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by andrea nemerson

Hair today

DEAR ANDREA: I'm in a new, casual sexual relationship with an old friend, which has been working well for us. Because I don't want him to think I'm obsessing about something perhaps insignificant, I'd like your opinion. I know that he uses a lot of porn; it's "hidden" all around his house. (I don't snoop. He's careless.) Pretty extreme stuff. I hate it. We never talk about porn, knowing we'd disagree heatedly. This weekend he asked if he could shave me. After expressing that I didn't want to suffer the pain and itching for the following week, I asked why. He said, "For easier access." He hasn't seemed to have trouble figuring out how to get in so far. I was just coming to terms with my pubic hair and forgoing the "bikini shave" unless I am in fact going to be in a bathing suit. Now I'm feeling insecure, and I wonder if he's trying to approach the fantasy-world, clean-shaven-little-girl image portrayed in pornography. If I ask him, what's he gonna say – "Yeah, I want you to look like a little girl"? Why do all women in the porn world shave all their pubic hair (or leave a "Mohawk")? Am I being paranoid? Should I just shrug it off? (BTW, we left it at perhaps a trim in the future.)

Love, Hairy Mary

Dear Mary:

But why don't you tell us how you really feel?

Hoo-boy. This isn't quite as simple a question as it first appeared. There are a lot of separate issues here and no small number of assumptions. Let's see if we can take them one by one.

If this is more of a fuck-buddy situation than a long-term love thing, you'd probably rather keep the relationship-processing to a minimum, so I'd certainly continue not discussing porn with him if I were you. And if I were him, I'd just let the shaving thing drop. You're never going to be enthusiastic, even after I tell you that postshaving pain (as opposed to itching) is unlikely to be a problem. Why push it?

In his defense, I must say that "easier access" is a perfectly reasonable answer, and probably even true. "He hasn't had a problem getting in so far" is a rather literal, none-too-imaginative interpretation, I must say. Is the inside of your vagina really the only thing he's looking for down there, or might you have other features currently obscured by fur?

And now here's the big one: Have you ever actually watched any porn? Have you so much as glanced at the covers of the magazines that apparently carpet every surface of his swingin' bachelor pad? I ask because – unless he's a devotee of the "barely legal" stuff, which is a specialty taste – there's nothing little girlish about those pubic racing stripes or other extreme down-there cuts. Those girls have supersize, perfectly hemispherical breasts, long, painted talons, and giant hair. If they bear a resemblance to actual little girls, it's only in the most basic ways (two arms, two legs, and a head).

Styles change, and norms change with them. I recently saw a meant-to-be-amusing video reel of '70s porn highlights, and – ick. The unshaved, untrimmed (and apparently unwashed) actors looked like they'd glued giant swatches of dank, matted, '70s-style shag carpeting to their crotches, to no good purpose. Besides looking unsavory – to me! I know! hold those e-mails! – they looked, well, obscure. Was that a vulva? Were those balls? They could have been hiding anything in there. Once presumably a turn-on, those films have become freak shows, and it didn't take long. Eventually, what looks hot to most viewers now will look similarly grotesque, and I shudder to contemplate the fashions that will replace the ones we're sporting now.

You needn't look at anything you don't want to see. You needn't shave or even trim if you don't feel like it. No one has the right to make you. I truly am sorry you're feeling insecure, but I think you may be, in your own words, obsessing about something perhaps insignificant. This can't be good for you or your relationship. You would not be selling out or gladdening the hearts of child molesters everywhere if you decided to give yourself a trim. It's just hair. It doesn't mean much, and it grows right back.

Love, Andrea

You can reach Andrea at alt.sex.column, Bay Guardian, 520 Hampshire St., S.F., CA 94110 or andrea@altsexcolumn.com