Random Asides

Home grown

The NRA recently developed a mini-graphic novel, featuring some…well, fairly wacky claims. The first thing I noticed was that all the threatened families were white, and all the bad people in the vignettes weren’t. The second thing that struck me, though, was this illustration:Even the Pig looks P.O'ed
Hairy legs, tattoos, and Birkenstocks=terrorism!

(Also–land lobsters? WTF?)

Anyway, this hits a repeated syllogism from the right:
-Women who don’t shave their legs are feminists.
-Feminists are lesbians.
-Non-shaven, feminist lesbians are Terrorists.

Personally, I think 99% of of the PETA folks are nutters. Mercifully, American animal rights folks aren’t at the level of digging up grandparents and holding them hostage yet. But…why did hairy legs become such a symbol?

I tried to find out more about the history of body shaving, and mostly just stumbled upon stuff that was conflicting. Or, that made me really glad I was researching this on my home computer, and not at work.

Shaving (leg and other) was common in the ancient middle east and a taste for hairless women was brought home to europe by the Crusaders. Or, it wasn’t.

Underarm hair was sexy and flaunted because it was a hint of the foliage below, out of sight. Underarm hair was shaved off because it looked like pubic hair and that was dirty. Both seem to have applied at different points in time.

One thing I did find that I didn’t expect was serious scholarly research…on leg hair. Generally, there is, actually, a relationship between high self-esteem levels, identification as a feminist, and not shaving your legs (or anything else.) This makes sense–it takes some chutzpah to swim against the cultural norm.

And, there certainly are some issues with the pro-shaving agenda, since it has as an underlying assumption that your body in its natural state is defective and substandard. I’m not too keen on that.
However, I admit, my legs are shaved. As are the pits. This is mainly because the fun of being all naughty and transgressive by letting my body hair run free isn’t really…fun. Especially when the 37 students in the class you’re teaching see you in shorts for the first time and all, simultaneously, go “Ewwwwwww.”

But, I have to ask: what’s with the pogrom on crotch hair?
I’m just old fashioned, I guess, but I find denuded pudenda repulsive. Seriously–when Brittany Spears flashed her snatch, did any of you really find it appealing?

And what’s with the stupid vertical-Hitler-mustache thing? (Amy Poehler compared the style to “a John Waters‘ mustache over a vagina”.) At the very least, make it an arrow pointing downward, and get some use out of the haircut, if you’re going to go to all that trouble.

To conclude, I leave you with a YouTube clip that both amuses and makes my point that your “lady garden” should be left to grow free and unpruned:

The brazilian waxing video (safe for work)

bug_girl

Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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29 Comments

  1. I don't understand the shaved vag thing much, either. I guess in theory it's supposed to make the sanctum sanctorum more visible… but isn't that contrary to the purpose of a sanctum sanctorum in the first place? Occult means hidden, people! How are your vaginas supposed to maintain their mind controlling rainbow voodoo waves if they're just hanging out in the open air? Where's the magic in that?

  2. I'm think guys tend to like the bald pubes because it fits in with the whole school girl fantasy. They can pretend that they are having sex with a prepubescent. This is exactly why shaved vags repulsed me when they first started to become popular in porn films and magazines. Now, though, I've gotten used to the bald pubes. I think I've seen so many that I no longer think of teenagers. I say it shouldn't be too much to ask to keep it neat down there, but no hair still seems a little abnormal. I mean I keep my "package" neatly trimmed (TMI!) but not bald because big bushes are unpleasant to play with, and no hair just looks wrong.

    But it does all boil down to you women competing with each other. If you all got together and decided to stop shaving anything, we men would have no choice but to get used to it, wouldn't we?

  3. On par with having a Zoroastrian ritualistically shave your testicles…an itchy and depressing experience. Suddenly a well-beloved part of your anatomy reveals a scary extraterrestrial side. Besides, pre-pubescent anatomy is totally different. It's the hormones and their evil action that made "it" look scary.

    My grandmother was a midwife for about 30 years. A hairless crotch was the excception, considered quite exotic.

    Leg hair though, itchy if present. Totally irritating.

  4. Or, why would you want to make out with something that looks like a plucked chicken?

    Actually, to get back to what stated this all–the NRA booklet is pretty amazing.

    Apparently guns can not only protect you from jews and colored folks, but also tsunamis.

    It's out there.

