Pubic hair is a touchy conversation. People either love it or hate it, and those who hate it think nobody should have it. I am surprised to hear women talk about other women’s bodies that offend them. “If you’re gonna be naked in the locker room, you need to whack that bush!” “Nobody wants to see that!” Don’t women who want to keep their natural hair “down there” deserve the same consideration as those who want to shave or wax it? No other topic I’ve discussed has ever garnered the same reaction as the question of whether or not to shave your pubic hair.
The fact is, we’ve been obsessed with pubic hair for centuries… even in early art history, pubic hair was taboo. Roger Friedland wrote an interesting dissertation on the topic of why pubic hair has been slowly disappearing. He points out that even artists such as Michaelangelo painted hairless nudes, as showing pubic hair was forbidden. When Francisco de Goya did create his work La Maja Desnuda with full bush for the Spanish Prime Minister (who kept it hidden in a private room, and only showed it to people he trusted), he was called before the Spanish Inquisition to defend himself and his art. The woman in the painting was not only showing her pubic hair, but was also looking right at you, the voyeur. The suggestion that she was not ashamed of her nakedness added to the scandal of the work itself. The controversial piece suggested a woman who owned her own sexual desire and that idea was frightening.
He goes on to explain that in the 1950’s and 60’s when nudity in film was banned, that producers would simply omit pubic to have the film approved. Edward Craven Walker (the creator of the lava lamp, and Naturism advocate) was able to successfully produce his naturist films by this little loop hole.
So when did pubic hair make it’s debut in the mainstream? 1974, the year Hustler showed bush for the first time. It was shocking to be actually showing the secret garden of sex and magic that lies between a woman’s legs…showing the raw, thought provoking, hormone inducing patch of fur that promised pleasure within.
And how did this divine moment lead to the disappearance of the bush? According to Friedland, it was also what was happening in the feminist movement and how Hustler as well as Playboy and other men’s magazines produced spin offs that could be considered a response to the Equal Rights Amendment of 1972. He theorizes that these liberated women of the time were full of hair, and men craved a return to the submissive, sexually available female who was available for his pleasure…. then came Barely Legal. Girls who looked so young, who had less pubic hair, who were ready and waiting to please. His suggests that the lack of pubic hair de-humanizes the female genitalia, creating an emotionally-free zone, free from the instincts of biology and reproduction, therefore allowing a blank space to simply fuck.
This theory definitely makes many valid points, but I wonder if those same points could also be used to argue that women were also empowered by taking control of their genitalia in the same way? Perhaps these women also wanted a sex life free from emotional ties and potential reproductive consequence. Perhaps desexualizing their own genitals made them feel more casual about sex for recreation.
Whatever the reason that pubic hair began disappearing in public, the general populace seems to be happy about it. While the small group of people I polled are about even when it comes to whether it should be gone, or allowed to roam somewhat trimmed, but freely, most definitely preferred it wasn’t wild. People associate pubic hair with uncleanliness. They commented on the possible smells, unwanted hitchhikers, and overall “mess” that could be connected with unruly pubes. So if you care what your lover might say about your bush being wild a free, I would suggest you trim it back before the first encounter, or simply ask what they prefer. If you’re a man or woman who likes your partner to have more than a hacked lawn, you may also want to ask them to go a little lighter on the trim.
Not all of us sexually active people prefer a bald vulva or penis. In fact, some of us are slightly less turned on when the pants come off and there’s no fur to nuzzle our faces into. Some of us love the fresh, and not-so-fresh smell of our lover at the end of a long day, so before you go crazy with the razor, have a conversation with your current sex partner and find out what they like to see and feel when you drop your drawers.
To listen to the entire episode on "To Shave or Not to Shave" on Play With Me on Playboy Radio, click here!