Nature or nurture when it comes to shaving?
You know what looks really sexy on a woman? Stubble. Underarm stubble. Oh baby, now we’re talking. So much sexier than a tuft of (ugh) hair, don’t you agree?
Of course you do. You and the rest of the entire Western world. I’ve watched the obsession with shaving underarm hair grow from the ridiculous conceit of a generally despised woman-hating minority into an almost universal consensus. And it sucks.
In the 1980s a female friend was threatened with dismissal from an office job if she didn’t either shave off or cover up her underarm hair. All the cool people I knew were suitably shocked and appalled. What kind of sick fascist bastard would demand their female employees disfigure themselves like that?
Twenty years later I feel like the only sane person on the planet. Where have all the cool people gone? They’ve turned into shave-bots, every one.
In the 1980s “shut up and shave” was the sneering put down of woman- hating Republicans. Today all the women I know shave. Everybody I speak to claims to be physically disgusted by the very idea of an unshaved female armpit. Female celebrities who don’t shave, or who shave too infrequently, are mocked on TV, in the gossip mags and on the web. We have become a culture of squeamish ninnies.
Of course when you’re the last sane person on the planet, you spend a lot of time questioning your sanity. Am I only pretending to be pro-underarm hair so I can get laid by my feminist chums? Even though all my feminist chums actually shave their armpits?
I close my eyes and try real hard to put myself inside the head of a shave-clone. Look—I say to myself—an armpit with hair. Isn’t that disgusting? Doesn’t that make you physically sick? Doesn’t that make you not want to have sex with that person?
But try as I might, it doesn’t. The obsession makes no sense. It’s as if society decided that eyebrows on women were repulsive and women started shaving them off and celeb magazines witch-hunted famous women who committed a crime against decency by letting them grow back.
This sheeplike anti-underarm hair consensus is just one tiny part of the desexing of sex—the same gay-fashion- and-straight-porn driven Barbie-and-Kenning of sexual aesthetics that dictates that the perfect female shape (long legs, tiny bottom, few if any pubes, etc.) is exactly the same as that of the average prepubescent boy (with tits added to taste).
Let’s take away the sweat (and if you don’t find the smell of fresh sweat erotic, then you’ve never had great sex), take away the hair, let’s make women look as much like children as possible. Hey, did someone say pedophilia?
Even as the specter of child molestation wracks us with so much fear that we’re raising entire generations of mollycoddled, soft-handed fat kids who are never let out alone or unsupervised, the aesthetics of pedophilia are everywhere triumphant, and in the West we groom our women to look like fresh-faced choirboys.
See also the frightening spectacle of wrinkle-free sixty- and seventysomething TV personalities and the bombardment of ads for quack medicines designed to stop 48-year-olds looking like 48-year-olds. Because who in their right mind wants to have sex with someone who looks their age when they could be having sex with someone trying desperately to look like they’re 12?
Like I said, people are sick.
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace