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Feminspire | July 12, 2014

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Feminism Needs to Calm Down About My Pubic Hair (Or Lack Thereof)

Feminism Needs to Calm Down About My Pubic Hair (Or Lack Thereof)

I do not have pubic hair. I got rid of it through permanent laser hair removal because I like my lady garden to be fuzz-free.

I am not a victim of the patriarchy. I do not opt for a bare vagina to please the men I sleep with. I am not deliberately suffering, paying for all of Eve’s sins. My decision to go bald is my choice, and my choice only. The End.

The men in my life don’t seem fussed one way or the other. To be quite frank, I reckon most of my bed buddies are happy to be getting their end away at all; they literally could not care less what state my pubis is in.

Maybe it’s because I’m blessed with the knowledge of my own value that I’ve never been faced with a boyfriend who dared suggest his preference for my pubes. It’s no more their business than it is the Prince of Wales’, and if they thought it was? I’d be sure to make sure the door knocks some sense into them on the way out.

I do wear very small underwear, though. This has got nothing to do with sex. Mostly I do it because I have a fat ass: big knickers wedgie too easy. So I don’t want hair spilling out onto my thighs.

It makes me feel cleaner, fresher. I like to see what’s going on down there.

It’s practical. For me. For my body. Me, mine, I.

Apparently that makes me a bad feminist, but remind me again how my cooch is anything to do with yours? I feel no social pressure to get rid of my pubes- but dear God there are some fanatic fems out there making me feel like shit for not keeping ‘em. See Women Against Non-essential Grooming, for one.

I thought Feminism was choice, but maybe Feminism is only about choice if I do what you say I should? IDK. I’m struggling to figure out the rules.

Body hair removal is no new thing. The ancient Egyptians went silky smooth by waxing with a sticky emulsion of oil and honey, a bit like today’s “sugaring”.

Upper class Greeks got rid of their pubic hair, as reference in statues throughout the world’s museums. Romans began getting rid of their pubic hair as soon as it began to appear in adolescence.

According to Get Waxing, as early as1520 Bassano de Zra was writing about the hair removal habits of Turkish women. The worldwide trend for depilating waned after queen of France Catherine de Medici forbade her ladies in waiting to carry on the tradition.

Generally The West ignored hair removal until post-war fashion saw swimsuits become bikinis, and thus ways to remove straggling and escaping hairs became vogue again. See? Practical.

Some research suggests that full body hair removal originated in Middle Eastern countries, as a response to lice, fleas and other parasites, as well as body odour, prevalent in hot climes- and occurred irrespective of gender.

Patrick Bowler of London Laser Hair Removal Specialists Courthouse Clinics wrote on The Huffington Post that “Everyone has something to say [about bikini line hair].”

“Caitlin Moran is an outspoken advocate of the full female bush. Gwyneth Paltrow went on record to say a Brazilian wax changed her life.

“BBC Newsnight dedicated a whole segment to the issue in 2011, physicians have condemned the practice, and beauty salons report that as many men as women are now seeking advice on removing hair from down there.”

We’re still learning to understand ourselves, I suppose.

And yeah, feminism is a team sport. We’re girls, it’s what we do best: chat and debate and discuss and Figure It Out. I’m not saying we can’t have a dialogue about all the things that affect us as women, from workplace woes to feminist fashion to anything in between.

But what I am saying is that ultimately, Feminism is about empowerment. And if you try to dis-empower me by dictating what, exactly, my manifesto of independent womanhood should and should not be, then that makes the Matriarchy as bad as everything else that finds ways to oppress us.

So pack it in.

Image courtesy of dull hunk http://flic.kr/p/crVcxd

Written by Laura Jane Williams
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  • KA

    I don’t think you have a full understanding of feminism.
    Feminists DO NOT want to limit the amount of choices that you have!! Feminism provides more meaningful choices! If you feel limited by feminism, then perhaps you’re reading the wrong books.
    Feminism has NO uniform. We merely like to question the idea of “choice” when it comes to women’s bodies considering we live in a porn culture where women are viewed as one-dimensional sexualized hairless dolls for men.
    Let me parallel this to the natural hair movement in the African American community…
    Because we inhabit a white supremacist culture, euro-centric looks are advertised…you know how models are now a days right?….this means that in order to be beautiful in our society as a woman, you must be white, or look white, and have long straight hair. Well, black women are at a disadvantage and are rendered invisible because our hair is naturally kinky. We also have a different texture to our hair.
    With all of this Eurocentric pressure, women of color feel influenced to straighten their hair, or “hide” their natural hair. That’s why some black girls, at the ages of 5 and 6 will already have their parents straighten their hair for them.
    I started straightening my hair and using harmful chemicals to straighten my hair when I was around 8. I was the one to ACTUALLY ASK my mom if she could straighten my hair. Now, you can say that was my choice, but I would say that it was a forced choice because every role model I had on tv that was “beautiful” had straight hair.
    Well–I went through this huge phase and joined the “natural hair movement.” Essentially, in this movement, we discussed hair politics and the racist standards of beauty, so I STOPPED straightening my hair for a long time. It was a nice decolonization process. I read articles about WHY feeling forced to straighten your hair was problematic.
    So, after a few years, I started straightening my hair every now and then; however, it wasn’t like how it was before. I didn’t feel like straight hair was my lifestyle…it became a hairstyle…which it should have been from the beginning. The choice felt more meainingful for me when I took the time to understand how my “choice” to straighten before was a choice forced upon me by my culture.
    To this day, if I straighten my hair, there will be a group of random black women (they’re called the ‘natural hair police’) with natural hair who will judge me and think i’m a slave to racist standards because I straighten my hair—–HOWEVER….you shouldn’t judge the whole natural hair movement by these natural hair police because they don’t get the issues.
    Therefore, in studying critical race theory and feminism, I was able to straighten my hair and actually feel GOOD about it..i was not LIMITED by feminism.
    Similarly, no REAL feminist will pressure you to NEVER dress a certain way, or NEVER act a certain way. That is opposite of feminist goals. We question the idea of “choice”….not the actual action that you’re doing. So, you shouldn’t throw all feminists under the bus.
    If you want to remove your pubic hair, then do it, but I would hope that you’re also reading up on porn culture, sexism, and patriarchal co-optation of feminism!

