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Disappearance
October 14, 2011 9:20 PM   Subscribe


 
Hairstyles change. Mountains out of umm... molehills.
posted by melt away at 9:33 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The disappearing bush is a burning issue.

I kind of get the feeling he started from this line and worked backwards.
posted by emjaybee at 9:37 PM on October 14, 2011 [52 favorites]


He sleeps with girls all the time. He’s never seen a woman’s pubic hair.

Is he blind? Is he a pedophile?

A hairless vagina is symbolically unhinged not only from reproductive possibility, but from spiritual union, from knowing

Men shave pretty frequently too these days, you know. Trimming isn't the same as hairlessness - to some degree it's convenience and courtesy and to some degree aesthetics

But no, if a human female alters her body in any way you might as well take feminism and the beauty of nature out back and put bullets in their heads. Please
posted by crayz at 9:38 PM on October 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


It displays free-standing sex organs, separated from reproductive sense, staging a physical encounter between erect boys and open girls in a magical garden where one can live forever.

Is this guy getting paid by the word?
posted by Scoo at 9:40 PM on October 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Metafilter: Powerful vectors are at work in our underpants.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:40 PM on October 14, 2011 [37 favorites]


Trim your bush.
posted by Chuffy at 9:41 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean really, this is the long-winded internet rant equivalent of "how about those airline peanuts". We get it dude. You can write words about stuff. Next time try to have a point
posted by crayz at 9:42 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Good thing there's easy-going fellas like me out there, right, ladies? Fear no pressure from the t-dog!
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:45 PM on October 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Godsdammit. Vaginas are ALWAYS hairless. That's the inside bit. VULVAS sport hair or don't, as their Mistresses please.
posted by MissySedai at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2011 [100 favorites]


So my big take away after skimming through the article is that a landing strip is to pussy as Talbots is to fashion.

And now I'm feeling a little self-conscious and old. Awesome.
posted by ohyouknow at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh, call me a SNAG, but the references to "beaver", "snatch", and other schoolboy slang for a woman's vagina, not to mention a fucking William S. Burrogh's quotation clearly pointed out to me that this guy is out to lunch. Or perhaps stuck in the 1960's.

What we need is some sort of Occupy Wall Street position on the trimming of pubes. A Brazilian is expensive, so all the 30 and 40-somethings with landing strips this guy is talking about have to belong to the 1%, right? We'll never know for sure (unless we ask someone from the TSA what their backscatter machines show them), so in the meantime some 60-something writer will watch pornos and then wax poetic about pubic hair and existence.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think there are incredibly important questions we, as a society, could (and should) ask about women's pubic hair.

Every once in a while, in Ask.Me, there will be a question by some young woman who is downright drowning in shame about the fact that her body has hair on it. She'll ask if anyone will ever sleep with her, if there's a hair on her. She'll say that Brazilian waxes really irritate her skin, but she really doesn't want to disgust her partner. She doesn't beg for forgiveness in the thread, but you can read it in her tone. Every single time, it breaks my heart. Every single time, I want to respond with something like, "Don't you know you have worth, and can be sexy, and a valuable sex partner, even if you don't suffer through hair removal?"

I have nothing against women who really justlike being hairless. S'all good, if it's something you actually want for yourself. But more and more, it's as if a hair-free pubic zone is a new standard being put on women. Yet another impossible guideline that requires pain, difficulty, and shame when you eventually fail to live up to it.

This matters. It's just hair, but it really matters.

But I don't think this article really handles the issue appropriately.
posted by meese at 9:49 PM on October 14, 2011 [158 favorites]


Imagine an American guy saying: “Wow, that is so vagina!” You can’t.

But you should, dammit! Internets, please make this a thing.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:51 PM on October 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


It is an erotic sacrifice, not unlike young initiate warriors suspended with hooks in their shoulders. It is a display of badness, not only for the man who dares to get that far, but for other women in the gym or the shower room before whom you show you are willing to go to the limit, to endure a measure of pain for your pleasure, and are thereby owed a measure of awe by other women.

No. Totally the opposite. As ever, the avant-garde is determined by its ability to shirk convention, and go against the mainstream.

Hair is in. Hair is rebellion. Whatever is the mainstream, the leading edge is necessarily counter to that -- and hairless has been mainstream for a long time, already. There is no "measure of awe" attached to going hairless as there would be for doing what you damn well please, meaning in this instance, going for a more natural look.

I also suggest that the author hasn't looked at mainstream porn in a while. Hell, even armpit hair is making a reappearance.

The pendulum is swinging, as it always has. And this author is way, way behind it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:51 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Men shave pretty frequently too these days, you know.

A thousand years ago, Norman men completely shaved the back of their heads. And men have been shaving beards and mustaches for longer than that.

Body hair is body hair. I don't get the idea that it's perfectly normal to cut the hair on your head, but if you trim/shave anywhere else there is something nefarious about it.
posted by three blind mice at 9:53 PM on October 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope to hell this guy has a nice thick beard on his face.
posted by auto-correct at 9:56 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hair is in. Hair is rebellion.

Hair, flow it, show it
Long as God can grow, my hair

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas, in my hair
A home for fleas, a hive for the buzzing bees
A nest for birds, there ain't no words
For the beauty, splendor, the wonder of my hair

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow, my hair
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:57 PM on October 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can understand comparing facial hair to, say, leg hair or armpit hair... But I'm not really seeing the comparison between a beard and the hair that grows on one's labia.
posted by meese at 9:58 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am hairy. I would go outright and say I am downright furry, by name as well as by nature. Yes, I am shy to be seen naked, because I am hairy and I know that's considered ugly. But I see me naked more than anyone else and privately, goddammit, I like my fur. I like to scruffle it and make it stand on end, I like the copper-brown of it against my too-pale skin, I wish I had a full-on PELT instead of the monkey-patches I'm stuck with, and if a guy wants to puke because he sees my hairy bod, then he can kiss my hairy ass.
posted by The otter lady at 9:59 PM on October 14, 2011 [89 favorites]


Men who spend a lot of time in Italy should be formally and legally barred from writing articles having anything whatsoever to do with gender issues.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


My beard joins my chest hair. Could someone please explain to me where this situates me on the modern politico-sexual spectrum?
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 10:04 PM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not totally keen on all the lyrics (the "look like an 8 year old" line kinda pisses me off), but here you go.
posted by King Bee at 10:10 PM on October 14, 2011


For Italian men the smell of a vagina is something earthy.

Like a potato.
posted by benzenedream at 10:11 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Any man who asked me to go hairless would have to do it to himself first. Fair's fair.
posted by emjaybee at 10:13 PM on October 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm sick of men (or anyone else for that matter) telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing with our bodies.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:13 PM on October 14, 2011 [22 favorites]


auto-correct: "I hope to hell this guy has a nice thick beard on his face"

Or, ya know, you could click his name in the article and check for yourself.

SPOILER! He kinda does.
posted by barnacles at 10:13 PM on October 14, 2011


Like a potato.

Puber tuber.
posted by zippy at 10:14 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The otter lady"I am hairy. I would go outright and say I am downright furry"

I'm guessing your MeFi handle isn't just a happy coincidence then.
posted by MikeMc at 10:14 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sounds like the guy's thesis is that there's a direct relationship with how much hair you allow yourself to keep and how much actual love is involved in your lovemaking. Trimmed Italian women and their romantic vagina-loving Italian men vs Brazillian-ed-up American college women and their random hook-ups. "Nobody knows who's going to see me naked next, I better be presentable!" Kind of like letting any random guy see that is a kind of intimacy that isn't allowed, almost like covering the hair on your head.
posted by bleep at 10:22 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or, ya know, you could click his name in the article and check for yourself

You expect me to click the links? NEVER.

(He also makes sure that we see a tasty morsel of chest hair. The man can't write for shit, but he stands by his beliefs)
posted by auto-correct at 10:22 PM on October 14, 2011


I apologize for how hetero-normative my above comment sounds. I was just thinking about the terms presented in the article.
posted by bleep at 10:23 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>Imagine an American guy saying: “Wow, that is so vagina!” You can’t.

>But you should, dammit! Internets, please make this a thing.


I came here to say it will be a thing. Brick-to-London odds within the next 20 years.

Vagina is so cash. [NSWF language]
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:25 PM on October 14, 2011


Well, I mean, it depends on what he's into. Variety is not a bad thing in bed. As a 24/7/365 thing, though, it would get kind of old.
posted by skbw at 10:26 PM on October 14, 2011


A porn body is not a body that loves, a body to which love adheres.

What in the fuck does this even mean? Or rather…

The fuck, spent like her father's juices, question its existence in a spiral of comeuppance.

This is bullshit masquerading as literacy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:26 PM on October 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


... and he's a professor of religious studies? Wow.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My beard joins my chest hair. Could someone please explain to me where this situates me on the modern politico-sexual spectrum?

At the risk of making this thread even more What About Men? than it already is, no word of a lie, my eyebrow (singular, because, let's face it, they all are eventually) joins my hairline. They really ought to tell you in sex ed that the new-hair-in-weird-places thing never fucking ends.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:31 PM on October 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


This guy writes like a lot of the faux mystical types that pepper RS departments--and though I have maybe slept with 5 women over the last few years, all of them had quite a bit of hair; but then i met them in places where that would be more likely--variety, spice, life, et. al.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:34 PM on October 14, 2011


... and he's a professor of religious studies? Wow.

Meh, he reminds me a lot like the various male History, English, Philosophy and Creative Writing professors I had back in the early 90s. A few of my classmates, who now teach college, turned out like him, using their words like fists.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:34 PM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


For Italian men the smell of a vagina is something earthy. The vagina for them is a prize, a beautiful flower to be admired and won, not as in the United States, a term of disdain, a cunt.

Oh brother.
posted by critzer at 10:34 PM on October 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


A few of my classmates, who now teach college, turned out like him, using their words like fists

*giggle*
posted by crayz at 10:36 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh brother.

I'm with you on that one. I didn't think my eyes were capable of rolling that far back into my skull.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:38 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can't we all agree to just trim down that jungle a bit? I mean no one here is looking for a rugburn. Just a little 3 blade trim down is all I ask.

No one likes hair stuck in their teeth over pancakes in the morning.
posted by sanka at 10:38 PM on October 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Talk about overthinking a plate of beaver.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:39 PM on October 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Vagina As All Fuck
posted by codswallop at 10:41 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is what I think of when I think of a shaved quim.

Or to be more correct - with the aid of some airbrushing - how can anyone find this sexy??? Please ladies, a landing strip at the very least.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:43 PM on October 14, 2011


Can't we all agree to just trim down that jungle a bit?

As always the answer is Moderation In All Things, including pubes.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:43 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I LIKED this, dammit. I was gonna come in here and enthuse about it, but after reading the comments I feel like merely saying I like it is going to be radical enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 PM on October 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Get off my [gf's] lawn.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:45 PM on October 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Fuck's sake, I just read the author's bio and it reminded me exactly why I got out of academia and all the wank that goes along with it.
posted by critzer at 10:48 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean no one here is looking for a rugburn. Just a little 3 blade trim down is all I ask.

The irony is trimming the bush makes things very painful for everyone. In Japan, women (usually concubines or prostitutes) used to use a lighted flame to trim their public hair (presumably in order to prevent the spread of public lice), as burning off hair leaves no uncomfortable jagged tips.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 PM on October 14, 2011


Please ladies, a landing strip at the very least.

Or how about we do what we goddamn please without worrying if some dude on the internet approves of our grooming habits.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:51 PM on October 14, 2011 [101 favorites]


Godsdammit. Vaginas are ALWAYS hairless. That's the inside bit. VULVAS sport hair or don't, as their Mistresses please.


Pet peeve of mine too, and when i hear "hair on the vagina", all i can think of are those dreams i have where i have long hair on my tongue, and have to pull it out, and imagine that's what they are talking about. ;)

On a side note, out of all the women i've photographed nude (link goes to a collection on my flickr, which is safe, once you go into the sets though, probably not), not one had more than a little hair, most most had none. This wasn't by me asking or anything either, they just had none. Also, the two women i've been with in the last 11 years also either shaved or waxed, again more for their own reasons.
posted by usagizero at 10:55 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or how about we do what we goddamn please without worrying if some dude on the internet approves of our grooming habits.

CAN I GET A WITNESS?!!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:57 PM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


A thousand years ago, Norman men completely shaved the back of their heads.

Don't forget the Romans too, who plucked most body hair. Not having soap as we imagine it probably didn't help, as rubbing oil and then scraping it off was easier with less hair. (forget the details, it's late, and i'm tired, but wanted to toss it out there that this less hair thing is not even remotely new)
posted by usagizero at 10:58 PM on October 14, 2011


If I had to sit and pluck out every body hair on my body I literally wouldn't have time left for functioning. And I'm not even Italian.
posted by bleep at 11:00 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Or how about we do what we goddamn please without worrying if some dude on the internet approves of our grooming habits.

