Wise Guys: What’s Up with Manscaping?

photo via IMDB

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “What’s the deal with manscaping? We’re talking both genitals and chests.”

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): I think it’s great that men have taken an interest in personal grooming. Where’s the downside of shearing a chest rug or bisecting a unibrow? And it’s every man’s secret that shaving your pubes makes you look bigger. Of course, like anything, preening can be taken to comical extremes (think tweezed eyebrows, hair stencils, and fake orange tans). But if you look at advertising and celebrities, male models are intricately manscaped, so that’s where a lot of it comes from. Ultimately I think it’s a fad: in another 10 years, bushy pubes, woolly chest hair, and thick mustaches will be all the rage.

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter, because manscaping is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Gay men are manscaping less and less each year, which means that in a few years straight men are going to be manscaping less and less each year, and then our national nightmare will be over.

Straight Married Guy (Figleaf): Great question! It’s a great irony to me that, at least in Western Civilization, we don’t think anything of the original “manscaping” — men who shave their faces. For instance, you never hear debates about how shaving makes grown men look “prepubescent” even though technically that’s exactly what it actually does. As for the recent trend in straight men trimming or shaving pubic hair, I think you could make a case that it’s driven, at least a little bit, by the same things that drive women to do so: porn and advertising. The two come together in a recent razor manufacturer’s ad campaign with shaved kiwi fruit and hints about the “optical inch” of penis length that comes from trimming away an inch of pubic hair.

There’s also the point that it just feels nicer being kissed on bare skin than on hair…and, for many partners, it feels nicer kissing bare skin than hair. As for men grooming hair on the rest of the body, I think there are two big reasons. First, because it makes us look younger. Not so much “prepubescent” but, since body hair increases with age, not middle-aged or older. Second, because when it’s long it can be itchy both to ourselves and to our partners. Of course the other side of all that is first that a lot of women and/or men think body hair on men is very sexy, and second that stubble can be even pricklier than if we left well enough alone.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish, and our Straight Married Guy is Figleaf, the guy behind RealAdultSex.com. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Bad smell =see a doctor and no sex !!!.This has nothing to do with pubic hair although i enjoy doing it[manscaping] for a man i can see it better know exactly what i want to keep and remove what feels good against my face, and it’s always is followed by sex .As for me don’t really need any blessed to be a very sparse haired woman.

  2. OK, so I empirically tested masculine shaving. The results:

    1. Looks ridiculous. In addition to looking chicken-pocked from razor burn, I’ve got kind of a hairless circle shaved out from the rest of my body hair.

    2. It is very, very uncomfortable. I am itchy.

    My girl and I shaved each other – she’s in better shape than me. Not itchy, looks much better. But I still like her better with a small amount of well-groomed pubic hair than totally bald. Guess I’ve outgrown that (no pun intended).

    Result: shaving sucks. I’ll never do that again, or ask a girl to.

    Next, I’ll test male WAXING! Although it seems much more painful initially, the results seem much better in terms of looks and comfort.

  3. Yes, I am in my 30s and am lucky enough to have good genes that make me attractive to younger men (under 30), as well as men my own age. Interestingly enough, the younger guys seem the most open about me being “natural”, while my current boyfriend, who is over 40, is the one who is uncomfortable with the hair. I have been asked by lovers why all women aren’t as comfortable with their sexuality as I am. I think that being true to one’s self and finding lovers who “get” that, makes for passionate love-making. Women who feel more comfortable with their lovers and with their own bodies are more likely to have multiple orgasms, know how to control their pelvic muscles through Kegel exercises which result in better male (and female) gratification, etc. If I were you (whatever age you may be), I wouldn’t try and speak for an entire generation of men (or women). Men who like hair or don’t come in all shapes, size, and ages, as do women who shave or don’t shave. I have many female friends in their 20s as well, and shaving for 20-something females is NOT a given by any stretch of the imagination. If you truly believe this, I would imagine you haven’t traveled outside of your sphere very much. I respect your preference. Guess we’ll never meet in bed! LOL! (I truly mean that in a light-hearted way.) All my best…

  4. its called the generation gap. and like most gaps, it is best when smooth and hair free. guys and girls approx 30 or younger will not even debate this point. hairy is not sexy. if you’re in your mid 30’s, you’re hairier and you don’t get it. it’s ok.

  5. Thank you Madamoiselle L for your wise comments and the important information on the hygienic purpose of pubic hair. I can personally report that the one time I shaved completely (partly out of curiosity and partly because my boyfriend at the time wanted me to), my pubic odor was much more pronounced. I tend to have be very moist, which I consider a good thing (!), but without any hair to capture the moisture, I was sticky and smelly. I shower twice a day, by the way, but the hair helps to keep my genital odors contained. I don’t want the entire office smelling my sex!

