Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Goodbye to Bush... will bush ever be back?
January 19, 2009 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Will female pubic hair ever be back in style? NSFW link within.

I'm just curious: How long can our (yes, yes I know...popular Western) culture sustain Brazilian waxing and complete pubic de-forestation for women? You only have to look at vintage porn to realise that pubic hair wasn't always considered distasteful. I'm not talking about more marginal (but forgiving) media like the porn site Abby Winters, I'm talking about everything else.

Will it ever come to pass that men will need to wax their nether-bits to complete baldness as a matter of social acceptance? How long has the shaved female got hold as an ideal?

I know I'm going to hear a rush of "Oh no! It's never gone out of style in our house!", - humour the premise of my question that it's pretty wild in our time to grow armpit or pubic hair.

This NSFW pic of Madonna up for auction got me thinking.
posted by lottie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (63 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everything goes in circles fashionwise, so I guess fluffy bushes will be back in style eventually. And I don't go around checking the crotches of female strangers, so I can't really say for sure that it's ever gone away. And judging based on porn is kind of a biased sample. and Abby Winters is pretty damned successful, so I'd hardly call it marginal.
posted by jonmc at 1:40 PM on January 19, 2009


and i'll repeat my assertion that it's mainly a generational thing based on the first porn you saw. Guys my age saw their first porn in the late 70's/80's back when big bushes were popular, so that's what clicked in our heads as 'natural' and 'sexy,' by association.
posted by jonmc at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2009


Give it 5 more years. The 80s are back. Just wait until the 1970s are back. Look at Mad Men -- it's influencing a lot of the fashions these days. Perhaps 1960s girls will come back in style some time soon (if you're ready today, please pick up a 1960s Playboy magazine and prepare to be amazed).
posted by zpousman at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2009


I wouldn't precisely say this is a one-way trip, but you might as well ask "When will women shaving their legs go out of style? When will women shaving their armpits go out of style?"

I suspect the answer is similar.

As to men, consider that most grooming done by either gender for the sake of attracting a mate emphasizes sexual dimorphism. Men have larger shoulders than women, on average, so men make their shoulders look even larger, if possible. Hairiness separates men from women, on an average, so expect each gender to emphasize the difference. Thus, I would not expect men to begin going smooth all that often.

[I'm going to stop saying "on average" here, because it's tiresome, but anyone wanting to insert lawyering over "it's not always like that" should consider the phrase to be implicitly present and liberally sprinkled through the rest.]

Reasons of practicality do exist, if you consider oral sex, but even there, there's less reason for men to shave than women.

Finally, you've got the visual stimulation angle. If you buy into the research that men are more visually stimulated than women are, then you could conclude that men would want to see more of the genital details than women would.

In short, I think that it's here to stay, at least until our electricity and razors run out.
posted by adipocere at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


If we go by the "you can only predict the future by studying the past" premise, I would say shaved privates on women is a trend likely here to stay, based on the fact that a woman shaving her legs and armpits has yet to go out of style, so it's not like we can point to another example of a female hair-shaving trend that came and then went.

As far as men shaving their privates, it's already happening to a large degree.
posted by The Gooch at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm only half-joking when I say that the tanking economy may lead to at some decline in the kind of hyper-grooming that costs a lot to maintain (i.e., Brazilian waxing on a regular basis).

I do think that the general trend of at least moderate pube grooming is likely to stick around, though I think the analogy to leg/armpit shaving is limited. It's completely commonplace for women to go around bare-legged or in sleeveless tops, so that essentially everyone you come into contact with can see if you've shaved your legs/pits or not. It's not quite as common for women to go around bare-cooched on a daily basis, unless you work in a strip club or are appearing on a Vh1 reality show.
posted by scody at 2:06 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


you make it sound as if there was a accepted norm for hair styles when there really isn't. some people like it thick, others bare, then others again somewhere in the middle. tastes vary and I'd make the argument that you could make any choice you'd like and still find the right person who'd like it and by extension you for the decisions you've made.
posted by krautland at 2:10 PM on January 19, 2009


I can't believe I looked this up, but you might find this article interesting. I was actually Googling to try to see if anyone had actual numbers of how many shaved or didn't. This small unscientific survey was the best I could find.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:12 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


If we go by the "you can only predict the future by studying the past" premise, I would say shaved privates on women is a trend likely here to stay, based on the fact that a woman shaving her legs and armpits has yet to go out of style, so it's not like we can point to another example of a female hair-shaving trend that came and then went.