Oh grar. And as a guy I can let my mustache grow down and cover my lips, but I won't expect most women to want to kiss me. This is the internet, no one is forcing you to change your body to more pleasant for intimacy with others

Does it also oppress you how society suggests clipping your fingernails and not just letting them grow into hamster wheels?
posted by crayz at 11:02 PM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here are a few of my favorite pieces of bullshit from this article:

“‘He’s never seen it,’ a friend recounted to me about his good-looking, sexually active collegiate son. What, I asked? ‘Snatch,’ he replied. ‘It’s like a princess phone. He sleeps with girls all the time. He’s never seen a woman’s pubic hair.’”

The moment I read this passage, I was suddenly torn – whom do I envy more? A son who is so wonderfully comfortable with his parents that he happily mentions to his father, 'gee, dad, I've never seen snatch'? – A father so generally easygoing that he happily says to his friends, 'say, you know what? My son has never seen snatch'? – or a man like Roger, who actually apparently finds this so acceptable and tasteful an exchange that he thinks he should have it published and listed on his professorial profile? O brave new world, that has such creatures in't!

“Beverly Woxell, a tall voluptuous mother of two and a well-known aesthetician in Santa Barbara where I live, had to go up to San Francisco to learn to do the Brazilian wax... ”

For a moment here, I thought to myself: 'I wonder how he met this woman? Were there formal interviews? Just how professional was this process?' However, after noticing how the word "voluptuous" crept in, I found myself trying desperately to think of something else.

“Pubic hair signals our capacity to make life...”

This is scientifically proven by the fact that people who don't have very much hair are invariably found to be impotent.

“The vagina is our template for the ultimate sacred space, a holy of holies where no one else can enter: unseeable, unsayable, the template of pleasure by which the pains of this worldly existence are to be measured... A woman’s pubic hair veils the passage, marking the sacrality of that space of knowing.”

Well, I guess that's one reason to be glad I'm not a woman; it must be tough to walk around with a sacralized space of knowing between your legs.

“A porn body is not a body that loves, a body to which love adheres.”

As a person who is generally against pornography, both morally and politically, let me just say here that this is an execrable sentiment. People in porn are capable of loving and being loved. Making dirty movies does not bar you from love. Yeesh, do I really have to say this?

“Pubic space is becoming public space.”

That's such a nice sentence that it's a pity he had to use it without being able to come up with a meaning for it.

“For young women the removal of pubic hair becomes a painful rite, my daughter Hannah explains to me, a proud marker that you unashamedly own your sex, that you are ready, accessible, and you demand your own pleasure.”

Once again with the envy. It must be very interesting to live a planet where this kind of exchange is perfectly normal.

“Italian men, who are major consumers of porn, organize their alternative erotic reality around women, not girls.”

... whereas, of course, all American men are pedophiles.

“Recent surveys reveal the [American] guys are unlikely to orally pleasure young women outside of a relationship.”

... whereas these 'recent surveys' revealed that American girls are likely to give blowjobs to any stranger they meet on the sidewalk. (Note to Roger: you actually aren't supposed to euphemistically say 'recent surveys' when you mean 'talking to a few guys I know, this is the impression I got.')

“Reading a woman’s pubic hair is a tricky business.”

Thank god a there's a man brave enough to take it on.
posted by koeselitz at 11:05 PM on October 14, 2011 [32 favorites]


“The vagina is our template for the ultimate sacred space, a holy of holies where no one else can enter: unseeable, unsayable, the template of pleasure by which the pains of this worldly existence are to be measured... A woman’s pubic hair veils the passage, marking the sacrality of that space of knowing.”

This is deeply creepy, given the guy's research interests.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:13 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does it also oppress you how society suggests clipping your fingernails and not just letting them grow into hamster wheels?

If clipping your fingernails felt like cutting off the ends of your fingers, then this would warrant a comparison to the torturous experience known as the Brazilian wax.

I remember my first Brazilian wax fondly. Every time the woman ripped off a strip of hair from the most sensitive part of my body, I shrieked loudly with pain--and then started giggling hysterically. I suppose it was partially out of embarrassment, but I think mostly it was because I couldn't believe I was actually paying another human being to do something to me that was so fucking painful.

I don't get Brazilians anymore. Fichissimo, indeed!
posted by duvatney at 11:14 PM on October 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Shaving is completely unnecessary. Trimming is just good etiquette. I mean, I'm gonna be spending some time down there. You should trim.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:18 PM on October 14, 2011


If clipping my nails took less than no time at all, was totally free after the purchase of a $2 clipper and completely painless, I probably wouldn't be so diligent with that either.
posted by bleep at 11:19 PM on October 14, 2011


I never understand how it's hip and politically correct to have tattoos but somehow wrong to shave yourself.
posted by joannemullen at 11:28 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


You should trim.

I worry about the word "should."

I'm a guy who likes things au natural, but if my wife suddenly decided she wanted to change the way part of her body looked, it's none of my business.

I mostly object to the practice because, as someone mentioned above, it's just One More Thing that women as expected to do to be "presentable." I'm also creeped out by hiding secondary sexual characteristics as biologically they seem to be there for a reason.

But my feelings are something, aside from an anonymous comment on the internet, I keep to myself. People should feel free to do what they want with their bodies. But worrying or trying to influence someone's choices about their grooming seems controlling and creepy. Accept them as they are or move along.
posted by maxwelton at 11:33 PM on October 14, 2011 [23 favorites]


Even the Crusaders were less hung up over it than we are:


Another illustration: We had with us a bath-keeper named Salim, originally an inhabitant of al-Ma'arrah, who had charge of the bath of my father (may Allah's mercy rest upon his soul!). This man related the following story: 

"I [the bath-keeper] once opened a bath in al-Ma'arrah in order to earn my living. To this bath there came a Frankish knight. The Franks disapprove of girding a cover around one's waist while in the bath. So this Frank stretched out his arm and pulled off my cover from my waist and threw it away. He looked and saw that I had recently shaved off my pubes. So he shouted, "Salim!" As I drew near him he stretched his hand over my pubes and said, "Salim, good! By the truth of my religion, do the same for me." 

Saying this, he lay on his back and I found that in that place the hair was like his beard. So I shaved it off. Then he passed his hand over the place and, finding it smooth, he said, "Salim, by the truth of my religion, do the same to madame [al-dama]" (al-dama in their language means the lady), referring to his wife. 

He then said to a servant of his, "Tell madame to come here." Accordingly the servant went and brought her and made her enter the bath. She also lay on her back. The knight repeated, "Do what thou hast done to me." So I shaved all that hair while her husband was sitting looking at me, At last he thanked me and handed me the pay for my service."
 
posted by parjanya at 11:38 PM on October 14, 2011 [23 favorites]


This seems like a good place to link to The Burning Bush.
posted by NoraReed at 11:39 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "Well, I LIKED this, dammit. I was gonna come in here and enthuse about it, but after reading the comments I feel like merely saying I like it is going to be radical enough."

Sorry, EC - this is kind of a pile on when it ought to be a discussion. I just found this really creepy; for heaven's sake, it's a guy who wrote a vague, meandering treatise just to tell women what he thinks they ought to do with their pubic hair.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This essay is definitely weird. When I read it I felt irritated and nauseous, especially at the part where he regurgitates the sickening trope about the vagina being a holy space and the old thing about "knowing" etc. The way he only cites examples that fit perfectly with his neat thesis makes me think he's probably not very objective in doing research either.

But reading this comment thread, I was really surprised to see that so many had the reaction of completely dismissing any kind of critique of the way culture instills views and desires in women and men. Yes, the author is a man, a bush-fetishizing pervert for all I know. And so a bit complicit in the very scheme he's criticizing, only he's on the other side.

But it's not just about what he thinks women should do with their bodies. He talks about the role of the expectations of men, and female ideas about the expectations of men. I don't believe true feminism means we have to have a libertarian/individualistic conception of people as the free owners of their own bodies who just "do what they want to."

That's a useful perspective in some situations, but... I mean, we don't say that about anorexia: come on, guys, stop telling women how much they should eat!
posted by mbrock at 12:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I didn't get the impression he was telling anyone they should do anything. It was more bemoaning the "hook-up culture" stereotype of Americans, and interpreting the desire to get rid of pubic hair as a desire on the part of American women to be "available" to men trained by pornography to expect a woman to look a certain way. The overall idea being that a relationship built on love and real intimacy doesn't need any kind of standard for grooming, whereas the vacuous trysts (straw-trysts?) are governed by masculine porn-derived standards.

I find it kind of odd everyone's jumping on the guy and his somewhat overbearing style rather than discussing the aforementioned points. Though I agree with his main points it's of course generalizing to imply Americans have abandoned love for hooking up when there's a lot of diversity.
posted by palidor at 12:03 AM on October 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I never understand how it's hip and politically correct to have tattoos but somehow wrong to shave yourself.

Wait. What?
posted by 2N2222 at 12:08 AM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Homer Simpson on vaginas. [from 0:19 onwards - SFW]
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:16 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I buy the idea that there's more "hook-up culture" now than there was in the '60s and '70s, when the fashion was for women to have more pubic hair.
posted by craichead at 12:19 AM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


It actually came into fashion in the 80s along with shoulder pads.
posted by palidor at 12:23 AM on October 15, 2011


I'm not sure I buy the idea that there's more "hook-up culture" now than there was in the '60s and '70s, when the fashion was for women to have more pubic hair.

In the article his theory is that it's not just hook up culture but guys expecting what they see in porn and women wanting to be what guys expect, and hair changing in meaning from being expected to being intimate and private, not for just anyone to see.
posted by bleep at 12:26 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course an old hippie would be pro-gorilla salad.
posted by TSOL at 12:31 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely pubic hair is an instructional graphic that serves as a directional aid the uninformed?

No wonder birth rates are falling.
posted by the noob at 12:32 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


For Italian men the smell of a vagina is something earthy.

Like a potato.


Me: I am going to start calling my vagina "the potato"
Him: NO. Don't do that. That could lead to some awkward situations in the bedroom.
Me: And the kitchen.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:36 AM on October 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


Me: And the kitchen.

... she said, blanching.
posted by zippy at 12:36 AM on October 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'm a woman and I've had Brazilians and I agree there has to be some weird cultural pressure to make anyone pay money to have that done to them because ouch! and $$$. Having said that I have to hand it to guys who shave their balls because waving a razor around in those kinds of tight quarters gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.
posted by fshgrl at 12:40 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


...in the '60s and '70s, when the fashion was for women to have more pubic hair.

I thought it was more or less fashion just to have pubic hair by default.

My theory is that pubic hair diminished as porn got more ubiquitous and hardcore. Back in the 70s and before, men were just happy to see the fur. But as the industry distilled down to mostly mechanics, it pays to get a clear view where the details aren't obscured by the carpet. I think it also helped that pruning the landscaping dovetailed nicely with the overall fashion of the times. But the momentum kept on. So much so that I find it amusing when "hairy woman" porn turns out to be, well, just a normal looking woman who hasn't had a Brazilian wax. I guess it's kinda like how "Latina" seems to translate as "any woman without blonde hair".
posted by 2N2222 at 12:44 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Related: It's not only hair that some women remove; it's bits of the vagina itself.

Some of the cases in this article are about reconstructive surgery, but the onus seems to be on the cosmetic side.

Of course, hair doesn't necessarily grow on scar tissue, so this might be a win/win.
posted by omnikron at 12:48 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hairstyles change. Mountains out of umm... molehills.
posted by melt away at 5:33 AM on October 15


No, I think there is rather more to it than that, and I think the "rather more to it" in question actually does reflect a disturbing shift in attitudes about how women's bodies should look.

Of course an old hippie would be pro-gorilla salad.
posted by TSOL at 8:31 AM on October 15


Can't we all agree to just trim down that jungle a bit?


And there you go. Revolting comments like that reflect my concern. Female pubic hair is a secondary sexual characteristic and a sign of sexual maturity, and as such it ought to be attractive to heterosexual males. It is attractive to heterosexual males of my generation and slightly younger. But now, apparently, it is "gorilla salad" and similar unpleasant remarks. I do not think it is unreasonable to find this shift in perception troubling. In my view the response to female pubic hair has been perverted, most probably by stupid men's magazines and adverts that insist on representing women as airbrushed plastic dolls. What's especially sad is the number of women who have bought into this attitude too. It has become yet another thing that women have to add to the list of "what might be wrong with my body/appearance". It's a damned shame.

