Beating Around the Bush: The Stigmatization of Pubic Hair on Women

Image: Illustration by Sara Haas.

In this article, I’m going to be talking about a Bush that’s very controversial, and no, I’m not talking about George. So for the next few minutes put away your razors, stop landscaping your lady garden, and think about why you might be trimming your hedges.

This concerns every person who has a vagina, and even people who don’t, because pubic hair in general is an unnecessarily  taboo subject. Pubic hair is very rarely discussed, and when it is discussed it can become quite the hairy situation. As a society we have become afraid of pubic hair, especially amongst women. It is almost an unspoken practice that women should have almost or completely bare pubic regions, whereas heterosexual men aren’t held to such strict expectations (though the pressure should still be acknowledged).

Many of these notions are influenced by the porn industry and the fact that society infantilizes women. Porn enforces unrealistic expectations, especially when it comes to women’s bodies and more specifically their body hair. This lack of hair ties into the whole notion of the schoolgirl fantasy and how women are fetishized to be young, innocent, and submissive. In some ways, completely removing hair from a person’s vuvla turns back the clock on puberty and has them look pre-pubescent. According to this Huffington Post article, many middle aged women are more hesitant of having completely hairless vulvas, stating they can’t possibly look like 12-year-olds, whereas young women are just itching to get Brazilian waxes.

There is also a fear of what a male partner will think. Some men prefer women being completely or mostly bare, because of what they see in porn and what is considered the norm. Nickolas Bruce, a third-year electrical engineering major, prefers that women “are not completely bare, but also there should be no razor burns. Too much bush is cumbersome, because at that point it can get awkward and dirty when having sex. Also, if going down on someone I prefer no pubes, and completely bare to shaven.”

Holly Melo, a third-year Sociology major states when asked if she feels societal pressure to wax her pubic hair, “Yes and no…Society definitely makes women think that they have to be bare, or at least close to that, in order to be desired or considered sexy by men. They make us think that guys will be turned off if we have too much hair. Then those thoughts are always on your mind, like if I don’t shave then a guy might think I’m gross or not feminine, so then I do because of that pressure. At the same time, it’s such a sad way to think because it’s all natural and part of being human, and we shouldn’t have to do anything to our bodies for men or because society deems it as what you should do.”

As Holly Melo explained, many young women fear the stigmatization they will face, so they wax in order to conform. Women become self-conscious about this and can feel pressured to wax or shave, especially when on the receiving end of oral sex. Long story short, if a woman wants to be completely hairless she can be, and if she doesn’t want to she doesn’t have to, regardless of society’s expectations.

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