Who benefits if pubic waxing is an environmental catastrophe for crab-lice?


74 Responses to “Who benefits if pubic waxing is an environmental catastrophe for crab-lice?”

  1. And there’s that whole Smallpox extinction we just perpetrated, and…

  2. theophrastvs says:

    didn’t the ancient Egyptians shave their heads supposedly to eliminate lice (and/or other hair based parasites)?  so it’s only taken us a few millennia to stubble back into this wisdom?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      it’s only taken us a few millennia

      Islam requires that underarms and pubic hair be shaved clean.  So your statement is true only if by “us”, you mean non-Muslims.

    • bardfinn says:

      Fun fact: pubic lice and body lice and head lice are separate and distinct species (though the pubic louse can live on eyelashes, beards, mustaches, and occasionally underarms – as well as pubic hair).

      Eyelash lice.

      • Jerril says:

        More fun fact: Pubic lice are closer related to gorilla lice, head lice are closer related to chimp lice.

        Human head lice appear to have diverged more or less when we did from our common ancestor with chimps, which makes sense. Pubic lice, on the other hand, we seem to have caught from gorillas /after/ our two lineages split (which is a more ancient split than the split from chimps).

        The strong indication is that humans had already lost our body hair when we caught a case of the gorilla crabs, which is how they’ve stayed a distinct population from head lice. The current boring theory is that we caught them by sleeping in used gorilla bedding, not by boinking gorillas, but there’s no proof either way ;)

        • wysinwyg says:

          One argument is that boinking gorillas when one is not oneself a gorilla might have adverse effects on one’s chances for survival and reproduction.

          Gorillas boinking humans on the other hand…no, that’s still probably adverse effects on chances of survival and reproduction.

  3. Snig says:

    I wonder what percentage of the species would have to shave our heads for a couple years to extinguish head lice.  Think of the water we’d save, and the time we’d save not combing. 

    • Chris H says:

       The time you save not combing is made up for with all the time you spend shaving your head. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years.

    • blueelm says:

      Actually super long hair works similarly. You don’t wash it that often (once it gets to a certain length it really *wants* that scalp oil) and you don’t brush it that often (because brushing breaks the hair) so you end up with your hair down a couple times a week at most but typically wrapped up where it stays in a braid, bun, roll, however you style it. You also don’t bleach or dye it, treat it, straighten it, curl it, or other things much if you want it long. It’s kind of an effort parabola with hair. People ask me “isn’t it so much trouble to get your hair to grow that long” and actually it isn’t. It’s a disciplined neglect. Too much neglect and you have stinky dreadlocks. Too little neglect and you’ll have to cut an inch off every month or so.

  4. SuperMatt says:

    Kind of off-topic, but when I went to boingboing’s homepage today, it downloaded a file called “player” without asking me.  It appears to be a soundcloud widget.  Is this something that is supposed to load on the page, but is broken?  This happened under Safari and also under Google Chrome.  Chrome even asked “a site is trying to download multiple files to your computer” and asked me to deny it from happening, which I did.

    • Snig says:

      Sadly, it’s on topic.  Evolution happens.  That’s how crab lice are transmitted these days.  Your best bet is to shave your hard drive. 

  5. who benefits?  the makers of fake testicles of course.

  6. MonkeyBoy says:

    I thought having hairless pubes was mainly a female thing. But then again if all women were hairless that would cut down on the infection rate of hairy heterosexual males. Is it common for men to demand that prostitutes or promiscuous women be bald?

    Is it in demand for promiscuous gay men to be hairless:

    • Kimmo says:

      Ever done it (hetero) when you’re both shaved?

      Kinda worth the hassle, at least until you’re used to it.

    • Jerril says:

      Hairless everyone below the neck seems to be a common meme at the moment, so that cuts down on carriers from all populations for everything except head lice.

      While I totally salute the hygiene aspect, I still miss the shag carpeting look on men.

  7. failquail says:

    I do find it amusing that if you *cough* go to porn sites you’ll find ‘unshaven’ is a minority fetish category, rather than the 100% natural state of being it actually is. :)

    • Ladyfingers says:

      I don’t find the trend towards pubic depilation that disturbing (although I do find it saddening), it’s the people who are horrified at pubes that worry me. I mean, if you see an attractive naked person of your preferred sex and you react with “gross! Shave that thing!” then you have genuine damage.

  8. bcsizemo says:

    No one wants to be in the position of not being able to see the forest for all the trees….

