What’s normal “down there”?

Are you there, God? It’s me, 20-something Feminist Blogger. Another 20-something feminist blogger has written a pretty sweet post about the problems with defending the sacred choice to Vajazzle. At the end of it — and you should read the whole thing just because — she says:

I’m not going to be met with shock when I remove my pants and reveal to my sex partner that I haven’t converted my pubic mound into a shiny disco ball. But these days, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for him to be shocked that I’m not perfectly waxed. The body hair ship may have sailed, but vaginal modification is at a point right now where we are still in a position to fend off the tide.

Leading an older-than-20-something feminist blogger to ask via Twitter, “Male tweeps in early 20s: are hairless (or nearly hairless) pubes the norm for your gen? Older feminists think yes. Or are we too cynical?”

My first reaction was, “You’re too cynical.” That was mostly because I’ve never heard a dude complain about the state of anyone’s lady-business, at least not to me. But then, I am a Feminist Blogger who dates and befriends men who are aware of the Feminist Bloggerhood — men who probably realize that it is not in their best interests to demand any sort of vulvular modification, or engage me in any dude-bro dialogues about The Ideal Crotch. And many of my het female friends? They shave and/or wax, although I’m not sure any of us take the girl to total hairlessness (although some come pretty close). So for women who are “like me” — American, white, heterosexual, single, femme-y, urban-dwelling, 20-something, collector of extremely fancy underwear, with disposable income — hairlessness isn’t the norm, but serious hair removal just might be. Which I find kind of troubling.

But I’m curious to see if my perspective isn’t maybe a little too narrow. So, not God (gross), but everybody else: What’s the norm in your community? Who are you, and what sorts of hair removal do you do, if any? Has anyone ever expressed disapproval with your lack of hair removal, or asked (or expected or demanded) that you do something else? And what do you expect from your partner(s), if anything?

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

217 Responses

  1. CL
    CL March 15, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Hetero early twenties college student here. I usually shave pretty close (I would go closer if I could get away with it) and I haven’t heard any complaints. I did have an ex who though implied that shaving it all off or waxing was the way to go, though (and implied he might be disgusted by pubic hair). Partly because of that, that relationship didn’t get to that point. I do assume that most men my age care on some level, although I don’t want them to, but even if they didn’t I’d still probably shave.

  2. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 15, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Straight, cis-female, 23, and I go hairless if I’m anticipating sex with a dude. Sex with me usually entails oral for both parties, and if he is graced with super deep throat action, I’d prefer he be trimmed – as I do it out of courtesy. I’ve had pubic hairs trapped in my mouth before and I’d rather not relive it. If oral for either of us isn’t an option, I’m ambivalent about either state (for the most part – I like to touch up the bikini zone for my own aesthetics all the time regardless).

    I’ll admit that I’m a little ooked by bikini zone hair on other women and while I know I shouldn’t be, I can’t suddenly turn off that prejudice. With boys, if they whip it out and it’s hairless, I get ooked. Not sure why. Possibly because it makes me feel like a pedophile.

  3. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 15, 2010 at 11:52 am |

    If “bikini zone” is unclear, I meant like, outside of normal panty coverage.

  4. TsaphanBabe
    TsaphanBabe March 15, 2010 at 11:59 am |

    Surely you’ve seen my “rants” about this? I’m 40 and just returning to the single world. I’ve now confirmed my peers (very crunchy women) mostly all DO some kind of shaving/waxing. A very few of them leave it “natural,” but it is NOT THE NORM anymore. It’s so distressing to me. I blogged about it a bunch, but this is the most recent: http://www.tsaphanbabe.net/2010/03/more-thoughts-on-bald-vulvas.html

    I think I mentioned here before that I’m trying to get #baldvulvas going on Twitter so people will at least stop for a second to THINK about it.

    And, for what it’s worth, it was your blog post about labia dye that got me started on this whole thing (finding out what’s the “norm” and being SHOCKED at the answer).

    Naturally hairily yours,
    Heather

  5. Crystal
    Crystal March 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm |

    Gay, genderqueer-happy-with-a-female-body, somewhere between femme-y and androgenous college student here. I shave my legs, just because I don’t like the prickly feeling leg hair gives me when I wear pants. I definitely don’t shave them religiously, but when I do, it is purely for comfort. I don’t shave my armpits because I really love the way they look! I feel female and strong and confident when I wear short sleeves (or, you know, go nakies) and lift my arms up and see hair. In the past, I’ve experimented a lot with shaving my vag at different levels. I’ve gone from totally hairless to just trimming. At this point, I pretty much feel like it’s not even worth the hassle. I have no issues with hair down there, and my girlfriend certainly doesn’t, so I basically just use some scissors to trim every now and then and just make sure nothing is poking up out of my underwear.
    Was that too graphic? Hah, apologies. I think these things are so interesting, and I love to hear what other people do and feel.

  6. Jean
    Jean March 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm |

    I recently had an argument with a male (platonic) friend of mine about this issue. ‘If you expect women to wax their pubic hair,’ I said, ‘then you’d better do it yourself.’

    Much to my surprise, he actually did. And he declared that it was excruciating. Unfortunately, it’s my impression that few twentysomething men are willing to regard it as a quid-pro-quo situation.

  7. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm |

    30-ish, cis, bi, female, and everybody I’ve ever talked to about it in my cohort expected pubic hair to be trimmed short and reined in for both men and woman, but shaving/waxing to complete hairlessness was either viewed as kind of weird or something that might be nice but was too much to ask for.

  8. Caitlin
    Caitlin March 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm |

    Cisgendered, probably would be described as femme, 21-year-old dyke at a women’s college with a queer rep in a town with an even more queer rep- I actually got into the same discussion with my anthro professor, who seemed to be under the same impression. I told her that students at her college (super nontraditional) and students at mine probably weren’t a good representative sample of “my generation”, and my friends even less so, so I wasn’t sure what to say!

    I don’t expect anything, pubes wise, out of the women I sleep with or date. They do what they want to do, and I’m happy. But I’ve never been with anyone who got rid of all of it- so I’d probably be pretty surprised if someone dropped trou and was totally shaved/waxed. I trim if I think about it, because it does make things a little easier on my girlfriend, but it’s not a deal breaker, or even something that’s commented on, for either of us.

    I know that many of my straight friends wax on a regular basis, but I don’t know the extent of the styling, since the context in which it’s talked about is usually where to go/how much it hurts.

  9. Shannon
    Shannon March 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm |

    Straight, single female, 42 years old. Right now I rarely shave anything at all. Legs, underarms, pubes…nuthin’. And I’m really enjoying how freeing it is! I haven’t dated in years – between raising my daughter on my own, finishing school, and getting my career started, I have no time or interest – but if I *did* start dating again I’d shave the legs and pits and would shave the bikini area as well as giving the rest of the hair a trim. It’s such a pissin’ pain in the ass to maintain, though, that I can’t see myself staying with a partner who’s particular about that kind of thing.

  10. Aidan!
    Aidan! March 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm |

    I’ve been reading Feministe for years and haven’t commented until now because the fact that body hairmakes me super angry.

    I’m a pansexual cisfemale college freshman at a Big 10 University that is pretty chilly for half the year. Between my full time schooling & 3.5 GPA, my 20 hour a week job to pay for said schooling, & attempting to have a social life, shaving has slipped to the lowest of my priorities. I live in a dorm here, and sometimes I walk in my towel down the hall to the shower. Reactions range from “that is so awesome, way to go” to “oh my god, doesn’t your boyfriend say anything?!” to just straight up evil looks.

    body hair is no one’s business, okay? just as it’s none of my business if any of y’all make your labia look like a prepubescent’s, it’s none of yours if i let my armpit hair grow.

  11. Dr. Confused
    Dr. Confused March 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

    32, het, in an open marriage.

    Completely natural. No sharp objects or painful treatments have been near my vulva in years. At one point I (or more accurately my husband) used to trim a little to make it less matted and shaggy.

    This is one of the reasons I haven’t lately tried to find extramarital partners. I’m just not up to doing all that grooming. Plus, my husband’s preferences, and mine, are different from those of the mainstream, I think.

  12. Zo
    Zo March 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

    Cis, bi twenty-something here. I’m a Greek girl, so am frequently engeged in battle against my own body hair. For pubes, I tend to trim in shortish and shave the bikini line and nothing else. This has never received any comments, positive or negative, so I assume it’s run-of-the-mill. I’d do more, but I’m too busy fighting my monobrow.

  13. Valerie
    Valerie March 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

    I’m in my late 20s, and I’m a lesbian, neither butch nor femme, floating somewhere in the middle. I don’t shave my legs or armpits, and my ex wife didn’t either, but she, and every single woman I’ve been with has been very near hairlessness if not fully shaved on their vulva, and I hate going that route. It hurts, I always get an ingrown hair, I’m fat, so it’s not as easy to position myself to both hold my belly out of the way and wield a razor and I simply don’t want to. But I usually end up caving. I have never and would never wax, though, always it’s been shaving. In recent years, though I’ve just used my clippers to give a buzz cut down there, just like I have up top. :)

  14. just me
    just me March 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm |

    I’m in my 20s, rather feminine, and gay. I shave my legs and my armpits, but I prefer my hair down there to be mostly (sometimes entirely) au natural. I’m a redhead with straight hair… and surprisingly curly (and even redder) body hair. I love the way it looks in the sunlight or just after a shower. It makes me feel bold and like a lioness, and I am not shy about coupling it with lacy or skimpy underwear.

    I shave and trim some to go swimming, but that’s it. I suppose I would be open to occasionally doing more to please a partner, but I would never even go mostly bare. It would make me feel like a little girl, which I am decidedly not.

    I strongly prefer natural hair on other women, too. I think it’s kind of wild and pretty, and only wish more people did.

  15. chipchop
    chipchop March 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    I’m in my 20s and I don’t shave anything for most of the year, but I do shave occasionally in the summer if I’m going to a wedding or the beach or something. I would prefer not to, but I’m not as confident as I’d like to be and sometimes I can’t deal with the stares.

    Maybe once a year I’ll do a trim down there. I don’t know if I’m unusual amongst my friends, but now I want to ask! My (male) partner is as critical of gender expectations as I am, so I don’t think it ever would’ve occurred to him to see it as a problem. If I were dating, well, I don’t know what I’d do.

  16. Jess
    Jess March 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm |

    I’m an American grad student in my late twenties, white, middle-class but poor because of grad school, genderqueer but not transitioning, bi and in my first hetero long-term relationship. (Oh my god, I sound like a twerp.) My current other person is actually into the bare look (which came up in a conversation about porn). I don’t shave at all, though, and he hasn’t complained. I’ll occasionally trim. Most of my female partners haven’t shaved, and the majority didn’t trim, either. They’re mostly of my ilk, although the race/ethnicity varies.

    I did overhear a dudebro friend of mine say that “if someone seriously is that picky about p*ssy, they gotta be gay.” Of course, a fellow dudebro then told him that “liking a hairy p*ssy is gay.”

  17. Ash
    Ash March 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm |

    19 hetero college student
    I shave it all off. My arms, hands, legs, feet, underarms, stomach, and vulva. My genetics screwed me over and made me super uber hairy everywhere. I mean, borderline gorilla. So I shave. It makes me feel more feminine and pretty. I’m not doing it for anyone but myself (though my fiance appreciates it:) ) and it makes me happier. Shaving certainly makes me feel more comfortable with my body. Is it right? I don’t know. But as long as I’m not pressured into doing it and am happy, I see no problem with it.

  18. ks
    ks March 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm |

    Early-middle 30s, het, and married here. I shave my armpits every time I shower, because I tend to be sweaty and I don’t like the way the hair traps the smell. I do my legs whenever it occurs to me, which is probably once a month or less in winter and maybe once a week or so in summer (but my leg hair is blond, so it isn’t like it’s very noticeable unless I really grow it out anyway). And I keep the pubic area pretty closely trimmed and sometimes shaved, partly because it makes having a period a little less gross and messy and partly as a courtesy to the husband and because it makes oral sex/masturbation feel better.

    The husband doesn’t shave legs/armpits and hasn’t ever minded when I’ve let mine get hairier than usual, but he does trim/shave his pubic area as well, for more or less the same reasons I do.

  19. Niki
    Niki March 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm |

    I usually shave or wax but I don’t remove everything (definitely a fan of the “landing strip.”) I met my current boyfriend before I ever got a wax and before I discovered a brilliant shaving cream, the only one that doesn’t give me a rash in that sensitive area, so back then I pretty much just trimmed. And I’ve had my share of sexual partners, and none of them has ever said anything, or seemed put-out by it.

    I had a boyfriend in high school who was all about a hairless crotch and wanted me to shave it, but I didn’t really care, because hey, shaving gives me a rash and so fuck that. And although he would have preferred it bald, he wasn’t like grossed out by the hair or anything.

    So yeah…in other words, for me (I’m 25), I’ve never once encountered a partner who had expectations of pure baldness, or at least, if he did, he didn’t care enough to react. I’ve always kept it “neatly maintained,” I guess you’d call it, but until I discovered waxing and this great shaving cream, there was always some kinda hair down there.

  20. Punning Pundit
    Punning Pundit March 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm |

    32 year old het male.
    I keep myself trimmed, pube-wise. I also pluck my eyebrow to create a pair of them. And I try to keep my face smooth (no beard/goatee).

    One of the things I have noticed: if a woman is inclined to touch me, she seems _even more so_ when I’m hairless. This, to me, counts as great incentive.

  21. Vic
    Vic March 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm |

    I’m a cis, pansexual, female in my late 20’s and I’ve done the hairy and hairless thing before. I usually don’t bother shaving my legs because the hair there is sparse and I often get lazy shaving my pits but I end up shaving them because they feel extra gross when sweaty and hairy. A bald vulva is smooth and sensitive but it looks horrifically childish which creeps me out a bit. I usually get lazy about grooming my pubes as well but I have to trim them at some point because hair get caught and pulled by undies or wiping and that ain’t cool. I usually shave what pokes out if I’m going for a swim. So basically utilitarian pube grooming here.

    P.S. I hope you post a synopsis of the results and your thoughts on them. :)

  22. Stacy
    Stacy March 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm |

    I’m white, 24, and hetero. I don’t shave anywhere, most of the time. I have really sensitive skin and LOTS of hair, so it is quite honestly more effort than it is worth. I trim my pubic hair somewhat regularly, and if I’m wearing a bathing suit I’ll shave off the hair thats outside the line of the suit (I wear those shorts type bathing suits, but like I said, I have a lot of hair). It itches like anything when I do though. I also have hair up to my belly button that I’ll shave or pluck off sometime. I’ll also shave if for some reason I have to wear a skirt or short sleeves to somewhere important. Like a job interview. Normally I wear pants, because I really am not interested in talking to strangers about my body hair. (Though I guess that’s what I’m doing now…) I have really dark hair that grows super fast, so unless I’m doing it everyday, its pretty pointless. I did find out recently that it was the type of deodorant I was using that was causing these painful bumps under my arms and not shaving, so now I’ve switched to a natural deodorant. I’d be a little weirded out if I found out my friends shaved their pubs. Also, I hang with a bunch of environmentalist, so most of them don’t shave. I can’t really believe its as common as the media seems to think, at least as part of a normal routine. But I may think that way because its so uncomfortable for me to do so. And my boyfriend doesn’t care, though I probably couldn’t be with someone for a long time who was really particular.

  23. Devin
    Devin March 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm |

    I am a cis-gendered, white, bi, married woman. I got into waxing because I thought it would turn on my boyfriend (who is now my husband) but the reality is, I love it. I don’t do it for him, I do it for me. I can’t stand that feeling of hair growing.

    I too am very hairy, so I wax just as much as I can (i.e. underarms, forearms, vulva), shave pretty much the rest (legs) and then have to do some plucking (eyebrows, chin, etc.).

    I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s all personal preference, but as long as the person who’s doing the waxing’s preference. My husband will nair and trim himself so that it’s easier for me if we’re going to play and I really appreciate it.

  24. Lauren
    Lauren March 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm | *

    I don’t know, I like body hair. I like masculinity, so I like hairy guys, butch women, body hair included. My Nigel used to trim to the point where I found it unattractive, for me he said, so I finally asked him why he bothered? I never dated anyone who cared about it either, or at least wasn’t stupid enough to tell me he did, so I was lucky. I’ve been off the dating market during the shift of tides, so maybe I’m all old married lady about this. I don’t get it.

    I’m not very hairy to begin with though, and blond to boot, so body hair doesn’t have the psychological weight as it does with some. I barely have arm hair, any leg hair above the knee is practically invisible, so when I shave (which isn’t often) it’s pits and the knee down.

    I waxed below the waist once and decided then I would never do it again. I genuinely don’t understand why people will go to that length of pain and expense for an impermanent beauty standard. Instead of having someone forcibly rip the hair out of your vulva (and then pay to go back and have them do it AGAIN in six weeks, and another six weeks) get thee to a laser technician.

    Ladies, I’m bringing back the 1970s. I’m all Last Tango in Paris. I’m a grown-ass woman and I have body hair. Deal.

    As a sidenote: Anyone else notice that as women are expected to be more hairless, young straight men have started a beard trend, where basically the bigger the beard the better?

  25. stinabelle
    stinabelle March 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm |

    I’m white, hetero, in my mid-twenties with a full-time job and a college degree, and I don’t wax anything. I never have and probably never will. I do shave my legs and under my arms and my bikini line maybe every two weeks. I trim a bit in the interim. I have had previous boyfriends who insisted I shave (they didn’t last long) but my current boyfriend prefers “a little grass on the field” and doesn’t mind unshaven legs.

  26. Willow
    Willow March 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm |

    I’m a hetero, cisgendered white straight woman in my early twenties. The only spots I shave these days are my underarms, because I don’t like the way it feels. But I’ve stopped shaving my legs about a year ago, and I have never shaved my vulva. (I have shaved the “bikini line” however) I trim down there when the hair gets long, but that’s about it. I don’t worry about pubic hair, and it’s none of my business what others do with their hair-down-there, but I admit that I prefer it when a dude I’m going to be with atleast trims his down so it’s not totally unruly. :)

  27. Brian
    Brian March 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm |

    “Male tweeps in early 20s: are hairless (or nearly hairless) pubes the norm for your gen? Older feminists think yes. Or are we too cynical?”

    The way this is written, it asks if removal pubic hair is the norm for men in the 20s. I’m pretty sure that’s not the author’s intent, though. On that question, I certainly expect the answer is no, though I suppose I don’t know. I cut the hair off my neck, and some of my face. Occasionally (and really only occasionally) I trim down the stuff on top of my head. (Okay, I sometimes pluck shoulder/ear/nose hair.)

    In terms of expecting women to remove pubic hair, I think most men in their 20s (at least ones I know) don’t, and would regard it as fearsomely stupid to express any opinion of the subject to a woman after they’ve been in a position to know where she’s at on the issue. Unless, maybe, it made cunnilingus reminiscent of Chubby Bunny, in which case one could probably speak up in context. But this may involve projecting, since that kind of detailed information is not really communicated among 20-something boys (at least, in my observations.)

