A reader writes:
I saw this thread and want to echo what one of your more recent readers wrote, with an added note. Women don’t have to shave, but I probably won’t date one unless she does, at least semi-regularly. But also: if a women I was interested in wouldn’t date me unless I shaved my legs, pits, chest, and pubes, I would have no problem doing so! We want what we want in partners; that’s what I want, what I find attractive, and I’m also willing to bend to what my partner wants from me if that’s what she finds attractive.
I’ve always been curious about that: do women secretly find hair on men gross and wish we’d shave? Or are men just really lucky (as we are in the difference in the cost of haircuts, the price of cosmetics, birth control, and seemingly every societal norm)? By the way, fascinating reader threads lately – with the death of Google Reader, I sense I’ll be spending a lot more time on your site.
He and other Reader refugees, who were getting all of the Dish for free, can subscribe [tinypass_offer text=”here”]. Another reader:
I’m not opposed to women having armpit hair in the abstract, but I would be unlikely to date a woman who does not shave because it is a social signal attached to certain values. I know this not a causation or even a perfect correlation, but the women I’ve known who don’t shave tend to embrace ideologies such as new age spiritualism, ascribe to conspiracy theories about the food system, reject modern medicine, etc. So I don’t actually have a problem with the hair itself; it’s the associated values that turn me off.
I just had to respond to one reader’s line in this thread: “Men are free to be apes, which happens to suit me (except for the ear and nose hair – pluck that, seriously).” Are we? I’d suggest things are changing and men are now expected to trim up their body hair.
Perhaps not to the extent women are expected to do so, but it’s becoming more the norm for both men and women. For instance, Gillette is running a series of commercials with Kate Upton all about how girls like men to style their body hair [see the above video]. According to that commercial, some girls don’t mind a hairy chest but can’t stand a hairy back. Others want the stomach shaved to show off the six pack (now it’s assumed we have one?!?!) And still others want their man completely shorn.
ESPN ran an infomercial this morning for a “personal grooming product” comparing men from the ’70s to today. The caricature from the ’70s had a a huge afro, chest hair that could have doubled as a merkin, and some of the hairiest arms around. Present day man is much more trim.
Anecdotally, my past girlfriends and fiance all preferred very short pubic hair. I also get teased about the single strand of hair on my back, so I assume if that was worse, it’d have to go too.
I think much of this relates back to one of your posts a while ago about male sexuality and how Marky Mark’s Calvin Klein ads changed perceptions of male sexuality. There was another post about male porn stars and how they have changed from unintimidating and ugly men to the guy next door or even very good looking.
I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to accentuate human attraction and sexuality as long as people do not excessively objectify one another.
I’m a straight guy who kinda hates body hair on both men and women ever since my own armpit hair grew out heavy in 6th grade. I am definitely a manscaper (I trim my pubes, chest, and armpits in addition to facial trimming) both for my own physical comfort and attractiveness to women. If I could afford laser surgery I would get it.
The only reason I don’t shave my body completely is because women don’t prefer that – most women I’ve dated or slept with enjoy both facial hair and body hair on men. So if there’s a “double standard” for body shaving it’s probably because secondary sex characteristics are somewhat different for men and women (same for body shape, voice pitch, jawline, etc.).
But as some of your other readers suggested, this phenomenon is also based on socio-cultural norms, which are definitely changing; more women seem to prefer hairless dudes these days – have you seen those Gillette commercials? So, I would happily shave my entire body if a girlfriend wanted me to, as I have no love of body hair on anyone let alone myself, but since most women seem to prefer a little manly hair, I’ll keep it around in moderation. And no, I would not consider it oppressive or sexist if women wanted men like me to shave their bodies; we should all be naked.
Just to throw a seldom-heard perspective on this, I’m a pretty hirsute bear who has to live and work in Texas, more often than not in full business getup – suit and tie, even when it’s 106 outside. And on top of that I’m just naturally more prone to sweating than most men seem to be, even in air conditioning. I found years ago that regularly shaving the natural-grown sweater off my chest and back helps immensely with the heat, and have even come to shave my legs down to the knee.
Why stop there? Because when I do get to wear shorts, it’s considered very weird for a middle-aged non-swimmer male to go completely hairless. If I could, though, I’d shave those damn natural knee-length wool socks that make up the thick hair on my legs from knees to ankles. Someday I’m just going to say “fuck it” and do it anyway.