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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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Women, body hair and feminism
Karín Lesnik-Oberstein

weight. Central to this argument is that ‘fat’ women are portrayed as undesirable or unattractive, but nonetheless still as female. In fact, both in patriarchal and in feminist terms, women’s involvement with issues of body weight has come to figure as an important aspect of ‘femininity’. ‘Hairywomen, on the other hand, are monstrous in being like men, or masculine. Amie Braman, for instance, reports of her study ‘Women and body hair: social perceptions and attitudes’ that: I found that people perceived the woman with body hair as less

in The last taboo
Sherry Velasco

not a freak but an extreme example of a common condition that affects many, if not most women. 2 While this recent trend seeks to challenge the tradition of exhibiting ‘bearded ladies’ in early circus freak shows, the image of a woman with a moustache or beard has not yet broken free from the shock value assigned to the condition that has endured for centuries. In fact, the numerous representations of hairy women in early modern historical, literary and iconographic texts in Spain reveal the popularity of the theme, as well as its

in The last taboo
Fur, hair and subversive female lycanthropy
Jazmina Cininas

Nuremberg Chronicle’s woodblock illustration of a member of the Gorgades tribe, 6 a race of wild, hairy women described by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History of first century CE, and said to have lived near the blissful islands of the Hesperides. 7 Travelogues by the fifth century BCE Carthaginian navigator, Hanno, surfaced in Basel, Switzerland, in the sixteenth century for example, with

in She-wolf
Mark S. Dawson

Also consider W. Ramesey, Helminthologia, or, some physical considerations of the matter, origination, and several species of wormes macerating and direfully cruciating every part of the bodies of mankind (1668), pp. 80–99; J. Partridge, Nebulo Anglicanus: or, the first part of the black life of John Gadbury (1693). 92 B. Capp, Astrology and the popular press. English almanacs, 1500–1800 (London, 1979), pp. 117– 122; Curry, Prophecy and power, pp. 99–100. A book with a very tangled publication history (for which see M. E. Fissell, ‘Hairy women and naked truths

in Bodies complexioned