Summer’s come around, eventually. Time for us to run to the park to play cricket badly, burn things on barbecues while sipping lukewarm Fosters, and – if you’re me – growl with resentment at the fact that you have to show people your shaving rash if you want to go swimming.
I shave my crotch sometimes. Not all the time – in fact, one might say I’m reasonably lax about the removal of body hair. Ultimately, shaving things takes time and effort that I’d rather spend on having fun. However, I don’t mind the occasional shave because I like it when people come all over my cunt, and I get to rub it in. I’m gross like that.
So I have no problem with shaving, or hair removal, if it’s something people want to do. What pisses me off, though, are situations where I feel uncomfortable if I don’t. Situations in which I feel singularly incapable of channeling all of the angry liberal feminist rage I feel most of the time, and simply end up looking wistfully at my crotch and wondering why I give such a massive and disproportionate shit about how it looks. In this case, the thing that has made me angry is the prospect of swimming in the sea.
Caught between a rock and a hairy place
I understand that aesthetically some people prefer smooth thighs and a bald crotch, with no pubic hairs poking out of the sides of a swimming costume, but unfortunately for me (and, I suspect, a hell of a lot of other women too) this isn’t actually an option.
The choice for me is between a hairy crotch or an ugly shaving rash, ingrowing hairs, and a desire to scratch myself that’s likely to get me arrested in public places.
When I’ve confessed this to people before, their response has usually been ‘well, why don’t you wax?’ Great thinking, kids, but unfortunately waxing makes no discernible difference to whether my cunt turns bright red and causes me immeasurable discomfort for a week. What’s more, it hurts like… well… like a sadist ripping hairs out of your pudenda.
I got my crotch waxed once, so I know what it feels like. Anyone who suggests that I do this, in the same casual tone as they would if they were recommending a certain film, needs a quick, sharp lesson in empathy. Because my God, people, it hurts. A lot.
When I regaled my Mum with the horrible tale of my inaugural cunt-waxing, she summed up pretty much how I felt about the matter.
“I had it done once,” she said “and it hurt, but only slightly more than childbirth.”
I would probably have been less upset by the pain if it turned out there was a ‘gain’ from it afterwards, but unfortunately the very next day I was nursing bright red patches and itching again, still unable to wear a bikini in case people on the beach thought I was contagious.
How do you solve a problem like a hairy crotch?
I challenged myself to write this entry without recourse to my usual rage-fuelled bile-spitting about society’s expectations of presentation and body. Not because it’s unimportant (it’s very important) but simply because I recognise that no amount of raging and ranting and writing empowering blogs on the internet can magically stop someone being bothered about crotch hair.
If someone gives you an odd look when you stand on the beach, straggling pubes waving in the breeze, your discomfort won’t be lessened any by knowing that I wrote a feminist blog about it the week before. Knowing that I shouldn’t care about this stuff – that I’m intrinsically happy in my worth as a human being whether my crotch is bald or not – doesn’t make the slightest difference to my irrational, emotional insecurity about it.
When we arrive in Utopia, no one will ever have to worry about whether they have crotch hair, or a shaving rash, moles in unusual places or stretchmarks or cellulite or any of the other things that cause us to panic. We’ll all be far too busy swimming to give even the smallest flying fuck about anyone’s perceived imperfections.
But right now that’s not helpful or comforting. Right now I’m preparing for a holiday, staring mournfully at a bikini and dreading the moment I have to show it – and whatever state my crotch is in – to the world.
There’s no conclusion to this that’s in any way satisfying. In the short term I’m buying shorts. Long shorts. Swimming shorts. The really baggy ones that go down to my knees. Twinned with a bikini top and an angry stare, they should get me through this summer, at least.
And in the longer term, well. There’ll be more angry blog posts and rants about what is not wrong with you and why no one should feel compelled to shave their body hair. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we reach our Utopia before summer 2014, when this whole charade begins again.