Last week a few news outlets picked up a blog post written by a physician titled "The war on pubic hair must end." The post seems to be old, and I'm not sure what brought it to the media's attention, but there's something in the response to it that feels misguided.
The post itself is clear enough, a doctor is wondering why so many people want to remove hair from their bodies, particularly pubic hair. She suggests that there are good reasons to keep your hair down there, like reducing the chances of infections (e they transmitted sexually or otherwise) and argues that doctors owe it to their patients to point this out.
I think that's great. I'm all for doctors talking more with patients, particularly about something we're usually silent about, like pubic hair. I wish doctors had a little more knowledge and training about the ways that our experience of something like our hair intersects with things like gender and race, such that these conversations didn't always seem to be only about gender normative white women, and I'd like to think that unless the doctor knows the research (and assuming there is good research to know) that this would be more of a conversation than a prescription. But in any case it's nice to see a physician raising this issue.
Having said that, I do think there's a problem with the suggestion that it's wrong to remove hair from your body and that people shouldn't do it. If we're going to say that people have the right to bodily integrity, the right to choose what to do and not do with their body, and the choice of how to present their body in the world (providing those choices don't involve doing harm or violence to others) then I'm not sure we can pick and choose which choices they get to make. Why is it okay for someone to get a tattoo but not for someone to shave their pubic hair? Or why is it okay for someone to get a breast reduction but not a breast enlargement? These decisions aren't the same, I understand that. But it's impossible to know the details of every decision people make, and so, if we're fighting for anything, I think it's more tenable, and less hypocritical, for us to fight for people's right to choose, and not fight for a particular choice they make.
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