Bare Boys

A friend recently sent me a link to this great article that appeared recently on the Bitch Magazine website (don’t know Bitch Magazine? start here…)

The article is called “Isn’t He Lovely: Bare Down There And Everywhere Else,” by Cristen Conger.

The well written article is about the new hairlessness among young men. The author talks about the notion of a “sanitized ideal” for men that seems to be taking the mainstream by storm. As she writes:

We’re talking hair-free, sweat-free, odor-free; in other words, the same unrealistic standards peddled to women for so long, à la leg and underarm shaving. And like the hairless female ideal, it isn’t just the most visible fur that men are tending to these days; statistically, men groom their pubic hair more than any other type of body hair (sans beards).

Though I haven’t formally embraced looking at male body hair practices (I’d love to though… just give me time). The article does point out (and rightly so) that while the increased pressure for me to depilate is sort of disturbing (in the sense that any widely normalized, readily embraced mechanism of body control is), men don’t face nearly the same levels of stigma that women do should they decide NOT to embrace the practice.

And again, the article asks some of the same questions I have around women’s pubic hair grooming habits: will the trend persevere as men age and settle down, or like with women, is the trend very much a short lived practice tied in with youthful, commitment-free sexuality.

I remember one of the young women I interviewed telling me about one of her regular ‘hook up’ partners, and the fact that being hairless was, in a sense, part of the ritual:

“It’s definitely more appealing,” she told me. “There was this one guy.. we were hook up buddies, I guess. I invited him over, and he was like ‘oh, I just shaved for you,’ and I was like ‘oh, cool…oh, I just waxed too.’ It was like, I did this thing for you. It was a positive thing…you know what I mean?”

There must be something in the casualness of the hook-up that is balanced by the ritualized grooming practice: it seems to acknowledge that ‘I know that we have this meaningless, strings-free intimate relationship, but I still did my part before showing up’.

You know what I mean?



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  • Cori

    When I read some blogs on here I was initially angry that I have been convinced by society that I need to be bare down there. However, it only bugs me when all of the hygienic expectations fall on women.

    Most youngish men now “man scape,” which is just shaving and trimming down there. It’s a totally different ordeal when both parties are somewhat expected to comply.
    My boyfriend did it when I first met him, and now we both still do. If he was disgusted at me for not woman scaping (which he never is), I would be pretty angry, but he holds himself to the same standard I guess.

    • hi Cori- thanks for writing. I get what you mean about being annoyed by the hygienic expectations falling on women. I have yet to hear about a guy thinking it’s ‘gross’ to have body hair. I’m interested in what you point out though – that if you’re both doing the grooming, then it seems more acceptable somehow. That sounds about right to me — equal opportunity hair-removal. But what if you both gave it up together? Would that fly?