  28. katiemonstrrr
    katiemonstrrr March 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm |

    27 year-old straight cis woman here. I have never really been a fan of shaving anything. I shave my pits and legs about once a week in summer and maybe once a month in winter. I’ve only had one guy actually complain about my un-shaved pubic hair (when I was 22). I believe his exact words were, “That 70’s bush has got to go.” Which I took to mean that I should not have sex with him again. (Also, from what I have seen, I am nowhere NEAR 70’s bush in volume.) My ex-husband preferred a shaved vulva to make oral sex easier, but he never pressed the issue and didn’t complain if I didn’t shave regularly. My partner now has said on more than one occasion that I shouldn’t shave if I don’t want to (suits me just fine), which I think is his way of dropping the hint that he likes me un-shaved, but I could be wrong about that. :)

  29. Phoebe O'Flaherty
    Phoebe O'Flaherty March 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

    I’m 40. Cis woman, married to the same man for years. I don’t shave my pubes, and the same man enjoys giving oral. I’m perplexed by all the comments about oral, actually: the parts of the vulva most stimulated by oral DON’T GROW HAIR ANYWAY. Or at least mine don’t. Or are we doing it wrong?

  30. Naamah
    Naamah March 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm |

    I take off the hair that chafes and gets caught or crinkles up and itches; basically, the bottom and the crease of the inside of my thigh. I leave the rest alone unless it starts to itch or whatever.

    However, in the past, just for fun, I have been known to shave or pluck it all off, completely, and there was a time when I went that route for up to a couple years at a time. So I’ve been on both sides, here.

    I really don’t appreciate the cultural pressure for a woman to keep her parts a certain way, especially when that involves altering her natural appearance by ways which are varyingly uncomfortable or actively painful.

    What I also don’t appreciate are the sideways swipes at bald beaver, the “prepubescent” wisecracks, and the implied association with pedophilia. None of the men who have every enjoyed my body in that state have been creepy borderline pedophiles. I have no desire to resemble a child, and do not believe I resemble a child in any way even without fur.

    It’s bent of society to insist on shaved pussy, absolutely, and it’s cruel and sexist to deride women for refusing to tamper with what nature has been doing to all of us for time immeasurable. I’d personally never have anything to do with a person who demanded I keep my bunny fuzz one way or the other. But the implication that an appreciation for pink bits without fur is automatically indicative of anything other than an appreciation for pink bits without fur is pretty damn unwelcome as well.

    Hair is not gross. Naked cunt is not gross or creepy either.

    Sorry for the rant, but I see this beginning to crop up here, and it’s pretty unfriendly.

  31. LLL
    LLL March 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm |

    I am a hetero woman in my 20s.

    These days I trim the basic front region pretty short with a beard trimmer. When I am sleeping with someone, I use a home wax kit to try to wax the under-parts that they might be licking.

    I am definitely caught up in this issue. Most men that I sleep with make some sort of comment about how I don’t shave, leading me to believe I’m the minority. I do prefer to have less hair, and feeling smooth around the vulva/lips area really does make me feel sexier — even when I’m not sleeping with anyone.

    But removing hair on the front area scares the crap out of me. Shaving and waxing there has proven to be prohibitively painful, and I am also creeped out by the idea of looking pre-pubescent.

    Also, when I have come across men who shave, I have been turned off by it. The pre-pubescent argument applies to guys too, for sure.

  32. oldlady
    oldlady March 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm |

    Dear me! I haven’t shaved anything since I was 35 years old. No one has ever complained. Pre-pubescent little girls don’t have hair. Is that what we’re aiming for now? Little girls, after all, aren’t as threatening to men as women with hair.

  33. Loryn
    Loryn March 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm |

    I’d love to know why we’re talking about shaving when there are clearly other more pressing issues in this movement.

    this is exactly why the feminist movement isn’t taken seriously.

  34. mizztcasa
    mizztcasa March 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm |

    Situationally poor, femme, black, bi, twenty-something cisfemale here.

    My body doesn’t like shaving, especially my pubes, which I finally realized last year. Luckily I found out about body trimmers (I don’t even know what they are called!) or electric razors for bikini areas. I love this new product. I just wip it out and have at it.

    No lathering up with creme, shaving myself in the shower, and ending up with bumps, in-grown hairs, or irritated skin. Also I don’t have to paint my legs, my pubes, or my underarms with Nair and lay on the ground for 10 mins (I know the labels says 3-5mins but seriously that doesn’t work for my thick hair).

    Since I am partner-less, I stretch my trimmings when I can (i.e the fall and winter). I prefer a trimmed vulva, a shaved bikini area, and shaved legs and underarms (appearance wised) – although a little hair on my bikini area, my underarms, or my legs actually feels better. Regardless, I probably will continue to trim.

  35. lizzyj
    lizzyj March 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm |

    I’m in my twenties, straight, and well, I had a few comments on me not shaving it all off. Mostly it was coming from an ex-boyfriend who was also sure that women enjoyed waxing themselves (which is not really my point of view).
    But I mean, without pubic hair, I would just feel like a little girl before her puberty. And, to say the truth, shaving or waxing in this area just makes some kind of bad wounds and scars that don’t go away. So I stay nature, and if a boy doesn’t agree, he can go out of my bedroom and sleep alone at his place.

  36. Marle
    Marle March 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm |

    Late 20s cis bi woman in a poly marriage. I trim regularly, because it’s much more comfortable, but I don’t shave my pubes. Tried, horrible razor burn. Can’t even shave my legs too high up, because of that (so I wear skirted or shorted swim suits). I forget to shave my legs and armpits a lot in the winter, sometimes for the whole winter, and I’m not much better in the summer.. My husbandfor some reason, *cannot* tell me if he prefers me shaved, I think he would feel mean/controlling or something. Our girlfriend doesn’t trim/shave her pubes, and forgets to shave her legs as much as I do. I’ve dated girls who shaved their pubes, but not on a constant, perfect basis. I don’t think it’s all that common or expected, though that might just be in our poor (razors and waxing cost money), cold midwest town.

  37. J
    J March 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm |

    This is an interesting topic, particularly because I was just talking about it with a friend this weekend.

    So, from a 24 year old straight male’s perspective, I am surprised if a girl I am with is NOT cleanly, or very close to cleanly shaved. Same goes for my 23-25 year old straight male friends. I personally haven’t been with a girl that went natural since high school (circa 2002); and even then it was a rarity.

    Of course, this could be an issue of selection–I have never been intimate with a member of the feminist bloggerhood or anything like that. So, maybe it’s just a matter of luck that our 8 or 9 years of sexual experiences through high school, college and beyond haven’t resulted in being with any girls that didn’t go bald, but from our perspective, we are starting to think it’s the norm.

    And, for what it’s worth, I like to go pretty close to bald myself.

  38. Morbidda Destiny
    Morbidda Destiny March 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm |

    I try to keep things relatively trimmed and groomed, but the idea of waxing or complete removal squicks me out. There just doesn’t seem to be any real reason to undergo that level of discomfort.

    I semi-recently started dating a man after a long period of singlehood and dating women (I’m a white bisexual late 20’s cis woman, just to fully check in), and I was nervous for a long time that the guy in question was going to try to pressure me into more extreme hair removal than I’m used to. Thankfully, when I brought it up, he said, “I like that you have real pubes.” Woot!

    I had honestly been under the impression that virtually all hetero guys of my generation were disgusted by female body hair of any kind. Probably an uncharitable assumption on my part.

  39. Karen
    Karen March 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm |

    I’m an OB/GYN in Rhode Island. Hairlessness is the norm…or maybe everyone just waxes it all off before going into labor.

  40. Jo
    Jo March 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm |

    White, female, 20-year old, queer, cissexual university student. Hello!

    For myself, I shave my legs and armpits daily – it’s just part of my morning shower routine, I guess, as much as actually being focused on hairlessness. I used to use an epilator, one of those damn things that plucks the hair out, but it hurt unbelievably and I got ingrown hairs and have since ditched the thing. I will occasionally – every couple of weeks – do my bikini line, usually with hair removal cream, because I hate the prickly feeling there. In my experimental, not-really-sure-what-to-do-about-brand-new-body-hair teenaged years I shaved my whole vulva, and the itching was unbelievably bad, so that’s never happening again ever. I also prefer the way I look with a tidy triangle of natural hair, so I doubt I’d be inclined to trim it down. Maybe for a change sometime, or maybe if a partner asked me because she didn’t want to swallow pubic hairs, who knows.

    Of those around me… of my three sexual partners, two were completely natural, one was completely shaved. Neither was an issue, but I prefer the natural look in others. On that note, the woman who was shaved expressed some surprise that /I/ didn’t think it was normal to shave.

    Of those het-or-in-het-relationships female friends whose hair-status I know… one is trimmed, one is shaved, and one doesn’t remove any body hair at all. One of my male queer friends went on a body hair removal kick lately, and is apparently totally bald down below now, but from what he said he’s not planning on a repeat.

    So I think the whole range is still present…

  41. NewlyMiddleAged
    NewlyMiddleAged March 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm |

    I’m 39. Cis female, pale-skinned, reasonably ok financially, and pretty privileged now if not totally born to it. Hetero with some bi interests, in long-term monogamous relationship with a man about a decade younger than I. When I was first discovering sex, in the mid to late 1980s, the norm was shaved legs and pits w/full bush, so that was what I did. Most of my friends who had substantial hair beyond their underpants got rid of it. I never did have much, so I’d just pluck any hairs out that escaped my bathing suit when I planned to be swimming and left it at that. Over time, have gotten lazier about legs and pits–probably shave these monthly now. Had a (male) lover who wanted the pubes trimmed for oral sex purposes, and I tried that twice, but it itched, and I broke up with him anyway. Once tried shaving into a neater shape, but hated the itching when the hair grew back, so didn’t try it again. Had a few (male) lovers who trimmed their own pubes, but never mentioned anything about me doing anything. Had one who shaved everything and tried to talk me into doing the same on grounds of “doesn’t it feel nice and smooth on me, don’t you want to feel the same way” but I explained about the itching and he didn’t press me. So, I’m still just plucking the hairs that escape the underwear for the pubes. But, I fear that things have shifted since my LTR began and I must admit that I am now terrified that if this relationship ends, I will not be able to find anyone willing to have sex with me unless I remove hair and succumb to the itch.

  42. Lindsey
    Lindsey March 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm |

    I am a mid-twenties, urban dwelling straight girl and while I do shave my legs and underarms occasionally I refuse to shave my pubic hair.

    This has a lot of do with having extremely sensitive skin around my genitalia and shaving or waxing leads to incredibly unsightly razor burn and bumps as well as really uncomfortable chafing. I had tried several methods to prevent this from happening (mostly so I could where a bathing suit without showing pubic hair) and they have all failed. So, it just got to the point where I said, well, I can either be comfortable with my bush and tell any guy that wants to get near it that he can either like it or leave it or I can shave or wax and feel uncomfortable and itchy and have unsightly genital bumps.

    So yeah, no contest. I wouldn’t rather date a guy that can deal than worry about being uncomfortable for some jerk who probably wouldn’t shave or was on my benefit anyway.

  43. Mary
    Mary March 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm |

    27 cis, hetero female here. I feel like my pubic hair is part of what makes me so gloriously feminine and strong. My pubic hair gives me power. My pubic hair says to my mound and all that it protects, “I love you, I cherish you, I hold you.” A soft cloudy cushion on the way to paradise.

    I have removed hair down there three times in my life. The first, just the bikini line, with wax…NEVER AGAIN, I was 16. The second, at 18, after hearing countless accounts of why you should shave your vag, I gave her a clean go. SERIOUSLY?! How can you keep that up?! It was nice for like the first few seconds, ‘ooo, now that’s different.’ Shortly followed by intense itching, pokey stubble, ‘why the HELL did I do this, ahhhhhhahahahaha, baaad decision!’ etc… Now, I really don’t get it. I’m not a prayer, but I found myself praying to get my pubic hair back in full as soon as possible! And as far as makingI personally would much rather stick my face into a field of soft curlies than a freshly weed whacked bristle brush. The third time I was 25, and it was a therapeutic leaving behind of all the disrespect I encountered between the sheets in my early 20’s. The unpleasant parts became part of recognizing and leaving behind all that pain. Claiming myself, and moving on.

    Now, the only thing I am willing to do is give her a trim, get rid of the dead ends, and keep her healthy. I expect the same from a partner. Respect and love for themselves and myself.

  44. Rachel
    Rachel March 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm |

    Female, white, late 20s, straight, femme.

    I shave my underarms daily, my legs every few days, and I trim my pubic hair. My friends’ behaviour varies – one’s boyfriend refuses to have sex with her unless she’s completely shaved (but he has a host of sexual issues, so I’m not sure if this is typical), another is full seventies bush style, one waxes because she likes the sensation, another is pretty firmly against it. It’s not something I generally talk about with people, though, so I’m not sure how typical it is.

    I haven’t asked my boyfriend how he feels about it, but he seems to be pretty firmly of the opinion that what I do with my appearance is my decision (and I haven’t had any complaints).

    I perfectly respect people’s right to wax if that’s what they prefer, but honestly, this whole idea that it’s expected? It just makes me tired.

  45. Alcibiades
    Alcibiades March 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm |

    Straight early-20s white male, here. My preference is for unshaved (everywhere, I mean – it’s not a fetish thing, I just find unshaved legs/armpits/crotch generally nicer and more attractive than their shaved counterparts), although I’ve been with women who shaved completely and it’s not a dealbreaker (I don’t mention it unless asked).

    For myself, I keep a short beard, which is it for my hair-related grooming – but then, I’m not particularly hairy, none on my back/chest etc.

  46. Kaija
    Kaija March 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm |

    I’m a grad student and I tend to mix it up depending on the season and my mood. I tend to wax in the spring/summer and then just keep it trimmed (a little or a lot, depending on my whims) in the fall/winter. I don’t feel any pressure/need to conform to any “standard” but I do take suggestions from my significant other, because it’s fun :) He takes me suggestions on his grooming as well…

    However, another female grad student friend of mine was at our Student Health Center a couple of years ago (the height of the Brazilian craze, I think) for her annual pelvic exam, and her completely unshaven/untrimmed pubic hair was apparently a shock to the PA/NP, who remarked, “Oh…wow. We haven’t seen much hair in a long time.” Now some may find this unprofessional, but my friend thought it was hilarious and proceeded to retell the tale far and wide, along with the conclusion that “I have the only hairy twat at University of _______!”

  47. Em
    Em March 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm |

    Early 20’s, white, het, grad student

    I shave my armpits regularly and my bikini line if I’m going to the beach. My leg hair is blond, so I almost never get reactions to it since you can’t really see it. Never had a problem with any of my partners in regards to my pubic or leg hair, but then again I’m generally with pretty non-traditional dudes.

    I hear a lot of people saying they shave/wax down there for oral sex, but it’s never been THAT big of a problem for me. My partner doesn’t shave either and yeah you might get a hair in your mouth. Take it out. Resume pleasuring your partner. Also your legs only feel prickly when the hair is growing in. Once it’s all grown in it feels nice (fyi).

  48. Laurel
    Laurel March 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm |

    Thank you for this thread… I think it is quite useful. Personally, I do not shave AT ALL, except for armpits (odor reasons). Ten years ago, I was told I didn’t have much hair… now I am told that I have a lot, however I do not think that I have changed at all; I believe it is entirely based on my partners’ perceptions based on their own or previous partners’ shaving habits.

    I sometimes get strange looks in the summer for having hairy legs (which I do shave for special occasions, like weddings or the first trip to the beach of the year, maybe), but I think the hair on my legs forewarns partners about the likely state of my pubic hair.

    Still, I am often uncomfortable with new partners because of how it has become so normal to shave or wax. Friends of mine have commented that they are more surprised to see pubic hair than not to see it on women. Some admit to preferring little to no hair, others say they have no preference.

    Personally, I do not want to experience physical pain from waxing or ingrown hairs and time constraints from booking appointments or shaving… although I don’t like the idea of looking pre-pubescent, I am also not entirely opposed to the idea of shaving, as long as you are doing it for yourself and not putting yourself through that because it is how you think other people want you to look. And I’m with the previous commenter- it should not be expected.

  49. Kaija
    Kaija March 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm |

    Oh, and I forgot to add, I shave my legs and armpits frequently…I have dark hair and I don’t like the way it looks and feels. And my sig o has a kickass beard and I adore it…it’s soft and tickly and feels good against my cheek and my inner thighs ;) I’m a fan of the beard, as long as it’s not scraggly or still in that sandpaper stage of growth!

  50. Claudia
    Claudia March 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm |

    I’m 30-ish, white, bi, cis. I sometimes trim, sometimes not. I’ve worried about it in the past quite a bit, but I can honestly say that I have *never* had a man be all, “Whoa whoa whoa! I’m not fucking you if you’re gonna go and be hairy like that! Erection diminishment initiated!”

    That’s not to say that there aren’t such douchebags in existence, but eh. I’m not screwin ‘em, so I’m not sweating it anymore.

  51. Wednesday
    Wednesday March 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm |

    White, cis, hetero, married, under 30. I only shave body hair if it will be visible in public and I don’t want to deal with the resulting social disapproval. I hate the time it takes, the razor burn (if I use electric), the stinging cuts (if I use non-electric), and the way shaving my legs makes my skin feel numb.

    If I had three wishes, the third one would be to make society stop caring about things like body hair and just let it be a matter of personal preference.

  52. Yonmei
    Yonmei March 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm |

    Lesbian, cis, 43, British. Never shaved legs, arms, or pubes: did once shave pits because a girlfriend asked me to in an irresistible way.

    I never started shaving because I’m lazy and it’s too much work. Hair is nice.

  53. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure March 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm |

    34 cisfemale, straight. I shave my legs and pits and bikini line, but went au natural “down there” for years and was shocked to discover (through women’s fashion magazines) that I was hopelessly out of touch. Apparently, my full bush is very 70s and “surprising” to men these days. I hope I never have to date again. Who knows what will be expected ten years from now!

    I go back and forth between trimmed and not, but the hubby doesn’t care either way, but is vehemently against full on bare. (He worked at a porn website for a while, and I think fully waxed is something he associates with a job he hated that made him feel ashamed.) The hubby does trim his own pubic hair now that I have made it clear that I prefer doing oral with trimming. He was fine with obliging.

  54. sangetencre
    sangetencre March 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm |

    26, het, white, femme-y, cis female.

    I trim the hair on my pubic mound pretty regularly. It’s not as prone to getting caught up in menstrual pads or in the weave of my underwear (Ow!) if I do. I wax the darker patches of hair that like to spread out from the bikini area to my inner thighs. And I shave the labia majora, because it improves the feel of oral sex.

    I’ve only gotten rid of my pubic hair, in its entirety, once or twice. Right afterward, it’s nice (particularly if there are naughty things to engage in). But it still looked weird to me. And once the hair started growing back? Fuck it. Not worth it. (I’m also not a fan of pubic hairlessness on my male partner, aesthetically or logistically, which we’ve discussed. I like the look of a little fur and there’s too much prickly chafing when the hair starts to grow back…)

    I enjoy being smooth–and I’ve now waxed and shaved for so long, I get annoyed with the feeling of hair when it grows in–but, the thing is, I know exactly when and why I started worrying about pubic hair grooming, at about age 14. And it disturbs me that the moment had such a long-term effect…

    Other body hair, I don’t care as much about. Sometimes I grow my underarm hair out just to see how long I can get it. :) And I might not shave my legs for weeks at a time, particularly in the winter.