  5. Personal preference, all around (: It reminds some people of kids, but not everyone. I don't think it's an indicator of pedophilia any more than preferring unshaven legs would be an indicator of homosexuality in men. Just bear in mind that whatever associations you've formed are bound not to hold for someone else. If a given choice makes her feel more confident, or more attractive to a particular partner, she should go for it! Cultural biases are mostly arbitrary, anyway (:

  6. I *hunt*, and I think this thing is wack.

    (the NRA, not the shaving.)

    Interestingly, there is an article in the NewYorkTimes today about how the use of HD TV in the porn industry is going to require all new levels of perfection.

    And, much more careful shaving and care down there, since even a tiny bump or irritation can now be seen.

  7. "Generally, there is, actually, a relationship between high self-esteem levels, identification as a feminist, and not shaving your legs"

    Or, maybe the reverse is true. People with clinical depression stop shaving, stop brushing their teeth, bathing, etc. If you have low self-esteem, it's easy to give up on yourself. There may be anorexic people with low self-esteem, but there's a lot more fat people with low self-esteem.

    I doubt that most pornographers want women who look like children – if so, they would choose actresses with small breasts, which they don't. Rather, I think the reason pornographers like shaved vulvas is that you can see them better. After all, the whole point of porn is to see genitals.

    I think the hairy armpit, rather than the hairy leg, is a symbol of feminism. Feminists rarely wear skirts, so you can't see their legs.

  8. I don’t think I buy the whole “as nature intended” argument. You could make the exact same argument for avoiding personal grooming and hygiene altogether. I really don’t think either men or women want to see that.

    I think the shaved crotch thing is somewhat generational. As a man on the cusp of middle age, my reaction is “Why would I want an adult woman to remind me of a ten year old girl?”

  9. Monika beat me to it. I hope that everyone who reads this blog is a feminist!

    (Except for M. Dimon, who is probably some sort of freaky Promise Keeper, who has promised to sue me for "deformation of character". )

    Feminist doesn't = humorless bull dyke

    any more than

    feminist = lesbian lobster terrorist.

  10. Hmm. I guess, then, whether we knew it or not…we've all been humourless bull dyke/lesbian lobster terrorist fellow travelers all along!

    That said, I don't consider myself a 'feminist' or use the word to describe myself in part because of the negative stereotype against it, but ALSO because, quite sadly, most of the people I've known who DO call themselves 'feminists' were not in any way interested in equality and were more concerned with either demonstrating why women were, in fact, superior and should have all of the power OR were more interested in constantly ferreting out all of these rather absurd 'patriarchal' conspiracies. You know, the kind of person who is so over-the-top about it that it puts you on edge about mentioning ANYTHING for fear that it might in some completely bizarre and irrational way, provoke the same old tiresome rant.

    As those were the VAST majority of 'feminists' I've met, I've never thought much about calling myself one. However, I am all for the idea that EVERYONE should be treated equally and have equal rights so I suppose that, by the definitions you're giving, I must be one. Funny, the things one learns!

  11. It's such a bummer to an old broad like me, that really saw the huge positive changes in the status of women through the 70s-80s-90s, that feminism is now "The F-Word".

    I'd like the record to show that I'm a feminist, my friends are feminists, and we throw awesome parties and are fun to hang with :)

    (does the fact that I own Birkenstocks totally undermine that statement? I have really high arches. It's for medical reasons. Really.)

  12. Shaving is an entirely generational and cultural issue–and for that matter, a personal choice. Some women really like the feel. Some partners prefer their women that way.

    OTOH, some women like being all natural, and some partners really prefer hair–a quick google search yields all kinds of genital-hair related fetish sites.

    A friend of mine is an erotic photographer. Most of the women he works with are under 30. He says he's never seen a model come in with any pubic hair. Take that for what it's worth. Either most women under 30 shave downstairs (something I suspect is true), or most models shave downstairs.

    And bug_girl, honestly, you're all like "nobody's gonna tell me to shave! Oh, except for the people in my life who I would scar for life (my students). So I guess legs and pits are okay. But what is up with shaving [this other arbitrarily chosen body area that I'm unused to seeing shaved]? Am I right or am I right?" Next you're gonna be yelling at us kids to get off your lawn.

  13. Women who aren't feminists, in the equal-rights sense of the word, usually just aren't any fun to hang out with. Dammit, I can cook for myself (I just added pineapple fritters to my repertoire Saturday afternoon), and I'm not gear with filling the planet with babies. Gimme camaraderie and perspective on life, not self-abasement.