  9. sdmikev says:

    For a second, I thought that said “public waxing” – and I thought, I don’t want to see that.  
    OK, maybe in a few instances, but..

  10. “This site is trying to download multiple files. Allow or Deny”  

    What is Boing Boing trying to do?

  11. PeterK says:

    “there’s a huge industry that stands to make a lot of money…”

    I’ve always warned people about big-merkin, maybe now they’ll listen.

  12. soylent_plaid says:

    Y’know, sometimes species extinction isn’t always sad.  Anyone with a position of educational authority know if the pubic lice is important in any other ecosystems other than as a human parasite?

    • ldobe says:

      I can’t think of a single vertebrate that depends on lice, and the only animals I can think of that eat them are primates (which can survive without them).

      Lice might possibly be a vector for beneficial skin bacteria, but so is anything else one touches.

      I’m not well read regarding lice, so anybody else with better knowledge I encourage to correct my conjecture.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Doesn’t it seem likely that some other species of lice would jump ship and settle the newly vacant territory within a few decades?

  13. carillon246 says:

    The crab louse (pthirus pubis) can live on eyelashes.  http://www.cmaj.ca/content/182/4/E187.full

  14. BarBarSeven says:

    Lice, schmice. I like pubic hair.

  15. Marko Raos says:

    Please discuss conservationism’s covert (and deeply hypocritical) anthropocentrism in the light of poor crab-lice’s possible extinction. Would the public reaction be any different if, by some chance of evolution, crab-lice possessed features reminiscent of human babies?

    • austinhamman says:

       im gonna go with….no. for a few reasons:
      1: people don’t see crabs except in very rare occasions
      2: crabs itch…and no one likes to itch.

      if we were talking the extinction of mosquitoes, who’s extinction most people also wouldn’t bemoan, it would be another story. while the laity would be happy to see the mosquitoes gone, most ecologists would realize the important role mosquitoes play in the environment and WOULD be worried.

      public lice is not useful to anyone, it doesnt contribute to any ecology other than making humans itch (by no fault of it’s own mind, it’s just trying to live) and so no one morns their passing any more than the extinction of smallpox. it’s less to do with the organism’s cuteness (at least to ecologists, perhaps the laity) and more to do with its usefulness either directly to us or to the ecosystem and thus indirectly to us.

      on an unrelated note, if you want cute microorganisms looks up “tardigrades” adorable and damn near indestructible!

      • David says:

        Was thinking the same. Mosquitoes though bothersome make up a large chunk of the food chain. If they go so do many birds & reptiles that depend on them. Pubic lice? We’d be the only ones to know or care. So good riddance.

      • Marko Raos says:

        “public lice is not useful to anyone, it doesnt contribute to any ecology…”
        As is the case with most top predators since humans already fill that niche… Someone’s got to kill those baby seals – whether humans or polar bears do it is immaterial to both the seals and their ecology.
        Also with your two two premises you are basically condoning the anthropocentric approach where only “useful” animals should be protected. When this is taken to its logical conclusion, then there is no reason to preserve any animals except those directly “useful” – the domestic ones… Not to mention the ethical dubiousness of humans being the final arbiters on which species should live or die, according to whatever fashion is on at the moment. Who should decide which species should live or die and on what moral grounds? Cuteness? Usefulness? Being associated with some deity?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:


          • Marko Raos says:

            Exactly! Who is to decide that humans are more important than smallpox (or crab-lice) in the great unfeeling vastness of the universe?

          • austinhamman says:

            humans are, and if smallpox had it’s choice it would say smallpox is, but all else being equal, there is nothing wrong with siding with your own species against a species that would otherwise do your species harm.

        • Snig says:

          “When this is taken to its logical conclusion”

          You mean if one takes the principle of being a conservationist to a ridiculous extreme.  That’s not the same as a logical conclusion.  The vast majority of conservationists still have survival instinct, and have other concerns and principles.  Otherwise, if all life entities are equal in the eyes of your ideal of a conservationist he/she would kill themselves to better harbor all the microbes who could happily live on their cadaver.

          • austinhamman says:

            he would also never wash himself lest he kill the large number of bacteria on his body, nor would he walk anywhere lest he step on a bug, nor would he eat anything since everything you could eat comes from something that was once alive. (leaving the conundrum of course that by not eating he starves the bacteria in his gut)

        • wysinwyg says:

          Someone’s got to kill those baby seals – whether humans or polar bears do it is immaterial to both the seals and their ecology.