  55. The Flash
    The Flash March 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm |

    Late 20s hetero cis-man. I used to shave the danglers and shaft, but my last girlfriend said she liked the hair. It was an itchy transition period, but no big deal. But… I have a seriously hairy back. I got it waxed once, and it hurt for a day and itched for a couple after that, but it wasn’t *that bad*. The woman I was dating at the time didn’t like shaving (incl. her legs– she’d go about four or five days, sometimes more than a week, before shaving), so I think she felt that she couldn’t have too strong an opinion on my back situation, but from time to time she would not-so-subtly hint that she’d like me to do it again. And honestly, I would’ve but it takes too goddamn long. I’m on the market again after about a year in a relationship, and considering doing the waxing thang again. But… I’m a busy lawyer. When the hell am I supposed to find time to get this done?

    Buuuut… on the subject of women’s private parts… I actively enjoy going south on my partners, and I’m proud that I’ve heard that my exes gave me good reviews, but if a woman doesn’t at least shave or do a close trim on the lips, I inevitably end up gagging badly on a stray hair and ruining the moment. Ladies, not all vaginal hair care is a socially-prescribed cosmetic artifact; sometimes it’s just being polite to your partner.

    I don’t mind a little stubble on the legs, because I hate shaving my face/neck every day, so I understand wanting a day or two or five off. That said, seriously hairy legs are a turn-off. Ditto to armpit hair.

  56. abby
    abby March 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm |

    mid-twenties, white, cis, bisexual woman. i shave my armpits every couple of days and my legs when i have time, and i generally only trim my pubic hair (although recently i tried an electric trimmer and enjoyed the results). **trigger warning** the last man i slept with was completely disgusted by all of my body hair and absolutely refused to perform cunnilingus while i had pubes. he told me this while raping me. i’d like to think that he was an outlier, but every straight male i asked afterwards (i did several impromptu surveys while i was trying to figure out how to deal with what happened) agreed that pubic hair was gross, and they would never give oral to a woman who hadn’t at least trimmed very closely. my mother says that anybody worth dating wouldn’t care what i did with any of my hair, but at this point i think that unless i start dating men my father’s age, that’s extremely unlikely.

  57. Rita
    Rita March 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm |

    early twenties, recent college grad, living in Chicago:

    I generally don’t shave anything. No hair removal at all, anywhere on my body. This is definitely abnormal.

    In my gender-studies-minor in college it wasn’t that strange – not many women did it but they were mostly comfortable with the idea. Interestingly, even friends who didn’t shave their legs or arm pits would shave or wax everything vulvular.

    Outside of a gender studies context most people seemed repulsed, to the point that strangers come up to me and comment on my hairy legs (which, as a fine-haired blonde, are not that hairy). At church or at my conservative Christian college I would just say, “Jesus made me this way – take it up with him.”

    My soon-to-be husband is my only romantic partner, and since I’ve been this way as long as he’s known me he must be ok with it :-)

    At my yoga studio (in Chicago’s Gold Coast, so generalize what you will) the women are plucked/waxed within an inch of their lives. I don’t get it, find it kind of creepy, and resent the expectation that I should be hairless too. Jesus (or evolution or whatever) made me this way… what is there to fix?

  58. figleaf
    figleaf March 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm |

    A few years ago I was talking to a friend who works at a women’s health clinic in rural, upper-central Maine. She said even there about half her patients removed some or all their pubic hair.

    Perhaps paradoxically the first pubic groomers I met were from a radical separatist community back in the early 1980s when toxic-shock syndrome from super-absorbent tampons was killing people left and right. A lot of women were switching to sea-sponges with reusable cloth pads for backup. The more radical ones trimmed or shaved at least during their periods. In that generally seriously-hippie community this was anathema to… a lot of men. Their dismay was obviously of no concern to separatists. But it’s worth noting that patriarchy, too, is divided over which particular way men’s preferences should best trump women’s preference and convenience.

    To quote (from memory) Alice, the eternally frustrated and hypercompetent character from an old Dilbert comic, “once success becomes impossible you’re free to do whatever you want.”

    As for BitchPhD’s tweet, the impression I get is that the number of young men who shave or trim their pubes is growing rapidly as well. I’m not sure if it’s due to porn, convenience (it’s no harder and no more time-consuming than shaving one’s chin), sensation, or their own partner’s preference. Actually, as with women who do it, it’s probably some combination of all of the above.

    Sigh.

    figleaf

  59. RMJ
    RMJ March 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm |

    Cis, het, mid-20s lady in a mono LTR here.

    I shave pits and arms if I’m going in public (I work at home) wearing something short or sleeveless.

    Down there, I usually trim a little and shave it all off once or twice a year. My partner has almost never commented; once he said that the bald eagle was a really nice change, and another time he complained about stubble. He also trims.

  60. Rita
    Rita March 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm |

    oh. also het, white, cis female, generally femme..ish for added context.

  61. The Flash
    The Flash March 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm |

    Oh, and my experience has been mostly women not doing much more than some light trimming, but that could also be because many, if not most, of my partners took classes in women’s studies at Barnard. Women I’ve dated who were more mainstream tended to have a landing strip.

  62. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm |

    “I’m an OB/GYN in Rhode Island. Hairlessness is the norm…or maybe everyone just waxes it all off before going into labor.”

    There may be something to the latter thought. From what I’ve seen of support forums and such for first-time-delivering moms, there’s a lot of anxiety about the idea of a shitload of strangers getting all judgy about their personal grooming, and more than a little idea that going in bald will help somehow in the event of a problem.

  63. bellareve
    bellareve March 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm |

    I’m a 25 year old queer femme, and I keep a full bush. Back when I did sex work, I was completely waxed, and it felt like I was punishing myself. Same thing when I had male partners before I came out. I find it freeing to have hair, and I think it is pretty, like soft decorative lace, and I think its darkness draws attention to that exciting part of my body, and I also feel a bit of ethnic pride from not removing it.

    My female partners never cared one way or the other, and I certainly don’t care what they do either.

    I know some people are tired of hearing the “shaved = prepubescent” argument, but I really think it IS a fair criticism, NOT of the women who shave or wax, but of the current cultural standard and male expectation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people who are into that look are automatically pedophiles. But a hairless vulva DOES signify a child’s body, whether is is a “personal preference” for aesthetic reasons or smoothness reasons or oral sex reasons.

  64. Brian
    Brian March 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm |

    I’m not sure if it’s due to porn, convenience (it’s no harder and no more time-consuming than shaving one’s chin), sensation, or their own partner’s preference. Actually, as with women who do it, it’s probably some combination of all of the above.

    I’ve seen Maxim advise this as a way to make one’s penis look bigger. I may’ve seen comparable sources do so as well. Personally, I usually cut my face to shit when I shave, so I’m disinclined to experiment, but that certainly seems like compelling motivation.

    Just FYI: I have dated men in their 20s who did not care what I did with my hair. I’ve had full-on 70s growth and it was not an issue. Those men exist! And if any dude did complain, I would DTMF immediately. Not worth the time.

    While we usually think of the world’s anglophones (or at least, us North American ones) as largely culturally monotonous, it certainly seems like we aren’t. I’ve no idea where Abby was surveying men, but I’d expect men expressing that sentiment in my cultural context (which’re 20-something men) to be met with sideways glances, patronising looks and remarks along the lines of “Maybe you’d be happier dating boys.” Homogeneity, there ain’t.

  65. elizabeth
    elizabeth March 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm |

    24 year old straight city-dweller.

    I wax my eyebrows because I like the way it looks. I shave my legs, armpits, and my arms as well. The arms I do purely out of vanity. No one ever pressured me into it and boyfriends have actually asked me to STOP shaving my arms before, but I just like it. So there’s that.

    As far as shaving “down there” goes, the only girls I know who do it are my friends that are strippers. And I think within that group, one leaves a little there? Of my non-sex worker friends…we don’t really talk about it much. I know a few girls who have gotten the full Brazilian, but I don’t think any of my friends regularly get rid of all of their hair. Personally, I just keep it all trimmed to my liking and no one has ever complained before. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had a couple boyfriends who liked to trimmed it *for* me, which was kind of weird.

    I definitely think (oh god, I hate saying this, forgive me) the older generation has this idea that all women in their twenties go completely bare and they are completely wrong. Yes, it’s definitely a big porn trend to be hairless, but aside from a friend’s boyfriend who once said he thinks landing strips are sexy, I’ve never encountered a guy who was offended at the amount of hair I had. I haven’t heard any similar stories from friends, either.

  66. Kae
    Kae March 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm |

    I’m 19, and mostly straight.

    I’ve never enjoyed shaving anything, as it causes me great physical and mental discomfort, and I feel more attractive, comfortable, and enjoy sex more when I am not shaven. However, my dislike of shaving has caused me many tears and a lot of stress.

    I’ve been teased since middle school whenever I let any amount of underarm hair grow out. I’ve had sex partners tell myself – and my friends – that they won’t have sex with me until I shave.

    I’ve found that, recently, not shaving legs is becoming very acceptable, especially in the winter. The reason for that is usually laziness; I’ve yet to meet anyone other then myself who says they prefer their legs unshaven. In the post you cited, I like the quote “But I don’t kid myself into thinking… that I shave my legs because I have somehow independently decided—without any influence from my culture!—that that’s the way I personally prefer my legs to look.”; I really wish more women realized that it’s not an independent choice as they frame it.

    I’d also like to note that I disagree with the post you cited in saying that masculinity is constructed as not acting when it comes to physical appearance. Although, often, this is true, I’ve found many men prefer to shave, and many women have told me they prefer their man shaven. In my experience, this expectation on men is actually growing. Still, if a man chooses not to shave his armpits, he is not criticized or ostracized in the same way that a woman who does not shave is.

  67. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin March 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm |

    I am largely ambivalent towards body hair as a male and certainly I’ve never demanded nor requested any modification from whomever I was sleeping with and/or dating. The idea of “nothing there” kind of bothers me purely from an aesthetic point of view—to me it looks kind of weird.

    Honestly, it wouldn’t bother me if my partner, sexual or otherwise shaved nothing at all. Some in the past haven’t. Forgive me for saying this, but I suppose I’m always so appreciative for the act itself to the extent that I hardly find it my place to start insisting that certain things be done or not be done.

  68. Dave
    Dave March 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm |

    Early 30s, cis het monogamous married male. Only ever dated one woman who shaved the whole thing off, and it was kinda creepy. I like a triangle – any length, any size; even the landing strip is weird. Never minded a full bush giving oral, either.

    About the only hair I don’t like on a woman is pit hair (or really thick leg hair, but shaving once a month is probably fine for me for most women). I’m just wired/conditioned that way.

    As for me, I pluck my unibrow, shave my face every few days, and take off some scraggly upper back fuzz when I remember to. I can’t shave anything south of that because I have lots of fine body hair, and you’d see the line (I tried shaving my torso before once and I’ll never do it again). I’d shave my beard more often but I get really bad irritation and ingrown hairs.

    I would trim my pubes shorter if my wife wanted me to. I suppose I should probably ask her about that…

  69. nic
    nic March 15, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    25 year old, bisexual, white female. I don’t shave, ever. Every couple of months I’ll wax (legs, pits, pubes) for the sensation change-up but not for aesthetic reasons. I’ve had partners in the past hint at wanting hair removal- all but two, actually. If pressed most will say, “Don’t care. Anything but stubble.”

    As for my friend group, most are groomed to bare or fairly close. There are a few like me who keep everything but smooth is the norm.

  70. Brian
    Brian March 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    Forgive me for saying this, but I suppose I’m always so appreciative for the act itself to the extent that I hardly find it my place to start insisting that certain things be done or not be done.

    Well, rightly or wrongly, that’s the attitude I’d expect most 20-something men to take, because most of them (seem, anyways) to view the exchange of consents leading up to sex to be a vastly lopsided trade in terms of value that asking for more is right stupid (not that they’d necessarily phrase it in those terms). This is a pretty highly gendered and possibly problematic attitude, though. This isn’t to say one can’t arrive at the same spot via a different route, of course, but that route is a fearsome common one.

    I’d guess, then, that the guys above we hear about mostly have a fairly low opinion of women/the value of their consent to sex, which leads them to think it’s a wise/plausible idea to demand more. A few might think their participation is valuable (e.g. maybe they’re particularly good looking or something?), but I’m hard-pressed to imagine that’s any more common than ‘rare’.

  71. GinnyC
    GinnyC March 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm |

    Gay, femme woman in her mid-20s. I shave my armpits and wax my legs. I’ve tried waxing my pubic area, but it didn’t work very well (caused bleeding) and now I mostly stick to trimming or waxing the edges, since I don’t have the disposable income to pay for waxing.

    Most of my friends wax the bikini line, and a few wax everything. I think that there is a social expectation to be groomed, but not over-groomed. Completely hairless is not common and gets odd reactions.

  72. rrr-for-marrr
    rrr-for-marrr March 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm |

    Biromantic asexual, almost 22, white, cis-gendered undergraduate senior, single.

    I don’t shave/wax intentionally because I get really bad ingrown hairs. I say intentionally because I have trichtillomania and so I remove the pubic hairs due to my anxiety.

  73. Haley K
    Haley K March 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm |

    straight white 18 year old cis-female, college freshman. I’m in a long distance relationship, and the weather here is cold, so no one ever sees my legs, armpits or vulvic area. (except my roommate, but she’s never so much as held a razor before and why would she even care if her roommate hasn’t shaved this semester?) I shave my legs maybe once a month, trim my pubic hair usually before I get my period, and shave my armpits maybe once a week. My boyfriend likes the feeling of smooth skin just fine, doesn’t mind longer hair, but he really doesn’t like the feel of stubble, especially on legs. When the pubes are trimmed closely, he is more likely to go down on me, but I’m not a huge fan of oral so it is rather irrelevant.

    Sometimes for special occasions he will shave his pubic hair, and it is sort of exciting and mixes things up a bit. I prefer my men on the feminine side in personality and looks; I’m not personally a fan of facial/chest/back/butt hair or hairy feet. Pubes, leg hair, and armpit hair are fine with me.

    On a side note, I told my boyfriend about vajazzling and it scared him. I believe his exact words were, “Whyyyyyy? That doesn’t even make sense! It could only get worse if you sprayed adhesive down there and poured glitter on it!”

  74. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

    German. Mixed “race”, 30, cis, bi, poly, bdsm.

    I seriously dislike body hair, on myself and both male and female partners. Always havem even when that position was still vastly unpopular with my leftie/feminist peers.

    I feel that around me, it’s diversifying now.
    Around ten years ago, I’m sure I would have had a hard time finding a feminist with shaved legs or a (female) pervert with crotch hair. Now, I know at least a few of both.

    And before anyone throws anything at me: just like I used to defend my shaved armpits to my fellow feminists, I also do defend other people’s choice not to shave anything to other people who might be judgy about it.
    And I’ve had pretty awesome sex with people who are hairy – and who don’t otherwise fit my usual visual preferences.
    When it comes down to it, that stuff *is* skin deep.

    What I would like to se is not “pushing back the tide” or stoping anything “before it’s too late”.
    What I would like to see is respect and privacy for private, personal choices. Whether or not you shave your legs or pierce whatever protrudes from your body, or put on make-up, how you wear your hair… all ofthose should be your business and yours alone.

    And just as an aside, I have a friend who really likes stubble. So, even that has its enthusiasts I guess.

  75. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm |

    ^cis female, oops

  76. Cloris
    Cloris March 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm |

    Poly (husband and boyfriend), 36, bi, cis female here. I like trim and tidy. Hubby likes at least a lock up top where the lips meet, boyfriend prefers bare — both both realize that those are preferences I may occasionally indulge, rather than some sort of mandate. So I play around with it, depending on the season, my mood, and how my skin is doing at any particular time. They also stay tidy of their own accord, and the boyfriend occasionally body shaves (and will shave my legs for me, which is very nice!). Most girlfriends I have played with are usually tidy, maybe down to a landing strip.

    I don’t understand the prejudice against bare-shaven that I see here, though. Bare works for porn, so you can see better. Bare is more sensitive, too — although you become inured to it after a while so switching makes the most sense to me.

  77. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie March 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm |

    “oz”? “Down there”? “shaving my vag”?

    The words used to describe the vagina and vulva are so childish it’s astonishing. More than a little hatred of women’s genitalia going on here, I think.

  78. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit March 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm |

    I’m mid-20s white het female living in a city, and I do about as much hair removal as I expect mr. biscuit to do: He shaves his face, I shave my legs.

    Well, mostly we do this. I wouldn’t call either of us fastidious (me less so, since neat leg hair isn’t in my work’s dress code). The biscuit bits are kept trimmed with about as much regularity (not shaved, not waxed; trimmed, with a trimmer). I keep our eyebrows in check more regularly.

  79. Allison
    Allison March 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm |

    Straight, cis female, 26: I shave the underbits. Better for oral. I don’t shave the visible (from a standing position) parts because I don’t like the way it looks.

  80. Hugo
    Hugo March 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm |

    I’ve noticed that when this discussion comes up in my classes, which it does, my older female students (at a community college, many of my students are non-traditional returning learners) tend to believe that the teens and 20-somethings are waxing religiously. As we’re seeing here, the truth is more complicated — porn is not as useful a barometer of personal grooming as some would imagine, and that’s certainly a relief.

    My personal preference has been to let nature take its course. Thinking of horticulture, I prefer wild English gardens to perfectly manicured French ones.

  81. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm |

    25, white cis BDSM female.

    I want to echo the above commenter here:
    What I would like to se is not “pushing back the tide” or stoping anything “before it’s too late”.
    What I would like to see is respect and privacy for private, personal choices. Whether or not you shave your legs or pierce whatever protrudes from your body, or put on make-up, how you wear your hair… all ofthose should be your business and yours alone.

    Because what I really don’t get about this debate is how many feminist posters have felt perfectly entitled to get on their high horses and examine the Vajazzle thing to high heaven, and then snap that it’s ridiculous to, you know, respect that some people might actually choose that. What’s so hard about this? Why can’t you talk about Vajazzling (or whatever kind of body mod you please) in a way that both analyzes the cultural context and respects women who do, yes, exercise their sacred right to choose? Seriously, I want to know why.

    I’m getting rude here, but that’s because this is personal: as a pro-BDSM feminist I’m in a position to know an awful lot about how it feels to be alienated from other feminists because they think my choices about my body are somehow “threatening” or “problematic” or “creepy” or, to take a turn of phrase from the poster you cited, “fucking ridiculous”. And I’m certainly not the only one: there’s the commenter above, who I strongly suspect is coming from a similar place; indeed, there are tons of really strong women’s voices who have specifically stopped identifying as feminists because of this very issue.

