Pubes and Other Considerations

First of all, I apologize for the several days without a blog post, everyone. I’m trying to keep up a daily update schedule but the past few days have been a bit bananas what with the heat and gas leak and all. Just FYI, the man and I did attempt bed sex again, this time while fully clothed, which was kind of fun and giggly, but didn’t warrant a blog post. We didn’t get any toys out, as wrangling the junk out of sweatpants while working around heavy sweaters and socks under covers was quite difficult enough, so I have no product review for you. I will soon, though, and I dare say it will be a good one… Stay tuned!

In the meantime:

Image borrowed from Fleshbot.

I find the subject of pubic hair, and body hair in general, very conflicting. Don’t you? Today on Fleshbot, a new American Apparel ad featuring a big, black, unrepentant bush on a line drawing. While it’s somewhat beyond me how a black-and-white line drawing of a mostly-naked woman holding a daisy is supposed to advertise a clothing purveyor (I’ve had this confusion for years now; ever since Calvin Klein started advertising his clothing by showing almost-naked models in his ads, I’ve been puzzled–on the one hand, I see how these brands are selling an image and a lifestyle along with the idea, “If you buy our clothes, you will have these abs and this starved-cheekbone look and this model chic contour and be this effortlessly beautiful,” but on the other hand, how am I supposed to know if I want to buy the clothes you sell if you don’t show me what they look like? I’d totally buy one of those sexy models if you were selling them, but even Abercrombie’s Man-Meat flagship store on 5th Ave notwithstanding, you’re not selling human beings…), the point here is that American Apparel is once again, and once again mind-numbingly obviously, trying to get a reaction out of people. And bushes on ladyfolks do seem to do the trick.

I’m sure you all remember when, a few months back, Sasha Grey had the audacity to show a full, dark brown, luxurious bush on an episode of Entourage. I hope you all remember the complete freakout that ensued on the interwebz. Online commentors were by turns pissed off (that a PORN STAR could have a bush! We all know that PORN STARS are supposed to be hairless Barbie knock-offs! That woman is a menace to the established order of pornographic ideals!), grossed out (by the idea that women can not only have pubic hair if they don’t shave it off, but that some of them can have a LOT of it–that landing strip and soul patch you’ve seen on waxed or shaved into pubic areas is CONTRIVED! Pubic hair can grow in OTHER places! Dear god, I’ll never eat again!), and confused (but… but… I thought… that all women were required to shave their body hair in this day and age… Isn’t it 2010??) Sasha is a rule breaker in every sense of the word and always has been; as an intelligent and well-spoken young woman, she decided to go into porn instead of a “respectable” career, even though she’s pale, lanky, skinny, and atypically (for porn valley) dark-haired. She then proceeded to break most of the rules about how women in mainstream porn are supposed to act–rather than being the typically submissive slut, she spat in men’s faces, owned her own degradation and fed it right back, and tore up her scenes with a blistering, raw sexuality that took no prisoners. Then she started branching out, making music, releasing photography books, and crossing over into several major mainstream acting roles, all the while still making boundary-pushing and strokeworthy porn. So obviously the girl’s got no problem breaking yet another hard-and-fast rule: that women, particularly those in the sex industry, shouldn’t have pubic hair. Well, she did at that moment when she showed it to the world, and she showed it off… and people FREAKED OUT.

Image borrowed from Jezebel.

It’s no secret that American Apparel, the most unrepentantly hipster-tastic of modern American clothing stores, run by a megalomaniac whose hiring practices, choices of possibly-underage models for ad campaigns, and squirm-inducingly sexualized ads often seem to take things one step too far, has as little compunction about making people’s jaws drop as does Sasha Grey. And on the one hand, much as I loathe most of their clothing and business model, I have to hand it to them this time: this ad probably will send a lot of people into hysterics, just as Sasha’s bush did. Sometime between the inception of pornography as a major industry in the United States in the early seventies and today’s crumbling institutionalized pornographic ideal, the female bush has gone the way of the dodo in the popular imagination. Despite the unavoidable and glaringly obvious (at least to anyone who is a woman or who spends a significant amount of time with a woman) fact that women do in fact have body hair, the advent of Barbie dolls and the normalization of the image of nude and hairless women have convinced the public imagination that pubes are no longer an issue.

