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I recently finished Peggy Orenstein's new book "Girls and Sex," which I highly recommend to every single human out
there over the age of 13, ESPECIALLY men and fathers. Men and women, boys and
girls ought to be more communicative when it comes to sex, and I think it does
FAR more harm than good when we separate our girls and boys during sex
education. Boys should hear what it's like for girls FROM GIRLS and girls
should hear what it's like for boys FROM BOYS. How can we possibly grow and
change and empathize with one another if we're whispering in different locker
My biggest issue with the book is the
fact that it's hot pink and is called "GIRLS AND SEX." I don't know many men who
would feel comfortable reading a hot pink book called "GIRLS AND SEX" on, say,
the subway or in a doctor's office waiting room, and I find the pink cover
problematic and annoying—but that's a diss on the publishing house, not the
book. I think Orenstein is wonderful and I respect her voice and her
non-judgmental attitude towards young people. This book is a MUST-READ, you
guys. Real talk.
Anyway, we can talk more about the book
later, if you want. Also sex education and teenage sexuality, which I think we
SHOULD be talking about more openly. Because the only thing we should feel shame
about is shame itself, and I am ALL FOR shame-free dialogue when it comes to
sex and sexuality and pleasure and masturbation and periods, puberty, sex ... OMG
YOU GUYS THERE IS NO REASON WHY THIS STUFF SHOULD BE EMBARRASSING! YES, I AM YELLING IN CAPS RIGHT NOW BUT,
DUDE, SEX IS WHAT PEOPLE DO WITH EACH OTHER AND HUMAN BEINGS ARE
BASICALLY JUST WALKING ORGASMS. SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE SOMEONE
CAME. SO IS YOUR CHILD. LET'S TALK
ABOUT IT, PLEASE. PLEASE? LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX WITH OUR DAUGHTERS SO THEY KNOW IT IS OK TO ENJOY IT!
Hell, if it was up to me, I would bomb the
world with vibrators. VIBRATORS FOR ALL!
Which, in a roundabout-ish way, brings me
to today's post.
It's about pubes. TODAY, I WOULD LIKE TO
TALK ABOUT PUBIC HAIR and how for the last twentysomething years I have
resisted having any—until now.
Like many of the girls questioned in Orenstein's book, I also started shaving off my pubes
the moment they started growing in. Because, ew, being am adult woman
is GROSS. Not that I said those words, but in my head I was like, "What am I
supposed to do with this hair stuff?" From a very young age (13), I shaved my
pubes every few days in the same way I shaved my pits and my legs. I was
disgusted with hair and I hated the way it felt when it was growing in.
Also?—and here's the rub—everyone
else was doing it. I assumed it was a rite of passage, that girls like me who
shaved themselves pube-less were EMPOWERED. Somehow, that was the message we
instilled in one another. THIS IS US STANDING UP TO ADULTHOOD AND REBELLING! Oh
and also? This is what boys are into, so like ... that's cool,
In recent years, I toyed with various
hairless styles (no relation to Harry Styles) including various landing
strip-esque situations which felt like a good compromise between NOT WANTING
ANYTHING TO DO WITH HAIR and feeling like I needed to model some kind of hair
acceptance for my children. Because pubes happen, kids. And there is
absolutely no reason for anyone to feel shame. And yet, there I was,
FEELING it. I found myself regularly saying one thing and doing another,
preaching "pube-love and acceptance!" while being pube-free.
It wasn't until I read Orenstein's chapter
on porn and pubes that I started to rethink my teenage "empowerment."
All those years, I had remembered feeling TOTALLY in control of my body. I assumed that shaving my pubes off was
BECAUSE I WAS MAKING A STATEMENT, THAT I COULD CONTROL MY BODY, DAMMIT.
But wait ... was that it? Was that why my
friends and I shaved our hair completely off? Because we felt like we were in
control? Or was it something else? Did we do it for ourselves or for the boys
who thought it was hot? I would like to think it wasn't the latter but also, I'm
an adult now and I realize that there were a lot of things I thought I was
doing for me, when I wasn't.
Fast-forward to now. I am a 35-year-old
mother of four and I have never in my life had a bush to call my own. I don't
even know what it looks like to look down and see hair. And I think that might
be a problem. Hell, I KNOW it's a problem. It's a problem because, once again,
I feel shame for something my body NATURALLY does. I feel shame for something
men my age do not feel shame over. (Unless you're a man who is reading this and
DOES feel shame about pubic hair. Do you? If you do, please come forward. I
don't want to discount your experience. Please feel free to prove me wrong.)
is concerned that young women's genital self-image is under siege, with more pressure
than ever to see their vulvae as unacceptable in their natural state. She
recalled a student who started shaving after a boy announced—during one of her
class discussions—that he'd never seen pubic hair on a woman in real life, and
that if he came across it he'd walk out the door."
question that a bald vulva is baby smooth—some would say disturbingly so.
Perhaps in the 1920s, when women first started shaving their legs and armpits, that act
seemed creepily infantilizing, too, but now depilating those areas is a
standard rite of passage. That early wave of hair removal was driven by flapper
fashions that displayed a woman's limbs; arms and legs were, for the first
time, no longer part of the private realm. Today's pubic hair removal could be
seen the same way: We have opened our most intimate parts to unprecedented
scrutiny, evaluation, commodification ..."
Here's the thing: I want to expose my
children to a natural-looking body, shame-free. I want my kids to be like, "Oh,
pubes aren't so bad. My mom's got some of those and she seems pretty chill
So, yes. Maybe all those years ago, I Bic'd my pubes for the boys, but now, for the first time, I'm growing these
bad boys out for the girls. Not just my daughters, but for myself and all of
the teenage girls out there who are like, "EW PUBES ARE GROSS PUBERTY IS GROSS
HAIR IS GROSS I AM GROSS." Because in simple terms, I want to be the change. I
want to show my past self and my present self and also my future self that all
of the things we have been told as females to be GROSS and UNSIGHTLY and SORRY
YOUR CONTENT HAS BEEN FLAGGED FOR BEING HAIRY AND NIPPLE-Y AND REAL, aren't
even at all. Nipples, pubes, hairy legs ... all of the things boys and men show
all day long with nary a word.
While I recognize that my children
will be introduced to infinite images of women looking unnaturally thin and
coiffed and infantile, I feel it is important as a mother of daughters to
embrace my natural self in ways I was never able to embrace before they were
born. Because I'm never going to change anyone else, nor should I want to. If
I am to model shamelessness, than I must also be willing to look deep within my
OWN mirrors and dismantle my own shame.
In short, my goal is only to embrace MY
changes at my age—and to do so with grace and chutzpah.
For now, that means pubes.
It also means writing posts about pubes
and sexuality fearlessly with zero fucks given as to how it may be received. That's
the example I want to set for my kids, too. THAT IS THE CHANGE I WANT TO BE. I
want my kids to feel empowered to rail against the monotony of the
body-image shame spiral. I want them to be shameless with their bodies and
their thoughts. I want them to experience pleasure, delight in their natural human
selves and EMBRACE all that it means to be woman.
And it just so happens that I want those
EXACT SAME THINGS for myself.