The Great Pubes Debate, two reasons are usually put forward in favour of shaving, waxing or nuking bush from orbit:
- It looks nicer
- It’s more hygienic
The first argument is purely subjective, with varying preferences to presentation of genitals. Of course, it’s not entirely a free choice: these preferences are to some extent dictated by cultural beauty standards, and in the west, the dominant image we are bombarded with involves very little, if any, hair at all. Sometimes the hair might even be replaced by little glittery things glued on. Beauty standards are weird. Ultimately, though, bodily autonomy is awesome, and if someone wants to do that, they can.
The second argument, though, has been entirely smashed to smithereens by medical professionals. Far from being more hygienic, shaving and waxing one’s cunt increases the risk of all sorts of nasty infections:
In her practice it is not unusual to find patients with boils and abscesses on their genitals from shaving as well as cellulitis, an infection of the scrotum, labia or penis from shaving or from having sex with someone infected.
Herpes is also an increased risk “due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to virus carried by mouth or genitals.”
So why does shaving and waxing lead to such thoroughly revolting side effects? Most of it comes down to the fact that removing hair from a rather sensitive region leads to little abrasions in the skin, and little abrasions in the skin can get infected. It doesn’t help that cunts are warm, moist areas which are rarely aired. It’s like Disneyland for disease down there, and the skin usually does a good job of keeping it out, unless it has been broken by shaving cuts or yanking hair out by the root. Furthermore, bush itself serves an additional protective function:
“Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, and protection from bacteria.”
That’s a damn sight more pleasant a function than the hypothesis that it evolved for babies to hold on to (“ouch”, “ew”, and “but I’ve never even seen a baby try that”, in that order).
So why is something which opens up the risk of all sorts of horrible infections considered to be more hygienic? It’s probable that it’s in part due to the association with shaving an area before surgery, although there is also medical evidence against that:
Surgeons used to insist on shaving the area of the body where an operation was to be performed in the misguided belief that it reduced surgical site infections. Now official advice is to leave hair alone, unless it interferes with the operation, and where removal is necessary to use electric clippers.
It also might be down to sheer laziness in washing. There’s a lot of sweat glands down below, and if one doesn’t wash properly, things can get a little whiffy. The answer to this is, of course, wash more. It will take less time than hair removal, and you’re less likely to erupt in boils in a very sensitive area.
It’s refreshing to finally see an article about body hair in the mainstream media that isn’t negative, and busting a myth in the dominant narrative surrounding body hair. It’s a baby step towards that free choice for what we do with our bodies. And that can only be a good thing.
I might as well take this opportunity to plug the brilliant Armpits4August–think Movember, but for women. They’re challenging beauty standards and raising money for polycystic ovary syndrome. So far they’ve raised over £1000 of their £2000 target. I’m participating–why not donate?