The Shaving Feminist

I am a feminist.
I shave various areas of my body on a weekly basis.
To many, these two facts would seem to be incompatible. Isn’t shaving giving in to The Will Of The Patriarchy(tm)? Doesn’t it remove evidence that I’ve reached puberty by returning my skin to a girlish, hairless state? There are plenty of articles about how awful shaving is and how terrible it is that society pressures women to shave.
Now, I do agree that it is stupid that society pressures women to shave. Surely that should be up to us women, right? Feminism is about women being able to control their own bodies, yes? So if a woman doesn’t want to shave, she shouldn’t be made to feel bad or unattractive. Men don’t shave their legs or pits (well, some do but the overwhelming mainstream attitude toward that appears to be that they are therefore effeminate and not real men), so we women shouldn’t either, right?

Wellll…. I say that’s half right. I think that men and women both should be able to choose what bits of their bodies to shave without shame or stigma attached to any one preference. It enrages me that I frequently feel like a “bad feminist” for liking to shave. I feel defensive. I even rehearse my defence in my head!

Oh, but I shave year-round regardless of what I wear. That shows that I shave because I like it. See? I’m not shaving because I feel like I have to (I almost never wear clothes that show my legs anyway). I even shaved before I got a boyfriend! See? See? I am a feminist, I am!
What the hell is that about? I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty by the very movement that’s supposed to be freeing me from the shackles of sexist-society-imposted guilt, dammit! I think that women who are feminists should consider whether they like shaving or not (I actually enjoy the activity of it), and if they don’t, they should stop. If they do, then they should keep doing it – and not get shit about it!
I get that battling the societal pressure to shave is difficult and refusing to shave gives us solidarity with one another – women with hairy legs can make eye contact and think, “yeah, she gets it.” But feminists don’t all have to be the same. We are tall and short, young and old, long-haired and mohawked, fat and thin, and this is a good thing. Why not add “shaven and unshaven” to that list of dichotomies? Let’s fuck with the sexist culture we live in by announcing that nobody but the individual woman decides whether she shaves or not – not men, and not other women either.

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3 Responses to The Shaving Feminist

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks to the internet, I have discovered that there are even men who think shaving the beard is to give into some unmasculine agenda on the part of those who are running society these days. Or something bizarre like that.

  2. Becca says:

    Nah. I shave and wax AND I’m a feminist. I have sensitive skin and I find body hair to be extremely itchy. Especially when I sweat. And then it’s really itchy. And I can’t really scratch myself in public (I think feminists and non-feminists can agree that scratching in public isn’t terribly polite), so I need to figure out how to be comfortable. Ah. Problem solved.

  3. Melissa says:

    I was wrestling with this idea myself, recently, and have come to the conclusion that:
    I am a human being first, a woman second, and a feminist third. That means that I can take care of my body in a manner that I see fit, not in the manner that someone else sees fit. So I shave my legs, and enjoy their smoothness. Yes, I love touching things, gazing at things, tasting things, smelling things. I’m a hedonist at heart.
    To give you some background, I have experimented in acting in a male role for a time, and acting in a female role for a time, and as a feminist, and as a pre-feminist, and I feel that I can see both sides of the issue here. I didn’t shave my legs for years for the “feminist” reason, or so I thought, but what it actually was, for me, was that I wanted to ignore my body, and not make it beautiful. But now, embracing how lovely I look, how much I like to feel everything, I shave, and make no apologies for it.
    Often, feminism focuses on negativity, even as it says, “Power to women!” it also magnifies the wrongs people are doing to women in the world, instead of looking at what is going right. Not to sound Pollyanna-ish, but what you focus on comes closer to you. Soon oppression is all you see.
    So some feminism is kind of like a pity-party. Which is why the movement still struggles, even now. It’s similiar to black separatism, according to my boyfriend, Miles (who is black), because both groups focus on trying to look different and exclude a whole bunch of people simply because of the way they look. This makes for oppression, self-rightousness, anger, fear, rage, and so on, all because of this artificial separation. That is why I say I am a human being first.