50 Shades of Grey

The Muff- Honest Thoughts on Pubic Hair

Article written for Wicked Wanda’s Adult Emporium, as Sexpert Lilith

The muff, bush, patch, forest, trimming and gift-wrap, to the carpet, happy trail, lady garden and pubes, pubic hair is a wonderfully strange aspect of one’s life and identity. For something which everyone thinks about at some point in their life, no one really wants to talk about it. From the historical roller-coaster of necessity and practicality, to the religiously informed aesthetics we see in pornography, pubic hair is complicated. My first vivid memory of pubic hair that I can remember was when I was some where around 12 years old and I was in the kiddy pool that my next door neighbour set up on the lawn in front of their house. It was a hot day and my best friend at the time and I were attempting to cool down in the sweltering heat when I look up at her, as she rose from the pool and I saw dark, curly hair peaking from around her bathing-suit bottoms. I remember being stunned at the time. What and why are there weird things… down there: As my parents called it sometimes: the no-no place. Yet, as I grew older the images I saw on screen and in the porno mags I stole a peak from, there was no hair down there. I remember feeling self-conscious about it, especially during the summer where swimsuits haunted me as I assessed the amount of body hair which was acceptable before going to the beach. Then romantic and sexual feeling arose for various individuals and my mild obsession with people’s opinions got me asking questions about if I could be desirable if I had pubic hair, and whether anyone else could sense that I did or didn’t have some, or worse, they could smell me. Like some women and men who have removed pubic hair in an effort to be clean, I worried that I was dirty for having pubic hair or was I dirty for having a vagina?

I realize now that pubic hair is kind of like the frog, it is an indicator species. Perceptions about pubic hair is a gateway into understanding culture, religion and social ideas/ practices through out time, much like how toys have been analyzed. Overtime, pubic hair and the expectations of grooming for both men and women have greatly changed, as pubic hair did not appear to matter greatly until Christian and religious ideas of morality and cleanliness became infused into law, society and culture. While it is arguable that this change to a more modest enjoyment of the human form is due to religious ideas of fully covering where pubic hair and leg hair (for women) simply wouldn’t be seen under all those layers of dresses, even art displays a turn away from the bush. Slowly but surely, pubic hair became embarrassing and obscene while alternatively the necessity of grooming further complicates that narrative. Some women in the 1450s got rid of pubic hair to help eradicate pubic lice but they then donned what is called the Merkin or pubic wig, some donned these wigs to cover syphilis later on. (Note: never shave to get rid of pubic lice, they dig in, go to your doctor, and yes, the use of Merkins to cover syphilis does not help the idea that pubic hair is unclean.) Then the introduction of the swimsuit which would reveal pubic hair in the 20th century drove more women to trim their muff. Arguably, the muff is a fading memory sacrificed to the gods of aesthetics.

Yet what does ideas and practices regarding pubic hair say about society? Another way to control women’s bodies? Is the shaming of pubic hair really the shaming of the vagina or of the abyss of untold wonder and turmoil? Some have argued that the disappearance of the carpet is an attempt to make women look more per-pubescent and some say it just makes them feel cleaner. For men, does it make the Johnson look bigger? Or does bush make them look manlier? Ultimately, it comes down to the individual person. Yes, culture has a huge effect on our ideas about pubic hair but people are not mindless consumers which absorb the latest trends without a thought, people negotiate with these trends and culture-based changes constantly. Some individuals choose to rebel against the totalitarian regime of the bikini wax, whereas other simply like the feel or look of a bare vulva or nutsack. In my informal research into what people think about pubic hair, the opinions ranged dramatically. Some indicated that they did not like any pubic hair on themselves or their partners, especially when oral sex was to be performed. Others said that they preferred a little bit of hair because it made them feel like they were with a mature adult. Many indicated that the maintenance of the bush was largely due to practicality; shave or wax totally and razor burn, rashes or ingrown hairs happen, don’t trim and underwear pinches and pubes sometimes gets in your lovers teeth. One friend noted that she picks out nice wrapping paper for gifts but its the contents that counts. Whereas others noted that they really didn’t care but if their partner did, then they would try to make an effort for the other person’s preference.

While the great pubes debate has been criticized by some for being very hetero in its approach, no matter sexuality or even gender preferences, we think about pubes and what to do with them. There are so many different approaches to analyzing pubic hair, such as a feminist critique of the patriarchy or a marxist criticism of capitalism, to a queer critical question of “who’s bush are we talking about”. That maintenance or lack-thereof can be a powerful personal statement of one’s own politics, one’s identity or just how someone feels most comfortable. Personally, I like a little turf above the house and I like my partners to have that too. Yet, really there isn’t a good or bad way to maintain your no-no place, male, female or otherwise. There is nothing unclean about pubic hair, and you can get that fact checked by your doctor. Some are arguing now that the bush is making a comeback in pop culture media, even saw bush on both the 50 Shades of Grey characters this past week at the movies. Ultimately, what almost everyone I’ve encountered has said about pubes is that is has to be comfortable, and that comes from being comfortable in your own body, whatever way it takes to achieve that. One can be sexy and playful with a full muff, trimmed bush, waxed mound or heart-shaped packaging.