    And what’s really ironic is that I don’t shave — not my legs, not my pits, and I pretty much only trim every once in a while “down there” — and I feel a hell of a lot less judged for that choice among the BDSM community men that I date, than I feel for my BDSM choices (and other body-mod considerations) among the feminist community.

  82. Elle
    Elle March 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm |

    Cis, femme, 22, currently in a long-term monogamous hetero relationship.

    I shave my armpits daily, my legs at random (usually less than once a week,) and my pubes when I feel like it (usually twice a week.) Some weeks I’m bare/landing strip, usually I’m trimmed, occasionally I let it grow. My partner and I both generally prefer it if we’re both trimmed, and the only time I ever kept it completely bare was during a rather emotionally-abusive same-sex relationship. My current partner would never disrespect my right to my body so much as to require I kept it a certain way. Once, just to see how long it would grow, I stopped shaving my legs and pubes for 6 months. He hardly batted an eye <3

  83. LB
    LB March 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm |

    I’m a 31-year-old cis-gendered female in a long-term heterosexual relationship. In my ideal world, humans of all genders would be hairless except for their heads, eyebrows, and eyelashes. So, I do my part to create the change I want to see.

  84. Rachel S.
    Rachel S. March 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm |

    I recently had this conversation with a guy I’m considering sleeping with: he doesn’t think that pubic hair needs grooming. I told him he needs to trim his before I go anywhere near it. Not shave, just give his arerea a nice buzz cut, cuz I keep mine finely manicured, so I expect the same of my sex partners. All body hair needs to be groomed if I’m gonna touch it (I don’t make it a habit of touching my guys’ armpits, so they’re safe there), and to quote Gaga, “I can not accept any less than someone just as real, as fabulous”. I make an exception for my boyfriend’s back hair, but for casual partners hair free is the way to be.

  85. FK
    FK March 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm |

    Early 20s grad student, bi, cis. Women don’t ask other women to depilate (in my experience). Men do ask, but I have never felt pressured to do so – it was more along the lines of asking to do any other sexual thing, wear garters, whatever. I vary my grooming dependent on what my partner likes and how much I am willing to put myself out that day.

    My friends & lovers seem to have a wide variety of grooming habits. I know very few women who actually depilate everything (more just do the underbits). I know several men who do. But I also know many men and women who don’t depilate at all, or depilate only around the bikini line or similar.

    Other people may have different experiences, but in my experience, people my age are actually less weirded out by various pubic stylings than older folks.

  86. Meghan
    Meghan March 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm |

    27, straight, in a long term relationship. I keep my armpits well groomed, shave my legs about once a week or so, and keep my entire vulva and mons shaved. I do it because my boyfriend likes it and I don’t mind doing it for him. TMI: It also keeps my overload of cervical mucous from drying and sticking all the hair together in a very uncomfortable mat by the end of the day.

    I started one day when my BF told me how much he liked it and I said I would give it a try, but no promises. He doesn’t complain about stubble when I’m short on time or my skin is being sensitive and he keeps himself well-trimmed to shaved.

    It works for us and I don’t like when people shave-shame and try to make other women feel bad for something they find aesthetically unappealing.

  87. Gembird
    Gembird March 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm |

    22 year old, straight, white, cis woman here, with just enough Roma DNA to have black hair growing anywhere it can take root (except my chin, so far, but I think it’ll start turning up soon).

    So yeah, shaving everything is pretty much out of the question, because if I started, I would never leave the house. I shave my armpits when the hair is long enough to get sweaty and stinky- currently about once a week because I finally started going to the gym. Mind you, I have no problem lifting weights with hairy armpits, it’s not like anyone else is looking that closely. I shave my legs when the hair starts to catch on my socks (yeah, it really does that) or I’ll be wearing certain clothes/chaning in front of people who may be uncomfortable with my hairyness. Pubes get trimmed a little, just before my period, because otherwise bad things happen. Oh and I sometimes get my giant eyebrow threaded, because plucking takes about an hour and I really do have just one big eyebrow if I leave it alone.

    My partner has a beard and long hair, and also trims his pubes, but that’s it really. We’re both socially awkward enough that just being naked with somebody is a total novelty and we have better things to think about than the exact length of the other person’s body hair. I’ve never had issues from dudes about my pubic hair, although I’ve always dated hippies, goths and so on- guys who aren’t part of the general dudebro thing.

    My female friends and I talk about this kind of stuff all the time. It seems like that’s quite weird for my generation, but we’re an odd bunch anyway. The group is at least half queer girls, and pretty much everyone is some combination of feminist, geek, spooky-ooky-gothic and anything else that middle-school people are afraid of. Literally no women I spend time with remove all their body hair. All of us remove something, to some extent- you gotta choose your battles, and we all have far more important battles to fight- especially since several of us are scientists who just finished dealing with several years of ‘but girls can’t do algebra’. But there isn’t this pressure between us to deny the fact that women have body hair, and I know for sure that none of them care what another person does with theirs. Hell, one of them painted me blue once, and the only comment she made about my hairy armpits was a snarky comment about other people worrying too much about armpit hair.

  88. William
    William March 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    Late 20s, male, 80/20, married. All I can say is that I’m so glad to be in a monogamous relationship right now; dating was complicated enough without adding this into the mix. I am kind of curious how people deal with the problem of ingrowns though.

  89. La Lubu
    La Lubu March 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm |

    Heterosexual, cisgender, 42, (phenotypical) sicilian american woman who isn’t very good at performative feminity (though I’m not “butch”—a term I don’t think I have any business using as a straight woman, anyway). I’ve had pubic hair since 1975, so I guess you can say I’ve never left the 70’s! *snicker* I shave my armpits everyday, my legs maybe once a week. Pubes, never. Oh, I trim enough to keep pubic hairs from sticking out of my bikini (thus becoming public hairs), but that’s it. Any man who has a problem with that can kiss my ass, as it’s not hairy. ;-)

    As for the mention of being phenotypically Sicilian….like many Mediterranean people, let’s just say it’s not just the hair on my head that’s thick, black and lustrous….ok? I can only imagine the pain and infection from ingrown hairs I would get from trying a more “hairless” look (which on me would resemble five o’clock shadow).

  90. College Girl
    College Girl March 15, 2010 at 5:51 pm |

    What’s the norm in your community?

    Hair removal of some variety is theoretically expected for both men and women, but I’ve only heard vocal shaming of women who don’t comply, and even if that wasn’t true men are expected to do far less (say, trimming rather than shaving). For women, shaving armpits, legs, and some down-there trimming is mandatory. Doing more than that is common, and doing only the bare minimum will knock you down a peg or more on the 1-10 frat boy scale of attractiveness.

    Who are you, and what sorts of hair removal do you do, if any?

    I’m a 20-year-old female student at public university in Texas. I was raised in the Midwest. I’m friends with a lot of well-intentioned but non-feminist sorority men and women. I identify as a Kinsey 2, but have only had male sex partners.

    I partially shave and trim the rest. I’m currently rethinking this because (TMI warning) it often results in irritation. The hair I remove is hair that is annoying to me, but I doubt that’s entirely my own objective aesthetic judgment – my aesthetic preferences are probably shaped by my community’s norms of attractiveness.

    Has anyone ever expressed disapproval with your lack of hair removal, or asked (or expected or demanded) that you do something else?

    No partner has done this, although my boyfriend has asked ME if his level of hair was okay. I wouldn’t date anyone who was hung up on that sort of thing, though. I think a more accurate gauge of social pressure one this issue is what people say in peer settings. I have heard strong, loud proclamations of what women “should” do with their pubic hair from non-feminist friends/acquaintances.

    And what do you expect from your partner(s), if anything?

    My expectation: If you like oral sex and want to encourage me to perform it, please keep it short enough that it’s unlikely to get in my face too much when I go down on you. Beyond that narrow request, it’s your body, your preferred hair arrangement. :-P

  91. K
    K March 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm |

    This is all so depressing. I am 25, queer, fairly femmely (often read as a “straight woman”). I shave my armpits regularly, my legs when I feel like it, and am trying to give up the creepy social pressures to do anything more than that to all my lovely hair, except that I tweeze my eyebrows a tad, and those annoying prickly neck hairs. I find pubic hair particularly sexy (visually, tactilely…) when it transgresses what appear to be most people’s boundaries for it, and am particularly distressed and turned off when ladies have removed everything in that area. I don’t know if it would be a complete deal breaker, but I do hope not to encounter such a thing.

  92. Jane
    Jane March 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm |

    24yo cis hetero white female, single. When I’m not dating someone, shaving/trimming only happen for hygienic or wardrobe reasons. In fact, I quite enjoy growing out my armpit hair every few months. I think it’s surprising on a woman, and kind of awesome. Every time I do the full hair removal routine, I am astonished by how time consuming it is. As someone before said, if I’m anticipating sex, I will shave/trim quite close. I think it makes me feel less self-conscious, and helps me get in the sexy mood. I have this lack of pube-esteem, in that if I haven’t shaved/trimmed, I tell myself I will refuse sex if the opportunity arises. However, in the moment, I usually don’t give a second thought to the condition of my pubes, because, um, I’m generally quite distracted. Only one of my partners has ever mentioned the condition of my vulval hair, and that was to reassure me after I was embarrassed to show him post-the-only-Brazilian-on-which-I’ve-ever-wasted-my-money.

  93. La Lubu
    La Lubu March 15, 2010 at 6:26 pm |

    Gentle exfoliation + Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Pads = no ingrowns.

    I’m getting a vision of sandpaper-textured body cream followed by actual sandpaper on the pubes. Yeeooowwch! The propensity toward ingrowns is genetic—I don’t think any beauty ritual is going to get rid of them.

  94. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm |

    Thanks Clarisse. I feel a little less alone.

    And just to be a bit of a smartass: I just read in a book (“clean” by Virginia Smith, great read.) that depilation was the norm in ancient Rome and in a lot of traditional oriental cultures.
    And I bet back then its critics were appalled.

  95. Etta Hollis
    Etta Hollis March 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm |

    23, cis, white, femme queer. Growing up, the only nude women I saw were unshaven (they did shave armpits & legs). So for me that was the norm. In college I was shocked when my peers shaved everything. Tried it once and seriously regretted it.

    After living on a farm and doing conservation work in forests I find shaving my legs & armpits a luxury, but maybe monthly. Only shave bikini line for swimwear.

    Brought up not shaving with partners and all have commented that hair is NOT an issue. There are better things to concern themselves with:)

  96. Anne
    Anne March 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm |

    I’m 17 and this whole conversation is making me more nervous than ever about mens’ expectations :( I don’t know what the norm is, because no one’s ever told me. ack.

  97. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    Anne: I don’t know anyone, anywhere, in any culture or subset thereof, who ever shot anyone down over different preferences about body hair.
    And if they do, at least you’ll know they’re not worth bothering with.

  98. embarrassed anon
    embarrassed anon March 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm |

    My ex boyfriend found hair to be unpleasant and disgusting, on both the male and female body. He shaved his own genitals, and I made a bargain with him–I’ll shave my genitals if you shave your pits. Worse. Bargain. Ever. I will NEVER shave my genitals again. It was something of an ongoing fight with us–I frankly told him I thought it was creepy and perverted to see my genitals as they were when I was pre-pubescent, or find that attractive.

    But I have found that trimming makes me more comfortable. When my genital hair is full-grown, it can get kind of rubbed the wrong way by my underwear, or pull, or get kind of tangled, I guess is the best word for it. I don’t like that at all.

    My current boyfriend could not care less about either of us being shaved/trimmed, but I asked him if he would consider trimming because it makes oral sex easier on me. He did, and he finds that to be trimmed, but not shaved, is really comfortable for him too. I love this man, by the way. He’s completely open and accepting of all human body functions, and doesn’t shame me for having my period, sweating, or using the bathroom.

    I also regularly shave my legs and armpits for social acceptance. I now find it more comfortable to have no hair or very short hair on those parts of my body, but I think that might just be a learned thing, or something I’ve gotten used to, since I’ve been shaving for over a decade.

    I kind of think I’d like to surprise my current boyfriend with vajayzzle. It just seems so random and funny and silly, like putting stickers on my crotch. I doubt he’d find it sexy but I’m sure he’d find it humorous.

  99. Anonymous in Fort Worth
    Anonymous in Fort Worth March 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm |

    Hey Flash – don’t have your back waxed, sign up for laser hair removal If you get it done at a Dr’s office it’s very expensive but if you go to someplace like Smooth S—_____ it’s not expensive. You can buy a series and the place I go to says you are buying 5 but getting 1 free (whatever.). But do expect it to take 5 or 6 sessions.

    I’m doing bikini (leaving the landing strip) and underarm, and am about to start a lower leg series. Can’t wait to be finished with shaving and waxing!

  100. becky
    becky March 15, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    Alright… I think it is interesting to discuss body images and gender, also in regard to pubic hair “styles”, its potential implications and experiences in social/sexual relations, and I thought it was interesting to read what everybody else does in that respect (although I did not feel the need to comment on my own habits).

    However, by now, I’m getting a little frustrated, because the thread that was supposed (in my view, correct me, if I’m wrong) to talk about hair removal and its implications of/for gender roles and body image is turning into a “how to best remove your hair”-advice-section – something, if I wanted to read it, is all over the web and does, in my view, most certainly not have any necessity on a feminist blog.

    Additionally, over all the ingrown hair/wax/razors/lasers-100-comments-excitement, very few people seem to be taking notice of the post about Juanita Goggins, what happened to her, and how sad and infuriating the circumstances of her death are. and, surprise, they were not related to any of her hair.

  101. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm |

    “I thought it was creepy and perverted to see my genitals as they were when I was pre-pubescent, or find that attractive.”

    Oh come on! Really. This thing is so screwed up, I’m sorry.
    did anyone who makes that reference ever *look* at their genitals when they were little? Or at other kids’ genitals?
    An adult hairless vulva (or penis) looks nothing like a child’s genitals.

    You can dislike depilation, you can discuss its cultural implications and hygienic pros and cons, but it’s simply not true that shaving makes you look like a child.
    A whole lot of other things change when you hit puberty. Get an anatomy textbook.

  102. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm |

    “I’m 17 and this whole conversation is making me more nervous than ever about mens’ expectations :( I don’t know what the norm is, because no one’s ever told me. ack.”

    Do what you like–what you find aesthetically pleasing or comfortable or convenient–and remember that a future partner’s preferences are just as likely to deviate from any established “norm” as yours are. A guy who’s going to be a jerk about pubic hair (or vulvar color or labia length or whatever) isn’t worth letting near your bits, and you’re going to be spending a lot more time with your genital region than any partner ever will, so the greatest return on any grooming investment is going to be from what makes you happiest.

  103. C
    C March 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm |

    I used to shave my legs (only when they’d be visible) but haven’t for a long time; same with my armpits. I get anxious about my armpits but not so much about my legs, mostly because my hair is very pale and sparse. I have never done anything other than trim my pubic hair, which I do because it can get pretty long (it doesn’t curl much, which makes me sad) and then it gets stuck in things or won’t dry. I hope I won’t go back to shaving my legs/armpits, but who knows… I do like the way it feels on my legs, and I do feel femme-y-er shaved. But I hate the social pressures that go with hair removal.
    I am queer and would definitely prefer natural down there on a lady, although I suppose it would depend on the person whether or not it was a deal breaker.
    And I am really sad that the “liberal” or “liberated” position in this discussion seems to be keeping some hair rather than removing all of it. That means that leaving all of it is almost outside of this discussion. That means “natural” isn’t even really natural.
    Plus, this is not just an issue because pubic hair is “natural,” it is an issue because:
    a) women have to remove more hair than men – hair itself is considered masculine and therefore gross on a woman. To define themselves as women, they have to remove any similarities to men.
    b) shaving pubic hair does, on a societal level (not a personal level) relate to a pre-pubescent aesthetic and this relates to women being considered desirable only if they are non-mature and non-threatening, aka women as “girls”
    c) it relates to unrealistic beauty expectations for women where they are asked to conceal their fundamentally “dirty” nature – i.e. not talking to boyfriends about their period, hiding depiliatory products, etc
    d) it is generally a way to control women’s bodies and shame them for what naturally occurs, thereby keeping them in a state of fear and submission.
    Nobody removes hair just because they want to. They may want to, but it wouldn’t even occur to anyone if it wasn’t a societal norm. You aren’t going to go out and shave your head, are you? But doesn’t your hair get in the way? It’s so much easier to keep clean if you shave it! In other words, shaving pubic hair can be conceived of as practical BECAUSE it is socially acceptable. If it weren’t socially acceptable and even desired, far fewer people would do it. I’m not saying no one should shave. I’m just saying we should examine the seriously effed up motives that go into women shaving as a group, and consider that we don’t operate in a vacuum.
    Also, I am sincerely sorry to all of the women who have gotten cr*p over the years about their hair, and, to the redhead who thinks she looks like a lion with her natural hair, you rock my socks! For serious.

  104. C
    C March 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm |

    P.S. Anna the 17 yr old – do what you like! Really! You are awesome and someone will realize that, and they will love whatever you do down there because it is what is attached to YOU!

  105. UnFit
    UnFit March 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm |

    “You aren’t going to go out and shave your head, are you? But doesn’t your hair get in the way?”

    Says who?
    I shaved my head for a while, and it was awesome. I also enjoyed the shaving process very much.
    Eventually I got bored with the lack of variation and grew it out.
    And I know several women who have done the same.

    And not that it stopped me from anything, but my that-time boyfriend almost cried when I started growing my hair out.
    I realize that makes him an exception, but not as rare as you might think.

  106. Faith
    Faith March 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm |

    “Oh come on! Really. This thing is so screwed up, I’m sorry.
    did anyone who makes that reference ever *look* at their genitals when they were little? Or at other kids’ genitals?”

    Oh come on! Really. I personally happen to be perfectly comfortable with completely shaving my genitals bald. Spent many years doing exactly that. But if -other- women feel like it makes them look like a child (which it often does, btw. pre-pubescent vulva is hairless, despite the other changes that do take place during puberty), and they aren’t comfortable with it for that fact, that’s their business.

    And while I do not believe that a man liking a woman with a completely bald vulva and mound is an automatic warning signal, I do believe that anyone who doesn’t believe that it can be a warning signal of a possible attraction to children is painfully unaware of just how many men are aroused by children and who do seek out ways that are socially-approved in order to manifest that attraction without actually having sex with a child.

  107. Bee
    Bee March 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm |

    22 year old, cisfemale, femme-y queer, living on college campus

    I don’t shave, trim, or alter anything except the hair on my head which I keep very nice. Last boyfriend I had definitely seemed like the type that would care and he loved it. Current girlfriend loves it as well. I’m not one of those “I don’t shave but somehow still look like I do” girls either, there’s a lot down there. I’ve been told by more than one fratty college guys that they like it because it shows that I know how to think for myself and don’t care what other people think. I rarely even think about it.

  108. Faith
    Faith March 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm |

    I’d also like to add that as someone who does still sometimes remove all body hair and did remove all body hair religiously for years, I have no objections to the feminist critique that I’m engaging in a harmful beauty practice by doing that, particularly when I do it for the purpose of having sex with a man. By removing my body hair, I am engaging in a patriarchally approved behavior. That means that I am helping to maintain patriarchy every time I shave to make my vulva nice and smooth because I’ve been trained to believe that it’s more visually appealing by the massive amounts of porn that I watched and the men in my life who have told subtly and not so subtly that I should remove my pubic hair (and yes, I have had at least three who came right out and said that to me).

