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I need help understanding a recently observed trend. As a physician, I see lots of naked bodies. For several years I've noticed that, generally speaking, many straight patients (men and women) in their 20s have trimmed and/or coiffed pubic hair. A lot of the men tell me that their girlfriends prefer it that way; some have said, "It makes me feel cooler and cleaner." Occasionally I have to treat folliculitis (an infection/inflammation at the base of the hair follicles) caused by overaggressive shaving. Recently I have noticed many of my 14-to-16-year-old male patients have completely trimmed off their pubic hair. What gives? When I was that age, I anxiously awaited a full set.

--Pursuing Understanding by Inquiring Columnist

Women have long felt it necessary to shave their legs, pits, forearms, wrists, backs, shins, and ankles, PUBIC. Then about ten years ago stylish women began having their pubic hairs ripped out at the roots. Surely you've heard of the Brazilian bikini wax, doc? The pubeless look was popularized, in my opinion, by several cultural trends: the mainstreaming of pornography; teeny-tiny bathing suits; and awful, unflattering low-rise jeans. Naturally bushy women went from trimming to li'l Hitler mustaches to complete deforestation in under a decade.

At the same time deforestation was becoming the beauty ideal for women, male homosexuals were taking over American cultural life. That our culture's now thoroughly dominated by gay men is not some paranoid Christian conservative's fantasy, PUBIC, but a fact of life. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy confirmed something everyone already knew: outside of hip-hop culture, stylish gay men--not all gay men, mind you, just the stylish ones--are the only tastemakers. And gay men weren't content just setting tastes in jackets and hair products and cowhide accent chairs. Hardly. We were, however subtly, setting sexual tastes as well. Out went the virile man (so long, Burt Reynolds!) and in came the vulnerable boy (hello, Ashton Kutcher!). Soon the kind of guy most gay men want to fuck became the kind of guy most straight women want to fuck, the male beauty ideal every bit as hairless as its female counterpart.

The funny thing about declaring smooth, hairless skin sexy, PUBIC, is that once you start stigmatizing some body hair--back hair, chest hair, ass hair--it's only a matter of time before all body hair is deemed unattractive. Body hair on women had long been seen as unattractive and unfeminine; once women were required to wear outfits that basically exposed everything but their vulvas, off came the pubes. Men began shaving off their chest hair in response to a gay-dictated male beauty ideal and gradually bought into the idea that body hair--including pubic hair--was just as unattractive on males as it was on females. And you're seeing the results of this cultural shift every time one of your 16-year-old male patients drops his drawers.

For the record, I'm not endorsing any of this. While I'm a longtime supporter of the reigning beauty ideal--I like 'em lean and hairless, always have, so I've got no complaints--I know there are people out there who feel differently. Indeed, a prohair backlash is already under way.

I am a 15-year-old male with a question--what is proper etiquette regarding pubic hairs? I will soon be having my first sexual experience and was just wondering whether or not the majority of women prefer the area hairless or not. --Condoms and Manners

The proper etiquette regarding pubes, CAM, can be summed up in three words: keep it clean. However much pubic hair you've got--and these days you can have as much or as little as you like--no one wants to press his or her nose into a stinky, matted mass of it. If your fingers stink after you scratch your balls or you've got Butterfinger crumbs in your pubes or, God forbid, if butt rasta is drifting up from your ass crack, well, then it's time to take a shower, CAM.

Now some women, without a doubt, will prefer you trimmed or hairless; some, however, will prefer that you arrive with all the hair God saw fit to grow down there. If you're indifferent on the pubic hair issue, I would urge you to make the young woman in your life an offer: tell her it's entirely up to her. If she likes it trimmed she can trim it. If she would prefer you hairless she can shave your pubes off herself.

I had a mishap this morning. While trimming my pubes I accidentally trimmed off a chunk of clit. My concern is regarding the healing process. Is it going to heal normally? What are my risks of infection? Do you think that the scar tissue will affect the feeling? I'm concerned about this affecting my sex life. Any suggestions and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

--Chunk Lost in Trim

You trimmed off a chunk of your clit? A chunk? Jesus Christ, CLIT, what are you using to trim your pubes? A riding lawn mower?

And, like, excuse me, but your first impulse after carving off a chunk of your clit was to send me a letter? If my clit was lighter by a chunk and bleeding like crazy, CLIT, my first impulse wouldn't be to dash to the computer to send an e-mail to some fag who writes a sex advice column. I would go see my fucking gynecologist! You may be at risk of infection; you may lose some sensation if scar tissue builds up; it may affect your sex life--but only a doctor can examine what's left of your clit, look for any signs of deadly clit-eating bacteria, and offer you the medical and/or surgical interventions you may require.

In response to your comment addressed to GRABASS, the fellow concerned with gender-specific groping issues: "And women can hear the word no without stalking or terrorizing the men who've dumped them."

You're right. Women never stalk ex-boyfriends, or invent a phantom pregnancy hours after a breakup, or emotionally blackmail their former lovers with threats of violence, suicide, or endless weeping phone calls. Yeah, Dan, women are entirely exempt from irrational, even violent behavior following a breakup. Must be these pesky penises.

--Women Go Psycho Too, Moron

Well, uh, yes: women sometimes act like assholes when they get dumped, and some engage in bad, bad, bad behavior. So perhaps my generalization was a bit of a generalization, WGPTM. But unlike men, women--however pesky they are--rarely kill their partners. Almost half of all women who are murdered are killed by their husbands or boyfriends; women are ten times likelier to be abused by a man than a man is to be abused by a woman (insert your own David Gest joke here); and more women land in emergency rooms due to domestic violence than from any other cause.

So like I told GRABASS, male-on-female groping exists in a context of male-on-female violence, a context that makes male-on-female groping seem like less fun than female-on-male groping. I stand by that statement, WGPTM, with the important caveat that, yeah, some women sure are crazy-ass bitches.

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