Oh and comparing this to tattoos is a particularly rank red herring. Really.
posted by Decani at 12:50 AM on October 15, 2011 [79 favorites]


This article is pretty much purple throbbing horseshit, and I refuse to feel bad for mixing a metaphor there given the number he rubs to tumescence. I came to post the same thing that Parjanya did (having just read that bit from Usama ibn Munqidh, but since that's here, I'll mention that one of the most frequent letter topics for Barely Legal readers was how much they liked pubes and wanted to see more of them. It's the models that choose to shave, usually because they're doing video and it makes penetration easier to see and it's easier to clean lube off.
posted by klangklangston at 12:50 AM on October 15, 2011


"Hair is in. Hair is rebellion. Whatever is the mainstream, the leading edge is necessarily counter to that"
amanda palmer - Map of tasmania
(i see this as a sign that hair is moving back in fashion)
posted by motdiem2 at 12:58 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Euphemisms for women's pubic hair from the article and current comments:

- beaver
- snatch
- bush
- landing strip
- Dorrito chip
- "like a Jack in the Box"
- pubes
- jungle
- rug
- fur
- carpet
- the landscaping
- gorilla salad

Man, what woman wouldn't want her genital area referred to in such glowing terms?
posted by book 'em dano at 1:12 AM on October 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


When she put it on her menu in 2002, she intended it as a sideline to facials and massage, but a new generation of college women looking to partake in the casual carnality of the hook-up scene, mobbed her practice.

Over and above the extraneous comma after the word "scene," this is really reprehensible writing, and pretty much full-on stupid. I think that there are fascinating discussions to have about how pubic topiary has changed throughout history -- but this article is not an impressive place to start.

My wife has seen naked women (mostly young, but up to their 60's as well) several times a week in the locker room for many years now, and she says that she sees everything from totally clearcut to old-growth forest, with the vast majority maybe doing some trimming at the edges; friends who are actively dating around tell me exactly the same thing. And once you start adding in demographic and geographical differences, I think it's incredibly hard to make categorical statements about "the way things are."

You don't have to dig deep to find photographs of shaved crotches from the early part of the century, nor to find descriptions of trimming and shaving in books. I'm not saying that nothing is different -- but definitely that the trimming and waxing he's talking about are not new ideas, and I doubt can support the weight of all the baggage he's trying to hang on them.
posted by Forktine at 1:25 AM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm a guy who likes things au natural, but if my wife suddenly decided she wanted to change the way part of her body looked, it's none of my business.

It may be none of my business, but I feel I shouldn't be ashamed to voice my opinion. I've always encouraged my GF's to keep at least a landing strip. I like hair down below because the absence of it seems wrong to me on a primal level.

Alas, most of the women I have been with have been clean shaven, save one (but she was on chemo so there wasn't a lot of pubic hair growing anyway). These women told me they shave because to them, it feels cleaner. Perhaps this is an excuse, but I don't care because it's the woman's call as to how she grooms herself.
posted by reenum at 1:44 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've actually had this issue on my mind recently because I came across this "I Had a One Night Stand with Christine O'Donnell" article a few weeks ago, and the one part that weirded me out was:

"When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by.

Obviously, that was a big turnoff, and I quickly lost interest."


Obviously? Like, I can understand preferring no hair, but I can't even begin to understand being turned off by its presence. And it surprised me that such a sentiment would be so widespread that this dude would preface his statement with "obviously."

That's where Decani's comments carry some importance for me. The standards of attractiveness have certainly changed over the years, and centuries, but there's just something quite disturbing to me about being turned off by such natural features, or about it being a widespread thing.

Of course the guy that wrote that article is probably an idiot.
posted by palidor at 1:49 AM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot that he introduces all of that with, "But there were signs that she wasn't very experienced sexually." Apparently lack of pubic hair represents being experienced sexually.

I think this is the type of guy the originally posted article is complaining about.
posted by palidor at 2:05 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought the article started off not too bad -- I, also, have wondered about this shaved/waxed body fashion, not just pubes, but guys shaving their chests and wherever. But the article pretty quickly descended into nonsense. I doubt that porn had that much influence on this fashion and I do think that folks who have mentioned the class distinctions in being able to afford this business have a very important point.

tl;dr: Topic is interesting, article isn't.
posted by CCBC at 2:15 AM on October 15, 2011


Don't like it shaved history has given us the Merkin
posted by pianomover at 2:16 AM on October 15, 2011


The responses from this crowd are too predictable.
posted by rmmcclay at 2:42 AM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


One thing's for sure, a healthy amount of pubic hair protects from the chaffing that can result from vigorous vis-à-vis fucking without it.
posted by rmmcclay at 2:49 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, that was really, really badly written and with what, a half day's research (conversation with a friend, someone else's friend who does the work, some googling)?

Interestingly enough, I've never dated a woman who did more than light trimming for swimsuits. I like to think that's because I've always tended towards woman who have more important priorities and/or different hobbies than that.

As for vaginal euphemisms, I suggest "warp core". Although, if I used that at home, I think Mrs. Plinth would eject me through an airlock.
posted by plinth at 3:17 AM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know that only leads to one wondering what a warp core breach might be????
posted by palidor at 4:02 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does that make tampons "dilithium crystals"?
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:11 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those calls to Scotty for more power would get awkward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any man who asked me to go hairless would have to do it to himself first. Fair's fair.

Your relationship will be more successful if, rather than trying to score points all eye-for-an-eye style, you instead suggest to him the grooming preferences that you genuinely appreciate from him, whatever those might be.

Maybe hairlessness is exactly what you want in your partner, then that's fine, just don't ask your partner to do things for you unless they are things that you want.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:33 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh, call me a SNAG, but the references to "beaver", "snatch", and other schoolboy slang for a woman's vagina, not to mention a fucking William S. Burrogh's quotation clearly pointed out to me that this guy is out to lunch.


Perhaps he's out to...Naked...Lunch?


*sunglasses*


*Roger Daltry*


YEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:46 AM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Personally, for myself and the people I like making whoopie with (that would actually be just one person, the wife), I think the safety scissors is a good rule of thumb. Applies to men and women. If you can trim the bushes with a pair of simple scissors, you should, but anything past that is overkill.
posted by zardoz at 5:01 AM on October 15, 2011


That was the biggest pile of offensive horseshit I've had to wade through in months.
I don't believe true feminism means we have to have a libertarian/individualistic conception of people as the free owners of their own bodies who just "do what they want to."mbrock
You don't believe that "true feminism" means that women are the free owners of their own bodies who do what they want to? What kind of crazy conception of feminism do you subscribe to??

This trend is another manifestation of consumerist sexist cosmetic beauty culture; its offensiveness is entirely insofar as this is about women altering their bodies to be sexually appealing to men (or the second-order effect of "feeling good about" herself" because she feels attractive) at the systematic, institutionalized urging of mass media and the consumer beauty industry.

It is exactly as offensive, no more and no less, than the cultural requirements that women shave their underarms and legs, remove all facial hair, wear makeup, and wear bras for cosmetic reasons independent of comfort; as well as the social pressure to enlarge or reduce the size of their breasts surgically, reduce the size of their labia minora surgically, reduce obesity surgically (often at the urging/insistence/demand of their male boyfriend/husband), reduce facial wrinkles and sagging surgically, surgically alter the shape and size of their nose, alter the size and color of their lips surgically, remove/deactivate underarm sweat glands surgically, use a deadly toxin to paralyze facial muscles and remove wrinkles, and other extreme medically significant body alterations done for cosmetic purposes with the aim of increasing sexual attractiveness.

As someone upthread wrote, with regard to pubic hair, the pendulum is beginning to swing back the other direction and—as it evidenced even within this thread—soon enough men and our mass-media-driven culture will be demanding that to be sexually attractive women must maintain a respectable thatch. That will be just as offensive as the current demand that they do the opposite.

Unsurprisingly, it is this point among many that the author spent the least time and outrage upon. He mentions in passing a few times that women are removing their pubic hair to be more attractive to men; but the greater portion of the purple prose articulating his moral outrage is about how women are debasing themselves by emphasizing casual sexuality, that they are desecrating the mystical wonder which is the life-making carnal beauty of female sexual anatomy which is best engaged in a loving, not merely lusting, spiritual union. He somehow has managed to convince himself that his rant is a feminist critique even as it beats, pounds, frantically thrashes the drum of the Madonna side of the patriarchal Madonna/Whore dichotomy.

Oh, and he talks a lot about how men, and specifically himself, feel about women's bodies.

Look: body modification, including women's body modification, of any kind is not prima facie inherently wrong and misogynist. How and what an individual woman does to alter her body, including doing so to make herself more sexually attractive, is her own choice and her own business. To be able to make those choices, free of patriarchal demands, for her own reasons and on her own terms, is what it means to be empowered.

Male preferences, as institutionalized by industry and mass-media, which take those choices from her is sexism in one of its most powerful forms—and it doesn't matter whether the preference is for the removal of pubic hair or if it's that the "natural look" is more attractive.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:09 AM on October 15, 2011 [32 favorites]


The idea of wielding a razor or scissors near my pubes freaks me out; sharp objects near my privates just doesn't seem like a good idea. Plus since I'm pretty much covered in fur from head to toe, shaving any one area would really look more "prepped for surgery" than "hey sexy".
posted by octothorpe at 5:15 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vagina.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:26 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This discussion will not enhance the reputation of the Blue among the doubters.
posted by stonepharisee at 5:50 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And reciprocally for women, it is increasingly only their bodies that set them apart. Bodily hair masculinizes them, so hairlessness becomes a way to hold on to the feminine.

Really? Leg hair or underarm hair "masculinizes" women? I know some people take offense at it but I always thought it was a cultural thing and that in some cultures (like outside of the U.S.) it's not that big of a deal. Hairless = feminine does not compute, even allowing that he's primarily talking about pubic hair. I'm going to start looking at adult male actors with hairless chests in a whole new light now...

I think it also helped that pruning the landscaping dovetailed nicely with the overall fashion of the times. But the momentum kept on. So much so that I find it amusing when "hairy woman" porn turns out to be, well, just a normal looking woman who hasn't had a Brazilian wax. I guess it's kinda like how "Latina" seems to translate as "any woman without blonde hair".

Changes in fashion were helped by advancements in hair-coloring technology which made it much easier for women--including Black, Latina, and Asian women--to dye their hair blonde. My theory is that the bare wood floor trend developed because it made it less easy to determine whose carpets did not at all match the bleached-blonde drapes, or at least less easy to be exposed to the presumably negative aesthetics of such a disparity.

the references to "beaver", "snatch", and other schoolboy slang for a woman's vagina, not to mention a fucking William S. Burrogh's quotation clearly pointed out to me that this guy is out to lunch. Or perhaps stuck in the 1960's.

Yep.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:00 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bushes will come back soon after black women stop chemically frying their hair straight. To me, somehow the two self-tortures seem similar bondages to falsehood.

Maybe Michelle Obama will sound the trumpet.
posted by surplus at 6:10 AM on October 15, 2011


Yeah, when I was a college aged (as opposed to post-college) aged woman, how I treated my pubic hair really was considered usual. I keep most of it, a sort of reverse Brazilian under the principle that the stuff on my mons seems to serve no function (and I like the "dainty" look) and not only has every partner remarked that hair down there was unusual but I've encountered the whole range of myths: Hair is dirty, hair is ugly, hair is unfair to men you want to sleep with....

About the point that I quit reddit entirely for the staid shores of mefi was a long, boyzone style, heavily upvoted thread with guys explaining that women really shouldn't expect sex unless they've been completely denuded, because anything less was rude. Snide comments about letting virgins decide how sex works aside, they could not understand there was effort or energy or even pain involved with the process, much less that their sexual bent was not that of the whole world.

Also: Attention writers. With the possible exception of a few individuals who make it a concerted lifestyle choice, female genitals are not a holy/sacred place, like a church, shrine or temple. They are the ensuite, plush little bathrooms of the master bedrooms of life. In other words, full of other plumbing functions, decorated for their owner's comfort and visitors to chez-moi won't end up there unless we're sleeping together, or circumstances are so cramped I'm forced to show it to you.
posted by Phalene at 6:14 AM on October 15, 2011 [23 favorites]


Can't we all agree to just trim down that jungle a bit? I mean no one here is looking for a rugburn. Just a little 3 blade trim down is all I ask.

I thought you were talking about this guy's overwritten prose....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I've never had a conversation about pubic hair with my parents or my children.
posted by tommasz at 6:22 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mamma MIA! We ItALians! So EARTHY! We-a LOVE-a the vagina! Not-a like you coarse American PAISANS! The young men of ITALIA, they see the beautiful flower, they wish to-a SMELL it, they TOUCH it, they no put a vajazzle on it and stick it behind a glass box -- is a museum piece? Is a collectible-a trading card? NO! It is a fascinating land of MYSTERY and WONDER, like the fruit a man digs from the earth! You AMERicans! With your weak espresso and your sterile Julianne Moore! Not-a like-a our earthy mediterranean blood! The-a VAGINA, que BELLA!

*settles back in cafe, shirt unbuttoned at neck*
*smirks, raising tiny glass of Strega*
*a thousand rosepetals blow by in the wind*
posted by Greg Nog at 6:33 AM on October 15, 2011 [93 favorites]


I think the return of hair is becoming A Thing. Shit, Mindy Kaling was writing about it in this month's Glamour.

I'm a cusp- either a very late Gen X-er or a very early Gen Y-er, depending on who you are talking to. When I was in high school, everybody trimmed and cleaned up the edges for bathing suit season. Girls who were three or so years younger than me were always lamenting razor burn, and I couldn't figure out why until I realized that they were shaving three times a week. As in, take it all off kind of shaving.

