As a child of the 1990s whose pussy braved the low-rise of early aughts jeans with nary a wisp of protective hair for cover and also survived the age of Perez Hilton nicknaming young women celebrities “beef curtains,” I gotta say, I truly no longer care about other people’s opinions on the aesthetics of my reproductive organ’s external bits and bobs. Though I generally attribute this confidence to both being in my thirties and the thrilling defiance with which women celebrities my age used to flash cooter at the paparazzi back when we were girls, it could come from the abundance of “empowering,” headline-grabbing art focused on pussies of all shapes and sizes over the course of my lifetime.
One of the latest projects focused on keeping pussy power topical is the recent book and just-released podcast of the same name, A Woman’s Right to Pleasure, which is an “erotic compendium” featuring notes on female pleasure penned by Roxane Gay and Erica Jong and paintings by celebrated artists like Marilyn Minter, who did an entire series in the early 2010s devoted to women’s pubic hair after finding very few paintings featuring bush throughout history.
According to the Guardian, the book, marketed as an “act of resistance,” came about “during the darkest days of the Trump presidency.” It was then that “writer Alexandra Weiss and her colleagues at the BlackBook Presents gallery in New York decided to address an issue that felt increasingly pressing... Reproductive rights were under threat: among other things, the Trump administration had banned taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for terminations. Exploring women’s sexual pleasure in words and images, says Weiss, felt like “an act of resistance. Why not now? With social media, women have felt more comfortable talking about their bodies, but pleasure is often left out of the conversation.”
But even the Guardian notes that there’s really nothing that shocking within the covers of this book, which has already sold out of its first printing, since “these days, so many young artists are shoving their fingers suggestively into dewy, yonic foodstuffs that it has become a cliche.” And the book, which retails for $75 and was published in partnership with fancy vibrator company Lelo, sounds like less of an attempt to gain new ground for rapidly eroding reproductive and women’s rights in the post-Trump political era and more like a celebration of revolutions past.
Which is fine! But if there’s nothing shocking about pubes, labia, and clitorises anymore to the point that they’re stylish enough for the coffee table, one does have to wonder what’s next. How do these acts of resistance help the very real women whose vaginas are increasingly subject to some of the strictest regulations in America’s history? According to BlackBook’s website, 10 percent of the book’s proceeds goes to Girls Inc., a non-profit dedicated to “empowering the next generation of young women,” certainly a noble cause but not one that exactly rhymes with the purported impetus for the book, though the organization does list advocacy for reproductive justice among its organization’s goals.
I’m all for celebrating, especially at a hot pocket party, but the time still doesn’t seem quite right to rest on our laurels, or pubes, for that matter.