Erotic Review Magazine

Pubes

by Kate Copstick / 30th August 2011

There is a story that when the honeymooning John Ruskin saw his wife naked for the first time, the sight of her luxuriant pubic hair so horrified and repelled him that he was rendered impotent and had the marriage annulled. Ruskin, used to seeing the great nude studies of the time in which the female crotch was free of follicle, defined pubic mound and anything else that might draw attention to it, thought the spousal snatch, exuberant with hair as it was – to be a deformity.

On the other hand, half a century before, Napoleon Bonaparte demanded his women be absoluement au naturel – he like to lose himself in the body-brush of his ladies (he was a short man, the average lady garden probably seemed like Kew to him) and famously wrote to Josephine “Home tonight, ne lavez pas”.

So, in the matter of the quim with a quiff, as it were, chacun a son gout.

However, the Sisterhood – lead by the late Andrea Dworkin, a woman generous of body, if not of mind, who probably hadn’t seen her own pubes since 1965) decided that that ‘gout’ was dictated by ‘porn culture’. Men, filthy in mind and bodily desires, in other words. Much in the same way as they attribute everything from Global Warming to The Fall of the House of Usher to men, filthy in mind and bodily desires. The fact is that there is really no such thing as ‘porn culture’. What there is, is an assumed, a given ‘memory’ of the way things are, the way men behave and women look in porn. Once upon a time, when porn production companies were few, there was a tendency to play to the stereotype – blonde and bald (women, I hasten to add). Of course, fans of seventies and sixties porn – to say nothing of earlier images – will remember fondly the exuberance of body hair therein, the jungle of pubes, the Walrus of Love moustches, tumbling curls and Welcome Mat chestal foliage. That gave way to a more gynaecological ‘let the dog see the rabbit’ approach more recently, but hardly the cration of a cultural imperative. And, since the advent of the internet, there is no such thing as the porn-norm. Female genitalia comes (as it were) hairy, old, young, fake, bleeding, giving birth … absolutely any way you want it. And several ways you could probably live without it.

If you are looking for ‘cultures’ that dictate a grass-free knoll into which to shoot, then you can start with the Ancient Egyptians who abhorred body hair and insisted on its total removal, you can look to the Romans – who liked both their snails and oysters hair free – and the Greeks. You can check out Charles Darwin’s accounts of the follicle-phobic indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, the customs of Ancient Persia and Turkey and even the tenets of Islam, regarding the removal of body hair (deemed, by the Prophet himself to be an act of fitrah).

We know that prostitutes shaved to reassure clients that nothing untoward was lurking in the bushes to spring out and attack them – and gave the world the merkin – but that was professional and practical rather than cultural. Around the same time, here in Britain the upper classes had a habit of keeping clippings from one’s lover’s pubes as a memento – even wearing a little tuft in one’s hat as a sort of cockade. The museum of the University of St Andrews has a snuff box containing a little collection of the pubic hair of one of King George IV’s mistresses which the monarch later donated to the Beggar’s Benison – the notorious Fife sex club.

In terms of art – and remember, one woman’s pornography is another man’s high art, hair was pretty much absent, occasionally depicted in a stylised manner in early European art. Then Michaelangelo’s David came along, just as God and Michaelangelo had created him. However, one swallow does not make the perfect first date and one hairy crotch does not create an art movement. Apart from in the realm of early porn (such as 17th century engravings by Agostino Carraci and, famously, in the 18th century Japanese shunga such as The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife it was Goya with his Nude Maja who gave Europe its first mainstream oil and hair mix media. Pubic hair was still causing uproar in the fine arts in 1866 when Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde showed what can only be described as gash in all its ungroomed glory.

But hair has come and gone and come again (as it does) in almost all forms of culture. So it is to commercialism we must turn to find the force driving us to eternal epilation. To marketing and advertising, to those who sell the wherewithal to deodorise and depilate, smooth and satinise. They are not influenced by porn. The average consumer of grooming tips in Vogue and Elle doesn’t watch porn and is not going to go Hollywood just because hubby has seen it on Babestation. The female grooming industry exists to find new body parts to denude and deodorise for financial gain, not to disseminate beauty tips from the porn industry. They don’t use pornstars in the ads that show you how much more attractive you will be when hairless, they use gorgeous mainstream models with lithe smooth limbs and wisp free bikini-lines.

How could they not make you want to be hairfree and gorgeous, just like them ?

Having said which, I have enjoyed putting the Bush into Shepherds Bush for many years, albeit shaved a heart shape in the seventies and spent an unacceptably high maintainance hairless few months during an SM affair. But I have to admit that now, as skin starts to sag, it droops not only on the face and jowls. Twixt the Copstickian thighs, it looks as if the tie-backs on the beef curtains have worn out. There is a look reminiscent of the Churchill bulldog about my bits. And I find a bit of hair – I have what can only be described as a Pussy ‘Fro – distracts from the laxity in tone. Albeit the undercarriage is still kept clear of debris. As a practicing bisexual (I hope soon to be perfect) I have seen all manner of hairiness and hairlessness, in boys and girls. And that is the only way to get an overview (or should it be underview) of the state of hair today (please, no one say gone tomorrow …) – at the folliclefront itself. And if you discover anything we should know …

Illustration: Houkusai – The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.

Discussion

Leave a Reply