Dive Deeper with Leah Carey
I have been through the fire and come out the other side. Now I’m here to walk with you as you do the same.
I will help you take a stand for yourself, your desires, and YOUR PLEASURE.
Leah asks the women’s she’s interviewed about their relationship status with their pubic hair. Then she shares her own story of growing up with a combination of a genetically inherited bountiful mound and a learned lady-like horror of the same.
Once again the range *is* the norm. Women go from no hair at all, to all the hair there is. Even for one person, it varies by day, week, month, or major life event.
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hey friends. Welcome back to another episode where we hear a collage of voices answering your most burning questions. Well, perhaps burning is not the right word to use in this context. If you’ve got a burning sensation, please go see your doctor. But today’s hot topic, do you have hair down there or are you bare?
So I want to be brutally honest with you, until just a few years ago, I was obsessed with wondering whether other women shaved down there or not. It wasn’t a sexual curiosity. It was purely an “Am I Normal” curiosity. So let’s dive in. Actually that’s another expression that feels ill chosen in this particular subject but I’ll be back in a few minutes to share my own down there hair journey with you.
SPEAKER 1: I have hair. I’m too lazy.
SPEAKER 2: I do enjoy trimming it with beard clippers or something but I can’t take a razor to it. My skin is so sensitive like an angry kitty. I just can’t go completely bare. I like it bare for about twelve hours and then my life is hell for about a week.
SPEAKER 3: I have hair.
SPEAKER 4: I try to trim it up.
SPEAKER 5: All hair down there, all natural.
SPEAKER 6: I have very soft not curly, so he actually prefers that I don’t trim it.
SPEAKER 7: I have hair everywhere. It’s actually one of the things that I told him before we ever saw each other. I don’t shave and I’m never going to shave again. At this point, he’s gotten to the point where he thinks it’s super sexy.
SPEAKER 8: I’m mostly bare. I went through a period of time where I was waxing and then I just kind of got lazy because I had two kids and it’s hard to have the time to go to the waxing studio so right now, I’m shaving it, but I’m not shaving it every day so at this current moment, it’s probably not completely bare.
SPEAKER 9: It’s either all or nothing.
SPEAKER 9: Because I need it waxed every four months. Depending on when you get me in that cycle.
SPEAKER 10: Hair, though I like to be very, very trimmed. I regularly get bikini waxes. So I definitely like there to be hair but not a lot.
SPEAKER 11: Oh, bare for both of us. At the moment, I’m still shaving but I swear to God the next time I have a significant amount of money, I’m just going to get it all taken care of.
SPEAKER 12: I do have hair. It’s funny being back on the apps relatively recently. That’s like the second thing that a lot of these men ask. “Hey, how’s your Friday? Are you fully shaved?” Those are like the first two questions.
SPEAKER 13: In a couple of hours, I’m going to be bare. I have a waxing appointment.
SPEAKER 13: So at the moment, it’s a little hairy.
SPEAKER 14: I have hair down there. I don’t have a 70s afro porn bush I don’t have that.
SPEAKER 15: I am hairy. Too much work. My husband doesn’t mind either way. Thank God.
SPEAKER 16: I’m mostly bare.
SPEAKER 17: Hair down there.
SPEAKER 18: Now I have hair. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve been not completely but partially bare.
SPEAKER 19: I have less hair than I used to post-chemo. Not all my hair grew back. I preferred bare because of how it felt for me. But after chemo, I didn’t bother starting to shave again and my partner said he didn’t care rand I didn’t have as much hair so it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.
SPEAKER 20: I trim especially around the clit area because that’s where most of my hair grows. And it’s just for health, for hygiene reasons. I don’t want too much hair and fluid and things gathering in one place.
SPEAKER 21: 99% of the time I have hair down there. I get bare occasionally and I have literally sensitive skin and it is a major undertaking for me to go to bare and not end up with horrifying rashes.