I have no opinion on what people in general do, but I would rather be as hairy as a yak than have shave bumps. Same goes for any lovers.
posted by Leta at 6:53 AM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


'He's never seen it,' a friend recounted to me about his good-looking, sexually active collegiate son. What, I asked? 'Snatch,' he replied.

That's too bad, Snatch is an excellent movie.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


With the possible exception of a few individuals who make it a concerted lifestyle choice, female genitals are not a holy/sacred place, like a church, shrine or temple.

Maybe they aren't for you, but they are for us. Pussy power is a reality. The modern pussy cult is informal but historically, formal religious worship of the phallus has been common.

I do think the religious focus on the genitals reflects something real, although I understand how women feels it plays into objectification and so forth.
posted by zipadee at 7:14 AM on October 15, 2011


People really need to use the NSFW tag correctly. I hate clicking into stuff expecting some hotness only to see WORDS!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:16 AM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Reading that article reminded me of listening to Jackson Browne love songs (the one where he thinks he's happy, not the dysfunctional ones): Really Fucking Creepy. My bush and what's under it is not your personal heaven and I am not giving it away, dude.

As for the right of men to have aesthetic preferences, sure, everybody has that right. But if you express them to me in a prescriptive manner before you have seen (and probably pleasured) that portion of my anatomy, you're probably out of line. I can see your mustache from the moment I meet you but you're not seeing my bush until we get naked. And frankly, the person most likely to end up with overgrown mustache hair in his teeth is not me, but the possessor of the mustache. Not the same thing at all. Realistically I always wonder whether preferred pube grooming is as much of a dealbreaker as some men say it is or whether it's just nice-to-have for most guys and only "necessary" for a few outliers.
posted by immlass at 7:16 AM on October 15, 2011


Interesting topic. I too had been wondering (just every so often, not like obsessing or anything, lol) about the uptick in waxing the nether regions. Until I was in my forties, I never gave it a thought - never shaved, waxed, or otherwise chemically treated my gwennie.

After my divorce, I started, um, dating again. And it seemed like I was this Rip Van Winkle that had re-entered the world and the world had gone nuts about "being clean shaven". Wha?

But stupid is as stupid does, so I joined the party and got myself waxed. You know why? Because the man I was, um, dating at the time made such a big deal about "being clean shaven". He even did it to himself. Silly me, going along with what the man says I should do to my own bod, because HE prefers it. I've since learned.

JMO, but I think this whole fad came to be at the same time that we started worshipping porn stars and throwing our sexual selves out there for all to see. I'm no puritan, but I am getting a bit tired of the oversexualizing of society. Of course, the fact that I have a 13-year old may have something to do with my anxiety about it.
posted by sundrop at 7:18 AM on October 15, 2011


I think he takes things the wrong way. I think men as well as women should shave (and most men in porn do shave their pubes, balls, and taint right now too). And not just shave pubes. Dude should shave their armpits as well. Hairy armpits are completely disgusting. Nothing worse than a guy that just went jogging and he's wearing a sleeveless tee and he puts his arms up on his head while he's resting and there's this horrible set of sweaty hair octopuses reaching out of his pits like mini Cthulhu's waiting to oh god I need to vomit.
posted by shen1138 at 7:24 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


But worrying or trying to influence someone's choices about their grooming seems controlling and creepy. Accept them as they are or move along.

I disagree. Mrs. Scoo isn't the slightest bit shy about influencing my personal grooming (mustaches, shaving, hairstyle etc. ). I influence hers too occasionally. It something couples do. It's ok to ask your partner to do something to please you.
posted by Scoo at 7:24 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm torn on this. I'm of a generation that doesn't really like hairlessness, but it's definitely a thing with the younger generations. I worry that younger women are being pressurised into what I can only imagine to be a painful, expensive and embarrassing thing in order to be normal. On the one hand, I think this is wrong.

However,

Up above, somebody made the comparison to beards, and despite the comment saying that these are different things, I'm not so sure they are. It's a semi-regular occurrence that a woman will tell me that she'd never have a relationship with a man with a beard, that she thinks beards are disgusting, that if her other half ever grew a beard she'd make him cut it off. It's a normal enough cultural thing that I don't really notice it anymore. A beard can have a real impact on a mans ability to date.

This is uncomfortable for bearded old me, but I've never seen it as evidence of women forcing me to do anything.

So, as *wrong* as shaving and waxing seems to me, I don't have a huge amount of sympathy with the argument that it's bad that men look for this kind of grooming in women. I wouldn't like to be involved with someone who did shave, and it seems wrong for me to judge someone who idealises those that do.

"Men find this attractive, so that's what I'm gonna do to snag me a good man" is a different argument to "Men are once again forcing us what to do with our bodies.", and although I feel a certain discomfort and a suspicion that shaving is slightly attached to the latter side of this argument, I'm not 100% convinced it isn't the more about the former.
posted by seanyboy at 7:28 AM on October 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Somehow, as bad as our sexual mores are, the idea of importing Italian ones fills me with horror
posted by Blasdelb at 7:29 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hairy armpits are completely disgusting.

I know this is your subjective opinion, but my desire to be angered at what is essentially a body based "Your favourite band sucks" is so very, very, very strong.
posted by seanyboy at 7:32 AM on October 15, 2011


This is uncomfortable for bearded old me, but I've never seen it as evidence of women forcing me to do anything. So, as *wrong* as shaving and waxing seems to me, I don't have a huge amount of sympathy with the argument that it's bad that men look for this kind of grooming in women.seanyboy
But, see, it's not comparable. Not only is the scope and intensity of societal expectations about female appearance vastly greater than it is about male appearance, but these expectations are widely institutionalized and they are an organic part of a larger system by which who women are, what they are allowed to do and to be, is subordinated to their utility to men as sexual objects and baby factories. It's not even the case that there's a consensus among women against beards.

If you had to find something comparable, the closest would be height. Not only do women discriminate against men on the basis of height with regard to their preferences, but the bias against shorter men is shared by men themselves and is widely institutionalized. Even so, this is a single, though notable, example in a world where otherwise men, as a class, are socially empowered in a way that women very much are not. This bias against a variety of male appearance, or your example, are independent examples of idiosyncratic inegalitarianism, not examples of an endemic inequality and injustice. Social expectations about the vast array of ways in which women are expected to maximize their sexual attractiveness to men are.
I know this is your subjective opinion, but my desire to be angered at what is essentially a body based "Your favourite band sucks" is so very, very, very strong.seanyboy
Yeah, and that particular value judgment, and that she expressed it publicly, are both exceptional, not common. You find it extremely provocative and yet in relative terms it is a tiny and insignificant bit of social pressure in contrast to the thousands of examples of stuff like it that women are subjected to every single day.

That right there is what some might call an opportunity for enlightenment, I think.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:50 AM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


You don't believe that "true feminism" means that women are the free owners of their own bodies who do what they want to? What kind of crazy conception of feminism do you subscribe to??
Ivan Fyodorovich
Sorry — that wasn't such a good formulation. I'm not sure if I know how to express my take on individual freedom, but please rest assured that I don't think, for example, that men do what they want to while women don't, or that anyone's body is owned by someone else.

I do think that to do anything useful about cultural issues, we have to recognize that individuals use their freedom within a vast web of culture. Probably everybody agrees with this.

But I was worried about how reactions to this article ("how about you just let women do what they want?") seemed to use a language that may accidentally support the kind of "methodological individualism" that is often used as a weapon against feminism.

This might be a tired debate that's been hashed over a thousand times here. These reactions were probably reasonable in response to the (quite fucked up) article. What you wrote expresses perfectly what I think:
This trend is another manifestation of consumerist sexist cosmetic beauty culture; its offensiveness is entirely insofar as this is about women altering their bodies to be sexually appealing to men (or the second-order effect of "feeling good about" herself" because she feels attractive) at the systematic, institutionalized urging of mass media and the consumer beauty industry. [...]

Male preferences, as institutionalized by industry and mass-media, which take those choices from her is sexism in one of its most powerful forms—and it doesn't matter whether the preference is for the removal of pubic hair or if it's that the "natural look" is more attractive.
posted by mbrock at 7:52 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also agree with EmpressCallipygos- I liked this article too and am really surprised by the comments here. I think there's probably some breakdown between single people, people in relationships and age differences and probably regional differences too with respect to the opinions being held. And maybe even blue readers vs ask me pubic-hair-questions posters since we are not really hearing their voices or concerns here.

There IS a trend towards hairlessness, it is oppressive for single females who don't love the pain and cost of waxing, the hook up culture is more of a 'thing' and there is a lot of love-less sex taking place, at least for single females in large metropolitan areas. (ok, nyc). I personally liked the talk about the italian perspective, the SATC quote, and the idea that sex, love and orgasms are often linked for females. But maybe I'm a cliche, and just need to pack my bags and head off on my eat, pray, love adventure when i hope to restore an old italian villa and fall in love with a french farmer...or insert another overworn cliche here.

Frankly I wish I didn't agree much with what the author had to say. Well, maybe it's a lifestyle rorschach test and I'm failing it.
posted by bquarters at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, as *wrong* as shaving and waxing seems to me, I don't have a huge amount of sympathy with the argument that it's bad that men look for this kind of grooming in women. I wouldn't like to be involved with someone who did shave, and it seems wrong for me to judge someone who idealises those that do.
So here's the thing. In order to maintain the hairless-down-there look, I'd be spending over a thousand dollars a year on Brazilian waxes, not to mention enduring quite a bit of pain on a regular basis. What you're saying, essentially, is "I prefer for women not to have to spend a significant portion of their income having the hair on the most sensitive parts of their body ripped out by the roots, so I can't really judge men who do expect that." We all have our preferences, but I'm not sure I think that means we have a reasonable expectation of having our preferences met, when they impose pretty major burdens on other people.

So basically: I don't necessarily disagree with the premise that the expectation of hairlessness can be oppressive. I do think that the article is creepy and that late-middle-aged men should probably not be asking their college-aged sons whether they have "seen snatch." Because yeah. Ew.
posted by craichead at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


There IS a trend towards hairlessness, it is oppressive for single females who don't love the pain and cost of waxing, the hook up culture is more of a 'thing' and there is a lot of love-less sex taking place, at least for single females in large metropolitan areas. (ok, nyc).

I don't doubt any of that, especially the part about how oppressive it is for single women, which I hear about from my own single women friends on a semi-regular basis along with discussion of other forms of shaving-related something-or-other (oppresssion? lookism? discomfort with external appearance mandates? feminist resistance to patriarchy? etc.). But like craichead, I agree with the various premises but found the article creepy--and that's without even getting into the kid aspect, since I don't have any. I do have nephews and nieces who are getting toward college age and I can't imagine asking any of them about genital-related shaving preferences.
posted by immlass at 8:17 AM on October 15, 2011


Can't we all agree to just trim down that jungle a bit?

You do realize that pubic hair comes in all shapes and forestry right? Not all women have a jungle down there to begin with.

And, you know what? It should be up to each person what they do with their hair. If you want a woman who shaves, well, that's the kind of woman you should be with. Want a woman who has a big ol' bush, same thing.

No one should be shamed about the state of pubic hair. Hell, be happy a woman is letting you near her vagina! I do not understand men who have a fit about too much pubic hair. Dude, she's letting you have sex with her, enjoy it, be happy about it!

My fellow females, find a partner who appreciates what you have. If they don't, do not let them near your vagina!
posted by SuzySmith at 8:17 AM on October 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


"When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by.

Obviously, that was a big turnoff, and I quickly lost interest."

Obviously? Like, I can understand preferring no hair, but I can't even begin to understand being turned off by its presence."
Maybe she had a Wookie Bush? You know, like a fur bikini. Since we're on the subject...I never understood the "Landing Strip" or a little soul patch like tuft. Maybe I'm just an all or nothing kinda guy.
posted by MikeMc at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, MikeMc? You don't think it's just a little bit fucked up that someone published an article reporting on the state of a senatorial candidate's pubic hair?
posted by craichead at 8:30 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich:

I'm not arguing that the scope and intensity of societal expectations is equivalent, just that there is equivalancy in this one example of shaving. Height is completely un-equivalant. I don't get to choose if I'm 6' 3" or my usual 5' 8". It's true that women have a preference for taller men, and shorter men get a bit of a bum deal, but there's nothing I can do to make myself taller.

This bias against a variety of male appearance, or your example, are independent examples of idiosyncratic inegalitarianism, not examples of an endemic inequality and injustice.
I'm struggling to see how sexual preference is an example of endemic inequality. That there is an endemic inequality isn't in doubt, but nobody ever got turned down for a job because they had too many pubes.

You find it extremely provocative
I find it as provocative as being told my musical choices suck. Which is why I used the phrase "Your favourite band sucks." Your implication is that I'm an angry man angered by disgust by women at *my* armpit hair whilst ignoring the plight of women.

This is ridiculous. Firstly, I had no expectation as to the sex of the poster, and my comment was not aimed at or pushed on behalf of any gender. Secondly, I wasn't so much making a comment about my own inability to stay calm as making comment about how strongly worded subjective comments can feel as though they're a fact.

craichead: I think you've expressed better than I could why I'm ambivalent on this issue. FWIW, I don't think many men know how painful or expensive it is.
posted by seanyboy at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying that nothing is different -- but definitely that the trimming and waxing he's talking about are not new ideas

No, but there is definitely more pressure to conform. I have told this story on the Blue before so forgive the repetition but one of my mom's friends (nearing 80) was told by her daughters that she had to shave in order not to gross out her gynecologist-- that the nurse and doctor would expect it. That was the craziest damn thing I've ever heard and obviously it made a big impression on me.

As to body hair, I only ever shaved my pubes as a fun surprise for my lover but religiously shaved armpit and leg hair every day. My husband likes my armpit hair because it is very silky and so now I don't shave the arm pits, however I know most people are horrified by this. The truth is when I know I am going to be baring my pits in public (not that frequent for me) I go ahead and shave just so it won't disgust people. On the other hand I continue to shave my legs every day because I like the feeling of the smoothness and I wouldn't stop no matter what my lover liked.

I do feel a bit of a hypocrite about disliking facial hair on men while going au natural myself however there are a couple of differences. First facial hair-- full beards anyway-- hide facial features. I don't know that I have ever seen a man with a full beard that I would call handsome and mainly men just look the same with beards. Second, I've never felt a man's facial hair that was as silky and soft as my pubes-- kissing men with mustaches or with a few days growth always leaves me with a skin burn. My husband is well aware of my preferences and while he would love to only shave every other day or so, he shaves every day because he loves to kiss and he doesn't like to cause me pain. On the very few occasions when we have been separated for more than a day, he has taken a shaving vacation but he always shaves before meeting me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2011


"Seriously, MikeMc? You don't think it's just a little bit fucked up that someone published an article reporting on the state of a senatorial candidate's pubic hair?"

I was joking. That article was an incredible dick move (then again it was published by Gawker Media the home of the dick move). But seriously, just put me in the "just happy to be getting some" camp.
posted by MikeMc at 8:45 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway - It's my experience that even if you don't mention what it is about your girlfriend you don't 100% like, they're like frigging spiderman. They'll notice. And then they'll ask you what it is until you tell them. And then they'll spend the next 6 years occasionally bringing it up in ever twisted and fictional ways until suddenly you're the guy who physically forced her to take her hair extensions out even though all you'd actually done was blinked that one time.

Or maybe that's just me, and I've gone done shared too much again.
posted by seanyboy at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your relationship will be more successful if, rather than trying to score points all eye-for-an-eye style, you instead suggest to him the grooming preferences that you genuinely appreciate from him, whatever those might be.

My point was, no one actually has the right to expect me to put hot wax on my ladybits for his aesthetic pleasure--though it might be marginally more fair to ask me to do so if he was willing to do the same to his tender vittles.

As per my relationships, well, my husband found that comment pretty damn funny. Because it was a joke.
posted by emjaybee at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I a man, a really hairy man. Today I'm feeling like shaving it all from head to toe.
posted by humanfont at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2011


Secret Life of Gravy: The old "If he's got a beard, he's hiding something" stratagem. I like it. :-)

Seriously, because I don't know how many times I need to say this. Three day (hell, 1 day) stubble is going to scratch and burn. Older beards are pretty soft. You won't get a rash from them.

Anyway - I've pulled this conversation too far off topic as it is. Back to the pubic hair people.
posted by seanyboy at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2011


Sorry, EC - this is kind of a pile on when it ought to be a discussion. I just found this really creepy; for heaven's sake, it's a guy who wrote a vague, meandering treatise just to tell women what he thinks they ought to do with their pubic hair.

Gotcha; a fair point. I think I was responding more to his arguments themselves rather than the context (yeah, could be creepy he was at the table in the first place, but things he brought TO the table, I dug). Decani actually summed up a lot of what the guy said pretty well.

Man, what woman wouldn't want her genital area referred to in such glowing terms?

Personally, I'm trying to promote the expression "The Holiest of Holies."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


hair = old and busted
protective slime coating = new hotness
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


At the risk of making this thread even more What About Men? than it already is, no word of a lie, my eyebrow (singular, because, let's face it, they all are eventually) joins my hairline. They really ought to tell you in sex ed that the new-hair-in-weird-places thing never fucking ends.

Sys Rq: Is this you?
posted by ThePowerPopFan at 8:57 AM on October 15, 2011


"Personally, I'm trying to promote the expression "The Holiest of Holies.""

I prefer the unisex term "Happy Place".
posted by MikeMc at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if all the girlfriends of the bearded hipsters I see (young men in long scraggly beards is a truly odd sight) are still going hairless or if they've decided what's good for the chin is good for the mons?

I mean, if a guy has to move his mountain man beard out of the way to get to your business, seems unfair to bitch that you've got hair down there.

Kids today, I tell you.
posted by emjaybee at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


"I wonder if all the girlfriends of the bearded hipsters I see (young men in long scraggly beards is a truly odd sight) are still going hairless or if they've decided what's good for the chin is good for the mons?"

I wonder if hipsters have ironic pubic hair.
posted by MikeMc at 9:04 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"protective slime coating = new hotness"

Link please.
posted by MikeMc at 9:05 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bushes will come back soon after black women stop chemically frying their hair straight.

Comparing "bushes" to some Black women's natural hair? That's a bit of a non-sequitor not to mention borderline rac--well, you know. But then again, maybe not. (video clip, NSFW)
posted by fuse theorem at 9:05 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the media/internets/etc have told me is that men and women no longer want security, long term commitment, monogamy, marriage, loyalty, devotion, or someone to lean on. Neediness is bad, lifelong commitments are bad, having sex with only one person or hoping for that is not only bad but abusive and hurtful. You should just give sex to anyone who is night and let them float along their floaty journy without being all bad and needy and wanting long term love...

If this is right, it doesn't matter what I do with my pubes, I'm not meant for modern relationships anyway. I get nothing out of sex without emotional intimacy and commitment and I'm not giving any more of my nooky to the cause of free spirited "love" or whatever the fuck it's supposed to be.

I think a lot people feel like the chances of finding real meaningful long term love is so unlikely they need to be ready to do whatever the fuck it takes, nasal hair waxing? Sure! AaAAAAAaaow!
posted by xarnop at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am still not understanding how an aesthetic desire/recommendation that women trim a certain spot of hair is oppressive patriarchy when your average man to appear in public (not just private) is going to trim/remove facial/neck hair, nose hair, maybe ear hair, unibrow hair, etc. Not looking like a gorilla doesn't feel like a jack-boot on my neck

No one's proposing this be passed into law, but why exactly is someone's expression of an aesthetic preference for a human body the hill you're so desperate to die on in the gender wars?
posted by crayz at 9:49 AM on October 15, 2011


If we're going to do a comprehensive comparison of societal requirements for hair removal based on gender then lets start with the basic expectations:
women: leg , armpit, (visible) facial hair, pubic
men: facial hair
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only practical reason I have found for having less pubic hair is when there is such a great quantity and length of it naturally that there is unwanted abrasion from its entry into the rapidly moving field of play. And really this can be dealt with anyway by setting it aside or just a really light trim. "I get hair in my teeth" is a joke of a response: jeez, just take a moment to clear it out and continue. Whether it's smooth or a meadow or a forest, just as long as the body is hygienic, the hair is lovely.

As for expressing a preference, that's cool. And sexual preferences can be important. We often can't control what we're attracted to. So it's important to get those important preferences expressed early in a relationship so compatibility can be ascertained. Like, I won't date someone who smokes. If you won't date someone who won't shave then don't be shy about saying that up front.

But, it's really cruel and not fair at all to not say anything about that preference during preliminary negotiations -- if it's that important to you -- and then make a horrid comment or a yuck-face once sexytime has commenced. That's really rude.

People need to communicate more about what is important to them. Folks with strong fetishes learn this early on, or remain unfulfilled for years. A strong preference for pubic hair style needs to be expressed early. And without embarrassment. And this is a good thing because you know what one of the best turn-ons is? Good frank talk about sexytime desires -- finding out that your gears mesh well with someone else an amazing aphrodisiac. (And finding out they don't the clothes come off is good, too -- saves time.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Powerful vectors are at work in our underpants.

I believe the more familiar term is pubic lice, but I've been wrong before.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:04 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


men: facial hair

NGL it would be nice if some very basic tidying was done to the manthicket. I don't want to have to bushwhack my way to your junk, dudes.
posted by elizardbits at 10:14 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't always eat beaver, but when I do, it's fuzzy.
posted by Mojojojo at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2011


I don't always eat beaver, but when I do, it's fuzzy.

You should try contact lenses.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:41 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


saturday_morning: "As always the answer is Moderation In All Things, including pubes."

One mustn't, of course, exercise too much moderation.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had shaven and unshaven vagina, and let me tell you, I prefer vagina.

In other words, I'd rather be making one happy than worrying about its foliage. Y'all feel me?

Welcome to the Jungle, we've got fun and games...
posted by Eideteker at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't want to have to bushwhack my way to your junk, dudes.

How else can you reach the treasure made by the gods?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Secret Life of Gravy: The old "If he's got a beard, he's hiding something" stratagem. I like it. :-)

If that is what you are taking away from what I have written, then I am not expressing myself very well.

I have facial recognition problems already. Slap a beard on a guy and many of the markers (chin, jawline, mouth shape) are removed. Sure beards and faces come in all different sizes, colors, and shapes but it is harder for me to see a bearded man as an individual-- I tend to see them as "Bearded Guy." Maybe part of that is because I've been exposed to so few beards in my life, maybe if we were living in the late Victorian age when nearly every adult male wore a beard I would get over this. Which is not to say I think bearded guys are creepy or sneaky or even ugly. Many academic types (including my favorite University President and writer, Bill Bryson) wear beards. I just think beards prevent me from classifying the wearers as handsome. Even Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson.

Older beards are pretty soft


I don't know about beards, I've never kissed a bearded guy, but I have had unpleasant reactions to mustaches.

I've had shaven and unshaven vagina, and let me tell you, I prefer vagina.


Well this is what I keep thinking. All these guys proclaiming they wouldn't have sex with an unshaven woman-- I would call their bluff on that.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


How else can you reach the treasure made by the gods?!

You mean like Indiana Jones? Are there traps and spiders and big rolly rocks in there?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


No one's proposing this be passed into law, but why exactly is someone's expression of an aesthetic preference for a human body the hill you're so desperate to die on in the gender wars?

I don't think it's very charitable for you to think about this topic as the hill we're desperate to die on. That, to me, sounds pretty patronizing. I don't know if you meant it that way, but that's how I understood it.

What matters, for me, is not that anyone has a particular aesthetic preference, but the way that such preferences fit into a larger social framework. One person saying, "That's just not for me" doesn't matter. But no one says things like that in a vacuum. We're surrounded by our culture, and we need to acknowledge what that culture says.

Let's consider the similarities between bears and pubic hair. Both are bits of hair that grow on particular parts of the body more fully than that which grows elsewhere on the body. Both are the subject of social norms, involving shaving or not shaving.

But. When it comes to the question of beards, here is the message I hear presented by society: "How you trim your facial hair says something about your personality, and some people have preferences for some styles more than others, but it's really just a matter of your personal taste." When it comes to women's pubic hair, here is the message I hear: "If you do not shave off your hair, you are disgusting, gross, sexually undesirable, and likely downright dirty. You owe it to your partner to keep yourself the right way."

Now, there are several things I should mention:
--There is never a single message that society gives. But there are a lot of different forces that, when added together, get across a message of what's acceptable and what's not.

--As a woman, I of course am not as familiar with social pressures related to facial hair as would be a man. However, I do have a significant other and I understand his issues with facial hair. For what it's worth, I believe my partner exemplifies the way that society can put unnecessary pressure on men: he cannot grow facial hair to save his life, but at the same time he suffers horrible razor burn when he shaves. So either my partner has a scraggly, "unkempt" look, or he has painful bumps all over his face. I feel sorry for him, and all other men who have similar issues, who have a physical incapability to take on a "neat" look. But, at the same time, my partner does not come across many social forces telling him he is worth less because of this. (There is a really interesting discussion to be had about a man's ability to grow a beard and his sense of masculinity. That's a different topic, though.) If you have felt as if there are many varied social forces telling you that you are dirty, gross, and less valuable due to how you shave or don't shave your facial hair, then I am sorry for you. I would like to learn more about these forces. As stands, however, I feel comfortable saying that the sorts of norms associated with a woman's genital hair have a stronger undercurrent of what it takes to be acceptable than does beard-hair. If I'm wrong about this, I'd really love to have a long discussion about social norms relating to beards, but I don't want to get caught on that derail, here. Make a new post on this topic, and I'll read it with great interest.

--Note the difference between a face and a vagina. The face is the part of your body that is most visible and significant when interacting with the world. The face is the part of your body that is meant to be an outward presentation of your identity for others to see. How you shape/present your face is meant to be a way for people to judge/understand who you are. One's genitals, on the other hand, are the most private area of a person's body. They are the most secret, the most personal element of a person's entire physical body (in our culture, at least, I'm not making a claim about what must be). To say that there is some standard about how one should style one's facial hair is simply to point out that one's face will be judged by those you interact with. On the other hand, to say that there is some standard about how one should style the absolute most private, personal area of one's body is to imply that one's entire body is intended for the benefit of others. When women are told "This is how your vagina should look," or "This is what a pretty vagina is like," what is being reinforced is that a woman's vagina is not her own private part, but instead something that is appropriate for others to judge. I'm not cool with that.

--Personal preferences about one's sexual partner are just fine. A single woman saying she doesn't care for men with beards is just her presenting her preference. A single man saying he doesn't care for women with considerable amounts of hair on her genitals is just presenting her preference. But. Context is key. As a society, we aren't that far removed from women being told they need to pour Lysol into their body in order to be acceptable. We're in a society where ads that run on TV tell women they need to groom their pubic hair, where the horrible pain that comes from Brazillian waxes is nothing more than the punch line in SNL jokes, where the idea that a woman has hair on her is used to demean her, mock her, dismiss her as worthless. (If you're not familiar with the things I'm referencing, I can try to find them. It may not be the sort of thing one really notices until one actually starts paying attention to it. I can imagine that men just don't hear a lot of the messages in our culture about women's hair because, well, why would they?) More directly, we're making comments in a thread about a paper where a guy is judging how women groom their bodies by what messages this gives men. You cannot separate out any single individual man saying "Yeah, but I like..." from the fact that that single individual man is saying that in a thread about the social norms of pubic hair removal. When a guy comes into a thread on this topic to point out their preferences, I'm left asking, "...So?" Why is a conversation about how women are meant to feel about their bodies the right place for men to point out their sexual preferences? I cannot really interpret a man choosing this context to express his personal preferences as anything but adding to the extreme norms of acceptability that women face. Now, I seriously doubt anyone meant it that way. But that doesn't change how such comments function in a conversation that isn't about individual preferences but instead is about overarching cultural norms.

That's why someone might see this as a hill to die on. The hill isn't the fact that you have preferences, or that any one does. The hill, instead, is the wider social context in which women are shamed because of the hair they have, in which girls are given countless messages all implying that even the most personal parts of their body are appropriately judged by others, in which women are told that there is a very specific way they must be in order to be not-gross, not-ugly, not-dirty. Every single comment by a dude about what hair on their partners they feel is desirable isn't, again, given in a vacuum. Instead, it fits into a much wider spider net about that is acceptable or unacceptable for women.

There are appropriate and perfectly harmless contexts in which men can discuss their preferences. Just, I don't think this really is one of them.
posted by meese at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2011 [39 favorites]


Metafilter: Let's consider the similarities between bears and pubic hair.

I meant beards, of course. But maybe bears would've been more interesting.

posted by meese at 11:25 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This thread is getting hairy.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:27 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't want to have to bushwhack my way to your junk, dudes.

How else can you reach the treasure made by the gods?!


That's it. I'm making a little fedora and whip now.

On preview, kirkaracha beat me to the joke.

NGL it would be nice if some very basic tidying was done to the manthicket. I don't want to have to bushwhack my way to your junk, dudes.

Although it's a much much smaller problem, there is the issue of reverse discrimination here, men who like to shave but women who think it's unmanly, homosexual, etc. Obviously the pressure is more on women to shave though.
posted by formless at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2011


"But maybe bears would've been more interesting."

Ursine or human? I'm guessing both are content with their fur.
posted by MikeMc at 11:30 AM on October 15, 2011


"Are there traps and spiders and big rolly rocks in there?"

Traps and spiders? No. Big rolly rocks? Maybe, "big" is a very subjective term.
posted by MikeMc at 11:31 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I take it back, this thread was worth it just for "manthicket." Elizardbits strikes again.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this talk about how it should be the woman's choice makes me a bit sad, because there is no choice for me. Removed hair in the bikini region returns within days or weeks (depending on the method of removal) with a patch of painful red bumps. They say you can fix that by dousing the skin with special acids, but it's never worked for me. Ahh, sensitive skin.
posted by mantecol at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine once asked me if I wanted to try a new waxing salon with her, and when I said I wasn't interested she said "oh so that's why you're single."

THUMBS DOWN.
posted by prefpara at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eh, I'm a guy and I started shaving down in high school for swimming. Not everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me. I'm a little surprised at how often preferences are confused with value judgements, though. An attractive person is no less so for having hair in their nether regions, and someone I don't find attractive won't suddenly become so if for some reason I find out they're waxed, perfumed and vajazzled (man was I surprised when I found out what that was).
posted by Mooski at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is it either "untamed wild jungle" or "painful expensive Brazilian wax?"


There are in betweens. I mean, set of beard trimmers (and a small trimmer for the, um, nooks and crannies) works well. If you want an even cleaner look, you can use... no kidding .... Magic Shave* . That's right. The cream, not the powder.

A piercer in Austin taught us that one (back when people were getting their respective junks pierced.) Works great. Minimal mess. Cheap. No ripping, no screaming.




*Do a patch test first, of course.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am still not understanding how an aesthetic desire/recommendation that women trim a certain spot of hair is oppressive patriarchy when your average man to appear in public (not just private) is going to trim/remove facial/neck hair, nose hair, maybe ear hair, unibrow hair, etc.crayz
I thought I covered it pretty thoroughly in this comment. Maybe I didn't make as much sense as I thought I did?
Realistically I always wonder whether preferred pube grooming is as much of a dealbreaker as some men say it is...immlass
I wonder this, too. But I have to say that some of the comments here discussing personal experience and second-hand information about what is expected among younger people right now is disturbing me. I had no idea that this had gone beyond a preference and a sort of trendy-sexy-thing and into the prescriptive and shaming "women with pubic hair are disgusting" territory. I was already uncomfortable with shaving merely being so prevalent; this, if true, is much worse.
When women are told "This is how your vagina should look," or "This is what a pretty vagina is like," what is being reinforced is that a woman's vagina is not her own private part, but instead something that is appropriate for others to judge. I'm not cool with that.meese
Yeah, that gets to the heart of the problem. And it's the answer to crayz's question above. The larger context for this is that in our culture, women's bodies are not truly their own. They're seen as serving the interests of A) men, and B) society in general. (And, of course, A and B are often implicitly assumed to be equivalent.)

In the past, there was sufficient misogynist (or, at least, a sufficient gynophobia) such that our culture virtually pretended that the vulva didn't even exist. The gynophobia trumped any nascent social impulse to bring the appearance of a woman's vulva into the same orbit as much of the rest of her appearance—that she must conform to specific social standards to be desirable. Now, though, with the continuing increased openness about sexuality, it's not a surprise that women are suddenly being told that their vulvas should look a certain way. It does have to do with porn, certainly. But I think that this would have happened regardless.
...though it might be marginally more fair to ask me to do so if he was willing to do the same to his tender vittles.emjaybee
I started a limited pruning of my pubic hair a few years ago for a combination of reasons. I was a little self-conscious about it, as I had no sense at the time that other men did this and I worried (just a bit) that it would be thought strange. Over time, I removed more and more hair because it just seems nicer, sexier, and my partners liked it.

My impression is that this is becoming more common among men, gay and straight alike, and that does mitigate slightly the sexist problems with it. Even if it were just as socially required for men as women, however, it wouldn't be completely comparable and eliminate the issues. Only when the larger problem is eliminated could these individual examples be independent and benign.
More directly, we're making comments in a thread about a paper where a guy is judging how women groom their bodies by what messages this gives men.meese
Yeah, that's a striking, very objectionable, and very revealing aspect of this essay.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:26 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


When a guy comes into a thread on this topic to point out their preferences, I'm left asking, "...So?" Why is a conversation about how women are meant to feel about their bodies the right place for men to point out their sexual preferences?meese
I agree with this, but I'll risk erring by doing exactly that because I think it's relevant.

I've long preferred a shaved vulva and I've discussed this with people for years. One good thing that's come of this change in my opinion is that it's no longer widely believed that this preference is a manifestation of a latent pedophilia...this really used to be taken for granted by many or most people for a long time. It's a silly belief—I don't think it's any more likely to be true than that preferring a beardless, clean-shaven man has something to do with preferring that a man look like a pre-pubescent boy. Speaking for myself, to whatever degree a shaven vulva connotes the pre-pubescent state, is the one thing that I've disliked about it and the whole idea really weirds me out.

Anyway, I mention my preference because this change has been very odd for me, given my preference for it in combination with my feminism. At first I was happy that our culture suddenly found something acceptable that I liked that had previously been questionable, even sort of skeevy. But as it became more and more prevalent, and approached what appeared to be something close to being universal, I became increasingly uncomfortable because it was obvious that this was just another example of our culture telling women that they must alter their bodies from their natural state in order to be sexually attractive to men. And I'm especially upset at the idea that men are now finding unshaven vulvas to be ugly and gross. I may prefer it shaved, but the idea that an unshaved vulva is something repulsive is just deeply fucked-up. For me, the preference has always been a positive thing: I think it looks and feels great and is super-duper hellacious sexy. It's never been avoiding a negative, because I think an unshaven vulva is pretty awesomely attractive and sexy, too.

So I have a hard time getting my head around this negative, prescriptive, shaming opinion about unshaven vulvas.

But, in a way, this extreme negativity shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Many or most men really are weirdly and sadly gynophobic. They're uncomfortable talking about vaginas, they prefer to pretend that menstruation doesn't exist, they are both ignorant and a little unnerved by the vaginal environment...and I'm sure I can come up with numerous further examples of men in our culture either avoiding, entirely, talking and thinking about things related to the vagina, and/or being slightly repulsed by them. I think it's remarkable—and remarkable that no one remarks upon it—that while the vulva is exactly parallel to the penis with regard to its importance to sexual intercourse, the male gaze and consciousness is primarily, even ostentatiously, preoccupied with the breasts and buttocks. That's weird.

There's an oft-discussed idea in feminist theory that men are frightened by the primary female sexual anatomy and that this is where some misogyny originates. There are various reasons postulated for this fear—the inaccessible profundity of gestation and birth is often mentioned.

But whatever the reasons, I think this fear is real. And so it was probably inevitable that this fear would attach to the "untamed" vulva, the vulva that doesn't conform to our cultural requirements. The same thing is true with unshaven legs—the repugnance that many American men (and women) express for a woman's hairy legs never ceases to surprise and upset me. This repugnance is both about esthetics and the failure to conform to the beauty standard...and about what the willful rebellion represents. The repugnance is disguised fear.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:40 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu: ... then wax poetic about pubic hair...

I see what you did there.
posted by datawrangler at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine once asked me if I wanted to try a new waxing salon with her, and when I said I wasn't interested she said "oh so that's why you're single."

THUMBS DOWN.


Ditch this friend.
posted by Summer at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's consider the similarities between bears and pubic hair.

"No, I said I was bear down there."

When it comes to the question of beards, here is the message I hear presented by society: "How you trim your facial hair says something about your personality, and some people have preferences for some styles more than others, but it's really just a matter of your personal taste." When it comes to women's pubic hair, here is the message I hear: "If you do not shave off your hair, you are disgusting, gross, sexually undesirable, and likely downright dirty. You owe it to your partner to keep yourself the right way."

I think you are ignoring the multitude of jobs for which beards are not considered acceptable. Sometimes they are explicitly banned, other times it's just implicit pressure. I think it would be a mistake to say that male facial hair and female pubic hair norms are equivalent (the overall contexts are totally different), but there are maybe more points of comparison than you are giving credit for.
posted by Forktine at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]




I think the operative word in all of this, as some people have pointed out, is 'shame'. That's the real difference between beards and this.

I had no idea that things had moved on from merely maintaining a kind of neatness to full blown little-girl nakedness - maybe it's because I'm not American. And it makes me MAD. Society can go and eff itself in placing that burden on people.

Any man that insists that total nudeness is the only acceptable option needs to check his own arrogance.
posted by Summer at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]



Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I've never had a conversation about pubic hair with my parents or my children.

This is the only previous instance of the appearance of 'child' in this thread.

But that's what it's all about, isn't it?

This is one of many ways we are telling women that the more child-like they are, the more sexually attractive they are.
posted by jamjam at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2011


I think you are ignoring the multitude of jobs for which beards are not considered acceptable. Sometimes they are explicitly banned, other times it's just implicit pressure.

This is almost exactly what I was going to say. One of my boyfriend's jobs is customer-facing, and the culture there is very much anti-facial-hair for men. It's actually mandated that they must either be clean-shaven or have a neatly trimmed full beard. Now, I happen to think that men in general and BF in particular look amazingly sexy with 1-2 days worth of stubble. For this reason (and several others), I get bummed out by this idea that "facial stubble=you are a slob and probably live under a railroad overpass."

