Perchance to Depilate

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The bloggers at Feminist Philosophers featured this article from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald about the real-world impact of pornography on human sexual relations.  The Feminist Philosophers call the results “intriguing, and relevent to feminist discussions of pornography,” and mentions one particular survey.

According to the survey, where men used lots of internet pornography, the depictions of sexual interaction very soon come to “inform the couple™s sexual practices. To pull a quote from one interviewee: “It [sex] became more ‘porn’ style – pulling my hair, no kissing, slapping around a bit, all stuff I was initially OK with. And always he wanted to come in my face. There was no real intimacy, no thought about what I might like.

How (and and to what extent) pornography influences real-life sexual practices has been (and continues to be) debated vigorously.  See, for example, here and here

Based on our informal (and utterly unscientific) survey of friends, anectodal evidence suggests that the younger certain adult women are, the more likely they are to resemble the women featured in pornography in at least one respect: lack of pubic hair.  Most contemporary pornography features women with highly groomed pubic hair, if any.  So, too, most of the women under 40 whom we surveyed cultivate little or none themselves.  (We acknowledge that our survey sample was comprised of economically privileged, educated, urban, U.S. women.)Women 40 and older were more likely to report that they maintain a natural look.  Other factoids from our informal survey:  young men and gay men trim. 

We’re not trying to fan any flames of the debate (here at Alas! A Blog and here at The Happy Feminist) about whether one can embrace both feminism and bikini waxes.  We take seriously a woman’s assertion that she finds happiness in both.  But preferences about body hair arise out of cultural influences.  According to this article in the (UK) Guardian:

Cultural commentators believe that, as male and female roles become more and more interchangeable, so the desire to distinguish between the genders in other ways becomes more pronounced. For women, removing vast quantities of body hair is a straightforward way to do this. It’s true that depilatory demands have risen in step with women’s position in society.

So now it’s feminism and pornography that are the sources of depilatory desires?

-Bridget Crawford and Amanda Kissel

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0 Responses to Perchance to Depilate

  1. bob coley jr says:

    for a man being clean shaven and having short hair was against ” cultural influences” untill warfare in the middle ages proved it’s value. We men had to fight to regain the “right” to have what was a natural thing. Long hair and a beard. Now all can choose what they wish regardless of gender or status. I do not think warfare is good but maybe some good can come from a bad thing sometimes. I also do not think war was the source of all grooming desires. As with all things, there are many causes and sources. I would blame porn for many ills, but grooming ills? Please!!!!!!!!!!!