Musings on Muffs

The conversation in the pub the other night, after admittedly a quantity of alcoholic beverages had been consumed, turned to the attractiveness, or otherwise, of genitalia. The general consensus of the assembled company  was that male genitalia was, by and large, rather ugly, dangly and ridiculous, in comparison to the far neater female equivalent.  Given this near universal appreciation for the superior aesthetic quality of lady bits, the rise in modification and mutilation of female nether regions for no practical purpose is simply weird.

The widespread deforestation of female pubic regions which has occurred in the last twenty years is an environmental tragedy.  It is now relatively normal for women to have no pubic hair whatsoever, and extensive “trimming” is considered de-rigor. Unlike other areas of body hair which women routinely remove – such as leg hair and armpit hair, the public region is rarely if ever seen outwith the context of the bedroom or doctors surgery. Given that removal of such hair is frequently painful and regrowth is damn itchy, it is a bizarre ritual that many, many women now participate in as a matter of course.

Rodger Friedland has tracked its disappearance, linked to the rise of womens’ liberation in the 1970s and the subsequent eroticisation of teenage girls, linking the removal of this hair with a conformity to a sexual attitudes which demand a youthful, clean body as epitomised by sexual regions which resemble those of young teenagers.  While the very famous – and very explicit – “Joy of Sex” reveled in the display of pubic hair; porn discarded it leading a trend that women feel obliged to follow. Starting in the mid seventies, female porn stars sported less and less hair before becoming completely bald by the 90s – to the extent that pubic hair is now seen as a “fetish” within porn culture. Over a remarkably short period of time, this porn led fashion has been adopted amongst the wider population led by young women – with teenagers of 14 and 15 no longer seeing the advent of pubic hair as a sign of adulthood, but as the start of an inconvenient necessity to shave as part of “good hygiene  with one study reporting that almost 90% of female university students depilitated.

Leading on from this anti-hirstute trend has come the rise of vejazzling: a further infantilisation of women’s pubic regions.  Vejazzling involves the application of a pattern of small  jewels to the shaved pubic region.  This pubic decoration very closely resembles the jewellery of the childrens section, with all its daintiness and innocence, while the main designs of stars, flowers and butterflies would be more suited to primary school aged girls than adult women.  What should be the area which denotes adult female sexuality has become infantilised and neutralised beyond recognition to a bland canvas for the display of childish art.

While depilitation is painful, itchy on regrowth and risks infection, far more worrying is the rise of vaginal surgery.  Despite genital mutilation being outlawed in the UK, demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery has risen five fold in the last decade, with 2,000 women having vaginal surgery on the NHS in 2010.  The exposure of the vaginal region occasioned by depilitation, coupled with comparisons to pornographic depictions of female genitalia has led to a widespread discontent among women about the appearance of their pubic region to the extent that surgery on an infrequently exposed area is considered an appropriate response to aesthetic concerns. While there can on occasions be medical need for labiaplasty, most women seeking the procedure have no medical requirement, yet even after reassurance that their genitalia is quite normal, almost 40% still wish to go ahead with major surgery.  A wish that the private sector is only too willing to fulfill; with labiaplasty, vaginoplasty and hymenoplasty all available at private clinics for between £1000 and £4000 and further new and dangerous procedures being developed.

But tomorrow the au-naturale approach is fighting back.  Hot on the heels of Slutwalk, the Muff March will take to the streets of London to highlight the danger of the porn culture which leads women to modify and mutilate their bodies for no reason other than to fit in with an aesthetic which is sold to us by porn, by beauticians and by surgeons. Under the slogan “Keep your mits off our muffs”, four hundred women are planning to march on Harley Street to protest at a culture which demands our that our already rather neat lady bits are shorn and hacked at in the name of “beauty”.

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12 comments
Robert Cotterill
Robert Cotterill

This piece, whilst aimed at (quite rightfully) attacking the porn industry in it's use of unattainable "perfection" and sterilisation of the female form, completely missed the point by starting off with: "The general consensus of the assembled company was that male genitalia was, by and large, rather ugly, dangly and ridiculous, in comparison to the far neater female equivalent." To say that this was in itself insulting, self-gratifying (a woman's genitalia is better than any mans) competative and objectifying - the very things that the porn industry takes advantage of and that you complain of, is an understatement. Men and women have different sexual organs. I am not attracted to women so I don't find the vagina attractive. I like cocks. Some cocks are nicer than others, and I would take a guess that some vagina's are nicer looking than others. It's down to individual taste. End of. If you want to take up the issue of female mutilation and homogenisation then go ahead - knock yourself out - but please don't drag the cock into this debate as your bias will do nothing to support your "musings" from the male camp (especially since nearly all of those operations will be performed by men!).

