Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feminism and Armpits

It's hilarious how for some people being a radical feminist is reduced to the all-important issue* of whether to shave their armpits. Who cares about the assault on reproductive rights, workplace discrimination, countless victims of anti-female violence around the world, female genital mutilation, etc. when we can sit there and feel self-righteous about our armpit hair. Of course, presence or absence of hair in the armpits hasn't had anything to do with gender for quite a while now. Men who first started removing armpit hair on a regular basis have had time to see that hair turn gray. It is also self-evident that shaving one's armpits takes at most thirty seconds, even if you really try to make the process last as long as possible.

Of course, the kind of feminism that concentrates on whether you shave, wear heels, use make-up or visit beauty salons is a very easy and attractive kind of feminism. It gives you a list of things that you shouldn't do, which is always great because not doing something is definitely easier than acting. No intellectual effort is involved in this type of feminism either. 

While such pseudo-feminists are sitting there gazing at their unshaved armpits, the conservatives in this country are stealing the last sad remnants of women's reproductive freedoms. But who cares, as long as they know that we they true, unshaven, unpainted, low-heeled feminists who have never set a foot inside a spa**?

Truly, some people should finally get their heads out of their armpits and take a look at some larger issues.

* Before you follow the link, I have to mention that the post I linked to is very badly written. Don't say I didn't warn you.

** In case anybody is wondering, I've been to a spa once and hated it. But I don't suggest this as proof of my feminism. My dislike of spas proves one thing: that I dislike spas. As tempting as it is to make a soapbox out of this, I've resisted the temptation so far.


brittanyannwick said...

I shouldn't have clicked. Ugh. It looks like a dictionary suffered diarrhea all over the page, with chunks of self-satisfaction and condescension sprinkled in.

It's not the place, or the business of a social justice movement to care whether or not I shave. Really. Just yours truly. Priority check for that feminist, please!

Yonmei said...

I proved once to my own satisfaction that shaving is a feminist issue by mentioning on my journal that I don't and never have and don't want to.

Followed a 500-comment multi-branched thread by people (mostly women) decrying my choice, arguing that their decision to shave had nothing to do with contemporary cultural values but just felt nicer and more hygienic, etc, etc, etc.

I agree there are more significant feminist issues. And I agree that no one should ever try to make another woman feel uncomfortable about her own choice about what or how she wears or shaves or doesn't or makes-up or doesn't or gains weight or loses weight or whatever.

But that women's body hair is a feminist issue, part of the issue of policing women's bodies and making women feel unhappy unless they've taken trouble to look different - that, I think, there's no doubt.