I've long identified with feminism in its most fundamental sense. That is, I believe in equality of the sexes. I want to see the glass ceiling broken, female genital mutilation abolished and more women in politics. There are great causes that merit attention and action. And then there's 'Project Bush'.
When I first heard about Project Bush, I naively panicked that there was another member of the infamous political family waiting in the wings for a seat in the Oval Office. The reality, readers, is far worse. It was via Twitter that I learnt of the campaign, launched by acclaimed creative agency Mother London last month. Aiming to break down taboos about the female body and challenge the conception of 'bush beauty' (or lack thereof), the mission saw some 93 women have their vulvas snapped by photographer to the stars Alisa Connan and displayed thereafter (well, for 4 days) at Mother London HQ.
Furiously ignoring the overwhelming temptation to dismiss Project Bush as a (slightly crude) PR stunt, I continued my research, desperate to understand the point of the intentionally risqué campaign. A Guardian article or two later, it hit me - there wasn't one. Alas, the cynic in me had not been disproven - this really was another stereotypical and attention-seeking "feminist" outcry, concealed by the false notion that many women feel pressured to have Brazilians to satisfy their oppressive partners.
Anybody who has read an issue of Cosmopolitan, scanned through Ask Men or viewed pornography of any sort will know that men and women have pubic preferences. It's not all perfectly preened gardens and trimmed rosebushes. Indeed, you will find those who are partial to landing strips, overgrown shrubberies or full on native nests. It's no more sexist of men to prefer preened women than it is for the opposite sex to favour a clean shaven face.
Preference is what makes us dye our hair black, brown, pink and blue. Our nether regions are no different, and are areas of our body we have complete control over. I know Project Bush doesn't believe men to be chasing women down the road with garden sheers, demanding they attend to their overgrown gardens, but the supposed pressure women are considered to feel is somewhat exaggerated and overshadows many of the important causes we should be fighting for today.
Moreover, the removal of pubic hair has occurred in Britain and around the world for both aesthetic and hygiene reasons for hundreds of years. It is reassuring to see that the immense burden of deciding whether to shave or not did not stop women from fighting for the vote, or prevent Margaret Thatcher from walking her path to power. Whilst I am happy to read of the liberation the Project Bush models felt post-campaign, I don't think it has done what it sought out to do for feminism as a whole.
When there are serious issues at play that affect women in devastating ways - FGM, domestic violence, rape - the thought that displaying pubic hair in its curly glory is the best thing women can do to help their kin is quite frankly farcical. This is a clear-as-day example of why this branch of feminist thought prevents many women from identifying themselves as modern feminists.