admin
admin

I think you will find before it got to that bit it actually started off with "after admittedly a quantity of alcoholic beverages had been consumed", which gives a bit of context. Women's bits are generally neater than men's bits - they just are, really they are. Feel free to have a different opinion, but IMHO there is a reason why classical statues don't emphasise that bit of the anatomy ;)

stephenpaterson
stephenpaterson

To be perfectly frank, I'm incensed at 2,000 women having labiaplasty on the NHS unless their medical condition rendered it necessary. I would suggest a man approaching his GP for cosmetic surgery to improve what he considers the aesthetic appearance of his genitalia would (or at least should) be laughed out of court. Nevertheless, in the general scale of things, 2,000 constututes a very tiny percentage of women, the number one might reasonably expect in a faily small village. What evidence is there that women in general share a "widespread discontent...about the appearance of their pubic region"? Sweet FA, on the basis of the above. Insofar as porn's concerned, I'd tend to go along with Wendy Lyon here: http://feministire.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/thoughts-on-muff-march/

mhairi
mhairi

I agree that 2000 is relatively small given the population of the UK, but you have to remember that *demand* has grown five-fold in just ten years. Cosmetic vaginal surgery was unheard of a decade ago, yet there are at least two private surgeries in Glasgow alone now offering the procedure. The link you gave denies the connection with porn, but what else explains such a rise in discontent in the appearance of an area that you would never normally see - either your own or (if straight) anyone else's? So you don't really know what the vaginal area "should" look like and whether yours is abnormal. The rise in the fashion for shaving pubic hair can be directly tracked to porn, is it so ridiculous that a fashion for a particular aesthetic of vagina would be tracked to on-screen depictions?

Vicky Hyde
Vicky Hyde

During one game of Scrabble I distinguished myself by using the words "quim" and then "muff" (with the same "m") on consecutive goes. There was considerable hilarity, which increased further when I clarified my second choice with the explaination "It's one of those furry things ladies stick their hands into..."

mhairi
mhairi

Hmm, had to look up quim! Never knew there was a word for that before!

Vicky Hyde
Vicky Hyde

Every day's a school day, Mhairi!

Davy Marzella
Davy Marzella

"The general consensus of the assembled company was that male genitalia was, by and large, rather ugly, dangly and ridiculous, in comparison to the far neater female equivalent." I think I'd have to disagree there , Mhairi ;-) Link below about religous phallus worship - which I found after quick google. it's a humour site , but I think main contents of this article is fairly serious. It is intriguing , apart from the contributory factor penises play in reproduction of the species - and the symbolic reproduction of patriarchy . Penises are generally kept out of site in the West . Could that be to protect the supposed symbolic power ? "The penis is not a patch on the phallus" ... and many men could could feel their supposed power questioned if their penises were to be seen ?? There is certainly among men who have sex with men , what could be called a "worship" of penises. I'd admit or confess ? ;-) to indulging in a certain "worship" at times.........and I'm not quite sure what that is about ........? It can feel almost primordial...... but maybe I'm just fooling myself ? I hope I'm not diverting the discusion from muff musing ;-) We all start out as embryos as female - those which develop penises are divergent http://www.cracked.com/article_16103_5-inspiring-religions-that-worship-penises.html

Davy Marzella
Davy Marzella

Could I just ask what was the general make up of the company in pub having the original converstion on genitalia , ie. men/women , and those who have sex with men and/or women ? On the presumption that there was at least some in the company who have sex with men...... I'm a wee bit surprised at those generally negative views of male genitalia. "rather ugly, dangly and ridiculous" .... even if only....... "in comparison to the far neater female equivalent" Did the conversation include opinions of genitalia while actually engaged in sex ? Apologies if this appears overly "phallocentric" , but I'm quite intrigued by this and I would say that many men also have issues about the appearance of their genitals , and there is big business in supposed penis enlargement . If anybody would prefer to muse on muffs - just ignore these ramblings on cocks.

mhairi
mhairi

The conversation only considered aesthetics rather than functionality. The company included women who have sex with men and men themselves.

Davy Marzella
Davy Marzella

Can the aesthetics - eg. attractiveness - be considered in isolation and not play a role as part of the functionality ? I could tell a very personal story relating to this , but I'm not sure if this is right place

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