End of Gender: “He-Wax,” She Wax, We All Wax?

hewax add, showing a white man with a hairless chest

Nearly a decade after the “metrosexual” invaded the mainstream, men are taking grooming to the land down under.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that bikini waxing, a torment previously reserved for women, is growing trend among men in the U.S.

And it’s not just the gay men. Mike Indursky, president of Bliss spas, told the New York Times that men of all orientations are forking over one hundred-plus bucks a month for “the Ultimate He-Wax.” But never fear, thrifty men. Manscapers on a budget can find at-home trimmers on pharmacy shelves, and sales are on the rise.

While men give he-waxing glowing reviews, Cosmopolitan writers say they’re “not so sure” about men “having zero hair where there should be at least a little.” After all, body hair is (or was) considered manly. Some women worry that the “boyzilian wax” means that men are becoming, well, more like women.

But clean crotch advocates insist that deforesting the nether regions isn’t feminine at all. “It actually makes you feel more masculine, instead of less masculine, to get waxed,” Indursky told the New York Times. “It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not.”

Perhaps the “masculine” feeling comes from the Brazilian wax’s “enlarging effect.” Apparently, clearing the table accentuates the centerpiece.

Waxing isn’t the only surprising way in which men are redefining and reemphasizing “masculine” gender expression. CNN recently reported that modern men are under pressure to follow fashion trends and maintain their figures (sound familiar, female folks?).

The article likens the trend to a “Mad Men revival”—”the return of pomade, polish and of the perfectly cut suit. It stays within the boundaries of masculinity while offering men the option of looking their best.”

Waxing, given its alleged penis-pumping results, falls within that “masculine boundary.” But what makes all-over hairlessness “best” for people of any gender?

Victoria Sherrow, author of Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, told the Chicago Tribune that women began removing leg hair in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

“Some cultures regarded it as uncivilized, since body hair appears on animal bodies,” Sherrow said. “The idea of a hairless body for American women developed between 1915 and 1945.”

By the turn of the century, female leg and underarm hair was considered unsanitary and deemed an “embarrassing personal problem,” which sounds a lot like the way some modern men are reportedly viewing their pubes.

Men’s grooming expert Pirooz Sarshar told the New York Times that when he sports a naked crotch, “I feel like I’m cleaner, and its more sanitary.”

But sanitary shaving is not, especially not around our genitals. Body hair keeps us warm and protects against infection—we’re still animals, after all.

Yet men have somehow grabbed onto the aesthetic value of hairlessness. Their participation in what used to be a “girls only” club, however, doesn’t mean they’re shooting for “waxing equality.” Remember: the point is to enhance penis size and snatch a fraction of Don Draper’s well-groomed manliness.

No, the “boyzilian wax” doesn’t signal the end of gender. If anything, our obsession with hair removal hearkens the end of humans as we know them. Take one look at the hairless aliens of sci-fi movies and you’ll see that we’re shooting for something post-human, something more perfect (and way creepier) than we are now.

Until then, we’ll wax on, wax off, and rest assured knowing that we’re all in this together (or at least some of us are).

Related: Isn’t He Lovely: Bare Down There (and Everywhere Else)

Previously: Public (Trans)portation, Melissa Harris-Perry’s “Being Transgender in America” Roundtable

by Malic White
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14 Comments Have Been Posted

Am i the only one just a

Am i the only one just a little bit disheartened that we all see it as totally normal to drastically edit our bodies to adhere to such an absurd standard?

You're not the only one...

Me, too! I don't consider waxing for both sexes to be equalizing...it's actually just kind of sad. One more thing for everyone to be told to hate their bodies for.


both men and women have body hair... so why is waxing considered "feminine," other than because of a double standard about body hair? people should feel free to do what makes them feel comfortable, but I don't think that waxing/hair removal should necessarily be the norm for people of any gender.

I'm all for waxing equality

I'm all for waxing, moisturizing, heel pumicing, you name it! Back before Brazilians and laser electrolysis, I never thought hair removal along with other types of grooming should be reserved for females only. I'm glad that men of all walks are on board. If an unintended byproduct happens to be the larger penis effect--great. Whatever gets you in the spa/salon door. The only problem, and people seldom talk about this, is the rashing and itchiness that occur in the ensuing weeks when the follicles fight their way back. I dread that so much that I rarely go for bikini waxes anymore. Some people are luckier than others in how their skin reacts to the waxing. Okay, enough waxing!

My idea of "waxing equality" is no waxing for anyone

I love my husband's body hair. He loves my body hair. No waxing or shaving for either of us.

This is the easy way (cheaper, too!) to achieve "waxing equality."

Are we completely neglecting

Are we completely neglecting that "normalizing" hair removal across both genders only serves to further ostracize women that choose NOT to damage themselves in such ways? Waxing is painful and causes ingrowns (there is an excellent dermatologist with lots of videos on YouTube who describes how this occurs), shaving can do the same and can result in irritation, why the heck are we glad men are getting conned too, and not trying to get women the permission to let their hair be??

I find it really interesting

I find it really interesting that hair removal, particularly in the genital region is a topic that has become something that is ok for men to discuss and engage in when it has traditionally been a female dominated area. So often it is women who must break into the male dominated spheres and create a space for themselves. Here, it is the men who have broken into a female dominated sector in society and are staking their claim. And I love that they are putting the masculine spin on it, taking the angle that it "enlarges the package." Talk about marking your territory. :)

I love that men are stepping

I love that men are stepping into a traditionally female dominated area when it is so often the opposite situation. The idea that waxing makes the penis appear larger really helps put the masculine spin on it, almost helping reclaim the traditionally feminine area for a more masculine man. Its a really interesting role reversal.

Eh, using people's penis

Eh, using people's penis anxiety as a marketing tool for hair removal services seems pretty awful.


I have to say I love shaving for both men and women. I find it cleaner, and better looking. I don't wax, but shave everyday with no issues whatsoever. It is not demeaning to me. I don't think people should read that much into it. It is personal preference.

Waxing? Humbug. Sweet mama

Waxing? Humbug. Sweet mama nature gave me a coat of fur that sprouts from my feet to the tip of my head, and I intend to keep it. She grew me a a forest on my arms and my legs, a pelt across my chest, and a tangle thick as a briar patch to cover my chin. What manner of self-hate would I have to be possessed with, and how ungrateful would I have to be, to scorn those gifts? Keep your imitation prepubescence- it looked bad on the women, and it looks bad on the men.

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