Lilith Out!

What do you think about muff? Do you consciously make decisions towards grooming because of your own political views or does it depend entirely on the comfort of yourself and your partners?

50 Shades of… What? A Feminist Perspective

I had too. I felt I could not criticize 50 Shades of Grey properly if I did not personally watch the film, and after seeing it tonight, I have to say…. what? I realized quite early in my adventure that my pre-conceived notions of the film were highly influenced by the various posts on Facebook and various other blogs which painted the film in less than favorable colors, as even standing in line to see it… was slightly embarrassing. To begin, I have read the books and my perspective on them have always been rather complicated as the strange stalker/ control-freak Grey creeped me out, yet the topic of kink in mainstream society and social media culture excited me. As the theater was packed to the brim and everyone was more excitedly loud then one would usually find within a movie theater, I guarded myself against the worse affront seen on the big screen since Tom Green.

I can say honestly that the movie was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Yes, there were questionable aspects which mirrored events and dialogue in the original books, but the script and production team were brilliantly aware of themselves and the content they were portraying. A large criticism which I too take issue with is the creep factor of one Christian Grey as he is manipulative, controlling and staker-like. The movie is entirely aware of this and largely succeeds at turning those uncomfortable traits into comedic relief. Anna is wonderfully refreshing as an awkward yet quick-witted character which one personally did not see in the novels. I would not argue that the movie makes light of emotional and physical abuse within some relationships but I would argue that it is self-aware and therefore self-reflective. Don’t get me wrong, the horribly, un-savory “personality” of Grey is not magically gone but it seems they attempted to make some of his more rough edges consumer and big screen ready.

I also liked the fact that the movie ended on a note about consent. I won’t spoil anything for folks (because spoilers go to the 10th level of hell for that especially heinous crime) but Steele tells Grey to stop (which he doesn’t listen too), but then she very firmly said No and that stopped him in his tracks. This may be minor but I appreciate the intense and much needed note of consent at the end, especially in light of a lot of the criticism around the books. Though lets be honest, he should have stopped at Stop…

So obviously I had some issues with the movie because frankly there were problems on a lot of levels and fronts which are grievous.

1) The movie-makers may have tried to scan over the totally ridiculous contract, but we saw it and heard. Forcing your submissive or any partner into getting birth-control- Nope. Being available for any sexual activities the Dominant wants, at any time (regardless, of what the Submissive wants)- Nope.

2) There was some steamy sex but did anyone else notice that the BDSM aspects were only really implemented in the foreplay or the building up to the sex. The kinkiest thing they did during sex was doggy style. This is not to say that all BDSM is about sex or penetration but considering the hyper about all the kinky sex… not that kinky.

3) I have a huge issue with how one of the last scenes was handled. They portray Steele as trapping or baiting Grey into pushing her too far then she freaks out and its not fair to Grey. This is not correct in a plethora of ways. Firstly, in a Dominant/ Submissive relationship the Sub is not the only one who has limits that must be respected. The Dominant’s limits have to be a part of the equation. That is why it is especially scary when one comes across a Submissive who will not use the safeword out of pride, stubbornness or a want to prove something. While the Submissive must trust the Dominant to stop when the safeword is used, a Dominant must be able to trust a Submissive to use that safeword and to not push the Dominant past their own limits. Secondly, while BDSM can be used to exercise personal and emotional demons, that is not how all BDSM relationships are. The depiction of Grey’s pension for BDSM as a direct result of gruesome childhood physical, emotional and sexual trauma is harmful to the community at large. Yes, there are some who have been abused who are a part of the community and unfortunately, abuse in many forms is far more rampant than any of us would comfortably admit, but not everyone in the community is a victim or perpetrator. Being Kinky, whether that is BDSM or not, is just changing up the routine and exploring various aspects of one’s sexuality and sensuality.

I would not say that the 50 Shades movie is a total write-off but I would simply say, enjoy with a grain (or two) of salt. Enjoy the wonderful world of kink, go out and buy a blindfold, even a flogger but do it safely with research and communication. I really wish the movie had mentioned the cardinal rule of kink and BDSM: Safe, Sane, and Consensual.

Overall, I would rate this movie a:

1/ 5 on Kink Factor

3/5 For not being as bad as I expected

4/5 for being an example of the long way STILL left to tread on our road to safe, sane, consensual kink on the big screen.

0/5 For Being So Hetero!

Lilith Out!