Friday, April 10, 2009

Wax On, Wax Off

Clever Bitch had a nasty cold the last few days, and spent some time recuperating in front of re-runs of Sex and the City. Leaving aside the question of what a feminist is doing watching that particular show, there's a moment in the second season where Samantha, having recently trimmed her hedges, wonders aloud just what is so appealing to men about women with no hair "down there". Miranda, ever the cynic, responds acidly; "Because they want little girls."

I've never had a Brazilian, less on moral grounds than due to the triple deterrents of pain, expense, and humiliation (think getting down on all fours so that a stranger can rip hairs out of your arse-crack - then paying for the privilege). However, a girl I know (let's called her "Christine") marches into the beauty salon every fourth Tuesday and parts with forty-five dollars to have her pubic hair ripped out with hot wax. I've met Christine a few times after emerging from her ordeal - wiping her eyes, muttering in a horrified tone of the expense and wincing in recollection of the pain. Yet, Christine insists, she has the Brazilian for herself. I've never been brave enough to point out to her that she never used to wax "for herself", until she started dating Angry Restauranteur.

So, why precisely do both women and men want to wipe Tassie off the map? It's not a modern phenomenon- ancient Greek women depilated their entire bodies, including pubic hair, and various cultures have been doing the same ever since. It's as popular in high art as low-grade porn, with solicitors and strippers, with mothers and maidens. The artist John Ruskin never consummated his marriage with his first wife due to a general disgust with her body, and in particular her pubic hair. In all his years examining art, he had never seen such a thing depicted in a statue or painting and found it repulsive on his wedding-night. From these fascinations spring an entire industry to groom women's pubes into submission - but why?

Desmond Morris, the author of The Naked Ape and The Naked Woman amongst others, writes that women's bodies have evolved to be more neotonous - that is, resembling their childlike forms - than men's. Women's bodies are softer and rounder, our body hair finer, sparser, and paler in colour. Because males are instinctively protective towards children, they are suckers for women who look like children. Most women and men have even played this card consciously - women love men's clothes both for the comfort and also because they point out to the man just how little we are in comparison to them - just how vulnerable and cute - the little woman drowning in the giant track-pants.

So what about pubic hair? Morris also dispels the myth that pubic hair serves a protective or hygienic function. In fact, he states that pubic hair is entirely useless to a woman - it is there solely as a "flag" to indicate sexual maturity to males, much as the man's beard indicates maturity to females.

So, here we find ourselves at an impasse - men love women who look like children, but use pubic hair as a marker that they're not in fact children and can be approached in a sexual manner. Women want to look neotonous, so they shave their legs and underarms, and wax off their maturity flag. Bringing us back to Miranda's question - is the net result of all the pain, effort and trouble anything other than to look like a little girl?

Ladies and gentlemen - what do you think about Brazilians? What are your reasons for getting one or not getting one?


  1. I must say that Brazilians are certainly not my cup of tea. I have only slept with a woman who had depilated herself on one occasion and must say the experience was not that pleasant

    In my mind (all sexual politics aside) its simply another fad our consumerist culture has foisted upon us in order to part us with our hard earned cash.

    (Those of you interested such phenomena should investigate the history of Listerine and the attendant advertising campaigns from the early part of the 20th Century)

    In short, Brazilians are simply another in a long long LONG f#$%ing line of idiotic 'beauty' products designed not to bring you closer to your partner but to separate you from your money.

    Today's recommended title - "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolfe


  2. My favourite fem-text. I think I love you, Pollyanna.

  3. I hope you are exclusively attracted to men with full beards. Expecting us to shave our faces for you every day would be a little creepy (and incredibly hypocritical).

    Personally I don't find the look of hair unappealing, but physically the texture of it is not great and it gets in the way. Wax, shave, trim, whatever, hair removal is part of what separates us from the animals. We (men and women) should all do a little maintenance now and then.

  4. @ 6.03 - Thanks for commenting. For the record, Clever Partner has a full beard and I quite like it. :)