How I learned to love my pubes (and how it’s none of your business)

Violet sex columnist Bea Hannay-Young discusses an issue close to her heart – and her genitals

Bea Hannay-Young

Splitting hairsLynn Grayling

The media’s relationship with pubic hair is awful – not that we should expect anything more from something so incapable of respecting people, their bodies, and their minds in general. As a rule of thumb, I quite enjoy ‘researching’ my columns. It’s usually just an excuse to read so-called shocking survey results (‘Some women actually enjoy sex!’ ‘Most people prefer missionary!’) and the odd testimonial from a person who inserted some remarkably absurd implement into some remarkably absurd orifice. It makes a welcome change from textbooks, at any rate. Reading up about pubic hair this week, on the other hand, just made me feel kind of bad about myself.

Everyone seems to feel entitled to an opinion, and in a grotesque Catch-22, I am a horrible and undesirable person regardless of my decision. If I shave I make myself more at risk of catching certain STDs, I am somehow at fault for appearing like a porn start or prostitute, and I am a slave to the capitalist (pink-taxed razor sales!) hetero-patriarchy (‘men don’t like hairy women!’) that tells me exactly how my body ought to look and how I ought to make it that way.

“Gwyneth Paltrow is cancelled. Shut up about everything, Gwyneth Paltrow”

Conversely, if I decide not to shave, I somehow will appear unkempt and uncivilized, like a fluffy ape-lady emerging from the forest about to sweat all over the nice furnishings and viciously hump everything in sight. I’ve also been told that people will think ‘I don’t take proper care of myself’. I would like to concede to my critics at this point – I really don’t take of myself. You got me there. I smoke like a chimney, sleep five hours a night, and can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. I promise you, however, that deciding to fluff up my fanny does not contribute to my total lack of decorum.

Consciously uncoupled from realityMingleMedia

Even the terminology around it is all bound up in shame and misogyny. Suggesting that I ‘refuse to shave’ makes it sound like shaving is the sane and default option and that I am engaging in an act of protest or rebellion, like ‘refusing to pay taxes’, or ‘refusing to vote’.

One article suggested that I could only possibly have been inspired to ditch the razor when Gwyneth Paltrow “admitted she was rocking a 70s vibe”. For a start, why in the hell is shaving considered something that one must “admit” to. At best one admits to farting on a crowded tube, at worst to committing an actual crime. Secondly, Gwyneth Paltrow is cancelled. Shut up about everything, Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a woman so divorced from any physical or fiscal reality that she “would rather die” than let her child eat cup-a-soup (which I happen to fucking love). Any advice of hers is about as useful and legitimate as a suggestion to go invade Russia in the wintertime.

Nor do I appreciate it being portrayed as a faddy fashion trend to follow, like it’s somehow ‘cool and feminist’ not to shave your pubic hair, or leg hair, or armpit hair or anything else. If you’re growing your own body hair as a ‘fuck you’ to every media outlet that tells you that you’re not a woman unless you’re all smooth like a dolphin, then that is awesome. However, I resent any person who cries ‘bad feminist’ at someone who chooses to shave because – and this is the clincher, folks – you’re really not allowed to tell someone else what to do with their body.

Your partner is allowed to have preferences – and so are you! I will concede, going down on a penis-person with a significantly forested nether-region has the uncomfortable potential for a pube-between-the-teeth incident that can almost feel like dental flossing. It is, however, really uncool to make someone feel not-sexy when their body exhibits something that is completely normal.

“Having hair growing on me is really starting to grow on me”

An almost-partner once told me having pubic hair was “unclean” and “disrespectful” to them. Boy, bye. Unwarranted comments on pubic hair (or lack thereof) in this regard is like a litmus test for weeding out those unworthy of loving mutual genital contact. To conclude: pubic hair – good. No pubic hair – also good. Opinion on someone else’s decision either way ­– bad and nasty and mean.

Personally, having hair growing on me is really starting to grow on me. It’s a new discovery: I spent most of my formative adolescent years desperately using up disposable razors and trying to avoid chemical burns from that stinky hair removal cream that thankfully seems to have dropped off the face of the planet.

All because some wanker on the school bus said no-one would ever have sex with someone with bodily hair, and no-one ever bothered to tell me I was actually allowed to do what the hell I wanted with my own body. I don’t like being told what to do, but I do like having pubic hair – it makes me feel sexy. Also I’m too lazy to shave.*

*Sarcasm /ˈsɑːkaz(ə)m/: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt