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The mysterious case of media muff mania

January 9th, 2007

Dr Petra

I don’t usually like to talk much about forthcoming media stories since it’s unfair on journalists to reveal their work before it is published.

However, there’s something a little weird going on in media land currently that I think is worth talking about now.

It’s pubic hair.

Well, the lack of it.

Or more specifically the crisis of disappearing pubic hair.

Did you know there was a pubic hair crisis going on? No? Well what’s wrong with you?

Areas of the media are quite convinced there is definitely a pubic hair catastrophe just around the corner. And naturally to draw our attention to this topiary torment they’re about to give it a lot of coverage.

In the past month three television companies, two radio stations and eight women’s print and online magazines have all contacting me about their programmes/pieces in preparation on pubic hair.

Specifically they are reporting on the ‘new trend’ where people are shaving off their pubic hair or women are being made to feel very bad for having pubic hair.

Where this new trend is coming from, or whom it is affecting specifically isn’t easy to place although since all the calls from journalists have been from the UK or US media let’s assume the impending furry knicker disaster will have its epicentre in those locations.

The journalists I’ve spoken to so far have said their programmes/pieces are all based on the same theme
- More and more women are being made to shave off their pubic hair
- This is a very bad thing

I’ve asked all of them to indicate where the evidence for this new trend in bush trimming is coming from and they’ve either not been able to specify a source for their information, or they’ve said ‘it’s well known’.

When asked for the evidence that the pubic hair shaving is causing harm to people’s sex lives they’ve been equally unforthcoming about their sources of information.

Nevertheless all are convinced this is a major topic worthy of programmes or features so women can be warned of the dangers of hair removal.

So what do we actually know about this topic?

We know that pubic hair removal for women and men has a long history with some cultures favouring trimming or even shaving off of pubic hair, others advocating leaving it all hang out. Some people advocate removing pubic hair for perceived hygiene or religious reasons. Some folk get wildly aroused by the scent and appearance of a nice full bush, whilst others really get off on shaving their bits in front of or with the help of a partner.

In Western cultures hair growth on the legs and underarms of women has been frowned upon by mainstream culture for many decades, with some feminist debates focusing on whether leaving underarm or leg hair should be encouraged as a more natural way of living in the body – as well as an act of defiance.

More recently in the West with changes in fashion and improvements in the availability of hair removal products we have seen women encouraged to either remove all their pubic hair or shave the hair around the vagina leaving a strip of hair on the pubic area above. Men have also been encouraged to consider shaving their pubic hair – or the ever puzzling back, sack and crack wax that men’s websites and magazines continually discuss.

Features in magazines have kept us up to date with latest trimming and removal methods and advocated how sex can be better with very little or no pubic hair. Even programmes like Sex and the City got in on the act featuring a character’s transformed sex life after a Brazilian wax.

To date the media haven’t really focused on the religious or cultural aspects of shaving or the naughtier ideas of shaving as a part of sex play. Instead the focus has been on either shaving for aesthetic reasons or that a shaved minky will make your sex life more kinky.

The media have not focused on shaving issues being a form of body management (or some might say body fascism). The mainstream media also haven’t focused on political aspects of shaving or why women are required to shave where men are often not. They’ve also missed out on concerns that some women and men have raised that the increase use of shaven models in porn has misled many heterosexual boys into believing women just don’t have much body hair – and finding the presence of pubic hair disconcerting when they come to have sex with a real woman.

Not that the media are really planning on focusing on these issues now – even with their discussion of the ‘shocking epidemic’ (as one called it) of pubic hair removal.

So what is going on? Well it’s fairly easy to read. The media, bored with writing features based on the idea that sex and our physical appearance would be so much better if we shaved or at least trimmed our bits have now gone for a complete turnaround and are claiming that shaving your pubes is just plain wrong.

All the journalists I’ve spoken to have been either reluctant to admit or very defensive about the idea that
a. they created all the fuss in the press and popular culture about shaving in the first place and
b. they’re just swapping their story angles around to make up a new trend.

I’m completely stumped by why this many journalists are covering this angle at this time. Perhaps they’re all privy to some pubic hair secrets the rest of us don’t know about. Perhaps they’ve just seen an angle they can go with. I have asked them why they’re writing these features or making these programmes and they’ve all said ‘because it is very important’. I’ve also asked them why they think other people are also writing/producing similar pieces and of course they didn’t know this was the case – although worryingly decided this was further evidence they were on the right track with what one called their ‘vital investigative journalism’.

In general most women didn’t seem to be particularly touched by previous media coverage urging we should all shave. Just as the media telling us to duck and cover with this latest pubic assault isn’t probably going to change views or behaviour this time around.

You may hate the idea of shaving, preferring to be naturally furry. Or you may occasionally shave depending on your mood. You might be someone who shaves regularly for personal, aesthetic or religious reasons.

The issue with pubic hair is it is your choice. If you like shaving it all off because it feels better, turns you (or someone else) on, or is more suited to your lifestyle that’s okay – and it’s also okay if you just want to let your muff grow down to your knees.

Journalists are going to tell you otherwise, but that’s because they want to sell you papers and get you to tune into their programmes. Not because they really care about the politics of shaving.

Although I’d be interested to see what their advertisers have to say – after all most women’s magazines and sites are now full of adverts for hair removal products.

Perhaps they’re also not aware of the pubic hair crisis on the horizon.

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