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Women and body hair

This is an academic book on women and body hair, a subject which has, until now, been seen as too trivial, ridiculous or revolting to write about. Even feminist writers or researchers on the body have found remarkably little to say about body hair, usually not mentioning it at all. If women's body hair is noted, it is either simply to accept its removal as an inevitable aspect of female beautification, or to argue against hair removal as a return to a ‘natural’ and un-oppressed female body. The only texts to elaborate on body hair are guides on how to remove it, medical texts on ‘hirsutism’ or fetishistic pornography on ‘hairy’ women. This book asks how and why any particular issue can become defined as ‘self-evidently’ too silly or too mad to write about. Using a wide range of thinking from gender theory, queer theory, critical and literary theory, history, art history, anthropology and psychology, the contributors argue that, in fact, body hair plays a central role in constructing masculinity and femininity, as well as sexual and cultural identities. Arguing from the theoretical position that identity and the body are culturally and historically constructed, the chapters each analyse, through a specific focus, how body hair underpins ideas of the ‘cultural’ and ‘natural’ in Western culture.

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Touch/cut
Victoria Best and Martin Crowley

of its haptic qualities. Then, as Breillat desires, this contact is transcended in the direction of truth, as the scene takes on meaning, and we become bound to it not by physical contact, but by identification. Contrary to Breillat’s wishes, however, the literal index remains, incompletely sublimated by this transcendence. Worse, this persisting literality is also what makes some elements available for a reductive, fetishistic

in The new pornographies