Let's talk pubes. Let's talk double standards. Let's talk... #CockInaSock!
Oh, you haven't heard of #CockInaSock? Let's change that! In what is apparently an effort to raise awareness and money for testicular cancer research by clogging up Instagram feeds with barely-masked male genitalia, men the Internet-over have been sharing photos of themselves wearing nothing but socks... on their cocks (sorry, Mum) -- hashtagged #cockinasock. (I'd recommend you look into it, but there's a fair chance you'll never return to this article. Which is totally understandable.)
In so many ways, #cockinasock is awesome. Inspiring conversation about testicular cancer? Terrific! Objectifying the male form for once? Why not. Increasing the market for penis warmers? I'm all for it.
However, there is one aspect of #cockinasock that I can't help but notice in a very BIG way (and no, it's not all those family jewels shrouded in knitwear. Those aren't all so big.): It's the rampant pubic hair! And more importantly, the fact that no one is talking about it.
Seriously: Scroll through the more than 11,400 Instagram posts tagged #cockinasock at press time and you'll notice that about half of the guys -- if not more -- are serving up a healthy portion of hair down there. And there's nothing that seems weird about it; not in my eyes, anyway. It's natural, right? And these guys can groom or not groom their own bodies in whatever manner they please.
— Cock in a Sock © (@cockinasock) March 25, 2014
I get it. There's a lot more going on in these photos that might distract a viewer from noticing a little lack of man-scaping. But imagine for a second that this Insta-campaign featured near-naked women instead of men (not hard to envision, since ladies are so often portrayed publicly in clothing hardly big enough to cover their bits). Now, try to picture hoards of females posting selfies in their undies or... a sock, whatever; an overgrowth of pubic hair spilling out the sides. My prediction? A shitstorm would ensue. The Internet would break -- INSTANTANEOUSLY -- from the millions of people simultaneously clicking "report inappropriate." Parenting groups would implode en masse. And the government would probably implement some kind of crackdown on #PubesInaTube... sock. (#PussInaPed?) Maybe we should just make that a thing and try it out. Who's with me?! ...No? No takers? I'm not surprised.
Because when you think about it, just the mention of copious bush by a celeb is still seen as a huge deal by most media outlets. Gwyneth Paltrow's public pubic disclosure -- that she "work[s] a '70s vibe" down below -- was a conversation topic on no fewer than two episodes of "Ellen." Cameron Diaz recently scored loads of press coverage for her Body Book after dedicating a chapter to personal feminine grooming. And a New York City American Apparel store found itself at the center of controversy recently when its window displays featured female mannequins in merkins.
Quite simply, female pubes are still taboo -- even in 2014, and are, therefore, an easy way to get people chattering. A cheap shot, if you will. When a woman doesn't shave, it's because she's choosing to make some kind of statement. (Note Madonna's viral armpit hair-driven Instagram last week, posted clearly with the intent to shock. Sad that it's come to this, eh Madge?)
Which brings me back to #cockinasock, and all its unabashed, man-pubey goodness that no one is talking about. At all. Which is a beautiful thing in itself -- but it's not enough. Here's hoping that, in the not-far-off future, we should all, regardless of our sex, feel so free as to put our theoretical phalluses into items of clothing intended for feet and post photos online -- or hey, wear a high-cut bikini bottom at the beach -- whether our crotches be shaven or not.
UPDATE: Instagram has apparently caught on to #cockinasock and has been removing images with the hashtag as fast as they're being posted -- but a Facebook page, Twitter, and alternative (and almost as hilarious) hashtag, #getyoursockout, are still in use.