When we've marched so far down the path of sleek hairlessness that we're encouraging the women to shave their heads, count me out.
posted by notyou at 2:13 PM on January 19, 2009


Isn't the trend towards less hair motivated by swimsuit designs as much as anything else? I don't think those are likely to become less modest anytime soon.
posted by tomcooke at 2:15 PM on January 19, 2009


I mean more modest, of course.
posted by tomcooke at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm only half-joking when I say that the tanking economy may lead to at some decline in the kind of hyper-grooming that costs a lot to maintain (i.e., Brazilian waxing on a regular basis).

I was going to say that as long as there's money in something, there's a trade group and marketers making sure it never goes out of style.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm thinking part of the appeal is that hairlessness implies youth and the term "landscaping" itself kinda implies that the people who shave are being more sanitary than people who go natural. That said, over the last five years, I've heard more men admit they shave down below too. So I don't think it's only becoming a trend with women at all.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm with you, tomcooke - I think it has a lot to do with swimwear as well.* I will say though that I think the 1950's swimsuit is coming back, and therefore women may be off the hook in the waxing department.

Witness this article.

*Also... porn, thongs, the expectations of some men, media and celebrities getting into cars with no underwear on.
posted by lottie at 2:26 PM on January 19, 2009


Does a lack of pubic hair infantalise women?
posted by lottie at 2:27 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have known men who shave completely, and to me it seemed odd.
posted by lottie at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm inclined to agree with adipocere and the gooch; societally we seem to rarely head from more groomed to less groomed, so I suspect we'll continue to see some degree of pubic grooming (thank grod, IMHO) continue.

I don't know that I think you're on the mark with the conclusion that our society supports complete denuding, though. The people whose crotches we see tend to be the young and adventurous/exhibitionist/professionals, not average Joes and Janes.
posted by phearlez at 2:31 PM on January 19, 2009


Does a lack of pubic hair infantalise women?

Does a lack of armpit hair infantalize women? I mean, they're both secondary sex characteristics.

Are guys who shave their heads mistaken for babies? After all, babies are bald, too.

Seriously, I think there are a few ways to tell the difference between adults and children that don't rely on body hair.
posted by scody at 2:36 PM on January 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


...societally we seem to rarely head from more groomed to less groomed ...

We went from the very groomed and clean-cut 50s to the crazy hairy sixties and seventies.
posted by octothorpe at 2:37 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was on a forum where people were discussing their sex lives, and a poll went up as to how many men shaved (with options like all, none, just around the tree, and just the boys). A surprising proportion - ~50% - shaved.

Skewed by the nature of the forum, nature of the post, and the fact that posting anything but none was implicitly bragging about something they did in their grooming... Nonetheless, a non-trivial number of men shave/trim their genitals nowadays.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:40 PM on January 19, 2009


societally we seem to rarely head from more groomed to less groomed,

*cough* the 1960's *cough* punk rock *cough*
posted by jonmc at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2009


Does bleach blonde hair go out of fashion?

Fashion cycles seem to be about clothing to me while the changes that are made to the body/hair/nails don't seem to follow as closely to the normal fashion cycles, if they follow at all. They also seem to be culturally based and shaving body hair for women has a solid multi-generational history in America.

adipocere's comment beat me to the rest.
posted by 517 at 2:44 PM on January 19, 2009


This is seen as an issue of cleanliness where I come from (Bosnia), and I know that's true in Turkey and the parts of the Balkans once dominated by the Ottoman Empire (like Albania.) It applies to women of all ages, too. I can't help but think that in "the West," as a grooming issue, it's here to stay.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:45 PM on January 19, 2009


did women, on average, not shave their armpits in 1979? if not this photos seems like a poor choice to select as the norm for pubic grooming of the time.
posted by phil at 2:53 PM on January 19, 2009


It's not a "fashion". It's done (by both partners) because it enhances sex.

