Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Shaved pussies, pubescent girls, and creepy guys

It is curious to stand back and watch what happens. We're all trying to figure life out but a great deal of misinformation is floating around and we don't necessarily know it. This leads us to conclusions which are just out and out wrong. However, at the time, we would swear up and down that we were right.

The other day I was following a conversation on Twitter between a couple of women. (If they recognise themselves, I apologise for eavesdropping. Hmmm, is reading a public Twitter chat snooping?) They were discussing the phenomenon of a woman completely shaving her pubic hair. This was sparked by the following article.

Better After 50 - Jan 9/2014
The Case For Going Natural by Walker Thornton
If you do wax your pubic hair, are you doing it for your own pleasure or because your partner expects it? ... [A 20-30 year old woman] said that most of her friends go for total hair removal, because the guys are asking them to do so!!

In discussing the topic, Ms. Thornton goes on to quote a 2006 study which states:

Women in the 18 to 44 age group are more likely to remove hair in their pubic region than women over 45, perhaps because this age group is more likely to think that men prefer a well-manicured pubic region on a woman (38 percent of women aged 18-44 think most men prefer a manicured look, compared to 14 percent of women aged 45-54 and 3 percent of those aged 55 and older).

I had to bold what I consider to be a telling aspect of this story.

Thirty years ago (yes, I'm that old!), in 1984 to be exact, a lover shaved her bush. Now keep in mind this was 1984. There was no Internet. Access to porn was very limited so where this lover would have gotten the idea, I don't know.

Then she got the idea of shaving me. It was amusing. It was also a little scary. It's not every day I let a woman with a razor get up close and personal with my privates. Lorena Bobbitt indeed.

It was a shared experience of two lovers and after the fun was over, we went back to letting our hair grow out.

But.

I have a beard. You may think that because I have a beard I don't shave. But I do. I shave everyday and I trim my beard to keep it neat and tidy. My lover shaved her legs, her underarms, and trimmed her pubic hair. I said trimmed, not completely shaved. It was the style. I think that pretty much remains the style in our society.

Except for when it isn't and it becomes the topic of conversation of some women who rebel against what they think men want.

One of the women made the following remark:

not everyone into parading around looking like pubescent 12y/o bc it turns her creepy guy on

Does removing pubic hair make a woman look pubescent? Does that hairless look turn on her guy? And if the guy is turned on, does that make him creepy? Is this so-called creepy guy making the association between shaved pubic hair and pubescence or does he just like the hairless look and isn't associating this with a "pubescent 12 y/o" and isn't creepy at all?

I found this woman's remark very curious. If I saw a shaved pussy, I would not make the connection to a "pubescent 12y/o". Why did she? I can't help thinking that the above comment says more about the commentator than the topic of conversation. You don't know what a shaved pussy means but you immediately associate it with something perverted. You don't understand so you have an almost hysterical reaction fearing the worse.

There's nothing new under the sun
From Wikipedia's article on "Pubic hair: Cultural views":

According to the Oxford Companion to the Body, in the 1450s women would shave their pubic hair for personal hygiene and to combat pubic lice and would then don a merkin or pubic wig. In Middle Eastern societies, removal of female body hair has been considered proper hygiene, necessitated by local customs, for many centuries. In Islamic societies removing pubic hair is a religiously endorsed practice known as an act of Sunan al-Fitra. Evidence of pubic hair removal in ancient India dates back to 4000 to 3000 BC.

In more modern times, Wikipedia goes on to explain:

In Western societies, exposure of a woman's body hair below her neck has traditionally and continues to be widely disapproved of culturally. Many people consider exposure of pubic hair to be embarrassing. It may be regarded as immodest and sometimes as obscene. With the reduction in the size of swimsuits, especially since the coming into fashion and growth in popularity of the bikini since the 1940s, the practice of bikini waxing has also come into vogue. However, some people also remove pubic hair that is not exposed, for aesthetic, personal hygiene, cultural, religious, fashion, or other reasons.

