Monday, March 22, 2010

Better Trim That Pubic Hair (NSFW)

As most of you know, I am a fan of the cable show “Spartacus of Blood and Sand”.  Every week male frontal nudity is a mainstay and in fact, this week I finally got a look at a particular man that I was very curious about (you can call me naughty later).  Spartacus is attempting to be a historical fiction based on a true story; however, certain details are particularly problematic.

(Editor’s note: the image formerly displayed here has been removed because of nudity)

As you can see, female nudity is not an issue for this show.  It is always done tastefully; however, I have noticed that despite the fact that this show is supposedly based on ancient Rome, modern grooming aesthetics continue to dominate.  Notice how carefully groomed the pubic hair is?  If you are looking for a stray arm pit hair you won’t find it either.  It seems that even for the sake of historical accuracy, the idea that women did not always attend with such care to their bodily hair is troubling.

Why is hair on women such an issue?  It is as though we seek to create a world in which women never leave a pre-pubescent state.   I will certainly agree that how women choose to groom their bodies is an individual choice; however, we should not ignore the fact that much of this choice, is mitigated by the norms we have created. 

Even in a show that is attempting to convey historical accuracy, the women have shaved armpits and scrupulously groomed pubic hair.  No authentic Roman woman would be worrying about her bikini line, or whether or not she had armpit hair.  I would not be surprised if upon closer inspection, you would find that all of the actresses also shaved their legs.  Why is there so much fear regarding hair?  Hair on your legs armpits or crotch, is not suddenly going to make you less female.

We talk about choice and female agency and yet the moment a woman decides not to participate in the cult of hairlessness, she is immediately disciplined. I simply don’t understand how hair which is naturally occurring, can be so problematic and yet vajazzling is considered this wonderful discovery.  Your crotch does not need to look like a disco ball. 

For all of our freedom and agency, we still have not reached a point where we feel that personal grooming is up to the individual, because even in times when it certainly does not make sense, we promote a particular aesthetic.  We constantly talk about the beauty of the female form and yet in its most natural simplistic state we consider it not only unacceptable, but deeply flawed. 

Editors Note: A correction: Roman women of class privilege did shave body hair; however, slaves, as this image depicted did not.