Dear Mr. Smith: I have been watching some porn of late and have noticed that, without exception, the men are seriously grooming their nether regions. We've all heard plenty about women and their Brazilians and sphinxes, etc. But now the guys are shaving and waxing, too. Is this something I should consider? I find it kind of creepy. But if it's what women want...
Ah, the old question of what women want. I have vast experience in all matters vegetable, animal and mineral - and yet even I may not be able to answer that one. (You remember the old joke about the guy who asks God to do something dramatic to prove His existence, like building a highway across the Pacific Ocean, and God says, 'No, that's not useful. Ask me something else.' And the guy says, 'Okay, you know everything, so tell me what my girlfriend is thinking when she goes quiet and mad at me for no apparent reason.' And God is quiet for a while and then He says, 'You want two lanes or four?')
But okay, here's what I know. Older women - that is, women over 30 - tend not to have grown up with porn as such a natural part of their media environment, and so frequently tend to claim to be repulsed by the hairless stars in it. They claim that hairiness, to them, equals manliness.
(The stars themselves claim that shaving makes their endowments appear larger. I don't think this is true.)
Younger women, meanwhile, seem to react with equanimity, with a kind of a shrug and a "meh." It's not something that they actively seek out, nor is it something that disgusts them. It's just another variation, like size or shape or circumcision. One of my research subjects, a 28-year-old woman, said, alarmingly, "Women do appreciate upkeep. Unruliness is not a turn on, especially at eye level." I say alarmingly because I know that this is something no guy over the age of 35 has ever in his life thought about. How unruly is too unruly? Do we need just a pair of scissors or a razor? (She answers: just a bit of a trim, if you're really bushy, with scissors - and take a lot of showers.)
But the problem with these results is the problem with all sex surveys, all enquiries into sexual habits: They are simply not to be trusted. People answer sex surveys one way and then behave in another. People, male or female, are not really honest even with themselves about their deepest sexual desires. So, some women are going to like the hairless look, some are not and it's really going to depend on how much she likes you otherwise. And that's impossible to predict until you know her really well.
My gut feeling is: Don't worry about it.
And besides, if you've ever tried a complete shave, you'll know that growing it out is one of the itchiest, bumpiest, reddest experiences in life. If you're really going to do it, wax. (But, really, don't worry about it.)
Ask Mr. Smith a question, or view the complete archive, at Russell Smith's online advisory service, XYCanada.com.