Because of porn
The above commentator goes on to state that there are a lot of "closet pedophiles". Really? Another woman responds:

"I don't think there are THAT many closet pedos. Shaved for women has just become the standard in the past 20 years b/c of porn."

Is it because of porn? What about fashion? The bikini? The thong? Swimsuit fashions have gotten skimpier and skimpier over the years. How much has mainstream culture affected the trend towards trimming if not shaving pubic hair? While I don't discount pornography in our society, I find it hard to believe that porn outweighs pop culture: Beyoncé, Rhianna, Miley Cyrus, Hollywood actresses, reality stars, the latest fashion trends popping up on People's Magazine, US, and the National Enquirer. Let's not forget the famous picture of Brittany Spears shot up her dress showing her not wearing panties and also showing her hairless. I wonder where she got the idea to shave herself. And I wonder how many people were influenced by that picture and tried shaving. (NSFW uncensored photo of Britney)

the new expectation that women SHOULD & MUST shave & wax.

The new expectation? If a woman wears a skimpy swimsuit, she may not have a choice. That expectation may not be coming from a man; it could be coming from fashion, from our society itself. I find a number of web sites with lists of celebrities photographed without panties but said photos have an X strategically placed so I can tell how many of them may be following Brittany's hairless example.

However, if it is coming from a man, where did he get that idea? Porn? Britney Spears?

I grew up in the 60s, the era of Playboy. I am used to women shaving their legs and their underarms. Is this good or bad? Some women have rebelled against this model. I, personally, have never been with a woman who decided to go au naturel. Would I like it? I don't think so. And this leads me to ask the question whether I have been influenced, whether "my tastes" have been determined by the 60s, by the Playboy era.

Then again, do I fault Playboy? By the 60s, women in Western society had been shaving their legs and underarms for decades. I don't think it was because of Playboy at all. In that light, I ask two questions. If a man asks a woman to shave her pubic hair, did he get that idea from porn? If a woman does it because she thinks a man wants that, where did she get that idea? From porn? From culture in general? From a skimpy swimsuit? From Britney Spears?

But after this back and forth complaining in part because of the perception men are forcing women to shave their pubic hair, one woman comments:

I like the feel of being shaved/trimmed. Also, if I were my guy, I wouldn't want a face full of pubes.

So, it isn't a question of creepy guy being perverted; it is a question of the woman liking it.

But on the other side of the divide, I shave and I trim daily. I try to look neat and stylish. I don't do it because of a woman; I do it for me because I feel better about myself. Note what I said. A man can grow a beard, but a stylish beard involves shaving and trimming.

What's my point?
Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. I know that all of us are trying to figure life out and we're doing our best but is that good enough?

Gail Dines, author of the book "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality", puts forward the thesis that pornography has left us all in the dumpster. However, is this in fact true? Critics of Dines have pointed out, and even the author in interviews has admitted this, there are no empirical studies to back up her ideas. Is porn (or erotica) inherently wrong or are we putting our own interpretation on it? (see my blog: Erotica vs. Pornography: What's the difference?)

Dr. Diana E. H. Russell espouses the theory that men who view pornography are predisposed to rape. That's her theory. Unfortunately, there are no studies to back up this idea and in fact, studies have shown that as the availability of pornography goes up, the incidence of sexual crime goes down. (see my blog: The Sex, The Whole Sex, and Nothing But The Sex)

Pundits, news analysts, and mothers condemned Miley Cyrus's twerking as another example of the sexualisation of girls. And yet, people have developed physical fitness programs based on the dance. Is twerking inherently wrong or are we putting our own spin on it? (see my blog: Miley Cyrus, Twerking, and Slut Shaming)

People generally associate pole dancing with strippers and all things seedy and yet actress Sheila Kelly has created an exercise program based around the pole. Is pole dancing inherently wrong or are we linking it to what we consider to be bad? (see my blog: Sheila Kelley: Let's Get Naked: TED Talk)

Final Word
In my blog The Sex, The Whole Sex, and Nothing But The Sex I asked what people two hundred years from now are going to be laughing about in our current society. In the same way we chuckle at those who once thought the Earth was flat, are people in the future going to look back on our beliefs and wonder how we could possibly have come up with such ideas?

