To those of you who are squeamish, please read no further. I’ve made a career writing nonchalantly, elegantly and openly about sexuality. It just doesn’t embarrass me. This topic may however embarrass you. So be warned.
I’m only half-kidding.
Specifically I speak of the clam, the bush, the cunt, the pussy, the snatch, the gash, and the slash. It is a discovery I’ve made at the gym; in the locker room, in the shower, in the sauna, and the steam room. Of the moment, when we guardedly check each other out. When we look at the tits, the ass, the face, the belly, and yes, the pussy.
I’ve discovered that women under the age of 40 now present a well manicured clam. I speak of the bush that is now shaped and trimmed. These women no longer sport the full unruly, kinky, crazy mass of pubic hair. That wiry jungle that sometimes grows half way down the thighs, a garden of furry delight. It is now, for younger women, a neat landing strip; clipped and shaped. Manicured. Even elegant. Like topiary on an estate.
I wonder, where do women go to get this done? Do they go to a salon and say, take a little off the top and the sides? Can you buy a kit at the drugstore? Is it waxed? Is it painful? Do you pluck it? Clip it? How often? Although my days of wearing a bikini are over, I do remember gently lathering up along the bikini line and gingerly, carefully shaving the excess so that nothing poked out of my suit. And the re-growth was painful.
But this is a whole other level of grooming. I’ve known women (girls) who defiantly refused to shave under their arms, who refused to shave their legs. Who I’m sure sported a full bush of pubic hair. Let your freak flag fly. I sometimes wonder how much the porn industry has played into this trend. When completely shaved pussies first made their appearance it was a bit appalling, and even freakish. For me, it seemed to infantilize the women. They became little girls.
Obviously, this has spread to main stream America and even Brooklyn. I remember stepping out the steam room, a towel wrapped around me. I caught of glimpse of myself in a mirror and was completely embarrassed. My clam was exposed and it wasn’t manicured! The horror! I’ve actually become self conscious about this. As if I need anything else to be self conscious about--- still though I don’t see myself joining the ranks of the well manicured clam anytime soon. "I'm hairy high and low."
Creator and co-author of the award winning The Erotica Project. Author of erotic short stories published on Salon.com. Producer/author for NPR. MA from NYU. Published by Cleis Press, Seal Press, Heinemann Press, New York Press. Reviewed in NYTimes, Village Voice, Art in America, London Sunday Times.