BY TEAGAN WEBB '19
Q: “Is it patriarchal to shave my pubic hair?”
The first time anyone was going to see me naked, I was paralyzed with this decision. I was new to both feminism and porn so I couldn’t decide where my allegiance lay, how much to shave or how to feel about any of it. Am I compromising my beliefs? Will it give me pornstar confidence? But most importantly at the time: is a drug store razor going to do the trick? I shaved it and got as close to an instantaneous yeast infection as a person can get.
Shaving or not shaving should not be a shame-based decision. Your body is a site where politics can come to life, but it’s still yours. It can be difficult to hold these both at the same time. The greasy Hampshire boy who prompted my foray into this topic constantly told me our sex was political. I hated this because political meant unsexy, public discourse — it was the worst pillow talk I’ve ever heard. Now, many of the most pleasurable things in my life are political. It’s difficult, but I can allow my private decisions to be shaped by my education without removing the joy.
Although this issue disproportionately affects people with vaginas, most people have pubic hair, and the pressure to love it or leave is prevalent regardless of gender. Pubic shaving has many meanings: the shaming and controlling of marginalized bodies, a signifier for sexual experience or cleanliness and ridiculous bravery on the part of the razor-wielder. It is a way many people shape their bodies to feel “normal” and, like all participation in problematic systems, it has to be understood as both an individual and social action.
Don’t find yourself ignorant about the politics which inform your decisions, but forgive yourself for the societal pressure which made you feel like your body isn’t sexy with hair on it. If you do, buy an electric razor along with your regular one and always do it in a warm shower. Be aware that you will be less protected from bacteria and genital warts. Good luck!