Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Fear of Pubic Hair

     The issues raised on, “The Last Triangle” were very interesting.  The idea of hair and hairlessness bring to light a number of problematic structures in our society.  One of the major themes surrounding the hair discussion was pornography.  One of the most important things to acknowledge about pornography is that everyone has access to it.  In general, it seems as though the united States likes to pretend that the only people who watch pornography are people eighteen and older.  However, it is easily accessible and can be done in a private way.  Since it is no secret that we have lackluster sex education throughout the country, younger people look to porn to explore their sexualities and to learn more about their bodies and other bodies.
     The problem with the use of pornography as a tool of learning is that there is a very specific look that porn actors and actresses have. The Last Triangle referenced an article on the Huffington Post that explains some of the rationale behind shaving.  By having little to no pubic hair, the sex acts are allegedly easier to view, making it more erotic.  My question to that is if that is truly the reason for hairlessness in pornography, or perhaps a convenient excuse to cover up some of the bigger issues.  
The different advertisements for razors on The Last Triangle did reference hair as “unruly,” and there is a general attitude that hairlessness is closely associated with cleanliness.  “Somewhere to Start” referenced how pubic hair is viewed as gross and has sinister implications.  “Youth and Power” discussed how hair is seen as a sign of sexual maturity and masculine strength.  These attitudes have been present and developing in a post World War II era when razor companies took advantage of the changing fashion trends.  Clearly, the porn industry did not pull the idea of hairlessness out of nowhere; these are pre-existing beauty standards that are being perpetuated and supported.
     However, this image saturating the vast majority of the market creates a very specific ideal for young people.  Young men are watching these videos and think that all women are and should be hairless.  Seeing that imagery over and over again will absolutely make them be caught off guard when they have a different type of sexual experience.  Similarly, young women watching porn will see people engaging in a pleasurable experience that does not involve hair, and they may see their bodies as weird or different.  This can subsequently lead to them shaving in order to conform to the norm that they are seeing.  “Pubic Hair: A Male View” went into how young women shaved because they thought that men preferred it hairless, which demonstrates a fairly major problem.
     On its surface, pornographic videos featuring hairless women may not be inherently evil. However, its implications are clear and damaging.  Women are being told that they have to look a certain way, and men are being trained to only be accepting of that ideal.  While pornography is only one part of a problematic patriarchy, the industry needs to acknowledge that it holds some responsibility.  It is not fair to say that they are adhering to beauty standards and go about ignoring their problems.  Rather, there needs to be a degree of corporate responsibility on their part and show diversity in imagery in hair and beyond.

     Body hair is a natural occurrence on any person.  As “The Courage to Quit” explained, it should not have to be considered courageous for a woman to not shave.  We are at the point where a woman has next to no choice over how to control her own natural bodily functions if she wants to be able to function normally in society, and that is truly unfair.  This is not to say that women should entirely reject the notion of shaving.  If shaving makes one more comfortable with themselves, then they should absolutely continue.  However, we need to question the source of that feeling.  We are not empowering people to embrace the way that they feel happiest, but we are instead telling them that this is how they should look, and they should own and embrace that look.  Even something as seemingly trivial as hair demonstrates the taboo behind body modifications.

1 comment:

  1. I like your point about pornographer logic. Specifically a lack of hair makes the sex act easier to observe and hence more erotic. I would suggest the exact opposite is true given the endlessly creative ways humans think when sexually aroused.