By Amalie De Maistre Guest Blogger
This blog analysis is based on a retweet from @FeministPornArchive, originally tweeted by @Fleshbot; “Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen! Take a look at hair in porn in this week’s Encyclopedia of Smut (Massimo).” This retweet links to a blog written about the history of pubic hair trends, going back from thousands of years ago in various art-forms, but specifically focused on the ‘porn eras’ between the 1960’s and 2012 (Massimo).
The topic of pubic hair is an important one, especially for those in the adult entertainment industry. Annie Temple, an exotic dancer, sheds light on this in her poem:
T’was my first time up on stage
No one showed me how to shave
I was trim all up in front
But my bush covered my cunt
Vast amounts of money and time get invested into pubic hair; trends have ranged from wearing merkins, getting electrolysis, to modern-day Brazilian waxing rituals with “vagacial” aftercare procedures (Hartmann). There are many people who grew up in the 1980’s who have been removing their pubic, leg, and armpit hair since puberty without actually knowing that this trend was created by porn culture.
I have heard people state that pubic hair removal promotes pedophilia to make genitalia look pre-pubescent, and have also seen people cringe when they observe ‘too much’ body hair, deeming it to be unhygienic or unappealing. This practice of observing and imposing ideals with respect to body hair affects those working within the adult entertainment industry and also those in mainstream society, as people are faced with these culturally constructed norms around ‘proper’ grooming of their nether-regions.
Massimo has a refreshing blog writing style with high-spirited banter, making light of topic matter that is often considered crude or embarrassing. The comical writing style in Massimo’s blog-post provides context to the trends around body hair because although pubic hair is something people invest time and money into, it’s often not talked about. Pubic hair concerns are kept within the private domestic sphere or within the back rooms of salons; however, porn culture influences trends in the public mainstream sphere. Once trends are visible to the public, cultural expectations follow suit.
The “Pubic Wars” is a term Massimo used to describe major porn companies competitively pushing the envelope, to start showing “bush” in the 1960’s and even more-so in the 1970’s. As genital imagery became the prevalent focus for the 1980’s and 1990’s porn consumer, the pubic hair got shorter and eventually removed altogether in order to provide the consumer with easier visual access to the genitals (Massimo).
Body hair removal was a technical industry strategy to see the genitals better as well as a response to shrinking bathing suits (Massimo). The popular term ‘manscaping’ indicates that pube-removal is a norm that is non gender-specific (Massimo). Hair removal also benefits performers as it prevents hair from getting in mouths during oral sex scenes (Massimo). In Massimo’s humorous yet down-to-earth way, he questions whether ‘manscaping’ is done to make the penis look larger, which in my opinion is the case.
History repeats itself as porn’s focus on genitals in the 1980’s and 1990’s revisited the previous porn trends from the mid to late 1800’s. Why didn’t Massimo explain the disappearance of the genitals and pubic hair in porn between the Victorian era and the 1960’s? Perhaps a more complete historical analysis starting from the mid-nineteenth century would have provided a better overview of the discourse pertaining to the appearance, disappearance, and reappearance of genitals and hair in porn (Fenton 1999, Williams 31).
Massimo stated that shaved genitals look more youthful, but in contrast described “pubephiles,” as those who love the variety of pubic hair, which apparently is making a comeback in porn. Massimo attributed ‘smut conscious feminists’ as another reasons for pubic hair making a return to the screen. Massimo’s argument about ‘smut conscious feminist’s’ refusing to partake in porn culture’s pubic hair removal connects feminists to the anti-pubic hair removal side of the “war.” Many feminist porn producers, performers, and consumers benefit from the technical aspects of showing the genitals, and would disagree with Massimo’s sweeping generalization.
Massimo also mentions that the fallen economy has impacted hair removal trends, and this is unbelievable with the many advertisements for vagazzling and male grooming products like the Braun cruZer (XX). During economic recessions porn and sex consumers seek more entertainment and companionship to deal with the stress, therefore adult entertainment workers have more business (Reporter). There is a market for everything in the industry, and accommodations need to be made for consumers who desire hair. Will the mainstream public follow suit with the new hairy trend?
Braun, “How to get a perfectly groomed groin with the cruZer body genital hair remover.” Braun-The Perfectly Groomed Groin. N.p.. Web. 13 Feb 2015. <http://www.braun.com/global/male-grooming/adviser/body-grooming/perfectly-groomed-groin.html>.
Fenton, Bailey, prod. Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation. Prod. Randy Barbato, and . IMDb, 1999. Film. 2 Feb 2015. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0498445>.
Hartmann, Margaret. “The Vagacial: Now Your Vagina Needs A Facial Too.” Jezebel. Jezebel, 02 11 2010. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://jezebel.com/5469743/the-vagacial-now-your-vagina-needs-a-facial-too>.
Massimo, Ottimo. “The Encycopedia of Smut:The Body Hair Appendix.” Fleshbot Porn Blog. Fleshbot.com, 27 09 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://straight.fleshbot.com/5937841/the-encyclopedia-of-smut-the-body-hair-appendix>
Reporter, Daily Mail. “Recession-hit Russian Men Turn To Prostitutes For… A Chat And Shoulder To Cry On.” Mail Online. N.p., 04 05 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1177164/Recession-hit-Russian-men-turn-prostitutes–chat-shoulder-on.html>.
Temple, Annie. “Yonilicious: Mullet Pussy.” Yonilicious.blogspot.ca. NakedTruth.ca, 18 04 2007. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://yonilicious.blogspot.ca/2007/04/mullet-pussy.html>.
Williams, Linda. “Speaking Sex: “The Indiscreet Jewels”.” Trans. Array Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible”. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1996. 1-33. Print.
XX, Mrs. “Vagazzling: Vagazzle Body Art Crystals in Sparcling Designs.” CrazyBee.ca. N.p.. Web. 13 Feb 2015. <http://www.crazybee.ca/index.php/products/vajazzling>.