    I don’t take offense to feminists having a problem with my hair removal, because at the end of the day, they’re right.

  109. Lauren
    Lauren March 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm | *

    Whenever I go into Planned Parenthood for a check-up, the fiery, elderly nurse gives me a pat on the back for not shaving everything off. “It’s your body’s last defense,” she says.

  110. Lauren
    Lauren March 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm | *

    And if a dude is critical or mean about it? It’s unlikely, but if it does happen, it’s a good sign that he’s not really worth keeping around.

    And if he pressures you, guilt trips you, or makes you feel lesser about it? Run in the opposite direction.

  111. Lurkin Merkin
    Lurkin Merkin March 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm |

    I’m a woman, and I keep most of my body hair intact. When people give me weird looks for my hairy armpits, it usually takes me a few minutes to figure out whats going on, because its totally normal for me. I tried shaving them once a few months ago, to remember what it was like, and I was so uncomfortable with it. I felt like, and felt that I looked like a child. It was seriously unsettling.

    As for the nether regions, I leave all my hair, but trim it down a bit. It looks and feels nicer to me when its neat, and sex feels better without tons of hair in the way. I suppose I also do it somewhat for my boyfriend because I personally wouldn’t want to go down on someone only to get a mouthful of hair ( I prefer when he trims, too). Having strong negative feelings towards women with body hair is an instant deal breaker, but the kinds of men I date either don’t care at all, or actually find it sexy.

    I guess I’ll leave it at that, now that the entire internet is aware of my personal grooming habits. I don’t know why, but this is always a fascinating subject for me, so I can talk too much about it sometimes.

  112. XtinaS
    XtinaS March 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    Oh, lessee.  31, cissexual, genderqueer, bi, white, American.

    I, ah, don’t shave anything at all, actually.  Frees up a lot of my time and anxiety-spoons, let me tell you.  (Constant fret of “am I shorn enough, ohgod” got replaced with will they ick out if they find out that I’m unshaven”, and that latter is situational, so whatevs.)

    I like to trim the pubes, partly for my partners’ benefit, and partly for my monthly benefit.  “Like to” != “get around to in a frequentish fashion”, however.

    I think if I magically got the gift of permanent electrolysis, I would go for the pits and the labia.  The former because I actually do prefer being hairless (aesthetics, deodorant rub-offs, &c), but every aspect of shaving that region, from the shaving to the growing-in period, hurts.  The latter so I can stop feeling annoyed for forgetting to do maintenance.  Everything else, I like the option of being furry, or not.

    Also:

    You aren’t going to go out and shave your head, are you? But doesn’t your hair get in the way? It’s so much easier to keep clean if you shave it!

    I did, for that reason, and yes it’s easier to clean.  (It has since grown out a bit, but “a bit” is like “an inch or two”, which is currently too long.)  It’s taken me six months to go through this one bottle of shampoo!  Glorious!

    It used to be mid-back, sooo.

  113. Sarah
    Sarah March 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm |

    Bi female here. I don’t shave. Anywhere. Underarms have medium to small amount of black hair, legs are hairy but the hair is transparent, not really noticeable, and “vagazzle” has a big gorgeous black bush. Men usually don’t give a fuck–some like it better hairy–but some have asked me to shave, and if they do, I’m like, “fuck you, I shave for no one.”

    But actually this seems to be a much bigger issue with women–more of an expectation in the les/bi community that you be shaved “clean”, which I personally think is stupid because a) what’s dirty about hair? and b) shaving doesn’t prevent STDs. I guess the reason why is because women with women usually means licking it and they don’t want hair in their mouths. But still, I don’t like it, because personally I equate a bald pussy with being pre-puberty–ewwwww!!! I’d rather have hair in my mouth!!!

    It pisses me off–where are all my natural lesbian sisters hiding?

  114. Angelia Sparrow
    Angelia Sparrow March 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm |

    42, bio-female, gender=butch earth mother, bisexual-married-het, 4 kids, white, American in the MidSouth.

    I shave my pits because it makes the deodorant stick better. Manual labor takes its toll there, esp. in 110-115 degree August. I wear my head hair short for that reason too.

    Legs: only if I’m wearing a skirt for professional reasons. Nobody cares if my legs are a little furry at a Sabbat.

    I trim my bush in an Xaveria Clip, keeping it minimal on the sides and longer on top. I cut very short all around before my gynecologist appointments, just for his convenience.

  115. Bethynyc
    Bethynyc March 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm |

    *whew* 42, twice divorced and currently single, white, cis, straight in experience but currently questioning.

    Right now, I don’t shave at all. I’ll do my legs and underarms sometimes, but after an Unfortunate Incident with the first husband (I let him shave me bare, which was all right, but the sex afterward was painful and I got all sorts of ingrown hairs. Ouch!) I don’t want to do that ever again.

    I seriously doubt that I will ever be in a relationship again, and the vibrator doesn’t care that I have untrimmed pubic hair. Part of me is terrified that I might get to a certain point and he or she would run screaming from the room because of my unshavenness. There is a perception out there that having untrimmed hair is bad/wrong.

    It is nice to see that there are people who prefer natural growth.

    I’ve been with some men who shaved their pubic hair and some who didn’t, and I actually preferred the soft long hair to stubble. It was easy enough to hold out of the way. I also prefer chest hair on men, and like it very much. But I never told either of my husbands that they had to do anything with their hair–it was theirs to do with as they chose.

    No matter what, if I do have a sex partner in the future, what is the best way to bring it up before getting into bed? I don’t want to get naked only to discover that the potential partner thinks my natural pubic hair is gross.

  116. AnonForThis
    AnonForThis March 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm |

    mid-20s (and just typed my actual age incorrectly, wow …), cis female, white, not currently in a relationship, tend to mostly sleep with men but not sleeping with anybody lately.

    Currently I’m falling into the ‘lazy’ camp. I shave my legs when I think about it, shave my bikini area less often. Shave armpits whenever I shower. But I’ve run the gamut – from everything shaved on a regular basis, to no leg/pubic hair removal at all for a solid amount of time. Pretty much always shave my armpits, but it’s more a matter of feeling the need to differentiate myself from my mom’s hippy phase than a serious personal commitment.

    I will say that for myself I prefer less hair to more. I remember that I went hairless for the first time around 7th grade, definitely well before I was sexually active in any sense. I did it because I liked it (and kept it up through high school, pretty much until I was in my first serious relationship).

    I still do it because I like it. I shave my legs for me – I love the feeling of getting in between clean sheets without leg hair. I feel sexy when my pubes are trimmed or absent. I’m having trouble explaining it, because it’s definitely more of an ‘internal’ sexy than a ‘sexy object’ kind of feeling. I mean, if I know I will be having sex with someone, or would like to, I don’t always shave – it depends on my mood. But if I’m feeling sexy as hell, I love the feeling of shaving. Even if all I’m going to do is put on some pajamas and get down with myself.

  117. Dyssonance
    Dyssonance March 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm |

    hmmmm.

    Ok, just read the comments. And something that strikes me as interesting, personally, and enough that it’s going to likely spark at least some comment by me somewhere, is that there aren’t a lot of trans identified responses.

    Which is not surprising to me on a professional level, as I’m well aware of the intense discomfort that trans folks have talking about things down there (*anything* down there), but on a personal one, in a space that’s reasonably decent for trans folks (at least from my buck the norm POV). I find it rather kinda sad.

    And so, despite what will, in the end, get me in trouble with some trans folk, I figure what the hell (not like I don’t already get in trouble with trans folk)…

    Trans, newly out bi, mid 40’s, involved, and I trim to a “strip”.

    Which is likely going to continue because I kinda like it that way.

    I do want to thank the gals here on a personal level for doing something unrelated to the post.

    So thank you. All of you who pointed out you were cis. That means *a lot* to me, personally, and I will be damn sure to remember that.

    Thank you ever so much.

  118. Valerie2
    Valerie2 March 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm |

    Just think of all the clogged pipes!
    But also think of all the revenue that is made by making bare the norm.
    razors, creams, laser hair removal, lotions, wax, anti-in-grown hair exfoliant and the plumbers that have to come in and de-hair the clogged drains.
    Shaving is really good for the profit margins.
    On a personal note:
    I do feel really guilty about the money I have spent in the past on beauty products when I could have given that money to people who really needed it. A little bit of extravagance is good once in a while, but I can’t look myself in mirror anymore if my “beauty” gives greedy companies profits. Good character and a warm soul is beauty. I’m working on both. ~fingers crossed~
    Peace.

  119. Bonn
    Bonn March 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm |

    I don’t have dark hair, but I do have a lot of it. I haven’t shaved my legs in almost a year, because it is just the biggest effin’ waste of time. Not to mention money. I just wear thick tights or leggings if I want to go out in a skirt.

    Armpits I only shave when I start having the hyperhidrosis problem, which comes and goes. Hair tends to make it more difficult to absorb the antiperspirant. Or on the rare occasion I wear short/no sleeve shirts. I’m usually cold, so I rarely go without longish sleeves.

    “Down there” I only trim when it’s getting odorific. I never shave it. I’m not sexual, so no one sees it anyway, and I don’t swim or go to public baths or anything.

    But in this country it’s normal to shave everything BUT your pubes, so my abundant pubes would be totally normal, but my arm hair is a point of fascination for the kids I teach, who say my arms are “like a man’s” because they have hair. I didn’t even realize women here shaved their arms until then. You can barely see the hair on my arms, but … whatever. I’m not shaving my arms.

    Among my American peers, they’re sort of of the “I shave when I have to and not when I don’t” camp as well.

    I knew a guy who shaved a lot. Not sure if he shaved everywhere. He once told me his view on pubes was, “Either shave it all off or leave it all there.” He thought the shaping and landing strip type stuff was pretty ridiculous. And obviously he didn’t care if there was hair or not.

    For stat purposes, 26, straight, asexual, mentally androgynous and physically feminine.

  120. Unree
    Unree March 16, 2010 at 12:01 am |

    Seconding bethynyc’s question. The S.O. and I are on the same page re body hair (for people who know my nym, details would be TMI; I’ll just say we’re not bare) but I have to wonder what he and I would do if we were starting out single again.

    I mean, what *I* would do. He’d be just fine. He’ll get to judge!

  121. qfiffle
    qfiffle March 16, 2010 at 12:20 am |

    I’m 29, and heterosexual. My social group is mainly academics, mainly in stereotypically non-female fields (hard sciences). I half-heartedly shave my legs (about once a week in summer, so they are usually bristly, but not lengthy, and never in winter). I shave my armpits about once a month or six weeks – when the hair gets really long. I don’t shave my pubic hair at all, but I trim the bits around my labia with scissors, because I find it uncomfortable when semen dries on them and sticks them all together in a matted clump. (TMI?)

    My husband doesn’t shave anything, but he also trims his pubic hair a little in places where he wants mouth action :)

    Most of my female friends don’t shave their legs or armpits at all, so I actually feel like I’m “doing femme” way more than my peers, and sometimes feel a bit embarrassed about it. A couple of female friends have very heavy black leg hair, and I think it’s cool, but I couldn’t do it myself, thanks to the trauma of my high-school nickname: “Hairylegs” (wasn’t allowed to shave until I was 16).

    I lived in Denmark for a while (I am now in Australia) and was amazed at how in the gym changing rooms almost all the women had brazilians or total waxes (and how freely they walked around naked – I have no idea what most Australians do, since I never see them underpantless.)

  122. Miss Incognegro
    Miss Incognegro March 16, 2010 at 12:27 am |

    I don’t to shave for anyone but myself, irrespective of what a partner may want. So, in as far as what is normal depends on what one believes is most comfortable for her body.

  123. draconismoi
    draconismoi March 16, 2010 at 12:34 am |

    25 year old recent law graduate here.

    The whole pubic-hair-care-regime debate has been going on in my social circles for years now. Those of us with any degree of self confidence agree that the asses who have the nerve to complain about the state of your genitals, lose all privileges to access them. And yes, this is something that has come up. Repeatedly.

    But there are others who think that it’s more important to look ‘normal’ and will spend hours plucking, tweezing, waxing and shaving themselves. It seems to be a bizarro confidence booster for them.

  124. Kily
    Kily March 16, 2010 at 12:46 am |

    Mid-twenties, white as a sheet, working class background, college educated (gender studies, oh yeah), queer (bi, but I’m not fond of the term), in a LTR with a genderqueer laaaady.

    I usually shave it all off, or trim very short. Haven’t waxed, but that’s because I’m scared, not morally opposed. Legs and underarms are shaved down as well, fairly regularly…at least during the summer. Past female partners were pretty bare in teh vag region, and my current one keeps it trimmed short. That’s really what I prefer…pubes in the throat is probably one of the most unpleasant feelings I can think of…most straight and queer friends I have shave or wax, or at the least keep it closely trimmed.

  125. GinnyC
    GinnyC March 16, 2010 at 12:50 am |

    Agreed with Valerie2; beauty rituals are expensive! Especially for people like me who hate shaving.

    I wax my legs myself because getting someone else to do it would cost too much. I shave by armpits because I have thick deeply rooted hair their and can’t wax it myself. I probably spend $20 a month on hair removal.

    Given infinite money, I would have my pubic hair waxed because I like how wax feels and I don’t particularly like hair down there. Its not something I can do myself (Possibly TMI: I tried and caused bleeding) and shaving doesn’t work for my thick dark hair because I have to do it daily which is ok with armpits but not the public zone. Therefore, I’m mostly natural with waxing at the edges. I’ve always wondered how other women can afford monthly Brazilians if its not work-related. So, maybe a smooth bikini zone is partially a class thing at least if you get waxed?

  126. Banisteriopsis
    Banisteriopsis March 16, 2010 at 12:52 am |

    No matter what, if I do have a sex partner in the future, what is the best way to bring it up before getting into bed?

    “So, you know, my bush is epic.” You don’t have to be clever about it. Sexy talk is fun with people you want to have sex with. It’s so not a big deal, don’t even worry about it until you’re at least to the point of snuggling. Anybody that’s gonna run off or be grossed out, you can do without.

  127. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 16, 2010 at 1:07 am |

    No matter what, if I do have a sex partner in the future, what is the best way to bring it up before getting into bed?

    Get ‘em an Indiana Jones costume? “Here, you’ll need this.” :D

    As for me, I’m not involved with anyone/having sex at the moment so I just shave the underarms for the smell factor, and leave everything else au natural. When I’m in a bathing suit I shave everything from the waist down that is visible, but I’m not much of a water person so that only comes out to be like 3 shaves a year, max. And I’ll do my lower legs on occasion, in the summer, in a very skirt-length-and-laziness-dependent fashion. :p

    (Btw, fully grown-out leg hair is a nice long-underwear substitute when it’s cold out! So soft and furry. ^^)

    If I were to start dating I’d probably put a little more work into my nether regions — it wouldn’t be my personal preference but kowtowing to public opinion and getting a trim/etc would make me feel less nervous about an already stressful attempt at socializing. I’ll take any help I can get, even if it’s unfeminist.

  128. Gradgirl
    Gradgirl March 16, 2010 at 1:25 am |

    I’m 29, cis female, married for almost 8 years. I shave my armpits every day or they start to feel uncomfortable, shave my legs very irregularly, have never put the razor anywhere near my vagina, but I do shave my face above the lips and on my chin to get rid of my Mediterranean stray black hairs. I do that every day as well. I also have to pluck my eyebrows religiously if I want them to be two separate units rather than one. I’ve trimmed my pubic hair with scissors a few times because I sometimes get stray hairs in my vagina during sex and it really irritates me, but it didn’t really seem to help, so I stopped – it’s loose hairs that bother me, so the only way to eliminate that problem is by removing all the hair, which I’m unwilling to do because of the pain/maintenance. My husband couldn’t begin to care less about what I do with my hair, and I feel the same way about his. I’d like to have laser hair removal on my face, but that’s mainly where my hair concerns reside – not near my vagina. I’m sort of surprised to hear that it’s so common for women to groom their vaginas so much. People I know must either not do it or never talk about it.

  129. prosaica
    prosaica March 16, 2010 at 2:42 am |

    Het, married, female, 43. Hairier than most: thick leg hair, hairy buttocks, a line to the navel, a line between the breasts, hint of moustache. At 16 my mum, who was quite embarassed about me, brought me to an endocrinolost to get hormon tested. My hormons turned out standard to the point of boring.
    I used to wax and shave as a teenager and in my twenties, and I hated it consistently. Then I discovered that my boyfriend (now husband) didn’t care a damn. And so, I just stopped. I still occasionally shave my legs knee down for prettiness and trim underarm, for better effect of deodorant.
    I never even considered the ob/gyn comfort, and no doctor ever made comments (and yes, I’ve given birth).
    I found the comments very interesting and I second the idea of collecting results. And I’m happy my daughter’s hair, though plentiful like mine, is way blonder.

  130. Amelia the Lurker
    Amelia the Lurker March 16, 2010 at 2:44 am |

    Armpits, legs, bikini zone I shave, arms and face I wax. I’m very hirsute. I’m very pro-pubic hair, though. I occasionally trim but basically, if it’s within panty domain, it stays. I don’t get the hairless genitals thing and never will. There’s mowing, and then there’s pulling up the entire lawn.

  131. Amelia the Lurker
    Amelia the Lurker March 16, 2010 at 2:45 am |

    I forgot to mention that I’m 20, cis, and straight…and I have no idea what the norm is in my community. My circle of friends seem to agree that hairlessness is odd, as do my family members.

  132. Jane
    Jane March 16, 2010 at 2:57 am |

    I’m a 21, cisfemale, pan, Midwestern college student. The general pubic hair climate of my college, which is pretty liberal, is generally not militant about shaving. In my particular social circle, though, the idea seems to be that a girl or guy that doesn’t take care of their pubic area in some way is probably sexually inexperienced and socially inept. The second part seems related to the idea that the person with untamed hair is selfishly unaware of the affect that will have on their partners.

    My own pubic hairstyle has ranged a great deal over my sexually active lifespan. For awhile I only shaved the bikini line and trimmed, then I decided I was curious about how my vulva and mons looked without hair (I was single at the time, and was so until the last month of the experiment), so I shaved it for a few months. I liked how it felt to masturbate with, and it was quite a novelty to see it all bare again (hadn’t seen it like that…ever before, actually, since I never looked at my genitalia as a kid), but I didn’t like the effort it took to maintain it and I found I preferred the look of my body better with some hair there. Then I began growing it out, still shaving the bikini line, and trimming once it got long enough. Now, though, I don’t shave at all – I just got a bikini that covers more! Still trimming though, for aesthetics (especially want to show off my clit hood piercing), comfort, and ease of oral.

    The rest of my body hair…the only thing I shave regularly are my armpits. I don’t like hair there, it takes two seconds in the shower every morning, may as well. My legs…oofda. I shave those once a week because my skin can’t handle any more than that, nor can my laziness. I also don’t like how unshaved legs feel, on their own or against fabric, so I shave for those reasons as well, but my laziness is such that if I am not anticipating any action, no amount of discomfort is great enough to make me shave before the month mark. So, sexually active or not, I shave once a month. Sexually active, once a week.

