Screen star Kate Beckinsale was shocked by her Pearl Harbour co-star Ben Affleck's negative stance on English women - and made it her "mission" to smash his prejudices.
Affleck insisted girls from across the Atlantic didn't match up to the image-conscious Los Angeles ladies he was used to.
She recalls, "Ben Affleck used to say, 'English girls are really bad at doing their bikini waxes, and smell.'
"I thought, 'I will make it my mission to prove you wrong.'"
Lovely, right? Now I already loathe Mr. Affleck. He and Matt Damon both remind me of smug little monkeys, and B.A. always struck me as a bit of a jerk. So I shouldn't be surprised, really, that he would say something so ridiculous re: English women and their bikini waxes, especially since the state and style of women's' pubic hair has become such a popular topic of conversation. But are we really going to pretend that there isn't something inherently offensive about chumps like Ben Affleck making sweeping generalizations about how women should groom themselves?
In an episode of Sex in the City, Samantha's man friend comments that she's getting a little "wild down there." And in the previews for Mrs. Henderson Presents-- a movie about the opening of the Windmill theater during wartime London -- Mrs. Henderson (Dame Judy Dench) tells her manager not to worry when she informs him that her actresses will be appearing nude. And she tells him that he can put aside his concerns re: "the midlands," assuring him that "we'll have a barber." In a preview filled with ridiculously cliched jokes, even the SB had to admit that this one takes the biscuit. You can use all the gardening metaphors you want, but this ain't no Wordsworth.
And even if it was, it wouldn't be any less offensive. Pastoral images, particularly in America, were often invoked in order to conjure scenes of an unspoiled feminized wilderness just waiting for the white man to come over and cultivate it. Imperialism has always loved looking for a new garden to trim. And the rapist paradigm implicit in the cultivator / penetrator metaphor in these narratives is clearly articulated in ecofeminist analyses. And when it goes wrong: "the horror, the horror."
In the quintisential chick-lit cream puff, The Bergdorf Blondes, the protagonist refers to her vagina as "Rio." It's named, of course, after her Brazilian bikini wax. I'm sorry, but am I the only one disturbed by the undertones of orientalism here? Am I the only one made uncomfortable by sentences like "I got my first brazilian!" Hello! Brazil was the last country to outlaw slavery in the Americas, it suffered for decades under dictatorship and IMF structural adjustment programs, and is often depicted as a pleasure zone for rich white people who want to dance with exotic brown skinned people. Isn't it sort of troubling that people like Gwyneth Paltrow now go around crowing "a brazilian changed my life!" Good luck with that, sister.
Of course people can do whatever they want to their own bodies. It's when they start telling other people what to do that bothers me. But I do think that this trend (often lumped in with the macro-trend commonly referred to as "pornification") ought to be looked at critically. So I'll just leave you with this little bit from Mimi Spencer:
Like the removal of hair from other body parts, the Brazilian wax is being promoted by consumer capitalism particularly through beauty salons, popular magazines, and Web sites as a way for women to increase their attractiveness and sexuality. Notably absent from media coverage are critical views of this practice and its potential repercussions, including its contribution to the sexual objectification of girls and women and to the social construction of women as childlike.
This salon article
Let Waxing Wane
13 year olds waxing
Ben Affleck likes his nuts