I dated a woman recently who refused to shave her vagina. At all. Okay, refused is a bit strong. She simply wouldn’t do it—which didn’t bother me, really, but admittedly it made me feel nostalgic. At forty, I’ve been dating now since the 80’s, and I recall those vaginas. (I must’ve caught the tail end of the classic V, for it got progressively Mohawk-y over the years until succumbing to full-bore prepubescent bare.) They weren’t a deal-breaker then and they’re hardly one now, but I did feel compelled to ask my much-younger partner—she was plenty legal, mind you, but still—how she’d arrived at her policy. Initially, she tried to brush it off by way of laziness, but that didn’t seem altogether cogent. (As a drug dealer, I dated some of the laziest women imaginable, but none of them that lazy. If there are any fur burgers left in California, they’re probably all up north, near Oregon. San Francisco maybe, but certainly not Los Angeles.) So when she admitted that there was, in fact, a political component at play—that she wasn’t interested in conforming to such a silly societal standard—I found her stance admirable. She was fighting the good fight. Protesting with her pubes for all womankind.
I have my own quirky history with this phenomenon known as “manscaping.” The first I’d heard of it was back around the year 2000, when the younger, hipper woman I was seeing suggested that I “trim that mess,” or something like that. I was incredulous.
“Men don’t do that,” I said.
“Yes they do,” she argued.
I wasn’t buying it.
Years later I was at a checkout line, perusing a magazine, an interview with some supermodel I’d never heard of. When asked about what she considered to be “attractive” qualities, her list included men who “kept things neat down there.” I remembered my ex’s comment, and I was now curious, but not overly so. I was a square, albeit legitimate, salesman at this time, slogging my way through a rigorous, seemingly never-ending management training program. I never picked up a GQ or a Details. I had no clue about fashion or pop culture. It wasn’t until I moved to LA that I really began to run back down the hill. I regressed so eagerly, in fact, so passionately, that it was more like a coming out: the newness and the freedom, the urgency and catharsis—none of which is conducing to pulling off the look. I took my cues from Jon, my boyhood pal and seasoned hipster. I asked him flat-out one day if he trimmed his pubic hair. He looked at me like I’d asked him if food was edible. “Dude,” he said, “you don’t shave your shit back!?” I never felt so out of the loop. Yes, Jon told me emphatically, men everywhere were doing this, it was a must, and I’d better get going. “Plus,” he added, “it’ll make your cock look bigger.” I could not have been more sold. I ran right out and bought some clippers.
Years later, my drug business booming, all grooming habits had fallen by the wayside. Why care, I figured. There was seemingly nothing I could do, or not do, to hinder my popularity. (Well, except getting caught of course, but that’s another story.) I was running around my apartment all day, skinny and high, with my pants sagging and my pubes peeking out at the world. Occasionally someone would point and laugh, but I didn’t think too much of it.
One day my friend Skot came by. He was back in town after a brief tour with his band, 400 Blows. “I met a guy in Texas who knew you,” he said.
“Oh? Should I be concerned?”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. We were just hanging out after the show, doing lines, and he asks where I’m from. I say LA, and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, do you buy your shit off the guy with the pubes?'”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
“No, it’s true.”
“Well who was the guy?”
“I don’t know, some dude.”
So I was living in Los Angeles and word of my pubes had made its way all the way out to Texas. So had word of my dealing, obviously, but somehow this registered as less of a concern. Which, I suppose, speaks to where my priorities were at the time.