Vintage Prosey Project: 2014 Prioritization — 8/8/12

Updating the blog here to pull old entries from the pros/e/yes archives…not necessarily in their original order (just the order I happened to pull them. This project is simply a unification of my personal blog (with a LOT of NSFW entries) and my professional blog.

Hump Day: Dr. PruthPetals Westheimer Sexytime Talk…and Pubes. *NSFW!*

*cough* Depilatory procedures…and the so-called undeclared “War on Pubic Hair”, as told by Dr. Emily Gibson (repeated in The GuardianThe IndependentThe Inquisitor, and elsewhere). This topic surfaced (again) in my attention when I was alerted to a discussion thread on this topic, with the opening statement: “Time for us to get rid of this vestige of desiring child brides. (That’s why one shaves, to look prepubescent.)” Oh boy.

The discussion (which is still in play) has been…erm…entertaining. And I’m sure this will be an absolute shocker, but I’m embroiled in a little back-n-forth with a dude who seems otherwise very intelligent –yet on this topic is a complete Neanderthal. What fun this should prove to be. Seems he didn’t like getting nailed with the male version of what he was attempting to assert (smell) — and my statement that “If you’re with someone who doesn’t know the fundamentals of basic hygiene, then the problem isn’t pubic hair. Kinda like uncircumcised dudes and the misconception of smell due to hygiene issues. Furthermore, if you’re on about “ugly vag”, then the pervasive influence of pornography has worked its magic on you, too.” merited me a response of, “go back to self service”…aaaahhahahahahaaaaa…this is going to be FUN. (And yes, of course, I already responded…you think I’m gonna pass that up?! Pfffft!) Update: the individual who told me to go back to self service edited his original response to: “LMAO, Lighten up Denise… “Smarmy” is not an attractive quality in anyone” <–heh, calling me “smarmy” after completely editing a comment isn’t really schmart.

Anyway, the actual topic on the table is: Pubes. To be or not to be?…that is the question. *rolls eyes and laughs*

So. *clears throat* Why do we have ’em? Why do we keep or remove ’em? What are the actual risks of removal? What role, if any, does the big, bad porn industry play in how we view pubic hair? Blah…blah…blah.

First, a lovely image…found in wikipedia:

Aside from the fact that the first thing that jumps out at me…teehee…is that the focus in the above image is on women, the picture shows a very small sampling of pube-scaping options.

Why we actually have pubic hair is a somewhat nebulous topic with no actual concrete answers, though there are many different theories. Hard to say if any definitive answers will ever be found, and frankly, I’m not particularly concerned about whether or not answers are found. I’m more focused on why there is a “war on pubes” at all.

To keep ’em (the whole 70s version of sexy hirsute style) or to remove ’em (current baby fresh version of sexy) or to simply scape ’em (erm…genital topiary)…these things are a matter of personal choice. Being the advocate of personal informed choice that I am, my only function here is to provide the information…and leave decision-making to the gentle reader.

Before I get into the risks/benefits…let me put something out there about the porn industry, as related to this particular topic. I really feel bad about all the scapegoating that the porn industry deals with, from pedophilia to homosexuality to serial murderers. To be clear, I have little-to-no interest in pornography (story for another day), but I don’t have any issues with porn. Porn is wrongly blamed for many sexual/societal woes that ought to be redirected back to their actual source: religion. But again, that is a story for another day. However, as to what we (as women and men) find visually/sexually appealing can, at least partially, be traced to pornography. It’s not a matter of blame; rather, it is a simple matter of who watches porn, at what age, and conditioning to what is and is not visually appealing/attractive. *shrug* Not that big a deal, really.

So…to the benefits and risks. In the ongoing discussion mentioned earlier, I read all sorts of so-called benefits of depilatory procedures. Unsurprisingly, most were directed toward women, though there were a couple of benefits named for men (“Makes the Junk look bigger” –no, not kidding, that is a direct copy/paste). The main “benefit” for women…the one I responded to above…was about smell. No doubt, our sense of smell is something that evokes a lot of different things, and this visceral response is quite likely evolutionary in nature.

For some, as pointed out to me by a friend, there is the simple matter of visual appeal (“some people just like to see what they’re eating”)some people (myself included) dislike flossing while we eat. I get that. And, for some, the argument of smell seems to be the only one of any worthwhile measure…to which my response is — hey, nothing like a bar of soap to cure your ills. Truly, the fragrance of fromunda cheese doesn’t particularly appeal to me either. But that, alone, is not any sort of excuse or justification for whether or not one keeps, removes, or trims pubic hair. That is a distinct matter of hygiene…the maintenance of which is important for a variety of different reasons.

Now…for the risks. Yes, depilatory methods do come with risks. Being aware of those risks is the first step in making an informed decision about whether or not you choose to show, shear, or shine. I’ll give an example. I was approached by a relative who was concerned that he may have contracted an STI. He was quite concerned about herpes, actually…and my immediate response was, “what are your symptoms?” He really couldn’t articulate them very well, and admitted that he had had unprotected sex. I reminded him that condoms do not necessarily prevent herpes, and other preventive measures are necessary when engaging in sex with someone who has herpes.

Anyway, long story short, I had him show me the lesion to which he was referring and about which he was so concerned. I didn’t mean to, but I started laughing.

After he pulled his pants up (a bit indignantly), I asked him when he started shaving. He blinked at me. I explained to him that he needed to consult a physician to be absolutely certain (and I would encourage EVERYONE who is sexually active outside of a committed relationship to screen for STIs at least once every six months), but what I was looking at was almost certainly not herpes. It was an ingrown hair, caused by shaving. Putting aside the embarrassment, which was intense on his part, we discussed depilatory options, and why when it comes to genital hair removal…if one is so inclined…I strongly encourage professional hair removal.

I can give all sorts of tips for DIY genital scaping, of course, but the bottom line is, to me it’s like working with certain matters of hair maintenance outside of the nether regions. I would, for example, dye my own hair. I would not attempt to give myself a perm. As applicable to pubic hair, I might (and have) trim, and even (if in a hurry) shave a mild scaped area if I know I need to wear a bathing suit (not something that happens often, trust me…I have no wish to scare people with the idea of me in a bathing suit)…but really? The risks of ingrown hairs outweigh the benefits of touched up appearance. I have also indulged in full-body waxing. Frankly, I enjoy it…I like the feeling of being totally hairless (well, not my face, head or arms). That is just me. A huge benefit of going to a professional for hair removal is that they are also trained to check for potential ingrown hairs and treat what they see.

Ingrown hairs can be extremely painful, and can become infected requiring antibiotic treatment. And to be clear, there are other reasons that shaving the pubic region can result in ingrown hairs — think, oh, surgical procedures like C-sections and vasectomies. This can occur even when you are shaved by a medical professional.

And sure, when you shave, you’re not just removing hair from the surface of your skin…you are abrading the top layer of skin, which serves as an additional shield against irritants and infectants. So of course, with respect to the genital area, you’re increasing your odds of contracting a surface infection…including STIs like herpes that can transmit via skin-to-skin contact.

In the end, though, the decision to remove hair…all hair, even…does NOT automatically mean you WILL contract something, which is why Dr. Gibson’s assertions are a touch over the top. Does she have a point? Yes, of course.

My feeling, though, is…hair maintenance is a personal choice. Rather than freak out over a bush…or a heart-shaped landing strip…or a genital area that is as hairless as a prepubescent kid…research the subject. Get informed about your various options, and decide for yourself what is best for YOU.

Happy Hump Day!


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