I just came upon a really well-written and interesting post written by a young woman who has wrestled with the question of how and why to love her own pubic hair. Interestingly, she doesn’t love it, but she doesn’t love that she doesn’t… her writing on the issue is really great — raw and real. These are the confessions and the conversations that make the internet so amazing.
A second, similar entry on the Feminist Dating website — called “A Bushy Dilemma” — is also worth a read. Both articles raise all kinds of issues around socialization and body-hatred (an important issue that never seems to go away, no matter how we wrestle with it).
The site itself doesn’t seem to be particularly active, which is a shame, ’cause it’s got some good stuff on it.
I could say something about how tiring it is to read another “just for fun” article thriving on hilarious stereotypes (full bush? “You definitely have spent at least 10 minutes looking at your own vagina in a hand mirror”), but I’m not sure I have it in me.
Yes, I know… in my last post I swore up and down that I was back at it, and that the posts would be coming fast and furious. And then what happened? I dropped the ball.
I certainly haven’t forgotten about you. Every day I read some interesting thing about pubic hair out there, and think “gotta update the blog” and for whatever reason, that day slips away and it doesn’t happen.
I suppose the fact is that at some point it all comes around again. The to-shave-or-not-to-shave debate rages on as it has for the last few years. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that I’ve said what I need to say – and that I’ve run out of things to add. People are going to do what they want to do (as they should!). My issue is, and has always been, that people should be made aware of what their choices are – and I guess that’s what has driven me in the past. It often seems that young people (especially women) aren’t always entirely aware that they have a choice about the body they choose to present to the world: that they have a choice about how to groom their hair, about whether they want to wear make-up or not, about whether leggings are an appropriate alternative to pants.
Pubic hair has been back in the media again lately, though.
Apparently scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, are also finding that pubic hair grooming injuries are “on the rise” these days. Seems like a very good reason to stick with a good trim and leave full hair removal for bits of the body that are more readily accessible.
I guess I’ll leave things there for now. I look forward to being in more regular contact…
Yes, that’s right: when you spend your spare time thinking about the political significance of public hair, you never run out of fodder for party small talk. Nor do you ever run out of things to make you mad. Here’s the latest thing — send to me by a number of friends/readers/allies.
Seems besides having intimate bits that are too hairy, it’s also possible to have genitals that are “too brown.” At least that’s what the people who produce a new product aimed at Indian woman. Evidently, the product is some kind of intimate wash that also helps to make your vulva “many shades fairer”. Curious? Here’s the television ad:
Predictably, our protagonist is sad with her ordinary vagina, but is radiantly happy once she’s doused it in chemicals. I’ve written before about the notion of the vagina as being “dirty” until all its protective hair is whisked away. This is a product that actually exactly embodies “your vagina is dirty” mentality. That graphic, with the product lightening an animated groin seems to say it all. Sigh.
Huffington Post’s got a good article on the top. Have a read here:
And as I’ve written before, I love it when readers get in touch. I had a nice little note from Emily recently, who got in touch to tell me about a recent experience she had reading Cosmopolitan magazine.
Here’s what she wrote:
I was at a friend’s house the other day and found something in a magazine that seemed relevant to The Last Triangle.
Looking at Cosmo is like looking at a car crash. I know I’m going to be horrified by what I see, but if there is one there, I still look. The image I attatched is a snap of “99 sex questions answered”. I know not to expect much from Cosmo, but it was still upsetting to see that when one’s lover has a preference for pubes, this publication is encouraging her to leave him the bare minimum. Oh, the implications.
She also sent along this snapshot:
As Emily points out, the problem with this is, of course, that at no point is the poor woman told that her boyfriend would probably be just fine with nothing more than a little trim. But the only option this mainstream mag can offer up is the landing strip: a (probably) salon-driven grooming practice requiring pain, money, time, effort.
As I’ve said a million times: I believe women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, as long as they know what the options are. Magazines like this would have all young women believe there are only a few ways of being in the world.
Nope, pubic hair continues to thrive as a topic for debate in online forums everywhere. Today, I will direct your attention to an article on Salon.com called “Is Everyone Manscaping?” which mostly goes on about the same old stuff. This little tidbit did pique my interest, however:
“Last year a study out of the Kinsey Institute found that there is “no one dominant pubic hair style” among women. Young ladies are far more likely to have experimented with different degrees of deforestation but most women have “at least some pubic hair on the genitals.”