    Moreover, I find it interesting that the same ‘masculinizing’ androgen hormones that tend to make some women hairier than others are the same hormones that make some women more passionate in bed. In other words, women with these androgen hormones tend to have higher sex drives according to certain studies I have read, as well as from my own personal experience. Yet, I find it interesting that it feels like often times women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Men want women who are passionate in bed and like to have sex as much as they do, yet certain men also want those same women to be without body hair.

    I have dated both types of men. I believe that, to some extent, it is good to make mild compromises to please our partners. However, if a man (or woman), doesn’t like you for who you naturally are and if it will stop them from being physically attracted to you, then this is a serious issue.

    I recently started dating a guy that I liked a lot. (I am of the trimmed but not bare variety, by the way.) In fact, I trim more for him that I have for other men because a woman can just sometimes tell which “type” a guy is. The last guy I dated didn’t care and loved to please me orally whether I had shaved, trimmed or was completely natural. This was such a liberating feeling for me, which, in turn, made me less inhibited in the bedroom which resulted in some of the best sex I’ve ever had! (Note to the guys!)

    My recent boyfriend didn’t seem interested in oral sex, so I could sense something was wrong. I finally was able to get him to be honest with me, and he admitted that he doesn’t like my pubic hair. I have been trying to convince myself that it’s just hair and it shouldn’t be any big deal for me to shave it completely (or at least more than I currently do), but unlike what one of the previous writers has said, for me to stay completely trim, I would have to shave every single day, just like some men do on their face (which, by the way, I don’t care if men do or do not shave…)

    It is exhausting to feel like, if I do not do this everyday, my boyfriend won’t want to please me orally or, even worse, will be disgusted by me. What a horrible thing to feel! I wish that people would focus more on loving their partners for who they truly are. Women tend to be more forgiving of our partner’s faults. (I know there are men who exhibit this same kind of acceptance, so I am not saying that it is *only* women, just noting it seems to be more of a trend in women). I do not judge my boyfriend for his balding head, his thick middle or his back hair and pubic hair. I love him anyway. I am not grossed out by any part of him. It is all of his unique qualities (even “flaws”, if you will) that make him so special! They make me love him all the more.

    I am trying to be open about this, but I had a moustache as a teenage girl and was made fun of mercilessly for it in middle school. I still shave my upper lip. I realize this may make me sound like a monster to some, but I have been told by many that I could be a model in terms of my physical attractiveness. I only mention this because having body hair and being attractive or unattractive is a matter of personal taste. As Madamoiselle L so eloquently put it, it is a cultural and generational thing to prefer bald (or even trimmed) women. Maybe I should move to a country where I can be accepted for who I am, hair and all…except that our American media seeps into all of the cultures of the world, and eventually, it won’t be acceptable anywhere. It’s sad to me that we’ve seemed to have lost what is really important about love and intimacy: that self acceptance and acceptance of others leads to greater trust, greater love and, by George, better sex!

  6. Sorry, “never grew” I didn’t understand….I assumed you “never” grew pubic hair.

    Everybody has a preference. Just so you aren’t using stencils to make little pictures in your pubes, I’ll consider you an adult. 😉

    If you and your man are happy, that’s what’s important. My man actually couldn’t care less. I trim up, and keep it neat for my personal preference. He just kinda goes along, but I couldn’t imagine him taking a razor to his cute furry Kiwi Fruits.

  7. johnny, thx for explaining the “filthy” part about growing pubic hair…

    Madamoiselle L…. i never said, my hair dont grow anymore..i said i never let ’em grow any longer thn half or 1 inch, therefore i obviously dont need a doc…n ok there might b men out thr who like hair bushes on women when going down on them…but i personally believe its not that enjoyable…as someone mentioned, the tongue on bare skin feels much better, n also whn i completely shave ’em off, i feel clean, n tht doesnt mean i m not acting like an adult…besides my man likes it tht way…so m good thr, i feel clean, he is happy = i am happy

  8. I think it is really a generational thing. Most of the women my age (I’m over 30, a LOT over 30) who grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s are less likely to shave, or at least only do some trimming and ‘scaping. I know women who wouldn’t be caught dead shaving, as they see it as degrading, infantalizing and silly. Some of us “more experienced” women do like to trim up, but I do think Bald looks too child like. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

    Johnny, I often agree with you, but I have to disagree, that pubic hair is any “dirtier” than anywhere else. In the 70s and 80s, many of us were fighting against the indignity of being shaved before childbirth.

    It was found, in scientific studies, that a shaved pubis is actually MORE bacterially contaminated, and MORE likely to result in a post partum infection. It appears that the hair not only protects the vagina, urethra and perineum and even the uterus against bacterial invasion, but the actual ACT of shaving opens “micro cuts” which allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream directly. For years (I am a nurse, post partum) we saw virtually NO post partum infections, the rate dropped significantly when women stopped being shaved before childbirth. In the last decade or so, the rate of post partum infection is on the rise. Why? Younger women are more likely to shave, and it really DOES promote bacterial contamination, both on the surface of the skin, in the folds of the labia (which then go into the orifices) and especially due to bacteria entering via “micro cuts.”

