Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Feminist Shave

We bought the Smooth Away. I figured I would get around to Smooth Awaying my legs eventually, but I never bothered - what with my school dress code of knee socks or tights only, my legs never get to see the light of day anymore, so what’s the point in stripping them down?

Then summer came. In came the humidity and out went the knee socks. Even though all my skirts are extremely long, and I love my dorky high-tops, leg still shows. As does hair on said leg. And I felt uncomfortable…and so an internal battle ensured.

Just Smooth Away your legs already!
No! It’s sexist to buy into the fact that women should shave their legs and men don’t have to!
Who said that men shouldn’t?
Well, they don’t!
You shave your underarms, don’t you?
If I didn’t, I’d stink to high heaven. It should be a law that women and men have to shave their underarms.
You shave that - why not your legs?
Because it’s sexist!! Have we not already established this?
We have. But everyone does it. Who cares?
I care!! It’s a sign of women’s oppression!
Because it’s like trying to bring women back into their childhood, and infantilize them, since they’re treated like children in society - “Women and children first!” Women were considered property like children, and to shave my legs is to buy into that.
Do you think you’re taking yourself a wee bit too seriously?
Are you gonna shut up and Smooth Away your legs?

Yeah, I succumbed. I finally just sat down on the bathtub, took out the Smooth Away pad, and began rubbing. (I still have no clue where the hair goes after you Smooth Away it off. I couldn’t find any on the floor or pad.) After one leg, I got bored and just took soap and used a regular razor. It was far from a perfect job on either leg, but I finally got rid of that unsightly hair and could wear some of those shorter skirts pushed to the back of my closet.

I felt guilty for buying into the stereotype of feminine beauty as smooth-skinned, not natural. I told my mom about all the misgivings I had, and Jewish Mama Bear made everything feel better.

“Plastic surgery,” she began. “Women who have it feel better about their bodies. It’s not about them buying into what men dictate as beauty; it’s about them feeling comfortable in their skins. If having a button nose makes you feel better about yourself, then go ahead, get a nose job! Why not? And so, on a similar level, shaving your legs made you feel better about it. It’s not buying into sexist norms of what women should look like, it’s what makes you feel better.” I opened my mouth, and she said, “I know you’re gonna say that it’s rooted in sexist norms, but does it matter? It still makes you feel better.”

My mom is right. The feminist movement is all about choices. Women should have the option to choose between being a doctor or a teacher; they should not be pushed into either choice. Women should also have the option of shaving their legs or not. Both should be accepted practices; there should be no “women’s norm” and “men’s norm.” Women (and men) should be able to do whatever they feel comfortable with.

1 comment:

  1. I've had some of those moments - where I question doing something because it could be seen as a little sexist - but I've never really had that problem with shaving my legs! My wardrobe consists of nothing but jeans and band t-shirts (in other words, my naked legs never see the light of day), but I still like to shave every now and then. Not because I'm expecting anybody to be oggling at my baby-butt-smooth legs, but because I feel kind of unkept when I don't! But like you said, feminism is all about choice - so whether we want to go smooth or perfectly natural, we're perfect either way! ^^