These sorts of advertisements are generally aimed at women and so I was quite surprised when I received a link from Macon at Stuff White People Do, with a commercial exhorting men to shave their pubic hair. It’s a cute little demonstration video for those that have always been curious about how to rid themselves of hair without damaging their oooooh so delicate bits and pieces.
My initial response was to laugh and move on, until I thought about how different this advertisement would have been had it been aimed at a woman. Eliminating all the hair on our bodies with the exception of that which grows on our head, has pretty much become socially mandated. Heaven forbid you should wear a tank top or a sleeveless dress and decide not to shave your arm pits. Even as female bodies are constructed as attractive, they are also seen as filthy.
The impetus behind shaving of male pubic hair you will note, is not because the penis or the scrotum are dirty but to give the appearance of greater length. Men are not shamed into performing, they are simply offered a BS line about penis length. Shaming it seems is something that patriarchy and capitalism reserve for women. Even this commercial is positioned from an enhance what you have perspective, rather than the understanding that what you possess is inherently imperfect and in constant need of improvement.
Working on your body is the continual job of a woman; it is a social obligation. Men receive no such demands and commentary on male bodies is usually only relevant in terms of how it relates to competition. A man may be perceived as less masculine than another man but his body in and of itself is never thought of as inferior and that is the difference between men and women.