SPEAKER 21: But I also kind of like hair. I like at least a landing strip. I don’t like it to look like a child’s.
SPEAKER 22: Yeah, I have hair. Sometimes I’ll be inspired and then I’ll be bare but for the most part, hair.
SPEAKER 23: I have a short hair landing strip. It’s just like about an inch wide and the rest is gone. The inch is very short and I don’t know why I chose that but I did.
SPEAKER 24: I have had it lasered, the edges, and so I just trim the middle strip with hair clippers.
SPEAKER 25: Right now, I am bare. I may let it grow and then I shave.
SPEAKER 26: So currently at this moment, it’s bare. Sometimes it goes away. Usually try to plan it out with a period or maybe bikini time or lingerie.
SPEAKER 27: I like having hair mostly because I hate shaving because I’m Middle Eastern and it sucks.
SPEAKER 27: Because I’d spend an hour just on my bush. I discovered shortcuts in terms of clippers.
SPEAKER 27: And I have gotten waxed down there which I really love but it’s expensive and then I get ingrown hairs. So I like to have maybe doing do that two times a year because I really, really like it when it’s super smooth. It’s such a nice change but trimmed.
SPEAKER 28: I got lasered at about 45.
SPEAKER 29: It depends on if I can be [bold achieving – 7:00] so here’s a funny thing I wear glasses, I don’t know if you experience this. I attempt to shave all the way and then I get out of the shower and I put my glasses on and it’s a freaking disaster.
SPEAKER 30: I am very pro hair person. I landscape if I feel like it and sometimes I don’t.
SPEAKER 31: I shave but I don’t wax. So I shave everything twice a week. I’ve been doing it probably since I was 16 I guess at this point.
LEAH: And is that because you like it or because you’ve heard a message about how that is how it’s supposed to be?
SPEAKER 31: I definitely started doing it because that’s how it’s supposed to be. I prefer now for my partner to shave so I usually l do the same thing. But I know that’s my preference too.
SPEAKER 32: I’m lasered which is actually an interesting thing because in the body acceptance world, sometimes I wish I could grow a big bush and rock it and I can’t.
SPEAKER 33: I’m pretty natural right now because I’m just too lazy to get taken care of it. I also don’t like feeling like a little girl like completely bare just wears me out now.
SPEAKER 34: When it grows in, it’s painful, you get that stubby bit and you could sand paper.
SPEAKER 34: And maintaining is a lot of work. So I go back and forth. I’d probably make it bare about three or four times a year. Just to keep the forest under control.
SPEAKER 35: I have hair. I get sugared and I sugar my bikini line.
SPEAKER 36: I like [unintelligible – 8:45] because they don’t try to dictate to you what you should do with your own pubic hair. But yeah, I prefer fairly shaved somewhere between 75 to 100% all the time. That’s it.
LEAH: How much maintenance does that require?
SPEAKER 36: It’s a pain in the ass. I wouldn’t say I shave every other day, I shave based on when I’m working like I worked last night so I shave yesterday then I work tomorrow then I shave on Thursday too. If I had work until Friday, I would shave until Friday.
SPEAKER 37: No, actually I only ever trim it for swimsuits.
SPEAKER 38: I have hair right now but it’s not very thick or anything. I’ve been a fan of waxing and shaving in the past but now, I’m kind of like let it grow a little, exploring different things.
SPEAKER 39: Laser. I was always waxing and my previous partner wanted to wax the area but for me it was quite bad because of the ingrown hair so basically laser became better solution and because I’m used to being bare. It’s just comfortable that way.
SPEAKER 40: I shave when it gets uncomfortable. So I’ll grow it out and when I’m like, “Oh my Gosh, this is too much” then I’ll shave it. But I’m not an excessive shaver or I don’t wax.
