To Get/Keep a Man, Shave to His Will?
I visited a friend in London this past weekend. While I was there, I ate lots and lots of yummy chocolate and cheese and baked goods. I basked in the idea that national health care was a given. Even more, the UK National Health Service doesn't rob women of their reproductive rights by allowing religion to dictate what health services are covered; except for in Northern Ireland, termination (abortion) services are covered. After a horrible week in the US, where Democrats sold out women and allowed religious lobbies to impose their beliefs on my health, I thought about defecting. London is perfect! Well, except that even in the UK, women are told that you need set aside your own preferences and needs if you want to get and keep a man.
The controversy flared before my trip. On Halloween (insert "trick" joke here), Suzi Godson told a woman in the The Times that if she wants to keep her younger boyfriend, she should groom herself in the way he finds attractive. And by groom, I mean get a Brazilian wax. According to Godson, porn has rendered men incapable of looking at women with pubic hair and finding them attractive. Godson's sage advice is thus:
Though the feminist ethos of your “take me as I am” argument is perfectly valid, your boyfriend’s reaction is instinctive — and in the face of something that is honestly perceived as a turn-off by one partner, rational arguments simply do not work. The good news is that, as “issues” go, this is a pretty small one and, hey, if the relationship doesn’t work out you can return to your old ways.
Now, I'm not going to argue against the idea that rational arguments can't be used on desire. That makes sense. I disagree that men instinctively like waxed snatch, but even that's not really the point here. Maybe, just maybe, the better conclusion to this issue is that these people are not so compatible. If the woman isn't really into all the expense - both in terms of time and money - and potential complications of Brazilian waxing (Godson's next paragraphs then explain how waxing and shaving can lead to infections and all sorts of other problems for some women), perhaps it makes more sense to find a partner that is not turned off by her. Why is changing your preferences and personal appearance to fit a man's desires a good idea?
At Salon's Broadsheet, Mary Elizabeth Williams took offense at Godson's advice. She wrote:
At no point in her wisdom-dispensing did Godson ask the woman if she herself might enjoy experimenting with a walk on the bare side. It's hair! It grows back! Nor did she conversely say that maybe after a little open conversation, her new beau might appreciate a woman who looks and feels different than his previous lovers... She didn't offer an invitation to the writer to first figure out what makes her happy, and if that shocks her suitor, who needs him?
My feelings exactly! This is not really about pubic hair or not pubic hair - it is about the idea that women never need consider what they want or need in a sexual relationship, but should just do what the man wants. Otherwise, you'll risk dying alone and unloved, with 47 cats. When you die, it will take days for anyone to even notice, and by then, your starving cats will have eaten off your face in desperation. Many of the people who left comments on Williams's post, however, said that there's nothing un-feminist about suggesting that a woman must undergo crotch waxing to make a man happy, and that Williams overreacted.
Fortunately, there are people who also thought it important to make a fuss over telling someone to take on a beauty practice specifically to please her guy. Unsolicited Opinion rakes Godson over the rails, too. After analyzing the idea that pron guides instinct, she concluded, "I hope the letter-writer has the good sense to ignore her stupid advice... and either tell her young man to appreciate her body or get the hell out of Dodge." BellaSugar turned to sex educator Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., MPH for a second opinion. Her advice made much more sense. I summarize: "I would advise this particular woman — and any woman or man who isn't sure what to do with their pubic hair — to do only what they feel comfortable or sexy doing."
Ah, the craziness of that suggestion! Do what you feel comfortable or sexy doing! How novel and delightful! Yet I hope no matter what side of the pond a woman lives on, she has the courage to take it to heart. And speaking of hearts, despite the fact that I can't get entirely away from sexist stupidity by moving to another country (there's always something), I'd still love to live in London...