But, dammit, they ARE an issue. I mean, shit, every day I’m faced with the choice between spending around $50 a month that I really don’t have to go have a stern-faced Eastern European woman do mildly sadistic things to my pubic area involving hot wax and tweezers, or devoting myself to a strict regimen of taking a terrifyingly sharp razor dangerously near my most sensitive bits… Or just letting the jungle boogie on its own terms down there. This, friends, is an issue. The $50 a month for waxing is just not an option right now. Shaving gets easier the more you do it and get used to the contours of your body, but I don’t care if scientists tell me the “it grows back in faster and heavier the more you shave it” thing is a myth till they’re blue in the face: in the summer, when I shave as often as I need to to keep my bikini line free and clear, or in any season when I’m having a particularly (and gloriously) busy sex schedule and want to clear the path for anyone who wants to get past the fuzz, I have to shave every other day to keep things cleaned-up down there. Every other day, with a razor near my clit, not to mention some major veins in my legs, either sloppily done in the shower or painstakingly performed in front of a mirror, adopting ridiculous and hard-to-hold positions to get every last nook and cranny of my fanny… It’s a lot of work.

So why do I do it? Why not just let the follicles have their way and sprout a wild, bright red forest of lush curls? As a caucasian of mostly Northern-European ancestry, despite my pale skin and slight frame, I’m not afraid to say that I’m a pretty hairy individual. Though I’m lucky enough to have very fine, blond, downy leg hair that can go for weeks between shaves, my pubes and my pits are pretty thickly carpeted with hair if I don’t remove it, and that thick carpet can get in the way of some of my favorite things, like tongues and exploring fingers. Plus, nobody expects to see it; it’s a shock and, for those of us who’ve been raised on hyper-sexualized images of almost creepily young looking “women” devoid of body hair, it can be a deterrent. We’ve gotten so used to the idea that women remove their body hair that we simply can’t fathom how someone could go so against the grain of the modern sexual ideology that pornography and fashion magazines have fed us as to actually not remove their pubes. It’s become a scary prospect: as if the clit isn’t hard enough to find in the first place, when the whole area is obscured by fuzz, it becomes even more difficult to locate; what else could be lurking in there? remember that movie Teeth? oh my god, what about crabs?; what if I go down there and I get pubes stuck between my teeth? how embarrassing!; uh-oh, does this mean she’s a hippie? does this mean she doesn’t shower very often and things down there might be muskier than I’m used to? …the mystery a bush provides for the vulva it’s covering can end up striking us like a mysterious blanket hiding much more important issues from us. It can be intimidating: if this woman is ballsy enough to grow out a bush when everyone damn well knows women aren’t supposed to have bushes, then maybe she’s really some kind of super Type A personality butch dyke or something! Maybe she’ll be way into BDSM! Or maybe she just has personal hygiene issues. Or maybe she doesn’t shave because she never gets laid cause she’s terrible in bed, or has some sort of weird emotional baggage that causes her to cry during sex and so nobody ever comes back for seconds, or maybe she’s just a total FREAK…

I guess, really, what it comes down to is that because the bush is not the norm, it intimates that other things about the woman (or the man, really; male body hair is becoming less and less prevalent as time goes on, especially in the idealized body arenas of mainstream pornography and modeling) might also not conform to normal expectations, and, woah, we might be dealing with a whole lot of other unknowns aside from the size and shape of her labia. And I guess I don’t really have a stance, per se, on the whole issue. Because I definitely support a woman’s right to pubes, and a man’s, too: if you want luxurious locks on your nether regions, well, hell, go for it! Rock what god gave your groin! I think a bush, particularly on a woman, shows a lot of courage and willingness to do what she wants, and confidence is hella sexy. But I also have to admit that I’m gonna keep on shaving down there, mostly because I don’t want to hear the gasps of first-time lovers or returning favorites seeing it for the first time, and I certainly don’t want to freak anyone out; my down theres are a matter of pride for me, and I don’t want their flaming bush to elicit a negative reaction. Being naked in front of someone is a vulnerable enough position without the prospect of turning someone off with the presence of pubes; a blow to the bush could be a real blow to the old ego, and I guess I’m just not there personally yet.

We’ll see if this American Apparel ad manages to shock anyone, or if it will be one more reason for the savvy to roll their eyes and complain about hipsters before going inside to get those awesome striped hoodies they love so much. But I think the bush debate will rage on, probably until the robots have killed us all…

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