pubic service announcement

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 rooms?

(ED: 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 WHYTHIS STUFF SHOULD BE EMBARRASSING! WHY ARE WE SO AFRAID TO TALK OPENLY ABOUT THIS STUFF? DON'T WE REALIZE THAT WE ARE DOING FAR MORE DAMAGE BY KEEPING QUIET AND 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 ISOKAY TO ENJOY IT!

Hell, if it was up to me, I would bomb the world with vibrators. VIBRATORS FOR ALL!

... About pubes. TODAY I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT PUBIC HAIR and how for the last twenty-something years I have resisted having any—until now.

Like many (all) of the girls questioned in Peggy 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, too. 

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 thirty-five-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.)

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 about it...
IMG_2186 Girlfriends or Two Women Friends by: Gustav Klimt, 1916

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...

You can read my post in its entirety, here.