I know this isn't the same problem discussed in the article by a long shot, but as Forktine points out, there are parallels. The absence or presence of facial hair of any style is indeed something that we're so used to seeing dictated by employers in particular that a lot of us probably don't even bat an eye at it anymore, and it does indeed carry a hint of "If you aren't bereft of facial hair, you are probably lax in grooming, lazy and an undesirable representative of our SuperGreatCorporation."
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:10 PM on October 15, 2011


No one had dragged John Ruskin into this yet? Is that tale about his horror of his new bride's public hair (having been led to believe that women were hairless there, as they appear in most artworks that way) apocryphal?

I wonder if porn's preference for no hair at all is less a thing that intends to invoke prepubescence and more of a mania for showing every inch of flesh, unimpeded.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps because I was mostly having sex in the 80's and early 90's (single, old, how depressing) I always found guys who insisted that I shave off all my pubic hair creepy. Like, 'why do you want me to look like a 10 year old?" creepy.

I would not/will not/ have not ever ripped my pubic hair out by the roots for anyone. Never had a guy complain about the existence of my hair, of any kind.
posted by jrochest at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2011


Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I've never had a conversation about pubic hair with my parents or my children.

Dear god, why would you want to? Sometimes I feel like one of the last people to have actually had parents, instead of richer, older friends that let me mooch off them for 18+ years.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kitty Stardust you are absolutely right. The biggest red flag for me is when a girl tells me her mom is her best friend. Run the other way immediately.
posted by karmiolz at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One good thing that's come of this change in my opinion is that it's no longer widely believed that this preference is a manifestation of a latent pedophilia...this really used to be taken for granted by many or most people for a long time.

For good reason. I don't necessarily think that's why guys like the look now, but I suspect the genesis of this trend was to cross another line, to break another taboo, to be just a little more badass.
posted by kgasmart at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One mustn't, of course, exercise too much moderation.

My father's wise dictum is, "Moderation in all things, including moderation itself."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2011


Realistically I always wonder whether preferred pube grooming is as much of a dealbreaker as some men say it is.

Ditto. Personally, I tend to pick up on whether a guy would be all precious about the issue, and if he is, then I don't wanna let him make a Pilgrimage to The Temple in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Applies to men and women. If you can trim the bushes with a pair of simple scissors, you should

No, I don't think I should. I think I'll do what I've always done and not worry about it, aside from keeping myself clean. None of the women I've been with cared (I'm over 40 but have dated younger and older women). When we've had discussions about it they've always preferred a natural approach but never made it an issue either way. People who say someone should groom in a particular way should find someone who agrees with them instead of dictating grooming standards to their partner.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fap, fap, fap, fap...oh wait, this isn't FARK. Terribly sorry.
posted by MattMangels at 3:39 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something about a straight man complaining about getting a hair in his mouth during oral sex has always struck me as really strange, because how about the fact that when a woman goes down on him she has to put an entire cock in her mouth?
posted by colfax at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


The man who wrote this article is so obviously just looking to rationalize his own bias for an au naturel woman that he goes to ridiculous lengths to convince the audience that shaving/waxing is an aberration. Some of his reasoning is just really out there:
I have been studying student erotics for several years now and one thing is clear: young women who don’t love and don’t feel loved tend not to orgasm when they have sex. Hairlessness, which does not contribute to female pleasure, is entwined with the rise of the pornographic, with love’s erosion as a believable state of grace, with women’s uncomfortable capitulation to sex as a portal to fuller affection.
That's really creepy. "Studying student erotics" sounds like code for, "Trying to have sex with my students." And "hairlessness does not contribute to female pleasure"? Speak for yourself! For some of us, actually, it does.

I don't spend thousands of dollars a month to wax, and I don't think anyone should feel like they have to. I take care of my own grooming rituals. As it happens, I happen to like the bare look and feeling for myself, so I shave.I like the increased sensitivity that comes from bare skin, and the idea of leaving just a little skinny trail (landing strip) just doesn't feel right aesthetically to me personally. But I've also just trimmed to wear a bikini, so I'm pretty flexible.

I question the contention that women are being pressured into having Brazilian waxes by men, though. I think the pressure is more likely to come from other women who are shaven. The thing about the gynecologist or his/her assistants judging a patient by whether or not she has shaven is just ridiculous, and it really seems like projection to me.

As far as individual men having a preference for clean-shaven or waxed vulvas, that may be more common now than in the past, but I don't think it's because they feel women or their vaginas are dirty and disgusting. I think, like me, they might like the aesthetic, or the sensitivity, or the feel of smooth skin against them. More pragmatically, maybe they like not getting hair in their teeth. Some might prefer it because they can fool around without any telltale evidence. Whatever; there's all kinds of reasons. But I think this all started with a vague preference for some grooming vs no grooming at all.

Why it went from there to an all-or-nothing proposition I don't know, but I think for the majority of people it still really just boils down to wanting your partner to care about grooming and personal hygiene on some level. No trimming at all? Not a good sign. But the idea of anyone walking around thinking, "Ewww, any hair at all on a woman is a real turn-off!" doesn't ring true to me.
posted by misha at 4:15 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Many or most men really are weirdly and sadly gynophobic. They're uncomfortable talking about vaginas ...

Whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:47 PM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


No trimming at all? Not a good sign

Not a good sign of what? I was never raised to believe that grooming your pubic hair was necessary. I suppose if someone wants to that's fine, but I think it's odd that anyone would be judged on that basis. By the time anyone knows about mine we would be rather intimately acquainted already. But I don't care to make it an issue for a partner nor to get involved with a partner who would make it an issue, nor facial hair, which I've had for the last 20 years. I'm happy with who I am and prefer to be with people who feel the same.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:59 PM on October 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Being human entails enduring so many mind-fucks already without having to worry about being loved and appreciated or not because you're trimmed/shaved or not.

There's nothing at all wrong with wanting to be "sexy" with makeup, clothes etc., but at least some of that stuff is just a throwback to when Men were the breadwinners and Women had to do subservient shit in order to find and please a man who would take care of her.

Times they are a changing, fellas. How many guys do you know who get mani/pedis at the behest of their wives or G/Fs? That's not such a big deal, it's fun and healthy, not terribly emasculating. What about EYEBROW WAXING? I know it's a bonding thing...she asks, "Let's go get waxed together!"

I've seen a few guy go through with it. It appeases the SO, but dammit no matter how manly you look otherwise, those six or seven inches of your face will look like a pretty girl.

(I actually thought about it until this morning when one of our HOCKEY coaches showed up with a pink and perfect brow. I'm pretty sure the kids lost the game because they were more focused on giving him shit about it than scoring and blocking.)
posted by snsranch at 5:07 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many or most men really are weirdly and sadly gynophobic.

I'm a 40-year-old, and, based on my cohort, I do not think this is true at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:36 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Have we entered the spiral of comeuppance yet? I know I have.
posted by sneebler at 6:05 PM on October 15, 2011


I completely totally agree that people should do what they want with their bodies.

I also know damn well that should I decide to appear in Midtown without a good suit and a clean shave, people will want to know why I slept rough the night before and probably think less of me.

People adapt to their situations, but more importantly, people select the situations to which they choose to adapt. I think if we all focused more on changing those situations themselves, we'd be a lot happier.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:19 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also know damn well that should I decide to appear in Midtown without a good suit and a clean shave, people will want to know why I slept rough the night before and probably think less of me.

Ah, yes, and this is why I don't head to Midtown, not being the type that even owns a suit.

I think if we all focused more on changing those situations themselves, we'd be a lot happier.

I agree and don't miss Midtown.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:50 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe the more familiar term is pubic lice, but I've been wrong before.

AKA the papillons d'amour; to some an ailment, to others a source of viable recreation.
posted by homunculus at 8:14 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The connection between erotic desire and knowledge is lodged both in our origin story in the Garden of Eden, and written into the word philosophy—philo, loving, sophia, knowledge or wisdom—a loving of knowledge. That loving is grounded in erotics.

Huh. Eros is not Philia. Eros is erotic love; philia is friendly, brotherly love.

I see that I'm hardly the first one out of the gate here with the eye-rollies. Just sort of couldn't let that one slide.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 8:34 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


krinklyfig, I should have been more clear about the, "No grooming is a bad sign" thing.

I live in Florida, and if you wear a bathing suit ever, and you're a woman, you are probably going to want to, at the very least, shave what your bikini or bathing suit doesn't cover.

This is not, admittedly, an issue most men have (although some European men or body-builders or whatever do wear the Speedo-type suits, so maybe then? I don't know because my guy doesn't).
posted by misha at 8:35 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


misha, the bathing suit thing has always bugged me, and here's why: women's suits are so much less forgiving than men's suits, at least the bottoms are. Why do guys have the option of long baggy shorts OR speedos, but whatever type of suit women wear, it's basically going to require waxing their pubic area? Where are the comfy swim shorts for women (men's don't have a cut that works well, I've tried them)? Why is taken for granted that going to the beach means having to yank a triangle of spandex out of your buttcrack 20 times a day if you're a woman?
posted by emjaybee at 8:50 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen board shorts with a women's cut, actually, emjaybee. Don't remember where, and some of them are just barely past Daisy-Duke length, but I do know they exist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on October 15, 2011


OK, pubic hair is an issue, but this guy is a creep. I can see him passing out copies of this essay to his students, sweatily announcing that some may find it "controversial" and that he is holding extra office hours for anyone interested in "continuing the discussion."
posted by granted at 9:17 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just don't get how big of a problem this could possibly be, in real human terms. The only scenario that comes to mind is if a woman is having regular long-term sex with 2 or more partners with VERY different tastes, each of which is VERY different than her own. Sex so regular that there's no time to regrow in between. That could be a problem. Hell of a problem to have.

For my entire adult life I was very diehard one way. Then I thought to try something new and we both kind of like it. Maybe in a few months Manic Panic or some similar freaky stuff will make an appearance. Good Lord.
posted by skbw at 9:23 PM on October 15, 2011


And granted: I think of my god-fearing undergrad advisors, and I rejoice, I say rejoice, that they would never have signed their name to such a piece of dreck as that article.
posted by skbw at 9:31 PM on October 15, 2011


When I first started swimming again, I wore swim shorts. It's actually not that hard to find them for women. I got mine at Target, because I'm cheap, but Athleta (that's the Gap's workout clothes store) has nice ones. Lands End has some longer ones.

(I've switched back to a normal swim suit, and I'm using an epilator and its trimmer attachment to take care of errant pubic hair. Epilating that area hurts like hell, but I hate shaving, and it gets the job done. I really, really wouldn't want to use it to do the full monty, though.)
posted by craichead at 9:34 PM on October 15, 2011


>Times they are a changing, fellas. How many guys do you know who get mani/pedis at the behest of their wives or G/Fs? That's not such a big deal, it's fun and healthy, not terribly emasculating. What about EYEBROW WAXING? I know it's a bonding thing...she asks, "Let's go get waxed together!"<

We live in different worlds.

I kind of liked the article, even if it was a little over baked.
posted by bongo_x at 10:25 PM on October 15, 2011


Personally, I have been of the remove everything school. It's cleaner. It's not a being 'available' thing. I am not involved with the 'hook-up culture'.
I do have to say having hair
lessened my fun. I had a significant
other who preferred lots of nether
region hair. It was an ethnic thing.
He was a Croat. Aparantly they like
facial hair and big eyebrows on
women as well. I never plucked my
eyebrows, but I can't stand having
stray facial hairs. If you get a big
one it can itch terribly or even be
painful, like a needle sticking in
your face.
What I do with my body is my
business.

Middle Eastern people have one way or another removed body hair for
hundreds of years. It has nothing to
do with porn. Both men and women do it, or have it done at the bath-
house. They don't do it to look good in a bikini, or to facilitate 'hook-ups.
The ancient Celts also removed all body hair and took steam baths. It was a hygiene thing in both cases, which is why I do it.
It happened to enhance sex for me. that was a nice bonus.
I note from comments I am not alone saying this. If something keeps you cleaner and enhances pleasure for you why not do it?

On arm-pit hair, I was once stuck in the Seattle Greyhound waiting room some 15feet away from a woman who's arm pit hair could have passed for pubic hair. It was a very hot day. She was wearing a sarong. The stench was overpowering. I still feel sorry for whoever got stuck on a bus to wherever with her! If you are going to have that much body hair and it is hot, frequent bathing
is a must!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:46 PM on October 15, 2011


Let me tell you about hair. I love it. I love a hairy woman. I love a hairy man. The more the better. The rest of you are just equating hair with bad grooming. Hairy folks represent!

Hair does not equal smell. Except in a good way.
posted by Splunge at 11:50 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Interesting how underarm hair is associated with smelly armpits...

