Risa's Pieces

Risa Denenberg

Risa Denenberg
Seattle, Washington, USA
February 25
Smart Girls Ink
I also blog about end-of-life issues at http://risaden.blogspot.com/


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FEBRUARY 7, 2010 2:14PM

Shaved Pubes

Rate: 12 Flag

I have taken a part time job with Planned Parenthood to get me through a bout of unemployment. It's a long and winding road away from what I really want to be doing (end-of-life-care), maybe the extreme opposite. But I did women's health care a long, long time ago, and I thought to myself, "How much different could it be now?" Here's the answer:  

  1. Women know where their clitoris is now.
  2. Age 14-15 is a typical age of first intercourse for women
  3. Many young women view performing oral sex as a method of contraception. 
  4. Almost without exception, women under 30 (this includes teens) shave their pubes.
  5. Some men shave down there too. 
I suppose I could go on with this list. Of course times change. But I must admit, the field of shaved pubic mounds floored me. And disturbed me too. Perhaps I should be embarrassed to not have known. However, the other nurse practitioners I am working with, who are quite familiar with this phenomenon, also express some discomfort with this habit.
I'm not sure when this trend started, or what the purported rationale for it is, but I was told that women do it primarily because their partners "like it better" or because they think it's more hygienic, which is questionable, since ingrown hairs and razor burn increase risk of pustules and skin infections as well as increasing skin to skin contact with STDs such as herpes or syphilis. 
Perhaps it is late to probe this now near-universal phenomenon, but doing pap smears and pelvic exams for these young women, I very much feel like I am looking at a child's genital area. It's disturbing to me doing these examinations, as we don't do pelvic exams on children, except in extremis.
So tell me, am I off base to ask, does this practice amount to sanctioning sexual intercourse with a girl-child? 


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Well...it started with thongs if you ask me. Who want's a bush hanging out unruly from a so-called panty triangle about the size of a folded piece square of toilet paper? Then the bikini wax...and the damn Brazilian bikinis.

I've run across men who say it is having a negative effect on their libido because they feel it's suggestive of children too. It has to be an age thing.
I hate the trend, but I try to see it as a fashion thing. I hate it for the same reason you do - it suggests an underaged-ness that I find off-putting. But whether it constitutes a sanction, subliminal or conscious, I'm not prepared to say.
I used to think it was some weird pedophilia sort of thing too, and maybe for some it is. My theory is that men love it because they can see everything more easily (and they are such visually oriented creatures) and, performing oral sex is much more pleasant. I prefer to shave it all off only for special occasions because it can be very stimulating when "freshly" shaved.

As for the rest, well I'm glad to know that modern young women know what and where their clitoris is. Fellatio as contraception? Well, it is pretty hard to get pregnant that way, they do have a point. I would worry that the sex is a little too one sided though, and there is a disturbing link to throat cancer and genital warts (vaccinate boys and girls!).
I can't speak for everyone but speaking for myself, my answer is, Of course not! I am 46 and I've shaved it all off for 8 years now. My h also grooms aggressively. It feels better during sex and it's great to be able to slip my swimming suit on and not have to adjust to hide stray hairs, all without thought.

I really don't look at myself down there and think, how child like. I look very different than when I was a pre-pubescent. Hair is not the only indicator of that.

Anything that gets girls actually looking at themselves is good in my book. My friend just died of ovarian cancer, needlessly. She hardly ever had a pap smear b/c of the 'embarrassment' of the doctor examining her. Needless to say she didn't pay enough attention to her vagina, and she died protecting her own ignornace of something as beautiful and natural as her body. I can't help but seeing all shaved vaginas in those terms - that at least those women aren't in the habit of pretending they sort of don't have one.
rated for information, presentation and courage.

Way too prudish to talk about whether I approve or dissaprove of this trend.
Wow. I was not aware of this. I have very few young patients. Thanks for the information/warning. Hope you find your way back to end-of-life care.
I believe you are mistaken about crabs.

Shaving off your pubic hair will prevent you getting crabs. It will have a negligible effect on whether you do or do not acquire herpes or syphilis.
I think its a generational thing. I know guys my age who won't do anything with a woman if she isn't hairless below the belt: they've been mind fucked into thinking its "better, cleaner and sexier"
On the flip side, older men (at least from my experience with hubs) seem to feel the way you described.

It boils down to personal preference: one size doesn't fit all.

Frankly, there are pro's and cons's to grooming styles either way. I just hope women are making these choices because THEY WANT TO, not because of what they feel socially pressured to do.
Yes, I think that's true about crabs since the eggs hatch on the hair shaft, thanks for the correction, I'll take it out. But it is true about herpes and syphilis, and it's not negligible.
This question you ask is certainly a frightening one. Certainly the practice of shaving all down there seems to me personally a disturbing trend. Hey, there's hair there for a reason. In terms of the popular culture and culturally sanctioned practices one does have to wonder.
Well, the biological reason for having hair "down there" is to collect our sexy smells emitted from our apocrine glands and broadcast our pheromones to the opposite sex. Blue light special, woman on aisle six is ovulating! Modern society is not fond of BO, and so we shave and use anti perspirant and wear stuff like lipstick and tight jeans to entice the opposite sex instead of going the aroma route.

The removal (or not) of body hair is a fascinating topic, full or rich cultural and religious aspects and traditions. The practice of shaving of all genital hair for American women is a cultural trend that appears to have gone viral, but it is nothing new. Middle Eastern women have done it for centuries, in part to prevent lice. It is also a common practice for Muslim men to shave all of their except for that which is on their head and beard.

As far as protection from herpes or syphilis I would certainly not advocate hairiness as a prophylaxis against them in case some misguided Romeo or Juliet imagines a false sense of protection. A condom is far better protection than a few short and curlies!

And men should know that when they are "clean shaven" down below they will look bigger.
risa grow eye lashes shave pubic hair i don't understand why we can't accept love ourselves as nature made us? disturbs saddens me
Pubic hair does have a purpose other than to "collect sexy smells." It serves as a dry lubricant to prevent excessive irritation from friction caused by prolonged skin to skin contact. Mine never grew back after a shave before the birth of my 19-year old. And believe me, I miss it!
It's such a relief to know I'm not alone! I had wondered whether it was just my age and I had turned into a right-wing conservative, oldie in seeing this trend as another manifestation of a cultural body-fascism. What is wrong with our bodies, people, that we cannot accept them as they are? Thanks, Risa, and also I'm glad you're working again. Although it's not your preferred area I believe you'll bring valuable expertise to it.
we're not ok the way we are. we must shave, pluck, tweeze, lighten, brighten, tighten, lift, sculpt, squeeze, starve & airbrush. that's all I can think of when I hear this, especially about 14 y.o.'s.
It's porn culture, Gail Dines says it better than I could