It is remarkable to me the amount of candor people were willing to exhibit on this subject. In fact, everyone seemed delighted to talk about their pubic preferences, a normally concealed area, both literally and figuratively. In magazines there are now references to waxing styles and grooming techniques, but as a whole, the choices each man and woman makes about their most hidden hair, and the subsequent implications, are quickly brushed over.
Personal grooming is one of the most interesting facets of human life, in my opinion, as it is a very private affair in which many people are left up to their own devices to create their own rituals of shaving, washing, or plucking, and in many cases can reveal secret obsessions or cultural brainwashing. Think about douching for a moment. Does anyone under the age of fifty think this is normal? And yet large parts of the boomer and silent generations (everyone over 50) not only partook of this, but thought of it as a regular part of personal hygiene. And I know a couple of people who secretly spend hours plucking stray hairs deemed too dark or wiry or mispositioned, which on any other person would go unnoticed. And Teeth! I didn’t realize my teeth were kind-of yellow until the entire american population decided to get whitestrips and now have magazine smiles, which are striking but in my head represent the victory of marketing more than anything else. Which is not to say I won’t buy myself some home bleaching strips when I get stateside.
The poll: How do you prefer your pubic hair, and how do you prefer your partners’?
The overwhelming response has been shaved or waxed. Most of the ladies responded that they shave their side bits (that would show outside of a bikini, or panties) and the underneath bits, and leave only a small strip in the front. Most men also responded that they trim. There were, of course, exceptions, and many women noted that they do not maintain their shaving habits when not pursuing sex.
As far as I can figure, the purpose of pubic hair is protection, literally, scent holding, and lubrication of a sort during sex. Hair in the armpits and pubic region grow at sexual maturity, and most women shave or wax their armpits, and I would say this is from a cultural aesthetic context. Women who do not shave these parts of their bodies immediately identify themselves as belonging to a subculture or counter culture, either a hippy, or from another country where they don’t shave their legs… Hair grooming has always been a means of identifying oneself. So what is the message in a shaved pubic area? What is the message you are telling your partner?
Which came first, the porn or the shave? As far as I can tell, women started to shave their pubes around the same time that porn went hairless. How that disseminated into popular culture, I’m not sure, but I think the internet has something to do with it. Because both porn, and the way it is viewed have changed drastically over the last few decades. Women in seventies porn. They looked good. I think most people agree on that point, both men and women could appreciate it, but today the magazine and movie porn industry has pubic hair phobia. And if women shaving their pubic hair originated from pornography, does that say something about women’s desire to objectify themselves? Because I’m pretty sure women don’t look at a bald yoni and think its beautiful. It looks like sex, whereas I can appreciate playboy photos from the seventies with full bushes. Is pubic hair a distinction between beautiful sex and dirty sex?
The main reason given by all women for why they removed most of their hair was to better receive oral sex. That it is for the ease of the man, and thus, the pleasure of the women, to have a cleaner, neater vagina. And many women said that they do not maintain their grooming when not having sex. So I think I can conclude that it is about sex and availability. I might also go so far to say it represents the constant sexualization of the female body.
It is the natural female form vs the male-serving female form rendered by the pornography industry . An always accessible, always viewable sex organ, the clearing away of the veil of feminine sexual mystique. I also think it has to do with feminism and women’s fears about a powerful woman being unattractive. That somehow, equity was too threatening and so the shaved pubic hair says, I can still be a porn star for you, I can still be a sexual object, don’t worry.
Part of feminism is respecting a woman’s right to make choices about her own life and I am into each woman being able to do whatever she wants to her body, but it is the overwhelming cultural choice for women’s pubic hair to be pruned which I find troubling.
Mostly because I never got the memo. I woke up one day and all my friends had landing strips and waxing appointments. How did everyone make this decision on their own? It never even occurred to me until midway through my twenties to shave anything but what would show outside a bathing suit, and no boyfriend has ever complained or desired it otherwise ( I started to ask).
I suspect that when asked, most women would say that it was a boyfriend that first asked them to shave, and I invite you, the reader, to answer the question: when did you first shave your pubic hair, and why?
Now to the men. Men say that they shave/trim their pubic hair for hygienic purposes but also to make their penises look larger. It is not that men haven’t always been obsessed with large penises, it is the fact that this visual effect is in concurrence with women’s desire for visual effect in a similar manner that is interesting. Again I come back to porn, which has laid a heavier value on visual cues to sexual arousal than ever before in a broad cultural context.
Removing the hair will remove the binder of natural pheromones that biologically lead to sexual interest and arousal. Is it all to transcend biology?
By most men and women, pubic hair is sometimes considered dirty. Because sex is dirty, perhaps. Or base. Sex is the last thing humans have in common with every other animal on the planet. Modern life and technology have made it so that most people do not, if they wish it, have to be aware that they are animals at all, they eat from boxes and cans, sleep in beds of white linens in houses of metal and stone, drink coffee to stay awake, take pills to go to sleep. Sex is the last juicy, smelly, raw, indulgent, physical, pleasurable animal act. Perhaps shaving the hair is a way to deny that connection to the physical world, to our bodies, a way to pretend we are not all born of blood and strain and danger, that the vagina and the penis are controllable.
I was surprised to see that many men preferred a trimmed pubic area on themselves and on others. Granted, that I live in a hot humid area and hygiene is actually a factor here, but there was great debate to whether or not lack of hair (and a supposedly larger looking penis) was somehow less masculine because of the implications of testosterone in hirsuteness.
In ending, I have to add that I would like anyone to add their comments and insights into this topic, as all data is fairly unscientific and open to much discussion. Also if anyone knows more about this topic on an anthropological level I’d be very interested. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. Shave or don’t shave. It’s not gonna stop climate change or anything. Peace.