But before we begin, may I suggest that if you’re not a fan of being in receipt of too much information you click away right about now…
Still with me?
Ok. So I once went for a Brazilian wax. I know. What can I say? I was curious, a friend had shared a rather, um, compelling reason as to why it might be a very good idea, I was due a trip away with a new man, and I am no more immune to social pressures than anyone else, so to my eternal shame I indulged my inner lemming and booked an appointment at the local beauty salon.
Fucking hell. NEVER AGAIN.
Talking purely in terms of sheer unpleasantness it is right up there on a level with cervical smears and persistent thrush. For a start it is horribly undignified. One is required to remove their underwear in front of a total stranger (in my case a very brisk looking woman in her mid-fifties), don strange paper knickers that look as though they belong in a psychiatric institution, and lie down on what looks like a thin hospital bed while said total stranger moves said paper knickers this way and that in order that they might better access your most intimate parts and smear hot wax on them. Comfortable it is not. I shudder to my very depths just thinking about it. And not in a good way.
Then of course there is the pain. I had been advised to take two paracetamol an hour before my appointment. A bottle of whisky may, on reflection, have been a better option. It is a shocking sort of pain. A tearing. One that makes you gasp, breathless, your mouth gaping open to form a traumatised O. Pubic hair is not designed to be ripped out at the roots. In fact I’m rather surprised that imaginative dictators the world over have not co-opted the ‘intimate wax’ as a particularly nasty form of torture.
Lastly, we have the resultant look. Odd, like a plucked and strangely juvenile chicken. Like a mannequin. As though I were made of plastic, the normal boundaries and demarcations of my body had become blurred and the woman staring back from my mirror looked unreal. Like a sexless doll. A blank.
And in that moment, I felt suddenly ridiculous. Why had I done this to myself? Why did we do this to ourselves? I had spent what was hardly an insignificant amount of money, only to be embarrassed and physically hurt, and for what?
I never did go on my weekend away.
But the whole episode has made me think a little deeper about the trend for pubic hair removal. And I have come to wonder – if we are prepared to put ourselves through that – whether there is anything that women will not do for male approval. Do we really covet male desire to the extent that we will torture and degrade ourselves in a bid to elicit it? And if so, is it any wonder that a proportion of men view us so contemptuously? If the pornographic industry, and therefore men, decided on a whim that it was desirable and attractive for women to begin having enemas in public, would we all do that too?
I imagine interviews being conducted with famous actresses and models declaring how liberating they found having a public enema. How much cleaner and fresher they felt afterwards. How it made them feel sexy and empowered. Entire industries could spring up around the administering of such public colonic irrigations. Women would be filmed on the news queueing to get theirs done, giggling nervously in anticipation with their friends. Enema parties would become popular for hen nights. Nuts magazine would run articles stating that modern men were now refusing to date women who had not been recently flushed, and giving advice to their readers as to how they might go about “sensitively” persuading a reluctant girlfriend to give it a try. Marie Clare would run articles stating that truly free thinking, open minded women should guard against simply dismissing the idea of public flushing out of hand, especially if they expected to be able to hold their mans interest for any length of time.
You can call me ridiculous and say that it all boils down to personal choice. But it doesn’t. Because personal choices are not ever made in a vacuum. Context is everything. Do we imagine great swathes of women would “choose” to have their pubic hair painfully ripped out at the roots if bare vaginas had never featured in pornography, and men claimed to find them disgusting? No. Of course not. Are huge numbers of men to be found spending their hard earned cash on humiliating and painful procedures in the vain hope that we women might deign to give them a few crumbs of our attention? No! Men are far too busy pursuing their own goals to devalue themselves en masse in such a way.
The main point I’m trying to make is that we don’t have to do this. We can say no. Just no. No, we won’t have our pubic hair pulled out, because it is unpleasant and we’ve better things to spend our time and money on. No, we won’t be subservient to male ideas of how we should groom and decorate ourselves. No, we don’t care if you won’t sleep with us or marry us as a result – if you want a woman who looks as though she is made of plastic, go buy yourself a blow-up doll.
Women of the world, hear my call. When it comes to wax, just say no.