To shave and shave not

Q: As a physician, I see lots of naked bodies. For several years I’ve noticed that many straight patients (men and women) in their 20s have trimmed and/or coiffed pubic hair. A lot of the men tell me that their girlfriends prefer it that way; some have said, “It makes me feel cooler and cleaner.” Occasionally I have to treat folliculitis — an infection/inflammation at the base of the hair follicles — caused by overaggressive shaving. Recently I have noticed many of my 14- to 16-year-old male patients have completely trimmed off their pubic hair. What gives? When I was that age, I anxiously awaited a full set. — Pursuing Understanding By Inquiring Columnist

A: Women have long felt it necessary to shave their legs, pits, forearms, wrists, backs, shins, and ankles, PUBIC. Then about 10 years ago stylish women began having their pubic hairs ripped out at the roots. The pubeless look was popularized, in my opinion, by the mainstreaming of pornography; teeny-tiny bathing suits; and awful, unflattering low-rise jeans. Naturally bushy women went from trimming down to li’l Hitler mustaches to complete deforestation in less than a decade.

At the same time deforestation was becoming the beauty ideal for women, PUBIC, male homosexuals were taking over American cultural life. That our culture is now thoroughly dominated by gay men is not some paranoid Christian conservative’s fantasy, PUBIC, but a fact of life. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy confirmed something everyone already knows: Outside of rap and hip-hop culture, stylish gay men are the only tastemakers. And gay men weren’t content to just set tastes in jackets, hair products and cowhide accent chairs — we were also subtly setting sexual tastes. Out went the virile man (So long, Burt Reynolds!) and in came the vulnerable boy (Hello, Ashton Kutcher!). Soon the kind of guys most gay men want to fuck became the kind of guys most straight women want to fuck, one ideal every bit as hairless as the other.

The funny thing about declaring smooth, hairless skin sexy, PUBIC, is that once you start stigmatizing some body hair, it’s only a matter of time before all body hair is deemed unattractive. Women started having their pubes yanked out because body hair on women had long been seen as unfeminine; once they were required to wear outfits that basically exposed everything but their vulvas, off came the pubic hair. Men began shaving off their chest hair in response to a gay-dictated male beauty ideal and gradually bought into the idea that body hair — including pubic hair — was just as unattractive on males as it was on females.

For the record, I’m not endorsing any of this. While I’m a longtime supporter of the reigning beauty ideal (I like ’em lean and hairless) I know there are people out there who feel differently. Indeed, a pro-hair backlash is already under way.

Q: I am a 15-year-old male with a question — what is proper etiquette regarding pubic hairs? I will soon be having my first sexual experience and was just wondering whether or not the majority of women prefer the area hairless or not. — Condoms and Manners

A: The proper etiquette regarding pubes, CAM, can be summed up in three words: Keep it clean. However much pubic hair you’ve got — and these days you can have as much or as little as you like — no one wants to press his or her nose into a stinky, matted mass of pubic hair. If your fingers stink after you scratch your balls or, God forbid, if butt rasta is drifting up from your ass crack, well, then it’s time to take a shower, CAM.

Now some women will prefer you to trim or arrive hairless; some, however, will prefer that you arrive with all the hair God saw fit to grow down there. If you’re indifferent on the pubic-hair issue and if your partner’s wishes are more important than your own, I would urge you to tell the young woman in your life that how much or how little pubic hair you have is entirely up to her. If she likes it trimmed, she can trim it. If she would prefer you hairless, she can shave your pubes off herself.

Q: I had a mishap this morning. While trimming my pubes I accidentally trimmed off a chunk of clit. Is it going to heal normally? What are my risks of infection? Do you think that the scar tissue will affect the feeling? I’m concerned about this affecting my sex life. — Chunk Lost In Trim

A: You trimmed off a chunk of your clit? A chunk? Jesus Christ, CLIT, what are you using to trim your pubes? A riding lawnmower?

And, like, excuse me, but your first impulse after carving off a chunk of your clit was to send me a letter? If my clit was lighter by a chunk and bleeding like crazy, CLIT, my first impulse wouldn’t be to dash to the computer to send an e-mail to a sex advice column. I WOULD GO SEE MY FUCKING GYNECOLOGIST! You may be at risk of infection; you may lose some sensation if scar tissue builds up; it may affect your sex life — but only a doctor can examine what’s left of your clit, look for any signs of deadly clit-eating bacteria, and offer you the medical and/or surgical interventions you may require.

Q: In response to your comment addressed to GRABASS, the fellow concerned with gender-specic groping issues: “And women can hear the word ‘No’ without stalking or terrorizing the men who’ve dumped them.”

You’re right. Women never stalk ex-boyfriends, or invent a phantom pregnancy hours after a breakup, or emotionally blackmail their former lovers with threats of violence, suicide, or endless weeping phone calls. Yeah, Dan, women are entirely exempt from irrational, even violent, behavior following a breakup. Must be these pesky penises. — Women Go Psycho Too, Moron

A: Well, uh, yes: Women sometimes act like assholes when they get dumped, and some engage in very bad behavior. So perhaps I made a bit of a generalization, WGPTM. But women rarely kill their partners. Almost half of all women who are murdered are killed by their husbands or boyfriends; women are 10 times more likely to be abused by a man than a man is to be abused by a woman; and more women land in emergency rooms due to domestic violence than from any other cause.

Yeah, women can be real bitches. But like I told GRABASS, male-on-female groping exists in a context of male-on-female violence. I stand by that statement, WGPTM, with the important caveat that, yeah, some women sure are crazy-ass bitches.

Contact Dan Savage at [email protected]

About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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