          You seem to be confusing extinction with killing individual animals.

          I’ll give you a little hint: if polar bears drove seals to extinction, polar bears would go extinct next.  Despite the best efforts of homo sapiens along these lines it seems that destroying one’s major source of food calories doesn’t have good outcomes.

          This difference is not “immaterial to both the seals and their ecology.”

          Who should decide which species should live or die and on what moral grounds? Cuteness? Usefulness? Being associated with some deity?

          Is it somehow better not to choose at all? How so?

        • austinhamman says:

          when i say pubic lice isn’t useful to anyone, i don’t just mean humans. i mean the rest of the world. if pubic lice disappeared, no other species would go extinct for their passing. compared to another annoying species, the mosquito, who’s passing would greatly disrupt many ecosystems that depend on those species.
          equally such, if seals went extinct species that fed on seals would also perish, species which were eaten by seals would proliferate in their absence, and this can cause a huge upset in that ecosystem.
          as for the question of “on what moral grounds [do we get to chose who lives and dies]” i would contend it is not a moral issue at all. some things are a mater of necessity not morality. we preserve species that are needed to maintain an ecosystem that we are happy with, this means some species not immediately useful to us like mosquitoes must be protected from humans because they are useful to other species that are vital to the ecosystem and to wipe them out would wipe out that ecosystem. we are the arbiters of this system only because we can be, because we can fight our own natural animalistic tendency to consume resources and destroy environments with wanton disregard. we are capable of understanding the role our actions play in the larger ecosystem and should be accountable for those actions. that is the point of conservation, not “killing other creatures is bad” or even “killing cute creatures is bad” but the recognition that our actions have consequences on the larger ecology and that we should work to minimize the harm of our interactions with those systems.

          if a creature is not beneficial to a certain system, or if we have by our actions introduced the creature to a system and they are wrecking it, it’s ok to take them out. we are equally justified in taking out creature which pose a harm to human health, so long as taking the creature out doesnt cause major harm to the ecosystem (as it would for mosquitoes, which are not only annoying but carry malaria.) so wiping out swaths of e-coli in your house is not genocide, or at the least it’s justified genocide.

          • Snig says:

            There may be lice specific microflora, but it’s not likely they’d be any more missed than the lice.  Here’s an article, largely looking if there are any lice pathogens that don’t also kill humans (sorry for the spoiler, but no).

            It does have the fun line: The use of louse predators on human beings does not seem feasible, since the predators would crawl over the skin and thus be generally unacceptable. 

            So you can use that for cocktail conversation.

    • robuluz says:

      Good point. Indulge me in a dramatisation:

      ‘Why the fuck am I so itchy down there? Damn lice. I’m getting waxed. Death to those itchy bastards. I must destroy them all!’

      ‘Wait.. what the… awwwwwww!!! It’s a tiny little 3mm long human baby louse! Who’s a pretty crotch louse!’

      ‘More must be done to protect this precious creature. Ban Brazillian waxing now!’

      Yep. I’m pretty sure that’s how that would pan out.

      • Lithi says:

         I can totally see PETA doing that.

        • Christopher says:

          Yes, but they’d have to stop those “I’d rather go naked…” ads. No one wants to see naked celebrities with blistered, lice-ridden skin.

          Well, actually, having read a lot of de Sade, I guess I should say that there is a certain subset of the population that would pay dearly to see that.

    • C W says:

      “God did X”

      Okay, I think that’s enough discussion for the day…

  16. bardfinn says:

    Pubic lice are not, by any means, ever going to be “endangered” by shaving.

  17. dethbird says:

    Still available at … Red LOBSTER ! (In the voice of Gov. David Patterson). * drum fill *

  18. Jen Onymous says:

    Insert Mr. Miyage “wax on…wax off” Karate Kid joke here (or don’t)

  19. senorglory says:

    Would someone who has had crabs be more or less likely to comment on this thread, I wonder?

  20. Koocheekoo says:

    Are men getting Brazilian waxes too? Otherwise, are crabs only spread by women? There’s no male on male crab lice transmission? Seems very odd. Did not read, so maybe this was mentioned.

  21. Nate Foote says:

    “Now we know the little crablouse is a raver
    You can’t get rid of it unless you use a razor
    It’s unbearable, funky and so cool
    A real smartass and nobody’s fool”

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