    The deepest reason I grew up a feminist is probably that I recognized, quite early, that women and men can both be heartless, shallow and short-sighted. Once you become a human being, you sign on with a whole host of imperfections. I can fully sympathize with Borges, who said (in Fascist-leaning 1930s Argentina) that he was not an anti-Semite because he saw the differences between Jews and Gentiles too small to remark upon.

    Like my psychic powers, my feminism has never gotten me a date, so I must come by it honestly.

    Ronaldscott has raised the interesting issue of fetish websites. Have I mentioned that I'm the <a href="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=%22cyberpunk+tentacle+porn%22&quot; rel="nofollow">first and only person in the world to use the phrase "cyberpunk tentacle porn"?

  14. Azinyk – a feminist is just someone who believes that the sexes are equal and should be treated that way. They don’t have to have unshaven legs or armpits and they could easily be men or wear skirts (or both).

    I think you were probably being tongue in cheek for humour value but I don’t really like the stereotype you are promoting.

    Of course I am promoting the humourless can’t-take-a-joke stereotype!

    I think it is because I have generally not identified myself as a feminist because of the negative associations the word has. I am coming to think I was wrong which is never fun.

    Here is a good blog post on the topic http://www.earlygirl.com/youare.shtml

  15. Well, according to dictionary.com, feminism is

    1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

    That makes me a feminist, and I am neither a humourless bull dyke, lesbian lobster terrorist, nor a caricature of a psychic nut with a bdsm fetish.

  16. Somehow I am actually quite surprised, Blake, that you're the only one to say that! I've seen several joking references to that, umm, sexual fetish…so I find it incredible that you've got the sole connected reference. It only adds to the vast amount of respect I've got for you!

    Oh, and weighing in on the shaving thing: I'm going to cast my lot in with that portion of the crowd who don't understand going the full Brazilian route. I mean, in the end her choice is her own and whatever makes her comfortable is A-OK, but in terms of my own preference, there's nothing wrong with hair. I'm not saying it oughtta look like she's got Buckwheat in a leglock, just that I find it more appealing if there's SOME there. But in the end it's up to her.

    Besides, for as long as I've been completely and utterly single (terrifying thought: I've nearly hit the point where a decade is a closer estimate than a half) I guess I shouldn't be fussy about anything. At all :-P

  17. Expatria said: I’m not saying it oughtta look like she’s got Buckwheat in a leglock…

    That made me crack up. The image of Buckwheat in a leglock…what ever made you think of that?

    I agree though. No hair = looks like a 6 year old. Not for me. I do shave my legs and underarms, and by all accounts I consider myself a feminist, but indeed the word is often used as a perjorative – I've heard it plenty here in Texas. "Are you one of those feminist women?" Huh? More so, I hear the "treehugger" stereotype from businessmen, especially when they're complaining about environmental laws and building permits; at work I don't look like a treehugger, which is rather odd, because what is a treehugger supposed to look like? By their description I would be a treehugger. I don't wear Birkenstocks, but I do have my nerdy Eastland sandals and Timberland boots. Treehuggers can wear suits to work.

    Blake said: Have I mentioned that I’m the first and only person in the world to use the phrase “cyberpunk tentacle porn”?

    When I do a search without quotes, I see that cyberpunk and tentacle porn are used in the same article or page, but not together exactly like that. I looked on <a href="http://alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&cs=utf8&q=cyberpunk+tentacle+porn&rys=0&itag=crv&_sb_lang=pref&quot; rel="nofollow">AlltheWeb.com too, which sometimes catches things better than Google, especially with images.

    Maybe you should put that one and "Barnes & Borders-A-Million" in the <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cyberpunk&quot; rel="nofollow">Urban Dictionary. There's a "B and N" entry for Barnes & Noble and some others. I'll admit I've used the UD quite often for British slang and just newer pop culture terms my aging brain isn't aware of. I looked up hentai at work once and got partial ACCESS DENIED. (I can get in, but ACCESS DENIED is embedded on the page. They don't like "porn.") You might not want to put your real name to it (or you could use an alter ego of Stacey Blake…), but you might help spread your memes that way. More people will see them.

  18. Personally I can’t stand it when a woman shaves anywhere. Hair traps smells and smells go right to my brain stem and my primal self takes over. This is the way nature intended it. All this shaving and deodorizing repulses me. I want a woman to be a woman. A good hairy armpit on a woman is nectar to the Gods. And as for men who shave their pubic hair…well, they are not men at all.

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