair to the same firepit on which our bras burn*are received negatively by late night lovers who were happy to pay for the cab home despite flabby arms or a moustache or an increasingly obvious chin pimple. We continue to challenge the beauty myth in so many ways, but why is this one being swept under the carpet (pun intended this time)? Bush is beautiful. Deal with it.
*Please do not panic. I am wearing a bra. It is not on fire.
By Emma Jones
This piece first appeared on Emma’s blog.