    Of the people that I’ve had sex with, the vast majority only trimmed, or trimmed plus a little bikini line shaving. I’ve only ever gotten negative messages about my legs. One partner was apologetic, but firm in his dislike of hairy legs, for example. The majority of others thought I was fine with my habits, maybe even a little over-zealous in my shaving. I’ve never had complaints about the state of my pubic hair, and I’ve had a few sexy compliments, so I’m thinking I’m pretty average for people in my demographic in this regard.

  133. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 16, 2010 at 3:42 am |

    @UnFit — Yeah, thank you too. For a while there I thought I’d be the only person on this entire thread saying anything along those lines.

  134. Natalia
    Natalia March 16, 2010 at 5:01 am |

    I think these comments alone perfectly illustrate that there is no such thing as “normal,” really. Personally, I’m not a big fan of body hair for myself – though I’m not necessarily a slash and burn person on most days – and a big fan of it on men. I can stare at the hairy legs on footballers for hours. In fact, I think I’ll go do that now.

  135. Natalia
    Natalia March 16, 2010 at 5:02 am |

    Also, I love the disapproving kitty accompanying this post. Kitty is silently judging us.

  136. Noelle
    Noelle March 16, 2010 at 5:06 am |

    bi, cis, white, middle-class, female, 22, college student.

    Growing up in white, hyper-sexualized suburbia, I felt an intense pressure to shave, armpits, legs, pubes, everything. I even had a friend who shaved her ARM HAIR because she was self-conscious about it. I bought in, and shaved everything religiously. I also required any sexual partners to be completely pube-less.

    Then I went to college and started to explore these practices a bit and did a 180. Most of my southern californian peers are all about the shaving, but I’ve decided to run on a policy of “If you don’t like it, you can leave!” I haven’t shaved for years (except my armpits/legs on occasion) and I love it! It feels so good – wild, sexy, honest. And in addition to embracing my own natural beautiful hair, I’ve learned to love my partners’ as well. Now, if a sexual partner is completely hairless it feels weird to me.

  137. Kia
    Kia March 16, 2010 at 5:20 am |

    22-year-old cis lesbian here. I trim a little, and shave just enough so that there wouldn’t be anything sticking out of a bikini, and that’s about it for me as far as pubic hair removal goes. I do shave my legs & armpits, because I like the way I look better w/o hair there.

    Of my friends, straight and queer alike, I don’t know everyone’s habits regarding it, though I do know some of my straight friends wax because they complain that it hurts (don’t know how much or if they’re removed it all or just some). My girlfriend waxes most of her hair away, though there’s still some. I prefer it this way, honestly, because I don’t like getting hair caught in my teeth, but if she decided to stop waxing it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. My last ex didn’t shave at all and was totally natural.

    All my friends, like me, are early-to-mid twenties.

  138. Kaija
    Kaija March 16, 2010 at 5:40 am |

    Incidentally, pubic hair is coming back, as all trends must rise and fall. And not just a little, even the big untrimmed bush is enjoying a renaissance in porn to art photography. Many guy friends I know are BIG fans of the return and can wax eloquently (I know, bad pun) about their longing for 70s/80s “fashion (“when the women were more real-looking”); not everyone is a 20-something frat boy (thank goodness). I suppose it just goes to show you that personal tastes/opinions/practices vary widely and *normal* is just a cycle on the washing machine. :)

  139. Atheling
    Atheling March 16, 2010 at 6:04 am |

    20, cis, het, female, in-first-long-term-relationship, British uni student here …

    I trim my armpits and pubic hair when it’s long enough to be in danger of matting (DO NOT WANT) and shave my legs if I’m going to be out in see-through tights, which isn’t often. That’s about it. (I’d add that I’m happily unfeminine, though – I’d probably fall somewhere around soft butch if I were gay. Maybe relevant?) My boyfriend (23, cis, het, male) shaves his face, but nowhere else, and has no problem with the fluctuating state of my hair.

    Anecdata from housemates present:

    R (24, cis, bi, female, poly) doesn’t shave at all, and summarily dumped the one guy who demanded that she do so; J (the bf) says that of the women he’s dated, the shaved:not-shaved ratio is about 1:4.

  140. gajasimha
    gajasimha March 16, 2010 at 6:23 am |

    Genderqueer, mostly asexual 25 year old of white and Middle Eastern background.

    I was mocked in junior high for my hairy legs, then had a traumatic run-in with a high school first boyfriend’s suggestion that I shave to be ‘his little porn star’. (I was the first non-porn girl he had ever seen. Yeah.) I last shaved my legs in the mid-90s, have never shaved my arms and only take scissors to my pits and pubes for the same reason that I rip out my eyelashes. (Hi rrr-for-marrr!)

    If I suddenly did meet someone that I was interested in sex with and they were grossed out by it, they could go **** themselves. Same for bystanders who stare at my werewolf legs and pits. Don’t like it? Don’t ****ing look.

    Yes, this is a sore point for me. It’s taken me quite some time to make peace with my body, and I’ll be damned if some idiot gawker is going to take that away from me.

  141. Ellid
    Ellid March 16, 2010 at 6:28 am |

    49 year old cis female, straight, currently celibate. I shave my armpits because it’s easier to use deodorant, occasionally shave my legs if I’m going to wear a skirt without hose, and I will never, ever, EVER shave my crotch. Ever. I had a pubic shave once after an operation and developed sebaceous cysts, one of which turned into a real, genuine boil. The mere idea of waxing my pubic area is out because I have no desire to wreck the atmosphere at a salon by screaming in agony.

    If this means I turn off a prospective lover, fine and dandy. I’m the one who has to live in this skin, and I like myself just fine the way I am.

  142. Melissa
    Melissa March 16, 2010 at 6:39 am |

    Straight, mid-twenties woman, grad student. I shave my legs / under arms fairly regularly (1-2 week?) and occasionally pluck eyebrows when I think of it. I think that this is part of society’s definition of well-groomed these days. Not to say I think every woman should do it. Actually I rather admire women who can happily say ‘love it or lump it’ and grow lovely bushy armpit hair. It’s just that you have to be willing to brave funny looks and/or comments if you don’t and I can’t really be bothered with all that and am used to shaving these days anyway.

    For similar reasons I’ll shave my bikini line if I’m heading to the beach but generally I won’t bother as no one but me and boyfriend will see it. Pubes are usually trimmed with clippers to a mid-length but only, once again, when I think of it and it doesn’t bother me to go curly some of the time. I’ve never shaved though because of the itch / maintenance factor :-)

    I have a long term boyfriend and while he would never comment on my pubes I think he would feel awkward if I grew out my under-arm hair, for example, as that’s more ‘public’ in some sense.

  143. Eugenia
    Eugenia March 16, 2010 at 7:29 am |

    I have a sort of funny two cents to add to this conversation. For about three years I was in a line of work where I was regularly seeing women’s pubes (all classes/races of women of reproductive age living in a fairly progressive city). At the time, I estimated that 8 of 10 women did some sort of modification to their pubic hair, and perhaps 2 of these 8 had zero hair at all–the full Brazilian, you might say. I was pretty surprised that the stats were that high.

  144. blondegirl
    blondegirl March 16, 2010 at 7:29 am |

    36, bisexual cis female here. I’ve been shaving for about ten years, waaaaay before it became popular. And I must say, I don’t get what all the fuss is about- do we really have to politicize PUBIC HAIR? Is it really that important what other women do to their bits? I just think it’s silly beyond words.

  145. Li
    Li March 16, 2010 at 9:04 am |

    22, poly queer cis mannish person. I tend to have a lot of body hair. Like a lot lot. I tend to pluck nostril hair, trim/shave my beard depending on how I’m feeling and pull out random bits from being anxious. Occasionally I removed some of my crack hair for fairly obv practicality reasons (dags are gross. gross). I’ve shaved all my hair off twice, both times for drag stuff, and hated the way it felt and made my body look (my body runs fairly close to looking physically young even when it is covered in hair).

    I’ve had partners comment on it a bit, including one lover who liked to refer to me as a satyr, but noone suggest removing or modding my hair.

    I’ve had a bunch of partners with different levels of hair, both natural and modded. I’ve never been particularly concerned with other partners hairiness/non-hairiness. I actually enjoy partners with pubic hair. Getting hair in your teeth? Totally a dealable part of sex. Plus, long hair can be really enjoyable to play with. And I actually tend to like the smell/taste of pits with hair, so that’s not an issue for me either. Maybe I’m in the minority, or maybe it’s the slutty mcslutslut poly thing, but I definitely don’t get into the whole trimming/whatever for my partner, or expect people to be a particular way for me. I like that people are all different, so I’m kind of iffy with the trimming for sex/ when you start looking for partners thing, just cos it kinda personally confuses me. I like peoples bits best when they feel happy about them.

  146. Maggie
    Maggie March 16, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    I’m not sexually active but I hope to be relatively soonish, and as such have been trimming my pubic hair more and shaving the bits that would stick out of underwear. I used to do that back when I actually ever went swimming, anyway, so. I’d never bother waxing all of it off but maybe I would for those side-bits on the thighs, they’re kind of annoying to shave.

    The reason I’m commenting is that as a bisexual woman I see my fair share of naked lady pictures on the internet, and while to some extent all genitalia looks pretty weird I am struck by the fact that there are so many more ways to have hair than to not have hair. All bare flesh is bare flesh and we see plenty of that even when we’re not looking at peoples’ crotches, but hair is…

    Imagine if shaving your head was the norm.

    I don’t assign any particular value judgement to that any more than to genital hair removal/retaining, but there is just so much variation in hair! And when I see all those hairless pussies I cannot help but occasionally wonder what kind of hair she had. In fact the only kind of pubic hair I have ever seen is “classic” pubic hair, like in the old portraits – basically a black puffy triangle (on a white brunette – I have no idea at all what a black woman’s pubic hair looks like, although it might not be so different since everyone’s got “short and curlies” right? Same for Asians, Scandinavian blondes… why does only one kind of woman apparently show pubic hair in nude photography? I mean, I haven’t actually looked for it specifically, but…) and the occasional “landing strip” so sparse as to not tell me anything in particular.

    Fads are fads, so whatever, really. I just thought I’d contribute some anecdata to the pool.

    Anyway, if I ever do go in for a trim wax I think I’ll get them to make the top bit bat-shaped.

  147. Ilina
    Ilina March 16, 2010 at 9:30 am |

    24, cis female here. Kind of a personal topic for me, because as I have extremely sensitive skin, I *cannot* shave or wax my pubic hair. Once I attempted to have my bikini line waxed, and I *bled.*

    Despite this (and I inform all of my potential partners of this fact), I’ve had at least one partner who pressured me through the whole relationship to remove my pubic hair. Though I think of him as generally a heinous asshat, I don’t think his expectations were different from the mainstream– I just tend to pick guys who are outside of the mainstream. And I find that frightening– that people feel their concerns about the aesthetics of pubic hair / some slight annoyance during oral sex should outweigh the fact that conforming to those aesthetics cause their partner injury.

    To people who say that this is not an important topic and makes third-wave feminism look stupid: it’s things like this that brought me to the feminist movement in the first place. That boyfriend treated me in a lot of ways that just weren’t right– some of them were comparatively subtle, like that, and some of them socially unaccepable (like threatening to break me.) Feminism has helped me make sense of what he did to me, to NOTICE things like being controlling about things that cause your partner pain and to view them as unacceptable and disrespectful instead of just feeling hurt by them without any recourse. You never know what might be important to an individual in helping them recover from or escape from a bad situation.

  148. roxie
    roxie March 16, 2010 at 9:42 am |

    The ironies and contradictions in this issue are astonishing; i;e; how did a generation of liberated 60’s women begat a generation of little fascists. I leave my pubes alone, only to be stared at like a circus freak by younger women at the health club. And how is it we just allowed Playboy, porn-peddlers, and 20-ish “men” (boys is a better description) to hand us another body image issue. The good news, as others have noted, is the issue is still unsettled (as much as Cosmopolitan might wish it to be) and with enough push back from us, never will be

  149. Crystal
    Crystal March 16, 2010 at 10:13 am |

    @Sarah :
    Most of my lesbian friends are perfectly comfortable with not shaving, actually. I definitely prefer it in the context of oral sex. I don’t think it’s that hard to avoid getting hair in your mouth, and if you do, just take it out. Also, that is definitely preferable to me than having to spend all that time with stubble rubbing against your face.

  150. Al
    Al March 16, 2010 at 11:04 am |

    Straight, cis-gendered male in his mid-30s.

    I’ve not had many sexual partners, but in my limited experience (one partner in her 20s, another in her 40s), I’ve never been with a woman who shaved her pubic region. The pattern has always been shaved armpits with some regularity. Shaved legs whenever they got too stubbly and threatened to present issues with cheap hosiery and maybe some light trimming in the pubic region.

    Perhaps some of this relates to the fact that my experience has been with women who have very slow/sparse growing body hair (both my previous and my current partner are of African origin) to begin with?

    I myself am a stereotypically hairy Ashkenazic Jewish guy who can’t stand shaving (so I certainly wouldn’t ask a partner to do it — although part of why I can’t stand shaving is that my hair is so fine textured that bends rather than lets itself get trimmed: the only way I can get a close shave is with a straight razor, which I am certainly not going to use anywhere near my crotch — or anywhere for that matter … I’ll leave that sort of thing to the pros). I trim my beard to look nice on Shabbos (and so my mustache won’t bother my partner during cunnilingus) and shave my neck and cheeks (otherwise I’d have a continuous beard from my chest hair to my eyes). Fortunately my body hair, though thick and fast growing, is very light in color (outside of my red hair/beard, my body hair is strawberry blond) so it doesn’t show up too much.

  151. Al
    Al March 16, 2010 at 11:06 am |

    Oh yes … I certainly get hairs in my mouth during cunnilingus. And you know what? Somehow that just isn’t something that concerns me in the heat of the moment. And I would much prefer (I would imagine) hair to stubble.

    I always wondered about people who like the “stubble” look (which was quite popular for male faces when I was in college): wouldn’t stubble irritate more than a beard or a clean shaven face?

  152. Natalia
    Natalia March 16, 2010 at 11:19 am |

    The ironies and contradictions in this issue are astonishing; i;e; how did a generation of liberated 60’s women begat a generation of little fascists.

    Ahahaha. Ahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

  153. Lampdevil
    Lampdevil March 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm |

    27, cisfemale, straight, and body hair is a battle for me. I come from a long line of noble, dark-haired ladies that are prone to fantastic facial hair. I am a sasquatch, folks. I oughta let myself go, set up a booth with some curtains, and charge for admission. I wax and pluck like mad above the neckline, but it’s a battle I suspect I will never win.

    Further down? I’ll shave my legs every 1-2 weeks in the summer, and very rarely in the winter. My armpits I usually don’t care about, but I’ve started to be vigilant about it per my boyfriend’s request. It weirds him out, he says. What? I had never, EVER expected a boyfriend complaint of that sort. He has little issue with my pubic hair, but it’s my pits that throw him off? Bizzare. I’ve conceded the armpit thing because it’s easy and takes no effort, but the pubes are a no-shave zone. The growback period is horribly painful for me. Ingrown hairs and extreme picky-itchy feelings abound. The one day of smoothy-funtimes is not worth a week of agony. It will not happen. And frankly, I’m too chickenshit and confused to was my own, and too body-consious and terrified to go somewhere and have someone do it for me.

    I’m cool with whatever a dude wants to do, really, as long as he’s familiar with proper hygene. I like hairy guys, which works out well for the boyfriend.

  154. Tia
    Tia March 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm |

    I’m 29, straight, biracial. I have dark, but very fine hair, and not much of it. I don’t shave anything in the winter and shave my armpits and legs in the summer. My husband prefers hairy armpits and is neutral about my legs (I prefer to shave my armpits but in the winter I don’t sweat much or go sleeveless so I don’t mind doing it for him). I am, however, pretty religious about threading my eyebrows.

    My own informal survey indicates a general preference for hair. one friend (32 y-o) slept with a woman once who was clean shaven, and said it was painful during sex, because the pubic bone kept getting in the way and bruised him. He’d only encountered one woman who was completely shaven, and he’s slept with many.

    Another of my friends would complain that his girlfriend waxed. He said it was fine at first, but then it got itchy and bumpy and he also commented on the discomfort.

    I haven’t heard any male friends complain about a proliferation of hair. But then again, few of my friends are under 28. I think we grew up in the heyday of au naturel.

  155. anna
    anna March 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm |

    People should be free to do whatever they like with their body hair. Unfortunately (at least in modern American society) it is considered totally unacceptable for a woman to have visible leg or armpit hair, while it is just fine for men, even though men are usually hairier. A woman can choose not to shave legs and armpits only at significant risk of not being hired/losing her job (it’s not considered “professional looking”), being told repeatedly that she is ugly and disgusting, and not being able to find a boyfriend. Pubic hair is less uniformly policed, because more private, but still many women are under pressure to shave/wax their pubic hair from boyfriends who would never dream of doing the same. And I hope we can all agree that that is some bullshit.

  156. orlando
    orlando March 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm |

    I find it astonishing that you’re usually so eager to ban members for tiny infrigments of your commenting policy, but leave alone someone who calls people who are pro-shaving, fascists. You compare the society frowning at you for not shaving to killing people in death camps? Really?

    And don’t bother banning me, I’m so outta here

  157. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm |

    I’M ON UR BLOG FLOUCIN’ KTHANXBAI.

  158. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm |

    @Anna, ITA.

  159. Al
    Al March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm |

    it is considered totally unacceptable for a woman to have visible leg or armpit hair, while it is just fine for men, even though men are usually hairier – Anna

    Wouldn’t “because” be more appropriate than “even though” here? It is concerned “unacceptable for a woman to have [body] hair” precisely because men are hairier than women. Thus hair becomes “masculine” and lack thereof becomes feminine.

    Personally, I do find hairless legs to be more aesthetic than hairy legs. That being said the difference is so small as far as I am concerned that, unless removal of leg hair only required waving a magic wand, it would not be worth the effort to remove leg hair. A hairless crotch OTOH kinda would squick me out (I think — I’ve never had a partner with one).

    One thing though that I wonder about that someone mentioned above — eye brow trimming. My partners were both obsessed with having well trimmed eye brows. While I personally am (for a guy) rather obsessed with this as well (I make sure my eye brows are trimmed every time I get a hair cut lest my eyebrows turn into big bushy monsters as is their wont) what I would consider to be a well-trimmed eye brow, they consider out of control and needing further “work”. And these are not women (vida supra) who are big into hair removal.

    I notice some women even will remove their entire eyebrows and paint fake ones on!

  160. M
    M March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm |

    25, white cis het female. I have no idea what the norm is in my community (my community being white urban middle-class North Americans, I guess?).

    I shave my armpits always, my legs infrequently (my amount of leg shaving depends on the amount of leg I’m going to expose, and I wear pants a lot, so…) When I do the full-out hair removal shebang, I also shave my arms, because I really, really like the sensation. (I hadn’t thought to do so, but Jill mentioned a while ago that she liked the feel of shaven arms under sweaters, and I have to agree that it’s very pleasant.)

    I’ve shaved my pubic hair a few times, out of curiosity to see what all the fuss was about, but I find the pain of stubble and ingrowns too much to keep up with it on a regular basis. I’ve never had anything waxed, except my eyebrows the one time. (I’ve had eyebrow threading done, which is somewhat painful as well.)

    No one has asked or demanded me to alter my routine in any way. Being a straight woman, I don’t expect anything from partners in the way of hair removal. I come from a very hairy family, so little fazes me in that department, anyway.

  161. Faith
    Faith March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm |

    “but leave alone someone who calls people who are pro-shaving, fascists.”

    Not that it makes much difference either way: But I didn’t get the impression she was calling people who are “pro-shaving” fascists. I gathered she was calling women who are anti-not shaving fascists.

    ::shrugs::

  162. Gembird
    Gembird March 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm |

    Faith, that’s the impression I got too- that the commenter meant people who get all angry and disgusted at those who don’t shave everything, rather than people who are like “Well, shaving sure feels nice on me, here I go minding my business”. Not that it makes the comparison much better, but still. Not sure why somebody decided to ragequit over it.

  163. nomad
    nomad March 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm |

    33-year old cis female law student. I get everything waxed once a month (arms, legs, underarms, Brazilian), and get my eyebrows, upper lip, and other parts of my face threaded. I respect all of the comments above, and agree that there should be zero expectation – my (male) partners have ranged from totally shaven to totally unshaven, and I’m cool with either. I think it’s important to remember, though, that grooming rituals are culturally significant as well. I’m of South Asian descent. The woman who does my waxing/threading at home has known me since I was a child. “Going to the waxing lady” is practically a community ritual, and there’s something incredibly soothing about it. You go knowing that you’ll be warmly embraced, and that she’ll ask after you mother, and want to know what you’re doing nowadays, and probably feed you tea and rusks, and tell you all about her children and husband and in-laws, and scold you for not coming sooner, and be genuinely happy when you have good news to share. So while respecting that many people will assume that by getting waxed in full, I’m reinforcing the patriarchy (and actually reinscribing it on my body), I’ll continue to do it. I experience it as self-caring – one of the tenderest things that I do for myself, and not just because I feel beautiful when it’s done.

  164. Lauren B.
    Lauren B. March 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm |

    My brand of feminism relies heavily on the idea that you should do what you like and what’s comfortable for your body. That being said, the “if you shave your pubic hair, you’re a freak or a ‘pawn of the patriarchy'” rhetoric really disturbs me. I’m a bisexual, cisgendered woman, and I shave off ALL my pubic hair, because it feels comfortable to me, and I feel sexy. Now, my roommate does not shave at all, and that’s cool. Please stop your body hate. Your preferences are YOUR preferences, and this applies to however you wear your hair. Not shaving at all, shaving a little bit, waxing, shaving all of it off, putting sparkly rhinstones on it, whatever the fuck you want to do, DO IT. And respect other women’s rights to do with their bodies Whatever the Fuck they want. Please do not say that if I shave, I hate my body. Because I fucking LOVE my body. And if I were dating a woman, I would be happy with however she wears (or doesn’t wear) her pubic hair. Because ALL women deserve that choice and ALL women deserve to feel beautiful and comfortable in whatever form that comes in.

  165. S
    S March 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm |

    Wow. I’ve been monogamous for well over a decade, but I had a good number of partners before then, and NONE of them shaved pubes beyond what would show outside a bikini. Kids nowadays, sheesh.

    I’ll trim mine in the summer for faster drying and less sweating, as does my partner. But that’s about it.

    And yes, she and I have both tried full shave. Once. Never again.

    I might add that as someone with an unusually bristly chin, I believe that hair down there adds a bit of protection for her against chinburn.

  166. Aine
    Aine March 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm |

    Dunno if I’m in your demographic of interest; I’m a 37, cis-to-genderqueer, female, and I never had shaved much at all until a couple years ago, when I tried shaving my pubes. I have a girlfriend who does, and she said it feels good to have bare skin there. So I figured I’d try it, not thinking that I’d find it worth keeping up. Turns out, it *does* feel good. So I’ve kept it up because it enhances sex for me. Neither of my other two partners shave, and I’m fine with folk being either way. I’ve ended up keeping a little patch of fur on top, with the labia all bare because that’s what feels best to me, and I’ve gotten no complaints on that front, but I find it a little amusing that I shave my labia, but not my legs (which is also true of my gf). I don’t really think it matters so much what you do with your bits, as why you do it, and who you’re pleasing, anyway.

  167. Gembird
    Gembird March 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm |

    After reading Lauren B’s post (#172) I feel pretty bad for not making it clearer that I’m indifferent to what people actually do with their pubes. Even though it wasn’t aimed at me. So yeah, pubic hair is a pretty interesting conversation, and I don’t know about all of you but for me it’s more of a weird fascination with how other people live.

    It’s like, oh you do that? That must take a long time, does it hurt? And I suppose other people have similar questions about things I do too (like my weird job or someone else’s outfit or whatever people do that isn’t like the person asking). People are pretty cool things to learn about.

    Which is why I’m commenting again, despite having nothing more to say on the subject of my own pubes. At the moment.

  168. Li
    Li March 16, 2010 at 6:30 pm |

    So, um, this is a mild derail, cos it is more about facial than body hair, but I forgot to mention that occasionally, especially if I’m going out, I do actually add facial hair, especially to fill in the gap in my brow. I also know a fair few people in my social group, both cis women and genderqueer folks, who do similar stuff like adding beards or ‘staches. Sometimes with makeup, often with hair glue and leftover haircut hair. So just pointing out that body/facial hair modification isn’t just about removing or trimming it.

  169. EF
    EF March 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    I’m a white, cis, able-bodied woman in my late twenties. I shave my underarms daily, my legs every second day in summer/once a week in the winter, and trim my pubic hair when I feel like it (which is probably once every six weeks, as it grows quite slowly). I have experimented with shaving it all off, but it itches like nothing else when it grows back, I hate the prickly feeling, and I get a little unnerved when I look in the mirror. It’s not so much that it looks childlike to me, but that there’s something off to me about how my legs come together sans hair. It looks like a geometric mistake.

    Also, I detest shaving my bikini line, because I inevitably wind up with razor burn, but it’s the one thing I feel genuinely self-conscious about, so I continue to do it. I am tempted by laser removal if I can swing it financially just so it’s no longer an issue.

  170. GinnyC
    GinnyC March 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm |

    Ilina, so I’m not the only one who bleeds from pubic waxing? lol. I just assumed I was doing it wrong. Cis, femme, gay woman here with really fair skin and thick, dark curly hair.

    Also, am I the only one who is kind of weirded out by going to get waxed etc? I wax my own legs, and am always worried that people like waxers (or obgyns for that matter) will ask about boyfriends and then treat me differently/disapprove if they find out I’m gay.

  171. TB
    TB March 16, 2010 at 8:14 pm |

    Mid-20’s, pansexual (in a straight relationship) female. Shaved with every one of my boyfriends before my current one. With him, I am mostly au natural. I trim it with scissors and shave the bikini line, but that’s it. No more ingrown hairs, bumps, itching, and burning for me!

  172. Julie
    Julie March 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm |

    Let’s see… I am a 28 year old het cis female who is married and has two kids. I shave my underarms and vulva every time I shower and my legs about once a month (but I literally have like 12 leg hairs so I could go a few months and no one would ever know). I used to only do my genital area when I felt like it, but my husband was in the moment one night and told me it was a huge turn on for him, so now I do it on a regular basis. He shaves sometimes, but I have no preference either way so he doesn’t make it a regular thing.

  173. Dae
    Dae March 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm |

    21, white, bisexual, genderqueer, bio-fem college student. I don’t remove any body hair right now. I haven’t shaved my legs or pits in about six months, and have no intention of doing so any time soon.

    I don’t shave my pubic hair, but I do trim it. Not for aesthetic reasons, but for comfort. I did try shaving last year, and I actually liked how it looked and felt. But it was so high maintenance that it didn’t last long.

    I’m not picky about body hair on others.

    I’m not involved with anyone at the moment. But I would really like to maintain my current habits because they’re important to me. I could see myself playing around with hair removal now and then to mix things up, but if someone only finds me attractive if I’m hairless, then I may not be the person for them.

  174. Lisa A.
    Lisa A. March 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm |

    Ok, since this is an all-ages thread here goes: 42, white, cis, het, woman, currently single. I shave my underarms mostly for odor reasons, as others have said. Also, my legs (partly because I don’t have the nerve to let anyone see them not shaved, and partly because I genuinely like the feeling of smooth skin). Almost everything is as nature made me.

    I keep my pubic hair close to natural, but trimmed a bit so it is neat and comfortable. I once had a guy I was dating ask me to get a Brazilian and it really creeped me out. I don’t know if he wanted me to look like a porn star or pre-pubescent, but either way I was not OK with that. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite because I am performing gender in some Patriarchy-approved ways, but I try to keep that to a minimum and decide for myself what I can or can’t live with. I refuse to modify my body (or my clothes, hairstyle, etc.) by request. If a guy I’m dating is that turned off by the me he asked out, then he’s not worth dating.

  175. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua March 17, 2010 at 8:01 am |

    I’m just a middle-aged straight guy and so of no interest to anyone, but all this crotch-shaving business bemuses me. Why do people feel the need to subject themselves to that? The human race has got by for thousands of years with furry bits, so why change now? Back in the 1970s feminists were making an issue over having to shave legs and underarms, and having given that up, now it’s pubic hair? Well, at least men can play the game too (often do, so I’m told) but as usual, it’s mostly an issue for women. And don’t go blaming men for imposing it on women! It seems to be mostly something that women do to themselves, though if you’re under 50 it seems to be expected, and a woman who doesn’t conform feels she has to apologize.

    Anyway, I’ve got the hair nature gave me. And so does my wife.

  176. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 17, 2010 at 8:05 am |

    Wouldn’t “because” be more appropriate than “even though” here? It is concerned “unacceptable for a woman to have [body] hair” precisely because men are hairier than women.

    There are a lot of naturally smooth men and fairly hirsute women. And years ago, it was never a big deal for women to have body hair–in general, we had less but it wasn’t seen as necessary to reduce it–and it’s not like men are pasting fake hair on their bodies to accentuate their perceived masculinity.

  177. everybodyever
    everybodyever March 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm |

    i’m an urban 26-year-old cis woman, not strictly straight but in a very long-term relationship with a straight cis man. i’m white, fair and not very hairy naturally. i’m also not really feminine (lord knows what that means) but do wear a lot of simple skirts and dresses. body hair maintenance is one of the few socially-encouraged acts of feminine upkeep i engage in; the rim of my bathtub contains a straightforward row of ivory soap, cheap shampoo and cetaphil.

    i shave my legs every week or two (more frequently in summer) from the mid-thigh down; it’s pale and downy enough up top that i don’t mind it, and i shave the rest out of vanity (my legs are one of my better features) and my affinity for the smooth feel. i also shave my armpits every few days; putting deodorant on hair rather than skin strikes me as useless and kinda gross. i am also not that vigilant about wearing deodorant, so i get less smelly when i’m shaven.

    crotch-wise, i periodically shave any hair that isn’t covered by underpants or swimsuits, and i trim what is covered with scissors. my boyfriend, who’s also white and fair with sparse body hair, trims his occasionally as well. years ago i experimented with shaving more extensively but stopped out of apathy (my longer trimmed hair’s more comfortable for my boyfriend anyway).

  178. NW
    NW March 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm |

    One thing I would like to see discussed more is just the COST of hair removal. I’ve done the full removal thing and loved it despite my own concerns that I would feel prepubescent. I’ve also wavered back and forth across the spectrum. I’m really not too concerned with what other women prefer to do with their pubic hair. I found it hilarious when a lunch-with-coworkers devolved into a discussion about how everyone, from the 50-something to the pregnant 30-something to the 20-something interns all frequented the same salon for a ‘Japanese’. I suppose this means that pubic preferences had more to do with the type-A personalities in my field than any generational preference.

    My only problem is with the cost. Once again, women foot the bill for all costs associated with het sex. We pay for the birth control, because drug manufacturers are convinced that men will not take hormonal birth control and we pay for all of the beauty treatments while men really don’t put out as much effort. And here effort = cost.

    The acceptance of low-maintenance grooming for men means that men have significantly more disposable income on top of generally higher salaries. This is the aspect of the pubic grooming question that bothers me and seems to merit feminist debate. I know women who can spend $1,000/year just waxing their vulvas. (yes, that clearly puts them in a privileged class; but still at a disadvantage to the men of their class) How much more wealth are men building because they don’t spend on expensive grooming habits?

  179. lynn
    lynn March 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm |

    We should add race to the list of attributes. I am black (mid-40s, hetero) and my afro-textured hair is too kinky to shave/wax comfortably. I get ingrown hairs, the same hairs black men get on their face when they shave. It irritates my skin, is itchy and uncomfortable and the ingrown hairs leave dark marks on my skin. Honestly, I think body hair removal is probably more manageable for people with thin, straight hair. I see it as a beauty standard that does not serve people with kinky hair well.

    Generationally speaking, I think there’s definitely more pressure now to get rid of pubic hair than when I was in my twenties. I never shaved and even had hair running down my inner thighs and I NEVER, not once, had a male partner comment on it one way or the other. And I had a lot of lovers back in those days. Boring married person now, wed 12 years to a man who couldn’t care less what I do with my body hair.

  180. anonymous for this one
    anonymous for this one March 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm |

    30-ish, cis, queer, currently single female. I am pretty naturally smooth, so I haven’t had to worry as much about these things as others have. I shave my armpits once every couple of weeks for body odor issues. I shaved my lower legs through high school, but stopped once I realized that I don’t grow visible hair on my legs (and barely feel any hair at all). My mom made me pluck my eyebrows a couple of times in high school, but I haven’t done it since. I shaved my bikini line two or three times when I was much younger. It caused such bad razor burn and pain that I decided never to do it again.

    But I guess I have, um, something like smooth-privilege in this kind of debate. I haven’t suffered any actual shaming for not shaving. Most people assume that I regularly shave my legs–and probably that I trim the pubic area as well.

    Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve known more lesbians who required a strict shaving regimen than non-lesbians. This may be a function of the fact that the lesbian community that I had while growing up in the South was relatively conservative. I got slightly self-conscious about it on hearing lesbians express their “disgust” with women who didn’t shave, but I never tried it again. It’s *so* painful for me. Ugh…

    Also, I could honestly care less whether or not my partners shave.

  181. Twist
    Twist March 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm |

    I’m a white, queer, andro, lesbian who’s life-partner is a pre-op transman. I’m 19, and he’s 20. I only remove a bit of my pubic hair, around the edges so it feels neat. He doesn’t remove any of his.

    My relationship with hair on my pubic area is a little complicated, though. Early in my teen years, I was abused by an older man who pushed me to remove all of my hair. For the majority of my teen years, I was shaved. It was a(n itchy) step in healing from abuse to let it grow again.

    Today, I don’t like the idea of removing a substantial amount of pubic hair. I am an adult and I don’t want my genitals to look like a child’s. The sexualization of children is what lead to my being abused. It’s also a lot more comfortable. I cannot imagine tribadism being comfortable at all without pubic hair.

    However, I do shave my underarms and legs. That’s basically because I’ve been prone to sensory overload all of my life. I can’t stand the feeling of clothing against prickly hair. I’d love to be able to stop, because I think it’s a nonsense ritual, but I just can’t stand the feeling. My partner only shaves his face. Honestly, even though he’s currently female-bodied, I find the hair very attractive and beautifully masculine.

  182. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm |

    I shave under my arms and my legs when it occurs to me. Mostly because I wear a lot of skirts and I get self-conscious and I like the way it feels. If it’s winter and I’m mostly wearing long skirts/pants, I don’t do it. I trim the pubes, but just to make things easier for my husband. Having pubes stuck in your throat is no fun! He doesn’t demand it or anything, but I can tell when he’s suffering from the shagginess. My pubes are also mostly straight, so they can be particularly bothersome.

  183. Anna
    Anna March 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm |

    What’s the norm in your community?

    Women with hair on their legs or armpits are probably disgusting butch lesbians who don’t wash and hate men and also eat children or something, women with pubic hair are disgusting.
    As for men, yunno, if you’ve got a huge beard you’ll probably get a bit of stick, but that’s it. Welcome to modern Britain!

    Who are you, and what sorts of hair removal do you do, if any?

    I’m 20, I’m in a heterosexual relationship (but bisexual) – neeeeh I don’t know what I do really – sometimes I’ll shave everything, sometimes I will leave it. Mostly, if i’m expecting to get naked in front of someone else, I’ll shave my armpits and 95% of my pubic hair off.
    Here’s the thing: I fucking hate shaving. Or waxing. And those hair removal kits make my skin die and fall off.

    Has anyone ever expressed disapproval with your lack of hair removal, or asked (or expected or demanded) that you do something else?

    My boyfriend, who is lovely but has a few foibles, will whine, bitch and moan at me about my often-leg hair due to it being unattractive and unfeminine. Often he will joke that if I really care about him, I will remove it. This is presented as, and obviously is, a joke! However, it often works.
    He also bitches about stubbly legs, so if he had his way I would take time out of every day of my life to keep my legs smooth. This won’t happen.
    He doesn’t mind, apparently, if I have pubic hair (like, a lot of it), but I do. I feel sad about this, because it’s only hair, but I hate having it.

    Also lots of casual abuse from friends and occasionally really unpleasant abuse from strangers should I dare to show more than a millimetre of armpit hair in public.

    And what do you expect from your partner(s), if anything?

    I don’t expect anything; if they would like me to go down there regularly it would be nice if they trimmed, but I don’t mind, really, anything.

  184. Jennifer
    Jennifer March 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm |

    Total shag here. Once in a great while if I am going swimming I will attempt to shave the bikini line, but this never goes well. My bush is resistant to so much as a trim (the shaving outright hurts, and I swear I get the hairs poking through my layers of clothes when I take the scissors to it), so bugger it.

    I’m permanently single, though, or at least I haven’t had to show it to anyone since before the bald-is-beautiful craze started, so I can’t speak as to how guys react to that. But it’s my crotch, I’m the one that has to deal with it, and I still recall what happened when one of my ex’s friends shaved hers entirely and then had very painful nookie afterwards. Screw it.

  185. Cecile
    Cecile March 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm |

    In my 40s, shave my pits, but the pubic grows wild– I will get a bikini wax, for, I don’t know, when I want to wear a bikini. :P Nobody other than myself has any input on my pubic config, and nobody other than myself ever will.

  186. TsaphanBabe
    TsaphanBabe March 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm |

    I don’t know how to quote you amazing women! You’ve made me laugh, made me so happy to find I’m not alone in the outrage (of the expectation, not the practice, but I’m annoyed that I find myself always adding that “NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!”)

