There has been a lot of recent buzz about women choosing not to shave their pubic hair. It's becoming commonplace to see women without shaved legs or armpits. I personally believe that this movement is long overdue. People have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies, despite societal norms.
Why am I, a male, jumping on the bandwagon about women's pubic hair? The truth is, the issue is a lot larger than it seems. It bleeds into other communities, not just women in general. Even though I'm male and there isn't a lot of pressure for me to do so, I have gone through several long periods of shaving my legs, armpits and intimate areas. I currently do not, and there is nothing wrong with that. During the times that I do shave, I usually get a lot of weird looks and comments. There's a lot of stigma around men shaving, and even I'm guilty of harboring these kinds of thoughts. When I first came to college, I ran into a guy with shaved legs and assumed that he was gay, which was incorrect and totally out of line. I've since learned not to make assumptions about such things.
There are also a lot of issues centered around pubic hair in romantic relationships. I have never gotten a complaint about any kind of body hair while romantically involved with a woman. There is a societal standard that, in a relationship with one male and one female, the female has to shave, but the male does not. Even though this is the case and I've never gotten any complaints, I always ask female partners if they'd prefer me to shave. I think that if my partners are going to go through all of the trouble to shave their bodies, I should extend the same courtesy.
When I am with men, the tune changes a little bit. Since I am young and "cute," I'm held to the clean-shaven standard. Most men expect me to embody the hairless twink of their fantasies. I've even been with someone who had the audacity to tell me, during sex, that I had missed a spot. At the same time, this man put forth no effort to control his own body hair.
This leads me into my ground rules about other people and their body hair. If you are with a romantic partner(s), I think it is unfair for you to ask them to shave their pubic hair unless you are willing to do the same. If your partner does a great job shaving their bodies, it might be nice of you to offer to do the same. Still, keep in mind that everyone has the right to refuse. Our hair is attached to our bodies, which we ultimately have supreme jurisdiction over. It takes a lot of work to keep pubic hair under control, and some people just don't see it as being worth the effort. Along those lines, if you see that a friend who normally shaves his or her legs or armpits has ceased, or that someone has started shaving, don't point it out. If you do feel close enough with that person to inquire why, be very nice about it. I know that I'm usually a little self-conscious for a while when I stop or start shaving my legs. If you notice that an acquaintance has begun to or no longer shaves, just don't bring it up or stare. It's really none of your business.
One of the biggest things I think our society needs to work on is removing stigma. I know there are a lot of bigger fish to fry, but peoples' bodies should be high on the list. Whatever we choose to do with our bodies is up to us. I think the last thing society should be concerned about is whether or not I shave my armpits.