So it will never go away (thank god).
posted by Zambrano at 2:53 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not only has the availability of this procedure increased it's adoption, but also the fact that we are assaulted by images of female parts every day. There was a time not many years ago where it was amazing just to get near some, or have any part of it. A lot of people waited until marriage. SO of course there wasn't a massive push to get rid of the lawn.

Now, the ubiquity of the female parts and the (if even merely believed) ease of access makes me think it is here to stay.

I also think that hair is viewed as masculine, and youth is prized for/as beauty. So, a brazilian contributes to both femininity and a perception of youth.
posted by plexi at 2:55 PM on January 19, 2009


to further that point when I think of bush I think of a slovenly fat woman, who doesn't "take care" of herself. A nice shaved area makes me think time was spent on upkeep, hygiene, and just seems more feminine. YMMV.
posted by plexi at 2:57 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


and i'll repeat my assertion that it's mainly a generational thing based on the first porn you saw. Guys my age saw their first porn in the late 70's/80's back when big bushes were popular, so that's what clicked in our heads as 'natural' and 'sexy,' by association.

Dead. Wrong.
posted by Zambrano at 2:57 PM on January 19, 2009


to further that point when I think of bush I think of a slovenly fat woman, who doesn't "take care" of herself.

I slept with a guy once who afterwards said, "You know you keep yourself up and you look so nice, I can't believe you don't wax".

Notice the adverb "once" in the sentence above. My choice, not his.
posted by Evangeline at 3:03 PM on January 19, 2009 [53 favorites]


also, regardless of whether it's in style or not, we can all set our own standards. ive never shaved, none of the (20 or so) lovers ive had have ever openly objected. if they did i would have told them to get f'd, and who would really turn down sex because of that? dudes will accept what you are prepared to give them ladies! dont give in to trends and standards set by men or the porn industry of whatever, set your own standards.
posted by beccyjoe at 3:04 PM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


how funny . . . i literally just had a conversation with a concerned girlfriend on the topic a few hours ago, and showed her this previous askmefi question.

i also told her the story of my own personal experience with this- i'll make the story shorter here. when i was younger (probably 18 or so) and more impressionable, i got a negative reaction from a guy for NOT being bare. i was so mortified that i immediately 'fixed' the situation and have been doing so for the past seven years. for the past year i have been dating a guy, and during one particularly busy week when i felt things were getting a little out of control down there, i apologized to him for my unkempt appearance. (this occurred shortly BEFORE i came across the thread i referenced above.) and he told me, to my utter amazement: 'actually, i like that a lot better. it reminds me of porn. you should keep it that way.' well, shit. i was so scarred from that one guy that it never occurred to me that other guys may not feel the same way. over the years, no other guys had ever complained about my grooming, but they never told me it was ok not to be bare, either.

the point i'm trying to make is, right or wrong, i think females are more affected by the male response than anything else. i don't give a crap what porno, my girlfriends, cosmo, etc tells me. if my boyfriend likes me with hair, then believe me, i have it. so if you like your women that way, tell them. then maybe they will tell their friends. maybe the trend will catch on. if nothing else, don't assume your lady keeps it bare because SHE likes it. (i mean, maybe she does.) but probably, she does it because she thinks YOU want it. so, set her straight.

also, i think you're collectively right about the porn thing. so dads, do the right thing and show your sons porn of natural women, not the scary ones!!
posted by lblair at 3:07 PM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


The short answer is, shaving/waxing will be in style as long as a large number of women are willing to do it. I'm guessing that twenty years ago, you couldn't pay the average woman to rip her pubes out, but these days more find it quite reasonable.

i'm going to put on two pairs of long johns and cry cross-legged in the corner now
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2009


The people whose crotches we see tend to be the young and adventurous/exhibitionist/professionals, not average Joes and Janes.

I think this is a really good point. The women thrusting their crotches into our faces - not that there's anything wrong with that - are, for the most part, paid to be crotch-thrusters, be they actresses or models or Girls Gone Wild. The fact of the matter is, a great many men find bald or shaved front-bums to be extremely sexy because, as said above, men are generally more visually stimulated (the garage down the corner isn't going to have pages of Bataille pinned up above the workbench, y'know?). The crotch-thrusting posse knows this, and since they're out to sell themselves (and, by extension, their product, whether it's a film or a perfume or a record), well, rrrriiipppp.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2009


one more thought-

to be fair, i'm nowhere near looking like madonna in that picture . . . i believe in trimming/grooming/ whatever you want to call it. it's just that as far as comfort goes, the 100 percent 'bald' look is pretty near impossible to maintain without some level of pain, irritation, etc. sure, i'm willing to put in the time and effort to make it look nice. but i'm not going to cause myself pain to make it naked. f*ck that. so what is it men really want? baldness, or just the effort? because trimmed is a nice compromise where you know we're making an effort, and you know you're not pressuring us to do something physically uncomfortable. FWIW, i guess.
posted by lblair at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2009


I also think that hair is viewed as masculine, and youth is prized for/as beauty. So, a brazilian contributes to both femininity and a perception of youth.

This is really bizarre to me, as I had a full bush by thirteen. I, and the rest of the thirteen year old girls, that I knew, did nothing to groom it (and we talked plenty about shaving our legs and stuff, so I'm fairly sure I would have heard something about it), and hopefully this is still true of most thirteen year olds. I think the suggestions that hairlessness has something to do with the fertility of youth is a stretch--and the suggestion that hairiness has to do with women being fat and ugly is just ridiculous. For what it's worth, the most vocal defender of Brazilians I ever met was quite heavy. The two have nothing to do with one another, other than that a certain subset of men insist that neither will ever be attractive.

From the conversations I've had with my (twenty something, college town) female friends, most women I know trim. I have friends in New York and they seem to still be doing the waxing stuff, but it's down to a landing strip, not fully bare. Perhaps it's because we're in our mid twenties and past the point of peak fertility (ha!) but from my totally unscientific and anecdotal experience, most women I know no longer embrace hairlessness as they once did. And I agree that if full-coverage bathing suits make a comeback, most women will shave even less than they do now.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:36 PM on January 19, 2009


to further that point when I think of bush I think of a slovenly fat woman, who doesn't "take care" of herself.

Keep it classy, metafilter.

Body hair goes in and out of fashion, just like head hair or facial hair on men. And the idea that there is some universal historical trend from shaggy to bald is just bizarre. As mentioned already, just check out 1970s album covers.

And even in today's world of waxing and laser hair removal, it's not as if all women are running around with bald cooches. I just asked my partner, and she says that in the locker room at the gym she goes to, most women have pubic hair, and usually a lot of it. That's with a predominantly young clientele, too -- exactly the demographic that is supposed to be the most into shaving.

I don't spend much time in locker rooms, but the last time I was in there I didn't see any guys who had obviously shaved (I wouldn't have noticed discreet trimming, though, which may be much more common), and that's with both gay and straight men, mostly 20-40 or so.

I'd guess that for most people, pubic shaving is an occasional event, not an everyday activity. You trim up for a beach vacation, or a hot and sexy date, but most of the time it's pretty far down the list of priorities. I think that this is something that gets talked up a lot by classy guys on the internet like Zambrano, and is standard in most porn of the moment, but isn't as deeply entrenched in personal grooming practice as that might suggest.

Give it a few years, and fashions will change again.
posted by Forktine at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


I wonder why the debate is always over bald vs. bushy, with no middle ground. Growing up in the late '80s, at 15 I just thought women naturally had the "landing strip."
posted by Kirklander at 4:07 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm only half-joking when I say that the tanking economy may lead to at some decline in the kind of hyper-grooming that costs a lot to maintain (i.e., Brazilian waxing on a regular basis

Perhaps, but look at the other side of that coin- I think the "permanent" methods of hair removal are going to become more affordable, sustaining the hair-free trend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:22 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


When someone comes up with a cheap, foolproof, readily accessible solution to ingrown hairs and razor burn, then I will believe that the hairless look is both here to stay and adopted by a majority of women. Because seriously, owowow itchy.
posted by MadamM at 4:25 PM on January 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


I agree with MadamM.

Really, YOU are the one that has to live with your own crotch longer than anyone else who wants to have sex with it. If you don't want to spend all the time, money, and ow to impress a dude, the dudes who don't like it will run and those who do will be fine. And with them, you save the time/money, and there's no ow! Bonus!
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:42 PM on January 19, 2009


One last point in favor of a long term view for waxing: I believe the primary function of pubic hair was/is to trap odor/pheromones, which seems we have evolved beyond. It's definitely natural, but I just think it is unnecessary, and women shouldn't be penalized by other Rosie the Riveter types for wanting to wax.
posted by plexi at 4:53 PM on January 19, 2009


and women shouldn't be penalized by other Rosie the Riveter types for wanting to wax.

And women who don't want to wax shouldn't be stereotyped as "Rosie the Riveter types." (What does that mean, anyway? That women who don't go Brazilian are more capable of doing a variety of jobs?)
posted by scody at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2009 [19 favorites]


"I'm only half-joking when I say that the tanking economy may lead to at some decline in the kind of hyper-grooming that costs a lot to maintain (i.e., Brazilian waxing on a regular basis"

There was actually an article in the NYTimes that exactly made this argument. Women are going longer and longer between beauty appts, and some are cutting off services altogether. IIRC, the first to go were Botox injections and bikini waxes.
posted by bluefly at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2009


Sorry, I meant to add this: To answer the question, I think the Brazilian might go by the wayside, but I don't think going completely natural is going to come back in any time soon.
posted by bluefly at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2009


I welcome the return of our bushed overladies.

I see it as a trend that will change over time.
posted by plinth at 5:09 PM on January 19, 2009


women shouldn't be penalized by other Rosie the Riveter types for wanting to wax.

What the hell? I support any woman's decision to do what she wants with her hoo ha, but what I don't support is the idea that women who don't wax are slovenly and unhygienic. I actually have had a couple of Brazilian waxes, but I did it because I wanted to see if being bare would make sex more pleasurable (my husband doesn't care one way or the other). It didn't make a significant difference, and it's expensive, so I quit.

And by the way, if you're consistently getting pubes in your mouth when you give a woman oral sex, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
posted by Evangeline at 5:19 PM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oh, God, this chatfilter again?

Look, the best thing to notice is that Western culture is trending away from universal trends. Call it post-modernism, call it fragmentation, call it whatever. Niche markets, micro-trends, cable television, it's all a gradual dissolution of the idea that there is one pure fashion and that everyone else is wrong.

What does that mean here? Well, it means that within certain cliques or demographics, there'll be a marked preference for bald, trimmed or bushy, but that their preference can't be extrapolated into a broad statement about what "everyone" is doing.

And, since we're all in the chatfilter together, two anecdotal bits of data:

The first is that since I work in porn, this comes up a lot, both from readers and from talent. At one of the mags I work for, we pay extra for girls with hair (as well as chubbier girls and ethnic girls). Our publication is still 90% bald, 7% trimmed and 3% hairy (percentages as accurate as any pulled out of anecdotal ass). Just like it's still 90-95% white, and 99% skinnier than average.

But our readers bitch and moan and write odes to pubes and generally carry on like poorly-socialized nerds fantasizing about being gallant lovers for girls who are naive and horny. So, yeah, there's a market there. A loud market. One that we try to respond to (and we'd do better at responding to if the largest producer of porno shoots with hairy girls wasn't based in Europe and totally uninterested in our record keeping requirements—lobby against 2257, folks, it keeps you from the porn you want!).

Then there're the girls themselves. Occasionally, they'll grow some hair back, lured by the promise of more cash (or, in one famous performer's case, to cover up anal warts). But most of them either say that they think it's more attractive or that it feels better (and is easier to clean, something that matters if you're going from one shoot to the next).

The second anecdote is taht when i was up in San Fran over the holidays, both me and the girlfriend went to the Kabuki baths (on different days) for the nude Japanese bathing. The majority of the guys there had clearly shaved their body hair, but only one had done any obvious pube shaving. My girlfriend said that there were a couple folks who trimmed, but no one was bald in the women's baths, and these were 18- to 30-year-olds mostly.

