Shave the world!

Whether satin-smooth or luxuriantly hairy, pubes offer a wealth of styling opportunities.

Published March 19, 1999 5:27PM (EST)

Recently I took my dad to see a student production of "The Vagina Monologues"
by Eve Ensler, and I was a teensy bit afraid -- though not for the reasons
you might suspect. When I was a teenager -- long before I became a
clit-militant activist -- my father took me to plenty of bohemian poetry
jams and performances, so I've been seated next to him many times before
listening to pussy-positive feminists raving at the mike. We are of like
minds on the subject of assertive female sexuality.

No, I told him, "I'm a bit scared that this play might turn out to be
politically correct, in the old-fashioned, Ms. magazine kind of way. For
starters, as catchy as Ensler's title is, I must say that when I think of
the heart of women's sexuality, I don't think of the V-word. 'Vagina' comes
to mind when I'm contemplating the birth canal, or maybe menstruation --
but if we're talking about the erotic command center, I'd definitely say
'clitoris,' or some one-syllable slang word for the whole throbbing
package. I mean, would you call a theater piece about male sexuality 'The
Prostate Monologues?' 'The Testicle Monologues?' Actually, those titles
sound pretty interesting, but if you were laying claim to the whole male
genitalia, wouldn't you just say DICK?"

Nevertheless, I was thrilled that any playwright could make women's
sexuality the center of her message and win an Obie for it. I wasn't going
to get too fussy about an admittedly difficult choice of words. I'm all for
shouting "vagina" from the rooftops, though I am concerned that someone
might get all nostalgically Freudian about vaginal penetration being the
be-all and end-all of feminine sexuality.

Ensler's play consists of a string of verbatim interviews from women
intimately discussing their cunts. Many of the voices are riveting,
revealing, outrageous -- how can you resist a story called "The Little
Coochie Snorcher That Could?"

However, the first monologue of the play was a piece called "Hair," and in
it a woman describes the humiliating experience of having her husband
insist that she shave her pubic area in order to sexually please him. When
she didn't like it, and refused to keep up the maintenance, he got mad, and
went out and had an affair. In desperation, she turned to a marriage
counselor -- who scolded her for not pleasing her husband! The interview
ends with the ex-wife realizing, "You have to love hair in order to love
the vagina."

Not true! My political correctness detector rang its hairy bells off when I
heard this little editorial. Of course you can love a hoo-hoo without hair!
Loving women's genitals has nothing do with their superficial decoration.
Both husband and shrink were pigs, but what does that have do with pubic
hairstyles? NOTHING!

Let's get our grooming facts straight. Men, as well as women, elect to
shave their pubic hair because they like the way it looks, or feels, or
both. Some people like it when it's freshly shaved and oiled, but find that
they can't stand the ensuing razor burn and stubble, and give up on regular
shaving. Still others, like myself, possess what my porn star friend Jeanna
Fine calls "'70s pie" -- hair flowing free, without the slightest trim or

I am dedicated to my hippie-chick pubic hair-do, but it's not because I'm
down on the alternative. I think it's more fun to shave other people than
myself. My record for continuous shaving took place at one play party where
I stripped five women in a row with a bag of a dozen Bic disposables and a
large bottle of Paul Mitchell jojoba conditioner -- I recommend it over
conventional shaving cream.

Here's what's fun about shaving, at least for women: It's enlightening to
see your genitals clearly, especially if you have dim memories of what it
looked like "down there" before your hair grew in during puberty. I never
dreamed of looking below my waist when I was a girl -- it was a big mystery
and quite forbidden. My mother had told me how, as a girl, she had been
instructed by nuns to put talcum powder in her bath water so that she
wouldn't accidentally glimpse herself while bathing. We laughed at how
ridiculous that was, but I never did look down in the water below my belly
button -- the talcum was unnecessary.

For an adult, the absence of hair makes a woman's vaginal lubrication much
more noticeable. It isn't quite like realizing you've sprung a boner, but
it certainly raises your consciousness about how your vagina reacts to
daily events. By the same token, the skin around your vulva, and your mons,
can feel especially sensitive when it's shaved, just as if you shaved your
head. You feel every little breeze.

Finally, there are fashion concerns -- probably the most common reason
people begin shaving. Waxing that "bikini area" does make your legs look
longer simply because you show a more uniform skin color traveling all the
way up your thighs. Male porn stars pioneered the shaved look to create the
illusion of a longer penis for the same reason. In addition, men or women
who perform sexually on camera show more when they've got less hair.

The downside to those first silky hours after shaving is what happens the
day after. Yuck! Bumps, burns, stings, in-grown hairs, ragged stubble --
it's the opposite of all the sensations you enjoyed in the beginning. If
you attack the problem with a razor right away, you torture yourself even
further. Where does a sensitive twat turn?

That miserable wife in "The Vagina Monologues" says she tried calamine lotion
to no avail. Let's get this out of the way first -- never use calamine
lotion, for any reason, ever again. However, there are some things you can
do to make shaving a more reasonable and aesthetic experience. Let me send
you over to Joel's Beauty Salon, a Web
site without peer when it comes to down and dirty beauty secrets. (Joel, a
veteran stripteaser and femme worshipper, even has a page on how to use
Pepto Bismol as a miracle facial, but that's another story.) He emphasizes,
above all, PREPARATION for that first pubic shave, a new concept for me. He
explains the benefits of using two different strokes with the blade and the
aftercare that will prevent the red-bump horrors. Joel also stresses how
much can be done with just a good trim, for those who can't get into full-time depilatory duties, no matter how much they dream about it.

Note that I recommend all of this to you while refusing to pick up the
blade again for myself. I am a lazy bum when it comes to any beauty
treatments, and I have been so consistently adored for my '70s pie that,
aside from my initial curiosity, I have no incentive. I would consider
trying to top my shaving record, though, with maybe 10 dancing girls
instead of five. If I do, I'll use all the thoughtful and healing advice
that Joel has graciously given me. Let a thousand bushes bloom -- or strip,
as they please. And I hope at least one satisfied shaver finds her way into
the next Vaginal Sermon From the Mount.

By Susie Bright

Susie Bright is the author of the new book "Full Exposure" and many other books, and the editor of the "Best American Erotica" series. For more columns by Bright, visit her website.

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