Underarm hair wicks the moisture away from the skin and aids in keeping the skin dry enough to prevent or diminish bacterial colonization. The hair is less susceptible to bacterial growth and therefore is ideal for preventing the bacterial odor. (wiki)


The same way pubic hair is associated with "rug burn," when one of its functions is as a dry lubricant. (If you really want a rug burn, go for the stubble of hair growing in after a razor shave.)
posted by louche mustachio at 1:03 AM on October 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've seen board shorts with a women's cut, actually

I have some, forget where I got them. I was ecstatic, because

having to yank a triangle of spandex out of your buttcrack 20 times a day

^ DOWN WITH THAT SORT OF THING
posted by louche mustachio at 1:07 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regardless of whether or not you "prefer your women shaved" (armpit, legs, crotch or otherwise), it seems very strange to post you opinion about the matter on MetaFilter. God it must be tough to be a woman, everyone always telling you what to do with your body to satisfy some sort of personal preference.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:18 AM on October 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I hadn't thought about looking for shorts as a tankini bottom. I know what I'm looking for in a bathing suit next year. Thank you, ladies who recommended that.

Regardless of whether or not you "prefer your women shaved" (armpit, legs, crotch or otherwise), it seems very strange to post you opinion about the matter on MetaFilter.

Yeah, really, this is what it boils down to for me. It's one thing for a guy that I'm having sex with (or in near-term negotiations for sex) to say "hey I have this preference", which as someone noted above, can be really sexy, but when lots of guys randomly say "hey women should ..." (not that everybody here is saying that, but that's the vibe I got from the article), to me it feels like all these guys think they have rights over me and other women like we're all immediately available to fuck. And the "your woman" formulation of that is particularly icky in that respect. I am not anybody else's woman; I'm my own, and maybe mutually my spouse's, like he's mine. My pubes are not public property and it annoys me that random dudes on the internet think it's perfectly acceptable to tell me how I should groom my private parts to be sexually appealing to them like I should give a shit about what they want.
posted by immlass at 7:28 AM on October 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


Regardless of whether or not you "prefer your women shaved" (armpit, legs, crotch or otherwise), it seems very strange to post you opinion about the matter on MetaFilter.

I agree, with the caveat that it can be hard to discuss something so personal without bringing in one's own experiences and preferences. Even so, I think there's something kind of weird about the strength of the opinions that get expressed on this. It's not "I like X, so it makes me really happy when my partner does that for me." It's "women should do Y or they are gross."
posted by Forktine at 7:52 AM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's "women should do Y or they are gross."
But also "women should do X or they are incapable of true intimacy, love and/or orgasm." Part of what I found annoying about the article is that the guy isn't just saying "I prefer women with ample pubic hair, because that's what I find sexy." He's saying "there's something very deeply deficient about women who don't have enough pubic hair." I just think it's sort of shitty to use that kind of shaming tactic to try to convince women to comply with one's grooming preferences, whether it's claiming that too much hair is dirty or too little hair is evidence that you can only have superficial, unsatisfying sex.
posted by craichead at 8:12 AM on October 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


My pubes are not public property and it annoys me that random dudes on the internet think it's perfectly acceptable to tell me how I should groom my private parts to be sexually appealing to them like I should give a shit about what they want.immlass
It's not "I like X, so it makes me really happy when my partner does that for me." It's "women should do Y or they are gross."Forktine
Yeah. That this is so is why it's just not comparable to any of the expectations about male grooming. Few things make it as obvious that women are essentially the property of society, expected to maintain a utility for its benefit; this utility is sexual attractiveness to men, with the benefit men's.

Women who are not attractive are acceptable targets of ridicule because their value is in their attractiveness and if they're not attractive, then they don't count. Worse, they're an affront, they're not dong their job, they're forcing men to be uncomfortable when they look at them. How dare they?

And, of course, women are co-opted into policing and maintaining this. So when a woman "doesn't keep up her appearance", she's treated to disrespect from men and heaps of scorn from other women. Criticism about these failures—whether it's not being slim enough, or bad hair, or poor fashion choices, or not keeping her pubic hair trimmed—is more often than not full of contempt, with implications of a defect of character.

Women's appearance is considered public property because women's bodies are considered public property. And whether the preference is for shaved pubic hair or unshaved pubic hair, these preferences are often expressed in these terms. The post's linked article may be criticizing shaving; but the assertion of social, and male, ownership of this drips from every sentence.

That said, there are a few of us who have stated our personal preferences as mere personal preferences and very much not as value judgements, and hopefully not as non sequitors implying that our preference is important to this conversation in and of itself, but rather relevantly as part of an argument or part of a more widely applicable observation. I hope that's okay. If not, I apologize for my mention of my preference.
But also "women should do X or they are incapable of true intimacy, love and/or orgasm."craichead
Yeah, but don't you think that that part of it has a lot to do with the moral panic over "hooking up" and young women having sex? Which is, in my opinion, part of a long tradition of denying women their sexuality by asserting that it only correctly exists as part of monogamous, romantic love...which itself is just one step away from the (still-extent) argument that it only correctly exists as a function of procreation...which itself is just a step away from asserting that it's not really supposed to be pleasurable for women in the first place.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:19 AM on October 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really don't know what to make of the "hookup culture" thing. I work with college students, and it's not something they complain to me about. I hear pretty frequent complaints about *drinking* culture. I hear students say that they feel pressure to drink more than they want and that they don't feel like there's any way to have fun on or around campus if you're not a hardcore partyer. I don't hear complaints about pressure to have anonymous sex, but that may just be because that's not as acceptable a thing to talk about. (And to be honest, I probably don't want to talk to my students about their sex lives.) A lot of my students mention serious boyfriends and girlfriends and sometimes fiances, which makes me think that hookup culture can't be quite as ubiquitous as it's sometimes portrayed as being. But I really have no idea whether "hookup culture" is a moral panic or is something that young adults themselves find oppressive.

I guess, though, that my understanding of the late '60s and '70s is that there was quite a bit of anonymous sex going on and that some women didn't always find that entirely awesome. Some women felt pressured to prove how liberated they were by being sexually available to any man who indicated a desire to sleep with them. And that appears to be this guy's ideal period, when sexuality was healthy and women didn't shave their pubes. If he's really got an issue with young women having sex outside of relationships, he's picked a kind of muddled way to discuss it.
posted by craichead at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


From my experiences being someone who went to school later in life, and lived in a college town almost my whole life, the "hookup culture" is really only a thing for a small segment of bored, affluent students who are often mistaken for the whole of college culture, especially because they have outsized media reach. The school paper sex columnist — an idiotic and awful affectation that I've seen at too many college papers — is almost always the only one on the newspaper's staff that is either involved in or believes in a hookup culture, at least in my experience. It's as real as Sex In The City.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, we just didn't want at the orgies after that stunt you pulled in the quad. Seriously man, what the hell did those squirrels ever do to you?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on October 16, 2011


I've seen board shorts with a women's cut, actually, emjaybee. Don't remember where, and some of them are just barely past Daisy-Duke length, but I do know they exist.

???? Daisy Duke length is plenty long enough to hide pubic hair. Which is what this thread is about. *Goes back to check* Yep.

You say Daisy Dukes like it's a bad thing.

BTW, women's boardies are everywhere in Australia, have been for many summers. I credit Layne Beachley.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2011


The hairy ones are closer to nature, to animality.
Well, I guess I'm somewhere in between, then? I'm not very hairy, naturally but I don't do much about it. So. How civilized am I?
American women are, in fact, striking a pornographic pose, one that first appeared in the hard-core porn films that were increasingly shaping the sexual imagination of legions of young men. The eye of the hard-core porn camera hovers over female body parts; it’s a visual excess of physical acts with a minimum of sentiment. It is not a love story. Porn displays pubeless bodies to emphasize the organs—the female genital slit (and the erect male shaft)—and thereby defines the standard of erotic desirability. As nether hair disappeared on screen guys increasingly wanted sex with girls who looked like the porn stars they’d fantasized about. They asked and women emulated.
Pick a fucking verb tense and stick with it dude. This is like, 6th grade essay writing skill we're talking about. Help a reader follow your bullshit reasoning.
posted by bilabial at 5:50 PM on October 16, 2011


Two points: the weird tangent to how men were afraid of pubic hair because urine comes out of the same vicinity was so bizarre it caused me to triple-take.

One: What men think these thoughts (besides this author, whose friends and family are so free with talking about their personal grooming habits).
Two: How do you manage to talk about one, without figuring out a way to talk your way out of the gender parallel fact that. URINE COMES OUT OF THE PENIS. *mindsplode!*

The one interesting point (and I don't know how to weight it now) was the idea that the first cultural shift towards hairlessness was a direct backlash to those free-flowing pubically liberated feminists.
posted by stratastar at 5:56 PM on October 16, 2011


I've never dated a woman who did more than light trimming for swimsuits. I like to think that's because I've always tended towards woman who have more important priorities and/or different hobbies than that.

I have to say, this makes me every bit as uncomfortable as the "ew, hair is gross!" stuff. I have zero problem with women doing the natural hair thing (on whatever selection of body parts they so choose), but as a bare-down-there type myself, I really resent the implication that I must be vain or shallow or desperate for hookups or whatever it is people think my "priorities" must be.

This is one of the things about being a woman that drives me crazy: whatever you do, you're doing it wrong, and there are plenty of people who are happy to tell you so.
posted by naoko at 7:42 PM on October 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


???? Daisy Duke length is plenty long enough to hide pubic hair. Which is what this thread is about. *Goes back to check* Yep. You say Daisy Dukes like it's a bad thing.

....No, all I mean by that is "they're shorter than regular 'short'-type shorts, and shorter than men's swim trunks."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:04 PM on October 16, 2011


My bad.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:24 PM on October 16, 2011


This is one of the things about being a woman that drives me crazy: whatever you do, you're doing it wrong, and there are plenty of people who are happy to tell you so.

Truth.

My own personal way of dealing with this was to stop giving a shit what randoms think of my appearance. I spent far too much time torturing myself, and it never worked anyway, so why. Haters gonna hate.

Do as you please. Dress as you please. Shave your pubes into fun dinosaur shapes. If we're going to be wrong no matter what, lets at least enjoy it. Lovers gonna love.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:17 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it's not just about what he thinks women should do with their bodies. He talks about the role of the expectations of men, and female ideas about the expectations of men. I don't believe true feminism means we have to have a libertarian/individualistic conception of people as the free owners of their own bodies who just "do what they want to."

That's a useful perspective in some situations, but... I mean, we don't say that about anorexia: come on, guys, stop telling women how much they should eat!


Most don't realize that a large number women with eating disorders are actually trying to desexualize themselves as a result of being sexually abused/assaulted. It's a defence mechanism against feeling vulnerable in a society that values your appearance above all else. I didn't make this connection until I started losing weight.

We really should let women decide for themselves. The irksome part is crass gynophobic jokes men make about women's bodies. I'm 43 and I've been hearing variations of "eww vagina" for much of my life, yet I shear my hair because there is a personal benefit outside of the male squick factor which really isn't about hair, but about our lady bits. Hair, or no hair, I still left having to navigate that.
posted by squeak at 7:38 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shave your pubes into fun dinosaur shapes.

oh god now i want a pterodactyl
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on October 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eponysterical?
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 AM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I had not thought of that song in AGES.
posted by Eideteker at 1:15 PM on October 17, 2011


URINE COMES OUT OF THE PENIS. *mindsplode!*

[keanu_reeves.jpg]

Woah!
posted by MikeMc at 5:53 PM on October 17, 2011


That said, there are a few of us who have stated our personal preferences as mere personal preferences and very much not as value judgements, and hopefully not as non sequitors implying that our preference is important to this conversation in and of itself, but rather relevantly as part of an argument or part of a more widely applicable observation. I hope that's okay. If not, I apologize for my mention of my preference.

What Ivan Fyodorovich said. In long retrospect.
posted by Splunge at 1:50 PM on October 19, 2011


URINE COMES OUT OF THE PENIS. *mindsplode!*

shhhhh don't tell the ladies!
posted by stratastar at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2011


The hairy ones are closer to nature, to animality.

Personally, this right here is the kind of crap I'm tired of, the whole using capital-W Women as some kind symbol where everything they do or don't do gets to be some kind of warped mirror creative writing profs, as someone nicknamed it upthread, pin a bunch of crap onto culturally, psychoanalytically, whatever. It reminds me of a thread a long time ago on Mefi about an article about women who sleep with famous men (Tiger Woods, IIRC) where the author was like "why would women do such a thing, let's expand this to cultural generalizations!" and one of my favorite lady Mefites was like duh, there are all kinds of personal, logical, varied, logistical, whatever reasons an individual woman might want to do X activity at any time. There are all kinds of reasons a lady might want to shave or not shave, and I'm all for having the discussion about how some of it is crappy sexist pressure to sexually conform to some ideal, but this weird making Woman and Her Activities a symbolic thing full of whatever meaning fits your mood today makes me so grar. "We won't play nature to your culture," or represent domesticity, or childlike innocence, or vagina dentata, or whatever else, etc. The fact people historically want to do this all the time speaks to issues of sexism, so tiring.
posted by ifjuly at 6:51 PM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really wish I could favorite ifjuly's comment not just once, not just twice, but eleventy-seven times.

*sigh* ... Once will have to do.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:13 PM on October 20, 2011


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