    For some reason that I’ll probably change my mind about later, I started a tumblr blog tonight called “beautiful vulvas.” I thought it might be nice to have a site dedicated to unmodified vulvas… at the very least maybe I’ll stop looking at myself with surprise and fear of rejection. GOD DAMMIT I shouldn’t be afraid of that. (I mean, everyone’s a little afraid, but not at the levels I’ve felt on discovering this new fashion trend. HAHAHAHAH fashion.)

    Anyway, the problem I have in this idea of mine (which I really, really like, a clearinghouse of unaltered, unmodified vulvas) but… I get upset looking at porn. I’m a sexual abuse survivor among many other things that distress me. I’m not anti-porn, though. So, if any of you fine women would be interested in helping me do this, please let me know tsaphanbabe at gmail dot com

    Also, to those of you who visited my blog and rightfully complained about the white text on black background, I’ve changed it so it’s now readable.

    The link to get to the tumblr site (with 9 pics on it at this point after TWO HOURS of searching (I finally realized I had to search for hairy or bushy)): http://www.tsaphanbabe.net/2010/03/my-own-porn-site.html

    Thanks, again, for your amazing comments. And for the original post.

    Fwiw, I’m 40, hetero- sexually submissive feminist nursing mother of two young girls. Soon to be divorced amicably from my sweet, tender vanilla husband.

  187. fuller_bush_desired
    fuller_bush_desired March 18, 2010 at 1:06 am |

    I am a 30-year-old, cis, queer woman who has been single with no sex partners for a few years. As a general practice, I don’t shave anywhere. Depending on the body part, that has been my practice for most of my life (vulva) to a few years (underarms). The hair on my arms and legs is essentially transparent blond. I would like to think that I wouldn’t shave if I had darker hair, but since I’ve never had people even notice that I don’t shave my legs, I have no idea what that disapproval feels like. (In high school, I did have one twerpy male friend who would run his hand up the legs of his female friends, and try to guess how long it had been since we last shaved.)

    I shave under my arms occasionally — maybe 3-4 times/year. My new plan is to try trimming down the arm hair from time to time, just to manage the length a bit. Shaving under my arms causes my skin to get really irritated and painful!

    I occasionally trim my pubic hair — again, maybe 3-4 times/year, usually correlated with wearing a swimsuit or some feeling of itchiness/discomfort/cervical mucus getting trapped in it. The thing is, I am never pleased with the final appearance when I’ve trimmed or attempted to shave my bikini line. I may be in a very small minority, but I would actually like a fuller bush. I’m not a particularly hairy individual, and I feel like the forest is a little sparse on my vulva. It’s not the length, just the thickness of growth. I like the way a thick triangle of pubic hair looks on women — it’s natural, mature, sexy, and just appeals to me.

    As far as I could tell, none of my female or male partners (2 of each) have done any noticeable grooming of their pubic hair, either. I had one male partner ask me to trim, about 10 years ago, and I balked. He said that he thought it would be “cleaner,” and I simply refused to take any scissors to the area.

    My friends seem to run the gamut. I was truly shocked when I learned that women waxed their vulvas (in my early 20s), and somehow that shock never wore off. I respect the right of folks to cut/style/trim/shape all their hairy places as they wish, but I am always surprised to learn that some of my feminist-identified friends actually get waxed.

    I recently attempted to shave my bikini line when I went swimming with coworkers at a conference. I go back and forth in terms of my body confidence, especially in a swimsuit. So, I tried to shave the bikini line because while the thought of strangers seeing a stray pubic hair doesn’t bother me, the thought of professional colleagues getting offended by it does make me really uncomfortable. I took a little off one side, and then the other, and then a little more off the first side, etcetera…. until I basically ended up with a terribly lopsided, silly looking result. I was really glad that there weren’t any sex partners on the horizon, because that would have been truly embarrassing. :) So, that’s the last time I take a razor to my vulva for a looooooong time.

    And — since no one else has mentioned it, I think this discussion calls for Amanda Palmer’s song, “Map of Tasmania.” Google it, listen to it on youtube, and find the lyrics. :) An excerpt:
    “…i say grow that shit like a jungle
    give ‘em something strong to hold onto
    let it fly in the open wind
    if it gets too bushy you can trim…”

  188. Carrie S.
    Carrie S. March 18, 2010 at 11:24 am |

    I shave myself every few weeks, with once right before my period starts, because I have a hard time feeling clean when I have blood in my hair. And my boyfriend has mentioned that it’s easier to get him interested in giving oral sex when he doesn’t have to worry about what might be caught in the pubes if I haven’t showered in the last few hours. I’d get electrolysis or laser hair removal if I could afford it, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting myself.

    I don’t know about most of my friends; I know of one who shaves due to, and I’m quoting Heinlein here, a profound interest in recreational sex.

    I can say that having shaved pubic hair isn’t looked down on the way it used to be. Shaving no longer equals slut, if you see what I mean.

  189. TsaphanBabe
    TsaphanBabe March 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm |

    I keep linking to this post and the comments because I think a lot of us should keep talking about it. As I just said in the comment section of my own blog, it’s the fact that it’s the *default* now in the mainstream to wax/shave it (almost, but frequently all) away is the issue I have with it.

    If there were a balance out there in the mainstream, if it was just as “normal” to do nothing, or to just trim a little, whatever, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    I hope more and more women (and men!) come and read this post and the comments that follow.

    I also think it’s very enlightening to note that so many of the comments above say “I’ve never had a bad reaction to my pubic hair” but then they go on to say “I shave/trim/wax because I want to…” I find something incongruous there. I’m not at all suggesting something’s wrong, but I have suspicions based on the societal pressures I personally feel…

  190. Rikibeth
    Rikibeth March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm |

    40, cis, bisexual female here. I’m one of the sasquatches — for body hair, I do legs and armpits regularly, but the razor I use for that doesn’t fit the contours of my upper lip very well, so I keep a second, narrower razor for that. I have yet to find a depilatory that doesn’t do awful things to the skin on my face, and my mother, a lifelong nonsmoker, has smoker’s wrinkles around her lips from the regular application of what’s basically lye.

    I don’t do anything with the pubes unless I actually have a date (I’m in a long-distance relationship). If I’ve got one, I’ll depilate the vulva and leave the “classic triangle,” because I like how it feels. I’ve tried “all gone” (hate the growing-back) and just leaving it alone, and I’ve settled on that as a preference. If I don’t have a date? I am in favor of “sports bra and board shorts” for swimming. Yes, it’s really that hairy to mid-thigh.

    Partners? My current partner (early thirties) doesn’t do anything (well, he did shave his legs for a costume, but I’m not counting that). Until recently, I had a partner in his mid-twenties who shaved torso and pubes (but not legs or pits), and when I asked him about it, he said it was because he thought it made his equipment look bigger. And, a couple of years ago, I had a trans partner who shaved everything south of the eyebrows.

    I haven’t had any cis female partners in a long time. In my social circle? It’s incredibly variable. Some of the more vocal proponents of leaving it au naturel are also vocal in favor of conditioners, though.

  191. Rita
    Rita March 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm |

    Just returning to ask… does having hairless armpits really affect body odor?

    I remember reading a study somewhere (yes, excellent cite, I know) that found that hairy armpits actually draw moisture and bacteria away from each other, producing less odor.

    People just associate “armpit hair” with “dirty” – I don’t think there’s actually causation one way or the other.

  192. Castano
    Castano March 19, 2010 at 1:30 am |

    @ Rita Apparently armpit hair collects pheromones – http://hair.lovetoknow.com/Armpit_Hair

    Common reasons historians give for shaving of various body parts (head included) have more to do with lice (there are actually species for each area – sorry for the ick-factor). In Victorian times prostitutes actually shaved themselves and applied a false hairpiece down there – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkin – a far cry from today’s “preference” (at least as displayed by the mass media) – for nearly or completely shaved vulva. I still find the full on 100% shave creepy (pedo), no matter how many times the various Hollywood “news” outlets run stories about Paris Hilton flashing or some such nonsense. I agree w/ the shaving for oral, hair in the mouth is not fun – but if one is selecting partners based on how they shave themselves one needs to reexamine their priorities – I doubt you can base an entire relationship on oral sex hair preferences.

  193. Faith
    Faith March 19, 2010 at 6:49 am |

    “People just associate “armpit hair” with “dirty” – I don’t think there’s actually causation one way or the other.”

    Hair really does trap moisture which leads to a fairly rapid build-up of bacteria and odor. I have no issue with odor when my pits are shaved. I rarely even wear deodorant. But if I don’t shave my pits, the smell does become quite noticeable quite quickly.

    The same is true of my pubic hair. While I shave mostly for aesthetic reasons (when I do shave), keeping my labia shaved does make a big difference in odor reduction and general hygiene. Although there is no comparison to my armpits. My armpits are just crazy about developing odor when I’m unshaven.

  194. Sandy T
    Sandy T March 19, 2010 at 9:21 am |

    I am a runway model. No, not the wafer thin poreless woman on the long isle strutting some cheesy unrealistic ensemble. I shave a runway strip. Why do I do this? I honestly don’t know why. I started when I was young because all my friends did it as well. The reason ow is unclear, except to say that when it grows back, it itches like hell.

  195. Kelsea
    Kelsea March 19, 2010 at 11:11 am |

    20, cis, straight female – don’t shave anything on my body at all. Pretty satisfied with the way I exist in a natural state! I wouldn’t date someone who was uncomfortable with my body hair. I think being an activist (in the climate justice movement) opens up a community of feminist men who, sometimes, actually prefer that a woman doesn’t shave. My current partner, actually a non-activist, enjoys my hair (everywhere.)

    Though, back when I was younger, I remember hooking up with a guy who told me that when women shave their pubic hair, it can get prickly and cause for discomfort during sex!

  196. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua March 20, 2010 at 8:07 am |

    Love that Freudian slip (of the razor?) in Sandy T’s posting.

    People keep citing that claim that they get stinky underarms if they don’t shave there, but if that’s true it shows up an interesting difference between women and men. An unshaved female armpit smells, and an unshaved male one apparently doesn’t. I wonder why that is. Hormones?

  197. Rita
    Rita March 20, 2010 at 9:59 am |

    Precisely Tei Tetua. I’m still skeptical that women are just stinkier with hair under their arms than men are. I don’t want to question anyone’s personal experience, but I’m wondering if maybe the experience of scent is more about the expectation</i) of scent.

  198. Faith
    Faith March 20, 2010 at 1:03 pm |

    “An unshaved female armpit smells, and an unshaved male one apparently doesn’t. I wonder why that is. Hormones?”

    I don’t know about the men you know, but most of the ones I know with hairy pits are pretty stinky unless they are freshly showered or wearing something to mask the odor. Which is the same experience I have.

    “I’m still skeptical that women are just stinkier with hair under their arms than men are.”

    I don’t believe anyone has said women are stinkier than men. It may be true that scent is more socially acceptable for men, but in my experience, the smell issue seems to be about the same. Men just don’t care about it as much, in general. I also don’t care for the armpit smell on men either. I’m pretty picky about men showering if I’m going to be physically intimate with them largely because of the smell factor that is a result of being so hairy.

  199. Ophelia
    Ophelia March 21, 2010 at 2:02 pm |

    Thirteen years old, Caucasian, straight (probably) and female. I’m probably the youngest who’s posted here…just a quick disclaimer, I’m very atypical for my age/gender, I don’t know what anyone else of my age and/or gender does. I personally shave underarms every once in a while…when I remember. I have very hairy legs and arms, and so far I’ve left them, although since summer’s coming I might shave from the knees down. I do not believe I shall ever do anything to pubic hair, much less shave, because that just sounds painful. And if a significant other is ever grossed out by it, then I don’t want him/her anywhere near my bed, anyway.

  200. thetroubleis
    thetroubleis March 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm |

    I’m a black, pansexual cis woman of 19 years.

    It’s taken me a long time to reach some level of peace with my vulva. With being a POC who grew up in a white family in a very white area, along with the lack of WOC outside of fetish porn when I started puberty around 7, I thought I was freakish for a long time. The early puberty did not help matters.

    I actaully considered taking an exacto knife to my labia minora to make them even, becuase I thought I was disgusting or had something wrong with me for not looking like the skinny white women in porn. I mean my parts weren’t even pink, they were dark, dirty, like I was tainted even there.

    I’m not saying these were good healthy thoughts to have, but I had them. I fretted about not having enough pubic hair, then about having too much.

    I can’t shave without causing m self extreme pain down the road unless adhering to a strict care regimen, so I simply don’t. I just trim and try to get rid of loose hair, although considering my lack of partners, it’s more for my comfort than for anyone else’s. My pits are generally unshaven as well, unless I know they are going to be showing. I rarely shave my legs and never above the knee.

  201. Gembird
    Gembird March 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    Re: smell…

    My boyfriend and I are both frighteningly hairy under our arms, and we smell equally horrible if we get too sweaty. We shared a tent for a few days last summer and it was awful.

    So it is definitely an issue for both men and women. I would have thought it would depend on the skin and hair type of each individual as much as/more than being a gender thing. I think for my partner, it’s basically laziness why he doesn’t do anything to his armpit hair. He’s not exactly the type to get all macho and paranoid about this sort of thing.

  202. J.
    J. March 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm |

    24, cis female. I’ve been with my boyfriend for over six years, and in that time I’ve trimmed and shaped my (admittedly naturally somewhat scant) bush but never tried removing it entirely as I found the idea off-putting (for feminist and aesthetic reasons).

    Luckily, shortly after we started dating he told me that he also found it off-putting and the idea of seeing me without any pubic hair gave him “the heebie-jeebies.” He’s also found himself to be in the minority opinion among his male acquaintances, alas.

  203. Charlotte
    Charlotte March 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm |

    Wow, well this is the first comment I’ve made here (I suppose that’s kind of bad really but maybe it’s just because I feel that this issue is one I can especially relate to). I’m 19, at uni in the UK, cis and straight and I have rather thick black hair.

    I absolutely hate shaving/plucking/waxing my pubic area but feel like I have to, especially when there’s the possibility of intimacy with someone new. In the past I’ve put off/turned down sex purely because I hadn’t shaved my armpits/legs/waxed down there. I also have issues with my eyebrows (I swear they’re trying to take over the world) and upper lip (for about a decade I’ve bleached/waxed/plucked it with varying degrees of sucess and ridicule on the way).

    I wish I had the confidence to ‘go natural’ because removing hair is, for me at least, a painful and time consuming exercise which, far from making me feel sexy, just frustrates me and makes me wonder why the hell I have to bother. Unfortunately I don’t have the guts to defy these particular societal norms just yet- maybe one day though. Most people I know don’t discuss what they do with regards body hair, it’s very much a taboo subject here; if girls even mention shaving their legs men react with disgust and armpits/pubic area are even less talked about. I think we’re all supposed to be magical fairies with no hair follicles below our eyebrows or something.

  204. S
    S March 22, 2010 at 10:47 pm |

    CisF, 27, a sex worker in New Zealand, natural redhead. I trim with scissors to tame down most of the natural bushiness, (although occasionally let this slide out of laziness). I have had a total wax once or twice, and a wax to remove most except for a smaller triangle a few times (never waxed for work). Would never shave in that area (I mean the underneath, but maybe the bikini – is that what yous call the area around the crease bordering onto the upper thighs?). I really like the feel of a wax but not quite enough to put up with the discomfort, hassle, expense, and regrowth, at least not on a regular basis. I have never had a client express dislike of this area being unwaxed (and I have been working for quite a while!). Most of the sex workers I know remove most or all of their pubic hair.

  205. E. Ericson
    E. Ericson March 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm |

    20, college student, in long-term heterosexual relationship. I shaved everything long before I met B., at which point I was not sexually active. It’s personal preference. If he cares, he’s never mentioned it.

  206. Astrid
    Astrid March 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm |

    Late 20s, mostly het, cis-woman, white, in ltr w/ male.

    Mother was a rare socially conservative hippy-type (everything goes as long as it’s not our kid). Officially forbade me from shaving till the age of 16, although due to social pressure & humiliation, I started earlier, simply hiding the behavior. I loathed my pubic hair, which symbolized my lack of say in my personal grooming choices in general, and kept it nearly clean shaved until my late teens. Started as a parental rebellion of sorts but became part of my routine.

    After a year or two of college, getting to know enough women completely comfortable with and even embracing of their natural growth pushed me to give a more natural approach a try. I then realized how lazy I was! I gave myself permission to quit wasting so much time focused on that ritual (think shorter showers & few razors purchased) and to appreciate how much healthier my skin was not fighting ingrown hairs and rash all the time. Since then my pubic zone has only been subjected to the occasional trim (see other peoples’ bathing suit coverage & oral sex reasons above).

    Re: other hair – underarms a few times a week (combination of social pressure/personal choice) and legs a few times a year (social pressure in the rare skirt or bathing suit)

  207. whatsername
    whatsername April 11, 2010 at 11:50 pm |

    Hello, 25 year old here, white, cisgender, middle-class and heterosexual.

    I’ve had ongoing sexual relationships with about five men in my lifetime. Of them, 4 liked there to be some sort of “modification” of my pubic hair and 1 didn’t care at all. 1 liked for everything to be shaved and the other 3 just thought it made things easier if pubic hair was trimmed to some degree, they varied in how passionate they were on this point with most it being just a preference and not a big deal.

    I’ve heard stories from women my age with men who seem to think that we all shave or something, but in general when I talk to men about this topic most don’t seem to care all that much but say the same thing the guys I’ve been with have, that it makes things (pretty much, oral sex) easier for them if there is some trimming. At least with the guys I’ve dated they also trim their own hair for the same reason.

  208. Anne
    Anne April 12, 2010 at 12:59 am |

    20s, het, cis, white woman going on 5 years in a monogamous relationship (not married). I tend not to go full on naturale, reasons being a) I like the feel of smoothness, and b) I don’t like being visibly hairy when I’m out running/riding/swimming/climbing (awfully self-conscious). So I do shave underarms and legs (typically just the knee and below, occasionally full-leg). In the winter I tend to be more lax about it, even when I’m at the pool regularly–I look like enough of a proper swimmer that I can pass the hair off as “drag training.”

    Pubes I like to keep trimmed, though the degree of trimming varies. When I’m doing a lot of long bike rides I prefer to wax away everything except for a landing strip, simply because I find it more comfortable. Less pinching, less tugging. It’s a nice side effect that it feels good when playing with the boyfriend, but I probably wouldn’t keep it up consistently just for that. I’ve tried shaving “down there,” but hated it. A few hours of smoothness, if that, and then itchy, prickly city. I do not want to be prickly there. That is the opposite of fun.

    All of this goes out the window when I’m in a crunch at work, like thesis time. Gah.

    As for guys having a preference, half of them have expressed an interest in some sort of trimming and half haven’t voiced any preference whatsoever. The guy I’m with now has said that he doesn’t care one way or another, and that whatever I want to do (or not do) with my body hair is fine by him. He has enjoyed it when I’ve gone with the waxing, but it seemed like “wow, this is interesting and different and feels nice, but I’m really not wedded to it.” He (early 40s, cis, white) doesn’t do any trimming, though once he shaved right after I’d gotten waxed, just to see what it was like to be bare together.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.