Agree? (The article is mostly about men, however).
And more man-stuff: you can follow one man’s (very detailed) recounting of the experience of getting a Brazilian wax at RVA News. Nathan Cushing tells his story in three parts, the second of which is here:
If you haven’t read it yet, I would strongly recommend you cast your eyes over this fascinating and disturbing article by Marie Myung-Ok Lee that ran recently in The Guardian. The article explores cosmetic gynaecology – the demand for which (at least according to the article) has “never been higher – taking us behind the scenes at a disturbing little convention where women’s vulvas really do become straight up commodities.
I’d love to hear what you think about anything you’ve read.
Two interesting articles for consideration today. This one, that appeared it yesterday’s Globe and Mail, is about how women are pursuing labiaplasty even when they are ‘normal’ “down there”. I’ve written about labiaplasty before: that’s when women have (unnecessary) cosmetic surgery to make their inner labia smaller (ie. more child/barbie doll-like). The article suggests that most women are seeking out the surgery to “improve their appearance” (sorry for all the quotation marks, but I find it hard to write those words without pointing out how silly they are), though some women argue it’s also due to physical discomfort.
I know I’ve said it before, but if we weren’t all so caught up in banishing our pubic hair, our labia would get to hang out and do its thing in true comfort, rather than being stripped bare for scrutiny.
And after all that body-hate, some vag-love:
Today’s London Evening Standard includes this story about “a new frankness about vaginas” in which the writer goes on about a movement geared towards celebrating all things vaginal (while also drawing my attention to a disturbing new word for female genitalia – “clunge”).
The author suggests that the trend towards vaginally themed crafts, drawing classes and pop-cultural frankness on the subject is “a reaction against the tyranny of waxing and vajazzling – porn chic culture where young men surfing the internet see only hairless models and are therefore surprised to discover that young women have pubic hair.”
I just wanted to draw your attention to a piece of commentary in Monday’s edition of British newspaper, The Independent. Written by Mary Ann Sieghart, the article is entitled “Time to overturn the tyranny of porn”. In it, she raises all kinds of important points, like why Christine Lagarde, the new head of the IMF, is being judged for her ‘sexiness’ in the media.
As Sieghard rightly points out:
“it’s no longer enough to be successful in your chosen field: to be a good lawyer or economist or minister. You are expected to look gorgeous too. Yet who would ever expect the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be sexy (let alone the sexiest man in the world)? Or the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick?”
She later goes on to consider the influence that porn in having on all of us — and gets specific in the demands it has placed on women’s fashion and body practices:
High heels stop you running for a bus. They stop you running from danger. You can’t stride out in them; indeed, you can’t even keep up with the man you’re walking alongside. In a word, they make you submissive – just as having a Brazilian makes you look like a submissive pre-teen or willing porn actress.
See the pattern? These trends are sold to us, in a hideously Orwellian fashion, as “empowering”. No, it’s not empowering to be hobbled by excruciating heels. Nor is it empowering to be encouraged to dance suggestively with a pole. It’s tacky, it’s tarty, it’s undignified and it’s wholly inappropriate unless you’ve embarked on a career as a prostitute.
This seeping of sex, and a particular type of porn-inspired plastic sex, into ordinary life is really debilitating for women. I never thought I’d sound like Mary Whitehouse – God knows I loathed her prudishness when I was growing up – but sex should be a beautiful, loving, private, natural, exciting thing between two grown-up people, not an arid, artificial, commodified, public and frankly pervy pressure on the way women are supposed to look even to men for whom they have no desire.
The whole article is definitely worth a read, if you’ve got a few minutes.
While you’re at it, I’d also recommend scrolling down to read some of the comments. These comments, posted by rt356 particularly caught my attention:
I’m 20 and every single man (excepting one) I’ve either had sex with or discussed this with (mostly in a situation similar to this, debating feminism etc) has flat out said they wouldn’t have sex with a woman who didn’t wax/shave down there. So it’s definitely a generational thing, given that the men I generally come into contact with are under 30, and have mostly grown up watching porn, anything else seems ‘weird’ or (as is often incorrectly assumed) ‘unhygienic’. Some have even admitted if they see pubic hair on a woman then they find it impossible to get in the mood.
Her comments kind of blow my mind, but then I’ve heard similar things anecdotally. These are strange times, indeed…