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Feminspire | April 23, 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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  • 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.