I grew up in an era of bushes. Like my beard, though, it can be trimmed to keep it neat and tidy. Considering fashion, skimpy swimsuits may require a person to be trimmed. In other words, completely shaving pubic hair is a trend. It is not the end of the world and it is not making some sort of connection to something perverted. Why oh why is there a hysterical reaction on the part of the public? Anything new, anything outside the bounds of a person's own experience, sometimes leads to an immediate condemnation of the thing in question. People have no idea of what they're talking about but they give an opinion anyway. I would contend this merely adds to the cacophony of misinformation in our society. Sometimes a shaved pussy is just a shaved pussy.


References

Aside: On February 14th one year, the lover I mentioned above shaved her pubic hair in the shape of a heart. It was the best Valentine's Day surprise I have ever had in my life. February is around the corner. There's my suggestion for making 2014 a little more memorable.

Wikipedia: Pubic hair
Hair does not in itself have any intrinsic sexual value other than the attributes given to it by individuals in a cultural context. Some cultures are ambivalent in relation to particular body hair, with some being regarded as attractive while others being regarded as unaesthetic. Many cultures regard pubic hair to be erotic. In most cultures, both men and women are expected to cover their pubic hair at all times, but sometimes this is because it is associated with genitalia.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (published 1934)
"The other night I took her on-out of pity-and what do you think the crazy bitch had done to herself? She had shaved it clean ... not a speck of hair on it. Did you ever have a woman who shaved her twat? It's repulsive, ain't it? And it's funny, too. Sort of mad like. It doesn't look like a twat any more: it's like a dead clam or something." He describes to me how, his curiosity aroused, he got out of bed and searched for his flashlight. "I made her hold it open and I trained the flashlight on it. You should have seen me ... it was comical. I got so worked up about it that I forgot all about her. I never in my life looked at a cunt so seriously."

Jezebel - Feb 10.2012
What Guys Think About the Hair Down There by Anna North
This week, we asked, (again by reader request — keep 'em coming, readers!) "What do you expect to see, pubic-hair-wise, when the pants come off? And what are your reactions to your partners' choice? Completely shaven? Landing strip? Trimmed? Au naturel? Do you have a preference?" Below, guys share their pubic preferences.

gurl magazine - Apr 1/2013
What Do Guys Really Think About Hair Down There? by Caitlin Corsetti
I’m sure there are some guys who prefer no hair but from what I understand, most guys are just happy to venture down yonder. It was really refreshing actually to hear a guy tell me that he didn’t care because I think it’s something that was subconsciously in my head.

Intimate Hair: Everything you ever wanted to know about pubic hair
Pubic Hair Ideas & Styles for Women & Men, Waxing & Shaving Pubic Hair & More!

NSFW (Not Safe For Work): Gallery of Pubic Hair Styles
The things I look at in order to write this blog. It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.

2014-01-14

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4 comments:

Lanthie Ransom said...

Don't care what you guys think - I wax it all off as it makes me feel more comfortable.

D. A. Wolf said...

Mr. Belle,

Your wit works wonders! I believe in a woman's right to do whatever she pleases with the assorted parts on her person. My personal preferences on privates shall remain private, however... I am mightily amused by your, well... position on the matter.

I believe it is very balanced. The historical aspect in particular lends gravitas. My annoyance at gravity aside (these days), gravitas on the internet (with a smidgen of sarcasm) is always, always a pleasure.

And incidentally, Tropic of Cancer is, dare I say it, a masterpiece.

Katy Anders said...

There seem to be an awful lot of things that are cited as undermining feminism or sexuality in a way that is fundamentally different from trends in the past. Unfortunately, there is no objective standard to know... Years later, maybe it will be obvious, as you say. But the fact that people sometimes take significant time and effort to look a certain way for themselves should not be discounted at all.

Chloe Jeffreys said...

I think unequal pay is a far more serious concern than pubic hair.

I would like someone to do a study about who gets more oral sex, women with beards or women without. I have my own suspicions. I certainly know I'm not a fan of hair stuck in my teeth.