The wax and wane of post-80s pubic hair

By Sarah-Jane Lowes

To shave or not to shave, now that is the fearsome question?

The 80’ saw the bush, in all glorious teased shapes and colours; the 90’s saw a trim-down of that very same hedge-growth, and then the millennium hit and the furless vagina entered mainstream bedrooms worldwide. It’s a PETA wet-dream (excuse the painful sexual allusion)…’I’d rather go naked than wear fur!’ is splayed across billboards in all the main stays of fashion Kapital; it is the most hated dictum of any designer worth half his salt. Only herein lays the conundrum, our poor little lady parts must suffer for this hairless empowerment.

My first budding sexual experience; no one told me men expected a clean-shaven vagina. The look of shock when my boyfriend seductively removed my special occasion virginity losing R250 La Senza underwear and the sudden look of horror, as if some giant flesh-eating maggot infested science experiment was hidden under the sensual layers of barely-there lace . I, in my all my naivety and sexual inexperience had committed the sexual faux pas of the 2000’s. I had not waxed.  Only Marlow’s last words in Joseph Conrad’s A Heart of Darkness can fully capture the trauma of that very moment, ‘The Horror! The Horror!’

This was quickly remedied the next day amidst blushes and muttered curses, but soon my vagina resembled a beautiful pre-pubescent plaything, one that everyone I have ever had the privilege/not so privilege of introducing to has since then delighted and fawned over. Even my gay friends stress the indecency of pubic hair. ‘Daaaarling’, they slur drunkenly, ‘pubic hair is just so 90’s’. Even men wax. Apparently I do not indulge in enough pornography.

Ok, so I get why men wax. It makes their manhood appear larger, and men being the penis ruled creatures they are completely self-justified in doing this; and also, to be honest, I would rather not experience something akin to a flossing experience when it comes to the ever-expected and unavoidable blowjob session. But honestly, I would settle for a trim. My question is when exactly is it that looking like a pre-primary school kid become sexy. What is so appalling about a little bit of fluff and why for god’s sake are women catering to male fantasies when waxing is, to be perfectly frank, painful, awkward and expensive.

I have gone as far as to bring Christianity into this pubic hair debate with my friends. Christians claim god is all-knowing; omniscient, almighty and that evolution is false. Well, evolution explains pubic hair. The Bible tells us to shave our pubic hair under three conditions:

  1. If you have leprosy;
  2. If you were a priest dedicated to god-as an act of cleansing and
  3. As an act of humiliation.

So basically, all Christianity explains is shame over our private parts, religious zealousness or painful death.  If God is all-knowing (and all-loving) then why are women born with pubic hair? What purpose does this mysterious fluff serve when men so obviously find it distasteful and women a nuisance?

In fact, a wax, at an estimate of R220.00 a month, equates R2640 a year which means I have, at an estimate spent R15840 so far on the removal of my pubic hair. Even when I am not sexually active I feel dirty if I have so much as a sprinkling of the dreaded pubic hair. I am a victim of male fuckwittage[1]. Therefore, I demand the Catholic Church, reimburse me. It’s the Inquisition all over again, only this time it’s women’s genitalia under attack. (Funny, notice how Inquisitions always involve women?)*

Is this ‘have it all off’ as innocent as it all seems or is it pornographic and perverted in its own entirety? Is cleanliness really close to godliness or has pornography and mainstream media entirely corrupted our idealism about what being a woman is truly about? Where has the idea about being barefoot, pregnant and a slut in the bedroom gone? As vile and oppressive as this idea was, has it been replaced with an even worse idea?

Do we wax to please ourselves or to please a male idealism?

I can’t decide.

Can you?

*On the other spectrum, unless the bush makes a drastic comeback, the pre-pubescent vagina is here to stay, and evolution will eventually recognise this hairless phenomenon and women will stop growing pubic hair and become the next step in Darwin’s evolutionary table, in which case-balls to you Christianity! Science totally wins. I am just sad that I will be dead before I see the church fall to a woman.


[1] Fuckwittage; used compliments of Bridget Jones Diary

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16 thoughts on “The wax and wane of post-80s pubic hair

  1. I can’t stand the fact that women are expected to wax it all off. Surely we should all question the attraction for a prepubescent vulva and vagina of all men, the media and so on? Surely a trim is all that is needed to keep it looking neat? And perhaps the odd bikini wax to avoid feeling like a hare stuffed into a panty?
    Personally there is something scary about having our men pine for naked private parts. I would have understood the attraction 70 years ago when people did not bath as often, but now?
    I do understand it in respect of pornography because sex isn’t visually pretty when there’s hair all over the place, but sex is supposed to be something intimate shared between two people who really love each other no matter what.
    Perhaps I’m being a little prude here… :)

    • okay you’re NOT EXPECTED to shave it off. it’s actually your choice. let it grow. most men just want to bone you. we really don’t care about your hair. just wash regularly and we’re happy. any bloke that says any different is LYING

  2. This bothers me as well. Look, if I had the money, I would get my bikini wax religiously every 4 weeks just because I like the feeling of being groomed – but it’s expensive. And I think it’s a bit unreasonable for men to expect all women to go bare all the time just for their benefit. As long as everyone is washing regularly and trimming where necessary, what’s the problem?

