This month at the Women of the World festival at London’s Southbank Centre, I sat back and listened to the debate ‘Am I a Feminist- Can I Vajazzle?’ Here sat Louise Court the Editor of Cosmopolitan, Broadcaster Dawn Porter, renowned feminist activist Kate Smurthwaite and academic sociologist Dr Kristin Aune.
These women, each of whom is an inspiring figure head for feminism, discussed whether we could be feminists and prettify our pubic hair.
Obviously, this tongue and cheek debate was intended to light heartedly demonstrate the separation of popular culture’s approach to what it is to be a feminist but as each member of the audience shouted out another question I couldn’t help but think. ‘No wonder everyone is confused!’
Here we were trying to get young women to RECLAIM feminism and although it was supposed to be a metaphor for the discussion we actually talked a lot about brazillians, vajazzles and our vaginas in general. One member of the audience stood up and declared ‘you are all naive if you shave your pubic hair as it is clearly a manifestation of society’s obsession with prepubescent girls.’
Of course I didn’t agree with this in its entirety and it caused uproar amongst the group but she had a point…or rather the beginnings of one.
The point I wanted to make was WHY ARE WE OBJECTIFYING OURSELVES? Does feminism equally fanny? To reclaim the control over my own sexuality do I have to grow my pubic hair? Or, if I want to shave it, do I need to add jewels to make it into an ironic statement of ‘I am woman; I am fanny, look how individual I am’ Bollocks to that, or to be PC, Vulva to that!
Looking back to the second wave of feminism we reclaimed our sexuality and used it as a symbol of freedom. Today, society has taken this a full circle thus producing an over sexualised culture. This is something that many women are now giving strength too. We pole dance for exercise and glorify prostitution to the masses through the celebration of the Belle De Jours of the media world. We allow our children to listen to music which openly talks about abusing women and then gasp open mouthed when we see them dance like the cast of ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’.
How pray tell, can we then cringe in horror at the 6% rape conviction rate but then expect our generation not to believe women are for sale?
As I view it, the construction of the patriarchy and female subordination all derives from the objectification of women as some THING to either possess or control. It is my belief therefore; that we do not need to simply reclaim feminism for each generation nor hail our vaginas as THE symbol of Feminism because believe it or not females are not all about fannies.
Feminism is no different to racial equality and I doubt each generation seeks to re-establish the concept like feminists do.
We are all sexual beings and have genitals- now what else have we got talk about? I’m all for preventing the pornification of our bodies but I’m trying not to channel everything it means to be a woman via my sexual organs.
All around the world society lives in fear of the almighty clitoris and genital mutilation is a fact of life for so many women. All that we are is not embodied in our vagina and I can’t help but think that that is the message we are sending out if all we have got, when we get all of these inspirational women together, is fanny chat.