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Maintaining your body for sexual appeal: Now for Men!

May 27, 2009

I was kind of confused when I saw that someone searched “pubic hair shaving video” to find our site, but now I know why, and it won’t disappoint. Apparently there is a new trend of men shaving their pubic hair, or at least a whole lot of advertising money getting behind it.
Gillette has a whole series of videos for men on how to shave your body hair. Each start with an appeal to body shaming, “everyone knows that” or “It’s no secret that”:

“An empty stable smells better than a full one” – shave your armpits or else you’ll smell.
“Sweaters should be worn not grown” – Shave your chest so it will look more muscular.
“Wall to wall carpeting has got to go… good thinking!” – shave your back or else you’re gross!
And finally, shave your balls- because your dick should be huge:

We talk a lot about body shaming for women and its negative effects, but here is a very clear articulation of what an ideal man should look like. Like advertising for women, there is an assumption that you are not the ideal man, but you should be working hard to be him; it is abnormal to not want to be this man. The unshaven man who is the audience for these videos is the male equivalent of a “before” picture: not muscular enough, big enough, clean enough, manly enough. These also include the aspect of controlling your body, so pernicious in body shaming in general, that your body as is is not good enough, and you should buy these products in order to keep it in check. (See my post on “The before body” for why I hate this all so much.)

One difference I see, however, is the bluntness in discussing male bodies that is not included in women’s advertising. Compare Philips’ website encouraging men to groom their genitals with the ads for Schick Quatro for women that caused such a kerfuffle:

Wondering how to shave your balls? Scrotum shaving or male pubic hair shaving is something that many guys are interested in but don’t know how to go about getting the job done right.

Did you know that women like men who shave down there? Having silky smooth balls is a lot nicer than finding a huge bush or choking on your pubes! Today’s trend is to have it clean or at least trimmed. This helps both aesthetically and hygienic wise as well.

Here you will learn How to Shave Your Pubes and what 3 simple tools you need to get the job done right and safely. DO NOT use a razor blade to shave your pubic hair! There is a safer and better solution. The only male grooming tool that is made to shave your entire body is the Philips Norelco Bodygroom.

I’m not sure that it makes the body shaming any less negative that advertising can be more explicit with its discussion of the male body, but it’s certainly an interesting comparison.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Whitney permalink
    May 29, 2009 1:03 AM

    Thanks for writing this post, Becky! I’m really glad to see this post on issues relating to men and their bodies since it seems like that topic is much less frequently discussed in general. Also, this campaign is painfully ridiculously gross.

    Also, as a side note, I read this blog regularly now, enjoy it thoroughly and am very glad it exists 🙂

  2. janebejane permalink
    May 29, 2009 12:02 PM

    This is absolutely appalling. I have always been anti-shaving, and the monologue “Hair” from the Vagina Monologues holds a special place in my heart. I have noticed over the last ten years or so (unfortunately I had the responsibility of growing up during those years), that it has not only become favorable but expected for young women to shave their pubic hair. I had no idea that the pressure was rising for men to do the same. Why does sexually appealing have to mean prepubescent? Last time I checked, body hair on a man was a biological sign that he was mature. Thank you for posting this eye-opening article.

    I, too, am now a frequenter of this blog and enjoy it very much!! I found it through Emily T’s facebook – we went to high school together and I’m happy that I did, it is right up my alley. Keep up the good work!

  3. Fred Mertz permalink
    May 30, 2009 6:57 AM

    Love your post, Becky. What is more infuriating and appalling:this “trend” Gillette is talking about doesn’t exist. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the mens’ locker rooms at the health clubs I go to is “natural”; anyone who says differently is lying (with the possible exception of predominantly gay clubs or resorts – I wouldn’t know). Since this comment may provoke challenges, there are also plenty of clothing-optional beaches and resorts in California and elsewhere – go see for yourself. I also regret so many women have succumbed to this nonsense.

  4. Andreas permalink
    May 31, 2009 11:22 PM

    God, this ad campaign is deeply, hilariously stupid. It really is just another case of “Your body isn’t good enough if it’s not like this.” I’ve encountered statements like “Did you know that women like men who shave down there?” all over the place – it’s suggesting that ALL women have the same standards of beauty, and that clearly that 1 standard should be what you base your appearance on (and it’s heteronormative!). What I find really funny is that “Today’s trend is to have it clean or at least trimmed.” So not only do you have to change your body in accordance with some imaginary standard, but it could change at a moment’s notice!

    I guess it’s just reassuring (?) to see that advertisers want people of all genders to make their bodies conform.

  5. June 1, 2009 10:59 AM

    I remember seeing an ad for one of these family jewel-safe razors a few years ago. I’ve seen it again lately ’round the feminist blogs — you know, the ad with the shaved kiwi. “Gee, Mom,” I said, nice and loud so that other people could hear, “why would anyone want to shave a kiwi? Haven’t these people ever heard of stamp collecting or birdwatching? I mean, shaving fruit? Why in the world?” My mother, who probably hadn’t even noticed the ad, burst out laughing at my feigned innocence. “I think they mean something else, dear,” she said.

    “Oh! Well then why don’t they just come out and say it? ‘Shave your friggin’ balls already!” I think we got some straaange looks as we sat and laughed our bottoms off.

  6. Lisa permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:39 PM

    I think it really just comes down to selling razors. If they can convince you that you need to shave your balls, then they can sell you a razor to do it with.

    Why does sexually appealing have to mean prepubescent?

    I’ve always had the same question. And it’s always sort of disturbed me that the ideal of beauty for women (and now men apparently) means that they should look like little girls (or boys). I think that by making overtly sexual images of men and women without pubic hair (I’m thinking especially of some of the pornographic posters that certain college boys seems to be fond of), it increases the sexualization of young bodies, which increases the sexual pressures on young people. It also just worries me that college-age people (or older) are attracted to prepubescent-looking bodies, I’m pretty sure that we’re biologically wired to want physically mature partners.

  7. Mark permalink
    August 2, 2009 12:51 PM

    I shave ‘down under’ and it has been great.

    Much less hot sweaty feeling and as I ride bicycles it is much more comfortable.

    None of that problem of painful tangling either!

    I just started shaving out of curiosity and my girlfriend is much happier for it too, I would not want my girlfriend to grow back her bush if you know what I mean and I now understand why she is happier with me this way.

    And no I did not shave it for size, it’s just the right size thank you!

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