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The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair [Paperback]

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein , Kara-N Lesnik-Oberstein , Kar N. Lesnik-Oberstein

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Book Description

23 Dec 2010
This is the first academic book ever written on women and body hair, which has been seen until now 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 ignoring it completely. It would appear that 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. The last taboo also questions 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 and sexual and cultural identities. It is sure to provide many academic researchers with a completely fresh perspective on all of the fields mentioned above.

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'This is a genuinely entertaining and informative book that reveals body hair as a vital methodological lens by which to illuminate not only practices of regulation around gender and sexuality, but also highlighting how these are linked to 'race', colonialism and ultimately to to the ambiguities and efforts to contain the uncertain and fragile boundaries constructed within modern western culture between nature and culture.' --Prof. Erica Burman, Research Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University

About the Author

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein is Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Reading

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let the Front Cover Fool You... 28 Mar 2012
By CARLOS ROMERO - Published on
I was really disappointed I thought this book was going to be so much more! "The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair" by Karen Lesnik-Oberstein (as contributor and editor) and others, was an academic work from a feminist perspective. Their research was one-sided and limited to a sociopolitical analysis only. So I thought maybe I should cover what these well-meaning academics (cough...cough), surreptitiously left out. Here's my understanding on the subject: body hair on women was not really an issue (in the 20th century anyway), until research on human sexuality by the likes of Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, gave the global 'ruling elite' another incentive and excuse to further manipulate people (especially women). By dictating what is socially acceptable, as far as body image is concerned (brainwashing the masses). I believe body hair on men and women is natural and normal. Pubic hair on men and women is a secondary sex-characteristic, which in a scientific sense is very normal. The absence of pubic hair and body hair in male and female human-beings is a sign of sexual-immaturity (pre-puberty). So why has the removal of pubic hair and body hair become prevalent and an obsession among women (especially in western cultures)? It really has nothing to do with hygiene and cultural values, but everything to do with suppressing an important aspect in the soul-nature of humankind (free-will). How so you ask? To illustrate my point: think of Gustave Coubert's "L'origine du monde" 1866. Esoterically speaking, hair represented a physical connection (literally) to the natural world (The ancient Hebrew characters for hair and light were basically the same). In the Mystery Schools, hair was considered to have been dried-up astral-etheric streams of light that flowed into human-beings from the environment. The ruling powers of this world (Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces), want to negate spiritual cognition and the female element of nature (imagination, creativity, etc.), in order to better inhibit individual freedom and human development. Women, much more so than men, have always better represented this aspect of the human soul (Isis, Sofia, Demeter, Venus, Mary, etc.). Why do you think some religions (e.g. Orthodox-Judaism and Islam), force women to shave-off all of their body hair, among other depravities? Because, denying them control over their own bodies, makes them that much more submissive (ask any draconian organization about that, i.e. - the Vatican, CIA, MI5, Mossad, etc., etc.). Now the book did mention the fact, that the cosmetics industry and Hollywood have both played a pivotal role in creating the perception and image that body hair on women is somehow wrong or ugly. But no mention is made of how the 'porn industry' (which is really the underbelly of Hollywood), beginning in the late 80's, started featuring more and more women that were completely shaved in their pubic area. In conjunction to the porn industry, we had the brainwashing of the cosmetic firms and the fashion industry. Thus, this completed the transformation in how most women now appear on the beaches and in the swimming pools of America, as compared to the 60's and 70's. I'm not suggesting women didn't shave then, just not to the point they do today. The Americanization of the European woman has also gone unabated. But why are women made to feel so self-conscious and ashamed of their own body hair and body image? Think about it, why are they made to feel embarrassed and uptight, about something so natural like your own body hair? And where has society in general, developed the idea that body hair is somehow manly? The book of course, is silent on all this. Interestingly enough, the enlightened authors of this book (so much for academic research), never once make mention of how a certain section of the population (elitists and pedophiles), are so infatuated with prepubescent youth!! Which has a lot to do with this current trend, whether you're aware of it or not! Hopefully someday, someone will write a serious study dedicated to women and body hair (maybe I should be the one to write the book), that is free of the taint and malaise of Academia. And not presented as the last taboo either. (BTW: this whole image-obsessed and uptight society is by design. Plastic surgery, body-modification, and many other disorders, are part of the elitist agenda to stupefy the masses.)

Love and Peace,
Carlos Romero
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first-stab at the topic 12 Sep 2013
By Kati - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Overall the book is a bit dense and may cover some obscure angles, but the first essay especially is a wonderful starting point for anyone looking to get a good, academic perspective on visible, female body hair.
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