A history of pubic hair, or reviewers’ responses to Terry Eagleton’s After Theory
in The last taboo
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Reviewers' responses to Terry Eagleton's After Theory have, in part, been concerned with a comment made in the introduction: ‘Not all students are blind to the Western narcissism involved in working on the history of pubic hair while half the world's population lacks adequate sanitation and survives on less than two dollars a day.’ This chapter examines the reviewers' responses to this quotation and argues that Eagleton is using wit and exaggeration as a means to shift perception rather than to give evidence. It also asserts that the reviewers are as much revealing something of their own assumptions about hair, gender and politics, as an understanding of Eagleton's arguments in After Theory. The Eagleton pubic hair quotation is reminiscent of another one, the debate around which is discussed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. What a comparison of the After Theory reviews to the Sedgwick makes clear is that both masturbation and pubic hair are about sexuality itself. The notions embedded in the Eagleton quotation are also reminiscent of Sigmund Freud's The Medusa's Head.

The last taboo

Women and body hair

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