  • lisa

    There is of course the questionable argument for why the hair is there at all if people are just removing it? The hair and nose also have ‘unwanted’ hairs – however this hair has a purpose in acting as a filter system to catch dirt and bacteria that can essentially harm the more internal areas the hair is surrounding. Saying it makes you feel ‘cleaner’ and ‘fresher’ sort of suggests you find hair there to be dirty…..but take the hair away…where does the dirt go then? The important message here is that women should feel they have a choice and not be under any sociological pressure to remove public hair ….though I do worry about the medical side-effects it could have.

  • Corey Lee Wrenn

    I agree with KA. I really don’t care what you as an individual do with your crotch, but when we start to see *patterns* of dehairing to mimic male supremacist desires codified in pornography, then I think we have a duty to speak critically about it. When we reframe feminism as all about the “individual” and “personal choice” and “personal empowerment” we weaken our movement. Do whatever you want, surely, but I don’t think we should frame feminism as a collection of *individuals*–how terribly disempowering and how easily co-optable. Yes, we’re all special snowflakes, but we need to find some sort of common ground and respect critical thought in order to pose a serious challenge to the patriarchy. Hair or no hair, we need to stop focusing on our own personal identity and consider what our *movement* identity is all about. When we lose sight of the structural level and get lost in the individual level, it’s not so easy to create collective action.

    • Zee

      I agree with KA. I do also, however, find it a little frightening when one suggests that I should “stop focusing on [my] own personal identity…” No. Absolutely not. Allowing oneself to lose focus on their own identity and individuality is counterproductive, and is in no way synonymous to collective thinking. I wholly and completely agree that one should continually strive to focus on the greater good (in this case, the fight for women’s rights, and our ability to live equally amongst others and to do as we please with what is ours), and that one way for people to do so is to recognize larger scale movements that are in progress, and ones that should be in progress, that perpetuate a more global enlightenment, liberation, and egalitarian means of thinking. However, in addition to the perspective that recognizing struggles on a more structural level can give, one’s own personal experiences give a lot of perspective as well. A person’s individuality is just as much a key part of more grandiose movements as their common sense, as one must know her own personal beliefs, motivations, and desires to have a solid stance on anything, really. One should have a thorough understanding of self and one’s own personal motives and desires and use that in combination with what we as a people are experiencing on a global scale to work toward a greater good.

  • Emily Vrotsos

    I love it!!

  • The Sexy Feminist

    Totally agree, actually (even though we’re linked here). We argued in our chapter about grooming in our book SEXY FEMINISM that, though lots of feminist issues intersect here (as many in the comments have noted), as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons (i.e., the reasons you cite, as opposed to trying to please some guy or whatever), you are absolutely allowed to be a feminist and also get bikini waxes. We do!

  • yume-chan

    well,taht´s why i´m no longer into fem,inism…i have the impression many women don´t want to free themselves from sexism,they always deffend it sooner or later,and them,blame feminist for “imposing them something”.Really? is everything really “choice”? And do you know what Brazilian wax is? have you never read about the situation of women in Brazil to check out what it is and the consequences it has for us? womanhood based in a porno-sexist ideology is auwfull for evey owmen no matter where she is on earth,I saw it in my home-country,i see it in Brazil.

  • Anon

    I’ve never waxed my pubic hair, but I may have to start. Since going grey, the hairs are much thicker and coarser than thy used to be. Its like there’s a thorn bush in the way of my clitoris, it’s becoming itchy and annoying!

  • amylkis

    I think there is a feminist stereotype that is unshaved and doesn’t let a bra confine her. People assume if you are a feminist you must do theses things. God forbid you are your own person. This is partially why I got away from feminism for a long while because feminists were judging me and my lifestyle choices.

    on another topic, how was laser hair removal down there? Expensive? Painful? I’m considering doing it because I like mine bare and shaving is a big hassle.