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I have recently read Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman. I was struck by her chapter on body hair, specifically pubic hair and our present cultural obsession with female pubic hair (or the lack of it). She suggests that having a nice hairy muff might even be a political action. It got me thinking about pubes and the ridiculous amount of thought women put into them. Women are no longer meant to have a "dark tangle of pubic hair" between their legs. We are meant to be bald between our legs, smooth as eggs, not a stray hair out of place that might find it's errant way between someone's teeth as they go down on you.
So in the midst of my contemplation of fuzzy muffs, I decided to post a provocative Facebook status as I have many funny, thoughtful friends I was sure would chime in with some good comments. And they didn't disappoint. I posted the status "[t]he day all the men in the world start letting strangers pour hot wax on their balls and then rip all the hair out by the roots is the day I will 'consider' a Brazilian" and my astute friends (male and female) jumped on it. Over the course of the night/morning we had a 60 message thread going. We transversed the topics of waxing, lasers on your balls, anal bleaching, pornography, cultural norms, gendered binaries, and Justin Timberlake all in one thread!
One part of the conversation I'm going to repost here because I think we got some good discussion going (apologies to my friend):
Friend of the male persuasion: All the men? I mean, a number of guys get cleaned up down there. Why do all the guys have to do something that not all the girls do?
Me: *sigh* Don't argue with my hairy bush. It was just being funny.
Friend: You have terrified the Ghost of Freud with that comment.
Me: If your hairy bush can't have a good chuckle from time to time, what's the point of this crazy, mixed up life.
Friend: Are you kidding? My hairy bush—and attendant junky bits—are the punchline of 100% of my jokes.
Me (the next morning after realizing I owed him a better answer to the original question): Now that I've had some sleep I can further address your earlier comment. I was using a provocative blanket statement here to be funny and risqué to start a string of interesting observations from funny people. However, I do believe there is a concern with our obsession with making grown women look like little girls in our culture. Waxing all the pubic hair away started as a trend in pornography for one simple fact, it made it easier to film penetration scenes. Unfortunately the easy access to pornography in our culture at the moment has led us to use pornography as the yard stick for all things sexual and sexually related. Thus women are now expected to have no pubic hair, are expected to have anal sex as part of their sexual repertoire, expected to deep throat, etc etc. As much fun as pornography is (I love watching people have sex) it is not real and it is not a real representation of sex. It is a very narrow view of one type of heterosexual, frequently white, sex for pay that removes some of the joy, spontaneity, variety, and love from the sex act.
Now getting back to waxing all the hair away, I have had several lovers over the years (and I've had several other women repeat this same story to me about their experiences with male lovers) make me feel guilty, dirty, unsexy, unattractive, or undesirable because I didn't have a Brazilian or shave all the hair off my vag (I trim and buzz cut some of the area but I prefer to keep a nice Welcome mat). They wouldn't go down on me even though I was expected to go down on them because of my hair choice. I believe women should have some hair to signify that they are a woman and not a child. Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't shave/wax it all off if you want to. Personal choice always plays into it and you should do whatever you want with your pubic hair. It's your body. It's just when it becomes a forced cultural standard and you are made to feel unsexy or unwanted if you make a different choice then that really sucks. I know my original statement was rather provocative and you should never generalize but it got the balls rolling on some interesting comments and some funny stuff came up so hey... why not? And I'm still gonna grow a nice furry bush to keep me warm for the winter.
Friend: It's like if someone had watched "Transformers" and then expected cars to turn into robots. "Um, you know that's not real, right?"
Me: Exactly! And I'm not just saying this is bad for just women but also for men. It really limits the types of interactions we think we can have in the real world and really narrows us to one definition of sexuality and gender norms. I, for one, really don't believe in an enforced set of gendered normatives or a static definition of sexuality. I believe sexuality and gender are fluid, transforming and always changing but unfortunately in our present society we are stuck in binaries that aren't realistic and can be horribly limiting and mainstream culture (pornography, Hollywood, fashion, etc) really enforce those ideas which end up informing and playing out in the real world.
Now I'm not saying everyone has to be furry in order to be a "real feminist." I don't think there's any such thing as a "real feminist." No identity category is static. Sometimes I shave my legs and underarms and sometimes I don't bother because I plain old don't feel like it. Sometimes my muff is super furry, sometimes I shave the sides, sometimes I have a buzz cut but I never wax and I never get rid of all the hair. I have ridiculously sensitive skin and getting wax anywhere near me results in oozing, bleeding, red welts, and incredibly unsexy rashes. I'm not going to put myself through that because of a culturally prescribed beauty myth. I love my vag, it should be happy and healthy and I'm not going to put it through that kind of pain.
When I was young, comments made to me by my lovers about my pubic hair (suggesting I was undesirable because I had it even though they still fucked me) really got to me. It made me feel ugly, like my muff was disgusting and who would want to lick it, and it made me feel like I didn't deserve oral sex even though clitoral stimulation is the only thing that makes me orgasm (like most women). I still didn't shave all my pubes off because it made me itchy and broken out but I felt horrible that I didn't do it and I spent a serious amount of time looking for the magical hair removal system that would not hurt and not make my skin freak out. As I have aged and gotten more bitchy I've decided men who dislike my pubic hair can frankly go fuck themselves.
I've licked myself some hairy muff in my lifetime and it was lovely. Like a lovely little warm nest hiding a jewel. Just as lovely as a hairless vag. I'm not saying you can't shave/wax it all off if you want to, just don't do it because you feel you have to or because someone is pressuring you to and especially don't do it to fit some imaginary cultural norm. I think variety is the spice of life. If we all look the same when we take our pants off, things are gonna get mighty boring. Mass media makes us believe we all need to look the same and fit this imaginary norm, but fuck that, sex is fun because people come in different shapes, sizes, textures, colours, gender variations, sexualities, and levels of hairiness. Now go pick the hairs out of your teeth and get out there and love your muff!