  3. I have totally moved from being a semi-shaver who also loathed the feeling of being anything over my limit, to now loving and indulging mercilessly in the look and feel of a full bush (save for the sides.)
    I’m currently single so am able to “let it all hang out” so to speak – and am surprised by how much I’m enjoying the freedom as well as the luxury of the silky style. And I know for certain that there are men who love it too.

    Try it, if you dare!

  4. It seems some male perspective is required (from an ardently pro full wax, but utterly deprived):
    We don’t expect it. But it does make some of us very happy.
    But only if you have a pretty hoo hoo. If not, keep the shrubbery.
    It’s not about pre-pubescent attraction – trust me, I’m not into non-existent hips and flat chests – it can look prettier and it almost always feels so much better
    But here’s the no 1 reason for going bare – I’d be willing to bet that going nekked down there will almost always get you lots more oral.

  5. Such a sensitive issue – the only man who ever complained about my 60s style pubic bush was the hairiest man I had ever had sex with… Maybe I have just engaged with more evolved specimens but I think hair is sexy in general and don’t believe that we should wax just because of current standards. Call me crazy but I think natural is erotic and so far the number of complaints received have been minimal. If a man isn’t mature enough to deal with pubic hair, he shouldn’t be having sex, in my opinion…

  6. Wow! I’ve been waiting for an article like this! I have a boyfriend who doesn’t really seem to mind the hair, I know he appreciates that I trim it (I do so for myself as well, it just feels a bit icky when it gets too long) and I also agree that waxing everything off is painful and expensive! If you do it because you feel cleaner, that’s fine. But don’t do it because your man asked you to. If he did, he isn’t the right man for you at all. I always think, if a guy asks you to get rid of it, ask him to do the same.

  7. I think the pubic hair debate is bound to be undecided – because it is really up to the individual. Whatever I girl decides, I think one thing is important – don’t be embarressed by your hoo hoo (thanks Donovon). Its YOURS and you should do with it and to it what YOU want to do to it and with it. A clean, trimmed and healthy hoo hoo is enough for any man. And in terms of the hoo-pleasure – i think making a man feel confident about his, erm, skills, will go much further in procuring lots of happiness, as opposed to the school-girl look. From my own (womanly) perspective, I think that men really want women to be women ;)

  8. If anyone wonders why women have body image issues, read Donovan’s comments a few times. His preferences are big chest, big hips, and a hoo-hoo like an 8-year old, but only if it is pretty. My preferences are a little simpler: take a shower once in a while, and a little lipstick helps too.

  9. Thanks for your reply Ron, that’s so true. These feelings of looking ugly “down there” are what inspires things like rhinestones to make it pretty.

  10. Ok ok i see everyone’s point here but personally I am willing to spend the extra dosh, not only because my boyfriend likes it and because he like it, i get more fun time down under but because it feels good to me and i don’t like hair anywhere. We could get onto the whole debate about hair on our legs and under our arms and talk about why we remove that hair, but it all boils down to this; we are all individuals and do things because we want to. WHether society influences us or not, we were given freedom of choice and how we choose to exercise this is our own choice. I’m not against someone else wanting to have a little cushioning but I personally prefer the smooth manicured lawn. VIVA LA BALD EAGLE :)

  11. I think it’s a crazy assumption that “men like it hairless” –
    and that even women who go natural mitigate their choice with a
    “I’m currently single” – type rejoinder.

    Even sadder and crazier that women think they are expected to shave/wax if they’re going to be “hooking up.”

    There are many (MANY!!!) men out there, like myself, who find the natural pubic ‘do both appealing and erotic.

    The waves of -plastic pre-pubescent pudendas one encounters in gentlemen’s magazines, or internet representations just remind me of an army of mannequins… creepy and a bit redundant.

    I’ve had the conversation with more than a few friends of mine. Trust me, there are plenty of guys out there who not only don’t “expect” a bald crotch, but would even find encountering one to be a bit of a …”boner-wilter.” ; )

  12. Pingback: I love my hairy legs! « FeministsSA.com

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