Cat-Aclysmic---Bearded-Lady-by-Stuart-Crawford

Photo by Stuart Crawford on Flickr used under a Creative Commons License

Concessions to the Patriarchy is a regular feature about the battles, big and small, we women choose not to fight. Today’s topic: pubes!

So, Cameron Diaz has a much buzzed-about new book — The Body Book — that doles out pretty legit-sounding health/self-love advice. (I’ve yet to read said book, but people I like whose opinions I trust seem to be into it.)

Many writers and bloggers have glommed on to a section of the book entitled “In Praise of Pubes,” in which Cammy D contends that removing one’s pubic hair is like saying, “I don’t need my nose.” (I feel that this is an extreme and imperfect analogy, but I appreciate the sentiment.) Diaz is staunchly pro-bush and, after a decade dominated by porny Brazilians, she’s encouraging women to let their lady gardens go wild.

This revelation, coupled with the fact that American Apparel mannequins in Manhattan have started sporting impressive (and cartoonishly full) merkins, has spawned a cavalcade of celebratory op-eds — written, no doubt, by exhausted women who just want to give their labia a break — declaring 2014 the ‘Year of the Bush.’

To which I say, FUCK YES.

I, to crib a phrase from one of my Grammy’s beloved Harlequin romances, have always preferred a “well-covered mound.” Early on, I associated having pubic hair with being sexy — and with being a woman.

One summer at the family cottage in Ontario, my cousin and I stumbled upon a lone issue of Playboy, sandwiched between some dog-eared issues of Canadian Living.

It was the December 1983 ‘Gala Christmas’ issue and Dynasty star Joan Collins was on the cover, wearing a red Jessica Rabbit-type dress that, for a long time, was my ideal prom dress. (I was eight, it was the early ’90s and Kelly Kapowski was my style icon.)

Thankfully, the cottage is where time stands still, so I was easily able relocate this amazing cultural artifact last summer, 20 years later, shoved back between those Canadian Livings.

My cousin and I were flipping through our contraband Playboy — you know, the way eight- and 10-year-old girls do — and our chorus of giggles must have alerted my Grammy (she of the inappropriate reading material).

We were mortified — we were caught with PICTURES OF NAKED LADIES after all — but something incredible happened. We gathered around the island in the kitchen and looked through Playboy together, just us gals. (I remember feeling very adult and excited about this.)

Being the great dame she was, Grammy patiently (and age-appropriately) answered our many boob-and-pube related questions and even fielded some high-level porn inquiries. (“Why is she talking on the phone with no pants on?” I forget the answer.)

I do remember thinking Joan looked very sexy — just like a lady in one of those steamy Harlequin romances I used to secretly read — and I decided I just couldn’t WAIT to have boobs and a bush just like Joan Collins. You know, for all the sex I’d someday be having. (I am the protagonist of a Judy Blume novel. Are you there, God? It’s me, horndog.)

Unfortunately, the bare look came into vogue a few years before I became a sexual being — and what was considered normal was now considered kink.

I am a live and let live kind of girl. Or, to borrow a quote from respected body pos activist / feminist Virgie Tovar, I am pro-choice before I am anything else. If you want to continue to pay good money to have an Eastern European woman tear the hair off your fanny with scalding hot wax, cool. Conversely, if it’s your lifelong mission to make thigh-burns happen, great. You do you.

But.

I do happen to think that the institutionalized removal of pubic hair is indeed a feminist issue. Unlike, say, your armpits or your legs — the shaving of which is still a concession to the patriarchy, B-T-Dubbs — the vagina has, for too long, been thought of as a dirty shame hole to be hidden from view. The vulva is also shown very little respect. I mean, WE DON’T EVEN CALL IT BY ITS CORRECT ANATOMICAL NAME. So when the billion-dollar beauty industry — taking cues from mainstream porn, FFS — tells me I can’t have my Joan Collins bush because there’s something ‘unclean’ or ‘gross’ about it and I have to spend lots and lots of money fighting it, it’s a problem. Way to shit all over an eight-year-old girl’s dream.

As we often say in this section of the blog, choices do not exist in a vacuum. For every op-ed extolling the joys of a well-covered mound, there’s been an equal and opposite BUT I CHOOSE MY CHOICE! reaction. Which is to be expected.

There’s no wrong way to be woman, just as there’s no wrong way to be a feminist.

Put another way, I don’t really care what you do to your hoo-ha.

Still, how different our ‘choices’ might look if we didn’t live in a patriarchy. I may shave my legs every other day — even in winter — but I’m not conceding to the patriarchy on this one. Joan Collins Bush 4 Evah.