Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hairless Muff, Every Girls Dream

I have written before about the  different ways in which we police the muff.  Many different magazine articles are dedicated to questioning whether hair is appropriate on a vagina.  The question as to whether male pubic hair is appropriate is always posed as an aside because the real issue, that's right the real issue, is making sure the pussy is pleasantly pleasing. Women are expected to continually contort their bodies to whatever society deems to be feminine, having the right parts is not enough for you to classify as 'woman'.

From a very early age we are taught that our bodies are what matter.  Any thoughts we might have to the contrary are quickly silenced.  Real girls just go along with the status quo.  If you make waves boys aren't going to like that, and then you may never be able to participate in your slave auction, otherwise known as a wedding.  Think of everything you would be giving up if you dared to do something as radical as let hair grow under your arms, on your legs, and on daddy's well disciplined closed for business twat.

It seems it is never to early to teach young girls about the appropriate shape that their bodies should be in.

One New York City salon, Wanda’s European Skin Care Center, boasts on its Web site that children 8 years and older can get discounted waxing for “virgin” hair. “Virgin hair can be waxed so successfully that growth can be permanently stopped in just 2 to 6 sessions. Save your child a lifetime of waxing ... and put the money in the bank for her college education instead!” the salon proclaims.

Right, cause the norm is that we retain our pre pubescent bodies for life.  That this concept of the anti-aging woman is fundamentally anti-woman seems unimportant.  Of course if we didn't pay for waxing and just embraced ourselves as nature intended there would be no expense in the first place.  Ads like this create a fault in women and then exploit if for financial gain.   Of course the colluding mothers that are dragging their daughters to the salon to achieve the much desired model look cannot see the exploitation and anti-woman propaganda that is at work there.  Really would the world come to an end if women en masse stopped shaving and waxing? Would men suddenly say no, I'm not going to fuck you?  Somehow I doubt it. 

There is not a single inch of the female body that society has deemed beyond the need of repair.  For every implied fault someone has created a service to "fix it".  Now 10 year olds are getting microdermabrasion, which is a treatment that removes dead skin cells.  "Lauren Albert, spa director at Rescue Rittenhouse Spa, says mothers frequently bring in their daughters between the ages of 10 and 14 for various waxes, nail services and facials." All this in the quest to have the perfect pretty baby. Who defines perfect?  How is it that women have been duped into believing that our bodies are fundamentally damaged?

Two factors combine together to create woman as other; capitalism and patriarchy.  When a fault is created it means a business opportunity is created. Even though women earn 70 cents for every dollar a man makes, threatening our femininity is usually enough to get us to part with our hard earned dollars. Big business gains nothing by reinforcing a positive femininity.  A woman that loves herself as she is created will not feel the need to succumb to things like waxing, makeup, surgeries etc and this ultimately means that the beauty industry as we understand it would not exist.  That it is a predatory industry is largely ignored in the desire to make sure that we are deemed socially acceptable.  The male gaze is equally problematic.  It creates woman as not only 'other' in comparison to man but 'other' to women. The goal of perfection can never be achieved and that is the point. It keeps women constantly seeking  elusive male approval. It creates a sexuality that is not woman centred but man centred and  therefore we are meant to feel grateful that a man would think us worthy of a fuck.

It is time that women begin to examine these so called services critically. Who do they really benefit, and what messages are we internalizing. It is harmful to our daughters to teach them at a young age they are unacceptable for something that is beyond their control. It is further harmful that the message we are teaching is that femininity is ultimately a foul thing in need of continual grooming to escape being labelled less than.  It is time to stop enriching these corporations that prey upon womens fears.  A woman is so much more than her physical appearance and it is time to move beyond this standard as the value of worth.


dani c said...

Ahhhhh, I love this article...Very, very, very, true.

nia said...

Very interesting article.
What I also notice about many of these skin-care products and so on is the pseudo-medical image they give them. For example, they are created by Dr. this or Dr. that, or they have names like Skin-ceuticals or MD...
It's almost as though they are telling women that there is a real medical reason for them to alter their bodies aesthetically. As though having hair on your legs or wrinkles is a disease or illness that must be cured.

Roxie said...

I have always maintained that this hairless policing of the female body is extremely problematic and only serves to make it easier to sexualize prepubescent and underage girls.

Of course, every time I bring that up, men tell me I am overreacting and it isn't that bad. But seriously, what're you telling women when you tell them they should be thin, hairless, odorless, sexy-yet-innocent, and taking up as little space as possible?

Or better yet, how does this NOT translate to sexualizing children who are small, thin, odorless, innocent, and take up very little space?

elle said...

Renee, that Wanda's add makes my skin crawl.

Insightful post.

Liza said...

interesting post. i don't think i will ever allow my daughter to have that. they probably don't know that the hair is there to protect our genitals from dirt.

Mekhismom said...

I think that it is absolutely appalling that "spas" are targeting babies for waxing, make-up services, etc. You are right that society is causing this abnormal behavior to be the norm and it teaches girl children that they are not enough without extras.

daedalus2u said...

I happen to be doing research on commensal surface bacteria and body hair is an important factor in providing the proper niche for the proper bacteria. A shaved body is a less healthy body.

My hypothesis is that body hair is actually present to provide a niche specifically for the bacteria I am working with, the autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria. These bacteria are very common in the soil, essentially every soil on Earth has them, as well as every source of water including surface, ground, spring, fresh and salt. They are responsible for the first step in the process of nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia into nitrite (another bacteria oxidizes the nitrite to nitrate). I have found these bacteria living on the surfaces of multiple organisms living in the wild, clams, mussels, lobsters, turtle, earthworms.

