When Andrew Kotaska asked Birth readers if they recalled “the days of physician-dictated obstetrical care”  that resulted in perineal shaves, he invited us to celebrate the end of dogma-driven medical practice and the dawning of a new era of evidence-based, patient-centered care. Diony Young, too, reminded us of the “unnecessary indignities of the day” that resulted in her “partial shave (with a very blunt razor)”  almost five decades ago as a way to mark just how far we have come in women-centered birth care. The practice of pre-labor perineal shaving has indeed become emblematic of all that was wrong with mid-20th-century birth, and its demise is a continued testament to the power of birth activism. With the right to pubic hair so ardently fought for just decades ago, how do we make sense of women's decisions to increasingly be shaved, waxed, or otherwise depilated when giving birth today?
pre-print, post-print (with 12 month embargo)
Open Access Status
Jolly, Natalie, "Birth and the Bush: Untangling the Debate Around Women's Pubic Hair" (2017). SIAS Faculty Publications. 674.