    We have been asking women NOT to shave during pregnancy, with responses ranging from, “OK. If it’s better for me and the baby.” to “Thank GOD, thank YOU! I’m so SICK of doing it.” to “EWWWW. Gross, I’m not a filthy bush bitch. I’m doing it anyway.” (then a larger number of those girls end up 10 days after delivery in the ER with 106 degree fever and a post partum infection, and sometimes PID crying “Why me?”)

    I don’t “shit” on my pubic hair (even before shaving or trimming) and I’m Mediterranean, so, think what you will.

    As for menstruation, menstruation ISN’T “dirty” and the hair really doesn’t get any more “bloody” than the labia or anywhere else (especially if you use a tampon.) If one keeps oneself clean, it isn’t an issue. Some guys are deathly afraid of menstruating women, and some couldn’t care less. There is really nothing to be afraid of, those of us who belong to the “weaker sex” deal with that blood and stuff every month, and we’re fine.

    Like an other poster said, when a women urinates, it will get wherever it does, and wiping and cleaning will take care of it.

    Preferences are one thing, but “cleanliness” is not really the issue.

  9. Yes, but isn’t the worst of that bacteria dealt with in a daily shower, for the most part, Elizabeth?

    I’m all for letting women have the freedom to do whatever they want with their bodies, but I can’t deny that I have a strong preference for neatly-trimmed (*NOT* bald!) pubic hair. This goes for my own pubic hair as well as my partner’s.

    It just used to bum me out a little when I’d be hooking up with someone back in my single days, and we’d get naked, and POW–massive bush. It just seems like such an easy thing that–let’s be honest here–a HUGE percentage of men prefer to be at least somewhat maintained… that it just looks less sexy to me. It’s not like I ever passed on the sex because of it, but it’s definitely a bummer. The best thing is that it’s easily fixed.

    Guys do laugh about and talk shit about girls with big, natural bushes. It’s not nice, but it’s a fact. I’ve heard it plenty of times.

    Personally I just find it so much more pleasant to have trimmed pubic hair. It feels better, and it takes very little time, once every couple of weeks. And going down on a girl who’s trimmed is MUCH nicer. I’m sure the same goes for going down on a guy. So my advice to ladies and men both is to keep it under control, and leave the natural bushes back in the 70’s where they belong.

  10. Johnny – pubic hair also traps sweat. Sweat contains bacteria. Extra bacteria + Vagina can = bad bad bad (at the very least because I imagine it would create a rather unpleasant smell). So, the hair, at least on the mons, keeps it from getting into the vulva area. Or that’s the idea anyway. I’m not arguing for long pubic hair, I’m just saying that hygiene is an issue either way.

    And chingona: A lot of men (and probably some women to, have pubic hair that grows ALL the way back… So it is conceivable that one would be able to crap all over those hairs. Though, how it would be possible to shave there is beyond me… That sounds painful. But I agree … I shower everyday – and since I do so in the evening it generally happens immediately previous to sex. Pretty sure hygiene isn’t an issue at all.

  11. My husband shaves his balls and I LOVE it. There is nothing sexy about hairy balls and long public hair. It gets in my mouth and it tickles my nose so why have it?

    I keep trimed to just a small tuft of hair about the size of a nickel.

  12. I hate to break this to you, Johnny, but we piss and menstruate on our labia, too. Hair or no hair. So we wipe. And some microscopic residue is left behind. Hair or no hair. When we shower or bathe, it gets cleaner. Hair or no hair.

    It’s pretty funny that you would say that pubic hair is LESS sanitary in these times of daily hot showers.

    And I’ve never crapped in my pubic hair. I’m not even sure how one would do that.

  13. Never Grew Hair:

    I would say that the guys who insist on fully-shaved are a minority. They’re as fetishistic and few in number as guys who demand full, natural bush.

    I like shaved, and am pleasantly surprised when I discover a woman’s bald “down there” (LOL Mademoselle!), but really don’t care enough to request it. A short scissor trim is fine – even attractive.

    That said, full bush is so passe as to be considered a fetish nowadays. I’ve only seen it once or twice since graduating high school 13 years ago, and frankly, I was turned off by it.

    As for the “filth” thing: long pubes are less sanitary than short or no pubes, for sure. They are not the same as the hair on your head, as you do not urinate, crap, menstruate or come from the top of your head. The evolutionary purpose of a big bush is to keep twigs and dirt and poison frogs OUT of your pussy. But they also act as a net that traps the various discharges IN. In this day and age of panties and indoor living and daily hot showers, pubes just make the ‘gina less sanitary.

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