Bathing suit season is upon us, and this presents us with three options; wax, shave or au natural. You’d be stretched to try and find any magazine with a model sporting a mature bush, let alone any hair on their bodies. And being a 20-something-year-old woman myself, I regularly undergo the unspoken ritual to “tame the mane” every 5–6 weeks in the form of spending a very intimate, and painfully awkward, 20 minutes with a stranger to get that acceptable hair-free look. It seems questionable in our modern times of equality and woman empowerment, that cultural anxiety surrounding women’s pubic still exists however, it seems in this day-in-age, the ‘bush’ is so foreign to many men’s minds that they would almost be forgiven to believe that women have eradicated this biological ‘asset’.

Many of my self-promoted “gender equalist” male friends stating that they would never sleep with a girl who had pubic hair. One even going as far as promoting a story of making a girl shaving downstairs before he’d even consider it. This is a trend that has only been popularised int he last 20-years. We used to embrace puberty in all its fashion, and now, society seems to have gone backwards, wanting women to resemble that of a prepubescent 12-year-old girl. Why are women have silently accepted their fate? Spending upwards up $10,000 dollars in their lifetime to adhere to these ridiculous beauty expectations.

During the 1970’s and 80’s this wasn’t the case at all, and High School girls, Businesswoman and Playboy girls alike were free to roam with an entirely furry vagina without societies disapproval. The myth of the prepubescent woman started in the 2000’s with the rise of the availability of porn. Gone were the days of stealing your Dad’s penthouse or playboy, as we entered the age of the internet which made porn more accessible. Now, I’m not here to diss porn — nor am I here to say that we get our Brazilian waxes to be like porn stars. Merely, to emphasise that since porn is now the world’s sex education, and thus, presents ideas and expectations about what women about should look like and how they should act in the bedroom, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct.

Leaving our vagina dressed up should invigorating and should be a sign of woman empowerment, just as we fought for our equality in the workplace, the look of a mature woman embracing her puberty should be equality in the bedroom. The anxiety around the removal of our body hair has become almost pathological. Fuelled by a shameful stigma that follows when you are “sporting a bush”, or even embraced your leg or arm hair. It appears that the ‘bush’ is considered so subversive, that even some of my highly vocally feminist, underarm hair bearing friends are too reluctant to embrace it.

How have we become a generation where we are continually moving toward a vision of gender rights in the workplace. And, the issue of body acceptance and love for ourselves is continually in the media. The unglamorized matters such as our obsession with hair removal seem not to be brought up in any such feminist debate? This is a feminist issue, as in the bedroom the idea of the submissive woman is still very much prevalent. The idea of sex is supposed to be fun, but there is continual anxiety surrounding sex. Women are continually changing themselves to please men sexually and aesthetically.

Now, this is not only enforced by men, but also by women to one another. In an episode of the culturally aware television show Sex and the City, Miranda is ridiculed by her friends for having time to get a wax before she went on a spur of the moment trip to Mexico. All of this comes at a time where body issues are so prominent in the news, there seems to be an active reluctance to talk about the specifics. The pressure on young woman within society to act a certain way, or look a certain way, is pressure placed on by both genders. And, it becomes obsessive. Consistently girls are put under extreme pressure to worry about what they look like.

While, there may be an open discussion about anorexia, and the dangers surrounding the pressure to be thin. No one seems to be addressing the innocent, submissive, prepubescent girl who lives in the world of porn. In a world of deceit and regret, unfortunately, this comes up on top, because I’m sorry fellas — if I can’t afford rent how can I afford to spend $170 dollars a month waxing my legs, eyebrows and vagina? All the while ensuring that my tan looks great, and my hair is perfect.

It seems that no matter what excuse woman come up with to have that hair-free vagina, what it comes down to is that this is a societal conformity fueled by consumerism and marketing, whereby, a woman will spend almost four months of their life waxing their private parts to avoid this taboo and cultural shame. Unfortunately, the words “empowerment”, “feminine”, “sexy” and “clean” do not come from the state of your pubic hair, and a baby-bottom smooth vagina will not get you the man of your dreams, or allow to get that promotion.