By providing a niche for these bacteria, hair prevents infections from other bacteria. That is especially important around openings in the body. I have an exensive post on how they suppress other bacteria (mostly via quorum sensing, but they can kill them too).

The NO/NOx that these bacteria produce is critically important in human physiology. One of the things it regulates is steroid synthesis, testosterone synthesis is regulated by NO. NO inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme that is the rate limiting step in testosterone synthesis. Lower NO levels and testosterone goes up. It is testosterone that causes the growth of pubic hair. I think this is part of the feedback loop that regulates NO/NOx production by these bacteria. If you have low NO, your androgen level goes up, you grow more hair, the niche for the bacteria expands, the NO/NOx level goes up.

Bathing and removing the hair via shaving prevents that normal feedback, and I think that is the cause of some of the hyperandrogenic effects that some women experience, including PCOS, becoming hirsute, male pattern baldness, and infertility.

I think that removing a child's pubic hair so it never grows is mutilation and child abuse. I would never do that or allow it to be done to my child, or allow her to think that something like hair removal was ever necessary to be acceptable or attractive.

Ashley said...

Daedalus, you research is fascinating. However, this:

"Bathing and removing the hair via shaving prevents that normal feedback, and I think that is the cause of some of the hyperandrogenic effects that some women experience, including PCOS, becoming hirsute, male pattern baldness, and infertility."

is WAY out there, and as a woman with PCOS who has many friends with PCOS, I find anecdotally unsupported. I barely shave, yet have PCOS without much hirsutism. One friend who was not over-shaving as a teen has full blown PCOS with hirsutism, and I can't say about the third.

And then, how do you account for the fact that certain races seem to have more male-pattern hair growth. I'm thinking specifically of Middle-Eastern women with mustaches.

Also, seriously, shaving my legs does not make my ovaries produce 20+ cysts each. That idea right there is absurd.

mzbitca said...

I am just sick of people always trying to find "reasons" for why women engage in sex work. Are there victims in sex work yes..are there victims in other types of work...yes. It just all boils down to the fact that society is not comfortable with women freely making decisions about their sexual identity. They can't choose to engage in stripping, they must be damaged in some way. Heaven forbid it be an autonomous decision.

mzbitca said...

ok I dont know how that comment jumped from the post on Rome to this post...weird

daedalus2u said...

Ashley, I agree the idea is "way out there". You need to have the right bacteria also. These bacteria are extremely easy to lose by bathing. Bathing even a few times a week can do it. They have a doubling time of ~10 hours (compared to 20 minutes for the bacteria that replace them (which are the ones that cause odor)), so it is easy to wash them off faster than they can come back. Bathing to remove the bacteria that cause odor is frequent enough that they will never come back.

The scalp hair is the most important, and I think it was the development of conditioning shampoos in the 1970's and 80's that allowed people to wash their hair every day that has pushed people too far in a low NO direction.

Leg hair isn't very important, scalp and underarm hair is, but only if the right bacteria are present. One way of telling if you have the bacteria is if you don't bathe and start to smell and have BO, then you do not have the bacteria. If you don't smell you might have them or not, but if you start to smell, you definitely do not have them.

I have read a lot on PCOS, and all the symptoms seem to me to be characteristic of low NO, including the metabolic syndrome, the steroid profiles, insulin resistance, reduced vascular reactivity, increased oxidative stress, increased asymmetrical dimethyl arginine. This paper for example shows a pretty good correlation between vascular reactivity, insulin resistance and C reactive protein.

The vascular reactivity they looked at, flow mediated dilation is caused by increased flow velocity causing increased shear in the blood vessels, which causes the release of NO which causes the vessel to relax and get larger in diameter. The other vascular reactivity they tested was by giving nitroglycerine. That releases NO (by chemistry that is still not understood), that NO adds to the NO that is already there and causes the vessel to relax also. That both types of vascular reactivity are reduced (to me) implicates basal NO level. C reactive protein is a "stress" protein, expression of which is mediated by NFkB, which is inhibited by NO. Low NO is going to decrease NFkB and increase CRP.

daedalus2u said...

Ashley, I was looking on PubMed, and found this article (available for free download).

It looks at how metformin (the usual drug for treating PCOS) affects the ovaries of mice that have been affected by experimental exposure to increased androgens. One of the things it seems to do is to increase nitric oxide synthase activity back to the normal range. The androgenic treatment lowers it.

smartlikeme said...

Putting your minor daughter through a completely voluntary and aesthetic procedure with irreversible effects when she can not make an educated, adult choice for herself is bullshit.

KendallMcK said...

There's another reason the establishment wants people, but particularly women, hairless: sex.

Body hair (especially pubic and armpit hair) is there not only to protect us, but to make us sexually attractive. Body hair traps pheromones, which, as we know, increase sexual attraction and desire. It also is a sign of sexual maturity and virility. Removing one's hair can be a way of toning down your sexuality.

In short: body hair is supposed to make us naturally want to fuck - an obvious no-no in our awesome sex-is-bad-unless-it's-being-used-to-sell-products-and/or-exploit-women society.

bayan said...

the way i see body hair removal, is that it is an advanced form of sexual dimorphism, not occurring naturally but being something that humans have discovered to use to their advantage.. AKA, a male in his prime is more likely to look for a mate exhibiting more sexual dimorphism, therefore hair removal on female will serve as an advantage for this.. It could be opposite too, if the females were the ones who grew hair, men would eventually use shaving their bodies to their advantage to attract mates... it just so happens that men are the ones with a high level of testosterone