Saturday, July 21, 2012
Like most of you, I read quite a lot of erotica. I've noticed an increasing focus on the supposed sexual appeal of a depilated pussy. And I have to say, I deplore this trend.
Half a dozen years ago, one would only occasionally encounter a shaved or waxed pubis in an erotic story. A bare beaver was unusual and thus transgressive. An author could use this to signal that the character was into age play, or a submissive forced to shave by her Dom, or a wild sensualist seeking the increased sensitivity that supposedly results from the removal of pubic hair. The average woman had pubic hair – thus the woman sporting a naked mons was by definition unusual.
These days, every woman and her sister seems to wax. The practice (in erotic fiction at least) has become as accepted – almost as expected – as shaving one's underarms. Waxing has found its way into romance and chick lit, another female ritual akin to shopping or getting a manicure. As a result, a bared mound has completely lost its value as an indication of erotic preferences. At the same time, more and more authors seem to imply that hairlessness is a desirable, sexy state – that in fact a woman who doesn't shave or at least trim her pubes is in some sense ill-groomed.
Sorry, but I don't buy this. Pubic hair (as well as underarm hair) has an erotic function. It survived the onslaught of evolution because it enhances arousal. The hair surrounding the genital area captures and holds a rich melange of scents that help attract a mate. Olfactory stimuli play a huge role in triggering sexual response, and eliminating the hair reduces the potency of those stimuli.
Of course, a hairless pubic area introduces new textures and sensations for both partners. I suppose that it might amplify sexual intensity as some women report. I must say that the only time I've had ever had a shaved pubis – in preparation for a gynecological procedure – I found the experience uncomfortable and unpleasant. There's nothing arousing or enjoyable about itchy, unsightly stubble!
I believe that the increasing emphasis on hairlessness derives at least partially from an attempt to distance ourselves from our animal natures. Sex is messy, smelly, sometimes rough, sometimes awkward, and I think society would like to forget or deny that. The feminine ideal is porcelain smooth, flawless, poised and cool. How often do you see fashion models – or porn queens for that matter – sweaty and disheveled, the way people really are when they're fucking?
I'm sure this is partly the result of my age and experience, but to me, a woman without pubic hair looks unnatural and unappealing. In my stories, I frequently mention the luxurious tangles that shield my heroine's sex from her partners' view. Those partners love to burrow into that damp, fragrant thicket, breathing in the intoxicating scent of an aroused woman. You'll find my characters enjoying the ripe musk lingering in the bush of their male companions, too. I've written a handful of tales in which a character has a bare pubis, but there's always a narrative justification for this choice. In both fiction and the real world, I prefer lovers who are comfortable with their bodies, men and women who aren't ashamed to recognize that we're slightly less horny cousins of the sexually voracious bonobos.
“It's just a fad,” I'm sure some readers will counter. “Eventually the pendulum will swing the other way.” Perhaps they're right. Recently, though, I read that men have hopped on the depilation bandwagon as well. The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/fashion/men-turn-to-bikini-waxing.html) reports that salons offering Brazilians for guys are doing a booming business, at least in urban areas. I found this article made me feel vaguely queasy, especially when one stylist commented, “It's about maintaining yourself and keeping things clean.”
“Maintaining yourself”! Like a car or some other mechanism. Please! But this view seems to be popular. Alas, you'll rarely find a hairy romance hero. Check out the covers from your favorite erotic romance publisher, and you'll find a high proportion feature well-muscled men with chests as smooth as a baby's butt.
Perhaps these images attract women because they've known hairy men who did not, in fact, give much attention to hygiene. I'll admit that hair intensifies unpleasant as well as pleasant smells, but a shower will handle this problem at least as well as waxing.
It's come to the point that women who retain their pubic hair have become exotic fetish objects. Check out any vendor of adult films and you'll find titles like “Horny Hairy Girls”, “Pubic Hair for Sale”, and “That Teen's Got a Bushy Pussy”.
I suppose I'm just a product of my times, my aesthetic and sexual preferences determined by my history. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, when abundant hair was a symbol of freedom. Younger readers won't necessarily have these associations.
I still find it depressing, though, that women will spend their hard-earned cash and endure considerable pain to conform to this twisted notion of attractiveness.
My depilation blues even inspired a story. “Shorn”, in Lustfully Ever After: Fairytale Erotic Romance, (edited by Kristina Wright), is a re-telling of Rapunzel. In my version of the tale, the princess is imprisoned in an inaccessible tower not to protect her from ravishers but to punish her for being unwilling to cut her hair – or shave her pubis. If you're curious, you can read a brief excerpt here.
So what do you think? Am I being silly? Or does the current obsession with eliminating the hirsute go beyond the question of fashion to have negative implications for our sexuality?