So, I'm going to argue that pube shaving is largely over-reported and that while most girls in the industry do so for practical reasons, that doesn't mean that they're a good sample set, and that this is kind of a silly thing to worry about on the whole.
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


And by the way, if you're consistently getting pubes in your mouth when you give a woman oral sex, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Right. Women don't have hairy clitorises. I don't understand the complaint that hair gets in the way of oral sex. Am I doing it wrong? What is the hairy part you come in contact with? I don't think any woman is hairy where it matters.

(That's the first time I've pluralized clitoris. Is it clitorises or clitori?)
posted by grumblebee at 5:24 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently, it's clitorides.

Yeah, I know, I'm not going to use it, either.
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Right. Women don't have hairy clitorises. I don't understand the complaint that hair gets in the way of oral sex. Am I doing it wrong? What is the hairy part you come in contact with? I don't think any woman is hairy where it matters.

No, but they do have hair that grows up awful close to it. And my tongue is rather larger than the width of the slit. And if the hair is untrimmed and wild, it's going to emerge from the sides of the lips and grow down around the interesting bits.

Besides, what's with the assumption that the totality of cunnilingus is rabidly lapping at the clit? There's other stuff down there that frequently demands attention (including labia, which are haired), and there're women who don't enjoy direct clitoral stimulation.

I really don't think I'm doing it wrong, and neither have the women I've gone down on (for the most part, and after individual familiarity training). But, if she's growing wild, I invariably wind up with hair in my mouth no matter how hard I try to avoid it.

So, my preference is for shaved. But, I'm just as happy with trimmed. Wild bush, however, is a total turn off if I'm expected to put my tongue down there.

It's also nice to be able to see what I'm doing (heh).
posted by Netzapper at 6:12 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wild bush, however, is a total turn off if I'm expected to put my tongue down there.

And yet oral sex has been around much longer than waxing and shaving, and somehow men have been able to cowboy up and get the job done. I very rarely get a pube in my mouth when I'm giving a man oral sex, but I don't complain when I do, nor do I insist the man shave his bits and pieces. And you know what, if you're already up for putting your mouth and tongue on another person's genitals, why be a wuss about getting a few hairs in your mouth?
posted by Evangeline at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


From Salon.com: Bush is back! (Dec. 11, 2008)

Not in the White House. But thanks to the recession, women are skipping the Brazilian and finally growing a little hair down there.

posted by lhall at 7:30 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I try to keep my pubic hair trimmed to manageable levels, and my wife does likewise. I don't think it's unreasonable for either of us to expect that from the other, any more than it's unreasonable for her to expect me to give her a backrub or a footrub when she's sore.

Anyway, hairs in the mouth are annoying; they're distracting and make it hard to focus on the task at hand, as it were, and they can get stuck in teeth or other aggravating places. It can be as disruptive to the mood as a minor cramp. I'm fairly certain that even in the Ancient Days of Prehistoric Cunnilingus, there were tools available to trim it down a titch, which is all that's really needed to avoid getting hair-in-teeth syndrome.
posted by Scattercat at 7:35 PM on January 19, 2009


I would just like to point out that even an individual woman might be hairy one week, hairless a few weeks later, in-between at another time, depending on time, energy, money, the season, etc. A lot of the comments here make it seem like once hairless, always hairless, or vice versa.
posted by Herkimer at 7:41 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet oral sex has been around much longer than waxing and shaving, and somehow men have been able to cowboy up and get the job done.

Women used to give birth in the family bed without any pain management or medical assistance standing by. People used to ride horses instead of cars. People used to heat their leaky, drafty homes with inefficient open fireplaces. People used to have to bank the coals of those fires in the evening so that they could have another fire the next morning, or risk having to get on their horse and ride door to door looking for somebody to loan them a coal so they could rekindle their fire.

The fact that people used to have to suffer some discomfort or indignity doesn't mean that, when we have a solution to that problem, we should continue to do so. Really, that's the definition of progress.

Seriously, for all the dudes in here who are complaining about hair and oral sex, please make sure you are taking your own advice!

I am. My scrotum is clean shaven, as is the base of my cock. The rest of it is (usually) trimmed to about two to eight millimeters, with a fade to my tummy hair.

Why? Because it's just as annoying for somebody licking my balls to get hair in their mouth.

