Lately I’ve been coming across many op-ed pieces and conversations debating the question of whether or not you can call yourself a feminist if you shave “down there.” Or, if you’re a feminist either way, perhaps having pubic hair means you’re waaay radical, butch, or ant-feminine. All of these arguments really frustrate and confuse me.
I’ll tell you now that I don’t wish to define feminism by our body grooming standards. My opinion is that it’s a personal choice and that it should not define us. What I’m shocked about is that we have enough time to criticize each other over body image standards and how it adds to or takes away from our feminist power. If we’re going to talk about pubic hair or shaving in general, then I want to talk about the health reasoning behind that decision.
Most people aren’t aware of the fact that pubic hair is quite protective. My first blog post for ShoutOut was about STD’s and my experience with them. I’d encourage you to read it in conjunction with this one. What I didn’t expand on in that story was my experience with body grooming and shaving.
So now I just want to take the time to say what I wish someone had told me. Just because women as a whole and those represented in the media seem to be hairless, does not mean that we are gross, unhygienic, or weird for not wanting to conform. I shaved for the first time in early middle school and that is something that, even for me, will be hard to stop. But what I have learned and already shared with unknowing friends is that pubic hair, specifically, is actually very much protective. When we shave, it leaves small tears in our skin that, even unbeknownst to our eyes, can leave us exposed and more vulnerable to STD’s. I wish I had known this the day I was showering with my ex and he said “ohhh, babe, you really should groom better down there.” (Take a momentary pause to ask yourself what asshole dares to criticize a naked woman.) Even though I think being completely shaved “down there” leaves us looking like pre-pubescent, un-sexy creatures, I did it when my ex pressured me. I often wonder if that’s one more thing that could have prevented me from getting an STD. My message to you reader and to all women is to please, protect yourselves first.
So why isn’t this conversation being had? Is it too hopeful to assume or wish that all sex education programs could cover these topics? Really tell us what we need to know? The STD conversation shouldn’t stop after a room of high schoolers is showed how to put a condom on a banana.
The STD Project does a great job of laying down the facts in a simple, informative way. Pubic hair is a really awesome thing. Didn’t you know that it’s basically a temple of pheromones? That’s sexy! And it protects you.
Your pubic hair provides cushion, protects against friction and injury, and more.
“When someone shaves, waxes, tweezes (Ouch!) or otherwise removes the hair around their genitals, microscopic wounds are formed and provide an entry point for bacteria, parasites, and viruses. When additional irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy place for pathogen growth.”
– The STD Project (http://www.thestdproject.com/stds-shaving-waxing-vajazzling/)
If you want to learn more, I strongly encourage you to check out The STD Project and what they have to say!
Ladies, I don’t care what decision you make because it is your decision. I just wanted you to know what I didn’t. Own your body and love it in whatever way you choose to.