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.