SPEAKER 41: I love hair down there. However, it takes me some time to get the balls to grow down there. When I first starting with a guy, I tend to be cautious and take everything else. I go back and forth. Should I care what a guy thinks or should I not? But honestly the guys going down there, I do care what he wants and I think that if he prefers me clean, then I’ll go clean and if he’s open for me to grow it back. I also feel sexy when I have hair down there.
SPEAKER 42: I keep it trimmed or whatever and I actually prefer the women that I’m with to have hair also. I just don’t think that I could see that much bare skin kind of puts me in the mind of somebody who is prepubescent or something. I can’t do it. I need to see some hair.
SPEAKER 43: I’m not a child! I do trim it but hair, yes.
SPEAKER 44: I have hair down there.
LEAH: And do you trim it? Do you leave it natural?
SPEAKER 44: I trim it because it just feels cleaner and also because there’s a lot of gray hair down there.
LEAH: As there should be because that’s nature.
SPEAKER 44: There’s a lot of gray up here too.
LEAH: Okay my turn. My parents always walked around the house naked when I was a kid. It was a complete non-issue and for those of you who were wondering, it did not scar me in the least. Even with all the sexual impropriety that was going on in our house, being naked was never a part of the problem because being naked was never equated with sex in our home. My parents had bodies and they didn’t hide them from me.
Now that I’m grown, I’m really grateful for that. As my own body started to develop, I became aware that contrary to the bodies I saw in magazines, my mom had fairly thick hair that went halfway down the insides of her thighs. I’m not sure if I asked about or if she brought it up but at some point it became a joke that she made. That she was the “missing link” between ape and man.
And that’s how I learned. Hairy thighs were highly undesirable and something to be ashamed of. I started to notice how careful my mom was to keep her thighs hidden from view. She rarely wore a bathing suit and if she did, she put a little skirt or shorts over it. So you can imagine my horror when my own pubic hair began to creep down the inside of my thighs. I don’t actually remember it happening but I remember looking down one day and noticing that suddenly, I was also thickly forested in that area.
And that began my fear and loathing of ever appearing in a bathing suit. It was less about the shape of my body and everything to do with the hair going down my thighs. A couple of times I tried to shave it but my skin is ultra sensitive so the ingrown hairs and the shaving bumps were a total nightmare. Then, I tried Nair and I couldn’t handle the burning sensation. I couldn’t afford to get my bits waxed so as far I could tell I was stuck with hair down my inner thighs. And since there was nothing I could do about it, my choice was to avoid wearing swimsuits.
At this point, I was in my late teens or early 20s and I hadn’t gotten naked with anyone yet so I remained blissfully unconcerned about the pubic hair covered by my underwear. Until I had my first boyfriend at age 25 and he told me that he liked when girls were completely bare.
I’ll be honest. I was squeamish of the idea from the get go. I couldn’t put words to it then but I understand now that I was really uncomfortable with the idea of appearing hairless and prepubescent. But, like a good girl, I made an effort. I shaved bare a few times and it was predictably horrible! The itching, burning, ingrown hair awfulness and shaving the insides of my thighs was nothing compared to shaving my entire pussy area. It didn’t become an overt issue with that boyfriend. He knew that I couldn’t do it and he didn’t outright pressure me. But he made subtle comments that left me feeling ashamed of the fact that my body didn’t please him.
Several years later, another boyfriend did make it an overt issue between us. He claimed that if I didn’t shave off my pubic hair entirely, it meant that I didn’t care about him or his needs. I explained again and again what physical torture it put me through but he kept pushing. Until I gave up trying to explain and tried to find another solution. I got an electric hair trimmer and one night, I handed it to him. “You can do anything you want with my pubic hair,” I told him, “As long as you don’t shave it down to the skin.”
The first time he thought it was fun and I enjoyed the buzzing around my private parts but when I suggested it again a little while later, he was back to griping that if I didn’t do it myself because I knew it pleased him, it meant that I didn’t care about him or his feelings. There was something wrong with me because as he told me, all men want clean shaven women and other women did it for the pleasure of their man. And I wonder, why did he care so little about me that his visual preference was more important than my physical discomfort?
