So how does your lady garden grow?

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.

Pubic hair grooming is big business, with a whole heap of options available.  Which means companies making the tools to tend to our “lady gardens” can make awesome adverts:
Next time I’m-too-scared-to-call-my-beautiful-vagina-labia-and-clitoris-by-their-non-euphemistic-real-names I’m using tulip.  But wait, there’s more:
But the most disgust expressed?  The bizarre “neighbourhood is open” series, complete with canned laughter:
I’m really interested in how other people feel about this.  But completely uninterested in misogynist expressions of disgust about women’s bodies, so please don’t comment if that’s your thing.
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5 thoughts on “So how does your lady garden grow?

  1. As a guy I wouldn’t want any coercion from a girlfriend to shave my pubic area – mostly because I’d probably end up looking like a little boy, but also because it’s my body and not hers. A request would be okay. “Hey! Why don’t you try…”. “Umm… no”. “Okay”.

    It is indeed very unfair that women seem to feel more pressure to be neat and tidy down there but, personally, I think that pressure comes from other women and women’s magazines. People read far more Cosmo than they do Playboy. Okay, men (or boys, rather) do get their first impressions of normality from porn. Age and experience undo a lot of that damage.

    Ditto for this ridiculous notion that labia minora should be small and of a similar color to the labia majora. I have only heard women (or girls, rather) being critical of larger labia. That said, a male is more likely to employ offensive terms for labia (which I won’t mention here because I think you know what they are); I must admit to having used them myself – if I recall correctly, as a result of my own perceived inadequacies.

    Direction-less opinionizing over.

  2. While thoroughly thoroughly enjoying this read, I laughed well loudly at Groupy’s email of deals today, headlining “$245 for Five Brazilian Laser Hair Removal Sessions at Avana on The Terrace! (valued up to $495)”.

  3. Yep, I’ve had that ‘generation-gap’ conversation, too.
    Over someone showing me her ‘new toy’, a special little electric razor set bought from D.vice, which could do very precise designs. Came with it’s own set of stencils …

    Call me old-fashioned, but I use textural stencil patterns on wall decorations, not my body!

    Mayb I’m just terminally low-maintenance, but the only time I shave anything is if I’m going to be wearing a swimsuit that reveals a high-leg-line encroaching on pubes. So, currently not owning anythng like that, I don’t these days!

  4. I simply don’t understand it. Why would a grown man want a woman to look like a little girl? I read somewhere once, about the desire many men seem to have, to see women look like adolescent boys with implants. No hair, no hips, no jiggle, but huge breasts. That suck with me. Culturally, we have such an artificial vision of what womanhood ‘should’ be. Is it a generation gap? I’m 29. I have female children. I have a feminist mother. Sometimes I despair at these messages, that our bodies are not good enough, that we ‘should’ be a certain way, that brown and red face paint makes us seem more competent…I just don’t get it. And I’m very tired today, so I will leave with my mopey despair, but I am really enjoying your blog. Power to hair I say.

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