I would just like to point out that even an individual woman might be hairy one week, hairless a few weeks later, in-between at another time, depending on time, energy, money, the season, etc

Very true. Most people, in fact, do vary in hairiness. But it starts itching at some point in there, which is a very good incentive to reup.
posted by Netzapper at 9:09 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


[a few comments removed - this is not an open thread on what you think about pubic hair and/or oral sex, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 6:35 AM on January 20, 2009


and i'll repeat my assertion that it's mainly a generational thing based on the first porn you saw. Guys my age saw their first porn in the late 70's/80's back when big bushes were popular, so that's what clicked in our heads as 'natural' and 'sexy,' by association.

I can only add anecdotal evidence to that, but I agree. The first naked women I saw were in the early 80s and pubic hair has always seemed normal to me.

Frankly I've never really been able to shake the feeling that it's kind of a creepy and telling sign about a society that wants to make adult women have genitals that look like prepubescent girls. There is an enormous trend towards bare or nearly bare genitals in women as noted by the original questioner and and less wide spread but even creepier trend towards vulva/labia surgical modification to again... make the genitals appear more prepubescent. Watching a British documentary a few weeks ago I was horrified to see a woman they had been following (in her early 20s) had a surgical procedure to have her labia hacked down to nearly nothing because cultural pressure from her sexual partners made her ashamed of having full (and adult!) labia.

As for when I forsee it coming back into style... I can't seem to find the reference for your right now, but just recently I was reading an interesting study about how fashion/sexual/etc. trends are strongly related to political climate.

Obama can bring back the Bush!
posted by JFitzpatrick at 6:39 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Frankly I've never really been able to shake the feeling that it's kind of a creepy and telling sign about a society that wants to make adult women have genitals that look like prepubescent girls.

Based on that logic, are all women who prefer a clean shaven guy creeps who like their adult men to look like 10-year-old boys (seeing as bearded is the natural state for grown men)?
posted by The Gooch at 7:31 AM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Frankly I've never really been able to shake the feeling that it's kind of a creepy and telling sign about a society that wants to make adult women have genitals that look like prepubescent girls.

I agree with The Gooch. This logic just doesn't hold up IMO. Grown ups' and kids' parts are very easily distinguishable, even aside from pubic hair.
posted by jluce50 at 8:28 AM on January 20, 2009


In Japan female pubic hair is considered sexy. Considering the cultural influence Japan has, (and there prodigious porn industry) it doesn't seem impossible that it could catch on in other parts of the world.
posted by afu at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2009


@Netzapper

Did you really just compare the discomfort of childbirth with sticking your face in furry muff?

I don't shave or wax because it leaves the area more or less non-functional until the fuzz grows back (chafed, inflamed skin = not sexy). Frankly the idea that smooth, hairless skin should be considered a social requirement feels as daft as insisting that everyone should share my fetishes.
posted by Phalene at 12:30 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


This book has a chapter on representations of pubic hair in art (the text is all there, but the illustrations are not available in the google link). On p. 147 there is a brief paragraph on the history of pubic hair removal in Europe, with examples from the 1500s and 1700s. And on p. 136 she mentions, also very briefly, depilation practices for both men and women in ancient Greece. The point being, of course, that these are fashions that come and go, with tensions between representation and practice, as well as between different kinds of representation.

As to the claims and counter-claims about depilation and prepubescence, I don't think it can be reduced to a simple yes/no. The novel (and later film) The Ages of Lulu uses pubic shaving to directly reference childishness and semi-pedophilic desire, for example. But it is just as easy to find accounts of depilation as an empowering gesture, emphasizing self-control and -actualization. And in Anais Nin's story (written in the 1940s) about Bijou being shaved by her lover, with the other artists looking on, it is about neither self-actualization or prepubescence, but rather exposure and control.

People are complex, and reducing an act as freighted with symbolism as pubic depilation to such simplistic dichotomies will never provide satisfying explanations. History is not unidirectional, and I'm pretty sure that it would be an extremely safe bet to assume that pubic hair fashions will shift a time or two more within out lifetimes.
posted by Forktine at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh, do I need to mention that links may be NSFW?
posted by Forktine at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2009


« Older My husband is very sweet and i...   |  Looking for .NET based server ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.