A quick side note here. This story is completely heterocentric because all of my relationships at that point were heteronormative and I chose to date men who said things like, “All men want” and “All women should”. So it was during this relationship that I developed the obsession with other women’s public hair. Was it true that I was the only woman who was so selfish as to not shave for the pleasure of her partner? Was it true that every man desires every woman to be fully shaved?
I had so many questions and absolutely no way to answer them because you usually don’t walk around asking women, “Hey, are you shaved down there or do you have a bush?” The ads I saw in magazines in the 90s and 2000s for underwear and bathing suits suggested that probably being shaved bare was kind of normal. The conversation that you hear in the culture certainly point in that direction. And it’s definitely what was portrayed in the little bit of porn that I sought out.
When I started dating the person after the “If you don’t do it, you don’t care about me” guy, I assumed the new guy would be similarly unhappy with my lack of bareness. So I took out the electric shaver prior to our first time together rand cut it down to about a ¼ inch. When I took my pants off that first day, he didn’t give it a second look.
Afterward I gathered up all my courage and told him that I was sorry if it disappointed him that I wasn’t bare because I couldn’t do it because of my sensitive skin and I hoped he didn’t mind me being close shaven instead of bare. I was completely unprepared for his response. “I like it however you want to do it. It doesn’t matter to me.” It took me a while to believe him. I’d been so indoctrinated to believe that what I needed wasn’t okay.
Ever since then, my sexual partners have been similarly agnostic about hair. My current partner says, “It’s your hair. You get to do whatever you want to do with it. I don’t really have any say in it.” But what really helped me get over hair as an issue was spending a lot of time in nude spaces and getting to look at other women’s bodies. Just like seeing other bodies in all shapes and sizes helped normalize for me that my body wasn’t gross and undesirable, seeing pubic hair that was wild or bare or carefully landscaped helped to normalize for me that there was no right or normal way to keep my pubic hair.
I’ve even been with partners that say they prefer a full bush because it captures a women’s scent or because it’s soft or feels nice or because it’s visually pleasing. I’ve developed a habit of occasionally trimming my hair, not cutting it short but maybe going from a full bush to half a bush. I like how it feels and it keeps things a little cleaner during my period. But it’s by no means a regular thing.
I recently saw a Facebook post by a friend of mine who is a sex worker apparently one of her clients thanked her for having pubic hair which makes me think a lot of women out there who think they’re “supposed” to remove all their pubic hair for the benefit of the male gaze and there are some men who are really wishing we wouldn’t.
LEAH: For this week’s highlighted podcast, I’m really excited to have found a show that’s actually talking about hair removal so that we can continue this conversation about body hair. I’m going to play the clip for you and then I’ll introduce you to the host and the show afterward.
PODCAST CLIP: When this whole story went down, I was I think a senior in college in my undergrad and I was super thirsty. I hadn’t dated anybody really in the four years of my undergrad and so I was just working to hook up, nothing fancy. I was also kind of getting into the kink scene so I was looking for somebody who was amenable to those interests. And I had come out as trans like three years prior to that.
I meet this girl on FetLife which is like kink Facebook and she is interested in all of the stuff I’m interested in and she’s nearby and I’m like, “Oh this sounds good.” And so we basically were chatting for a while and we decide we’re going to have sex and so I’m like, “Okay. Great.” And then casually she just sends me a text, “Oh, don’t’ forget to shave.”
Trans folks can have some pretty messy feelings about our body hair. I know personally I spent lots of time fucking getting rid of any evidence I had a beard. I use Nair on my legs. It didn’t work. Shaving was a giant pain in the ass but I hated my body hair. And I never gave any thought as to why, I just did. I’m also a big proponent of the idea you don’t need to know why you feel the way you do about these kinds of things. It’s nice but it’s not required. If you feel like you got to shave, then go shave. If you hate shaving, don’t. Either is okay.
But I also wonder, Kaden had come to a pretty solid place with his feelings about his body hair before this text exchange and then shit got complicated again. Well, I was like, what do you mean don’t forget to shave? Well, hey, pre-transition I shaved because that’s the thing you’re supposed to do, right? We talked about how that’s just kind of the cultural expectation for women and part of what was so liberating about coming out was that I got to say for the first time, “No. I’m not going to do what you want me to do with my body.” I’m going to do what I want to do and what makes me comfortable and I’m going to stop doing this bullshit that you’re telling me to do that makes no sense. And so I hadn’t touched a razor since the year that I came out. And it was great.
So she asked me to shave and I was like, “Shave my bits? Shave my stuff?” And she’s like, “Yeah. I’m very conscious and I’m just not into it.” And I was a little appalled that she even would ask me to do something like that. And it was kind of dysphoria because I don’t know if she fully grasped the trans thing and I was like worried that she was one of those kind of like bicurious type of people and so I think she sort of saw me as a woman. And then I had never even heard somebody asking a guy to shave their bits before and so just like the image of being clean shaven down there and just the fact that she was asking me to do it made me feel like she’s trying to feminize me.
I was like, “But I really don’t shave it. I don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable. I’ve done it before. I hated it. I’ve had nothing but horrifying memories of trying to shave my pubic hair. I don’t know why I had even tried it all but I had tried it once or twice and I was like never again.” So I was like, “I can trim if you want that’s fine but I really don’t want to shave.” And she’s like, “Well then, we can’t hook up then because I’m just not into it.” And I was like, “Oh, shit.”
And so I was still a thirsty young Kaden and I was like, “Well, if it’s that big of a deal and I really wanted someone to explore the kink thing with so I’m like okay, maybe it’s not as bad as what I made it out to be. Maybe my memory is distorted and it can’t be that awful. People shave their bits all the time, let me just try it.” And so that was what happened in the text conversation, it took me a while to process why it made me feel so weird. So I didn’t really address that directly with her.
LEAH: That clip is from the show called Queersplaining by Callie Wright. Callie tells trans and queer stories from the point of view of trans and queer people. Because so often it is straight or cisgender people who have the microphone and are telling stories about people who are queer or trans.
Callie is a trans non-binary person who uses the pronouns they/them. I recommend their show Queersplaining for anyone who wants to hear their own queer and trans stories reflected back to them in a show that’s filled with heart.
And, if you’re a cisgender person who is curious about gender confirmation surgery and learning how to interact with a newly installed set of genitals, I highly recommend Callie’s episode Slaying Dragons where they tell their own story of exploring their new vagina. I may or may not have cried while listening to it, just saying. There’ll be a link in the Show Notes.
LEAH: Hey friends!
If you love these conversations, I’d love your help to keep them going. There are three ways you can participate: two are free, and one is for listeners who’ve got a few extra dollars each month.
#1 – Take a screenshot of this episode right now and post it to your Instagram stories! Tag me in your post and, if it’s public, I’ll re-share and send you a personal thank you. Word of mouth is THE.BEST. way to build buzz for an independent show like Good Girls Talk About Sex. And the more people listening, the healthier our collective sexual experiences will become!
#2 – Don’t want the whole world to know you’re listening to a show about sex? I get it! Perhaps you heard something in this episode that reminds you of a past conversation with your bestie, or something you wish your partner knew? Send them a link to the episode and a quick message about why you think they should listen.
#3 – If you have the resources to support the sex-positive work I do, I’d be grateful for your support at Patreon. Donating the equivalent of a fancy cup of coffee each month might not make a big difference to you, but it makes a HUGE difference to me! There’s no contract or obligation, you can cancel at any time. Plus I donate 10% of all proceeds to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the southeast United States to access reproductive services that are currently being legislated out of existence. It’s easy to become a patron at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex
And one more thing:
There is a treasure trove of additional audio at Patreon that’s free to everyone. You don’t even need to have a Patreon account to access them! Just go to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex to start listening.
I appreciate every one of you, whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower, or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here.
Now let’s get back to the show.
LEAH: For this week’s “Am I Normal?” question, we have a question about blow jobs.
QUESTION: Hi, Leah. I’m wondering if I’m normal because I really don’t like giving blow jobs and I know a lot of my friends do that for their husbands. What’s wrong with me? Am I normal?
LEAH: Dear listener, you are not required to enjoy blow jobs. Period. End of sentence. I felt like it was important to get that clear and out of the way upfront. Okay. Now, let’s do a deeper dive into some of the complexities around this topic. You are far from alone in this.
I used to hate giving blow jobs because the idea of having ejaculate in my mouth made me nauseous. I thought that the two things went together, give a blow job, get a load of cum in my mouth so I created a story that I hated giving blow jobs. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that I could have a boundary conversation with partners who have penises that went, “I would like to give you a blow job but I don’t want you to ejaculate in my face or in my mouth. Is that something you’re okay with?” And to my shock, I’ve never had a single man turn that offer down.
After many conversations with women, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one who equated dislike of ejaculate with dislike of blow jobs. So, if that happens to be the case for you, I want to tell you about the thing my partner discovered that made blow jobs a pleasure for us both literally. He found non-lubricated condoms with no smell and no taste that we use specifically for blow jobs so I can bring him to completion. For reference, they are Trustex Condoms and there’s information in the Show Notes.
Another objection that I hear from some woman about blow jobs is that they aren’t comfortable with their partner jamming his cock down her throat or putting his hands on her head while pumping. These are also issues that have less to do with the act of giving a blow job and more to do with the communication about boundaries and comfort levels.
I’ve heard women say explicitly, “I don’t feel comfortable having hands on my head when my mouth is near someone’s genitals.” And this can be true whether the genitals in question are a penis or a vulva. If you’re not sure how to have that conversation, I recommend going back to the February 2019 episode the STARS method and I’ll put a link to that on the Show Notes so you can find it.
Now if the idea of having that type of conversation is still uncomfortable, get in touch with me. Helping you navigate these conversations is exactly what I do when coaching clients. And one more thought on this subject. I can’t help but notice that the way you phrased your question didn’t focus on your partner’s need to have blow jobs that you aren’t providing, rather it focused on feeling like you’re the odd one out among your girlfriends who absolutely love giving blow jobs to their partners.
And to that, I want to remind you. Unless we are really comfortable and skilled at talking about sex, even with our girlfriends, we are likely to have conversations about one of two things: the very best things that are happening and the very worst things that are happening. We’ll hear about the mind-blowing thing they did last weekend and how she’s never had such full bodied orgasms with anyone before him or we’ll hear about how he can’t find his clitoris and it feels like he’s slobbering all over downtown and she’s not feeling anything and it couldn’t possibly be any worse.
It’s human nature or at least human nature in the time of social media to highlight the best things so we can feel a little bit superior and complain about the worst things so we can feel justified in having a good wallow. But we rarely hear about the squibbly middle and that’s where most of our sex lives exist. I really like some of the things we do in bed, but there are some stuff that aren’t quite working for me. We don’t fight about sex but there’s always some low-lying tension and dissatisfaction. So this impression that you have that all of your girlfriends love giving blow jobs, maybe a result of only you hearing the choices they highlight in their experience.
I will share a quote with you because I love it and I think it’s highly relevant but I want to give you the context that it’s attributed to Steven Furtick, a pastor of an Evangelical Church that is not welcoming to members of the LGBTQ community. So with that context in place, what he says is, “One reason we struggle with insecurity is that we are comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. Just because they say they are loving it doesn’t mean that’s the full story.”
LEAH: That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple podcasts or, if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls.
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Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken.
As your Sex and Intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours, no matter what it looks like. To set up your free Discovery Call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
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