This post is explicit, and links to pages which feature explicit photographs. Feel free to look away.
I admit to a passing interest in fashion trends. Well ok, maybe that’s exaggerating my interest. So this may not be breaking news, but I’ve been thinking about it since chatting with a lesbian friend 14 years younger than I am.
We were talking about our bodies, and how we felt about them, and she said she shaved all her pubic hair. I asked her how her lovers felt about this, and she looked shocked and said “they all have too, of course.” When I told her I have never slept with a woman who shaves all her pubic hair, she looked shocked again.
Now most of her lovers have been her age or younger, mixed racially, not identifying as feminist.
Nearly all of my female lovers have been my age or older, mixed racially, identifying as feminists (what can I say, women who love women and don’t like gender oppression, *sexy*).
So there’s a generation gap going on here, and possibly a different analysis about how women look after our beautiful bits between feminists and non-feminists.
Before anyone assumes I’m saying “feminists can’t shave their pubic hair”, let me clarify. Growing pubic hair is one of the changes our bodies go through when we move from childhood to adulthood, and I don’t know about you, but I love being an adult woman. Which includes, for me, loving pubic hair.
A couple of years ago in Wellington’s Comedy Fest, the only humour in common from all the wonderful female comics I went to see were “jokes” about their pubic hair being revolting. This is the bit that is anti-feminist as far as I’m concerned – cultural norms which tell us our ordinary bodies are disgusting and a return to a pre-adult look for our genitals is a must. But our bodies, including our pubic hair? Ours to do what we wish with, of course. Kinda a baseline for feminism.
Quite where our wishes come from of course is another matter. Pubic hair fashion, like all fashion, has changed over the years and most agree that Penthouse featuring shaved genitalia in 1970 kicked off a cosmic shift in hair removal.
90s porn culture targeted a new area of hair growth on women and deemed it unattractive and unacceptable. In fact, trimmed, shaped or completely removed pubic hair has become normative. It is difficult many to remember the previous aesthetic, an aesthetic that did not require a woman’s vulva to be shaved, waxed or shorn to be considered “attractive” or desirable.
The “attractive” thing is clearly not just heterosexual in gaze, as evidenced by my friend. It’s also strongly aged. One national survey in the US found that 38% of women aged 18-44 cf 3% women aged 55 and older believe most men prefer a manicured look to their pubes. And what men want is definitely part of selling the package of pubic maintenance to women:
Most women place a good deal of focus on their pubic hair not only for themselves but for their partners as well. In fact, many women are willing to indulge their partners when it comes to pubic hair styles. Why not?In a recent study:48% of men preferred their women to get rid of it all.29% of men said they preferred their women to be natural — that being trim and neat but not bare.
16% of men wanted their women to have a little tuft of hair or a patch — would that be a ‘soul’ patch, boys?
The rates of “heterosexually active men” who answered this small online survey were similarly clear about preferring little or no pubic hair, and the reasons for their preference:
Making oral sex “better”? I guess I have nothing to compare it with, but I’m not really sure how much “better” giving oral sex could get to be brutally honest. One in four men surveyed liking the woman they are having sex with to look younger or virginal while they are having sex with them? Just creepy.