I’m a Feminist AND I Shave– Get Over It

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Lately I’ve been subjected to a glut of posts on social media about the social convention of shaving for women, and why it is holding us back as feminists.

If you haven’t seen these posts, Google it.  It is a thing.

There seems to be a general consensus that if you are a woman AND you shave, then you are allowing “the Man” to hold you hostage to misogynistic standards of beauty to which we have been systematically and habitually brain washed since childhood.

Apparently, because there are not any more important things going on in the world, like whether or not a flaming narcissist with a general disregard for human rights takes the throne of the free world, a conversation about the bodily hair of women has been started.  Feminists have been called to arms over the fact that the beauty industry has duped us lady folk into believing it is more esthetically pleasing to have shiny, hair free flesh.

My Hairy Feminist Sisters, I salute you, but. . .

Here’s the thing:

People need to shut the eff up about the fact that women shave their arm pits, legs, and/or lady bits.  I respect your right to be hairy, but my preference for a sleek physique does not make me less of a woman, feminist, or a crunchy-tree-hugging-hippie.

I get that people are just trying to stick up for women’s rights, and I am seriously not mocking anyone who choses not to shave.  I also understand that there are biological reasons we have fur, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But as with everything else directed at us women (probably including this post), this advocacy for pubic hair comes across as judgmental, at least to me.

I espouse this rant as someone who has done both- been hairy and clean shaven.  At one point in my life I chose not to shave, not because of any political agenda, but because I was curious about how it would feel and what it would look like.  It was cool.

Actually it wasn’t cool, it was warm, cuz you know, extra hair.  But you get what I’m saying.

My body hair at one point prompted my brother to tell me he could lose his car keys in my leg fur.  Others made jokes about having Jerry Garcia in a headlock.  One guy I dated at the time told me he loved it and found my arm pit hair incredibly arousing because it resembled two additional vaginas.  (???  Men.  AmIright?)

I took all of this feedback with a grain of proverbial salt because I was content with myself, in my own bushy skin.

Over the years, I’ve just realized I prefer to be clean shaven.  I don’t spend a great deal of time shaving, and don’t spend a lot of money on shaving products.  My hair is light and fair and does not need frequent pruning to begin with, not that I should even feel compelled to justify any of this to anyone.

But lately in the shower, when I reach for my pink lady razor, I’ve been feeling a twinge of discomfort, like I’m doing something wrong or embarrassing to womenkind.

Well, no more shall I feel less than for shaving.

Look, I’m still a granola and animal-right’s loving hippie peace freak.  I still do all sorts of crunchy things.  I wash my face with organic jojoba oil.  I practice meditation and take daily walks to “ground myself.” I try to be mindful. I voted for Bernie in the primary.  I purchase cruelty free beauty supplies.  I breastfed my daughter until she was four years old.

I am also a feminist who stands staunchly for women’s right to choice, freedom, and equality.

And yeah, I shave.  I buy pink razors and shaving cream that smells like raspberries.  I do.

I don’t do it for my husband or society (although 20 years ago when I graduated from college and dutifully read “What Color is Your Parachute” it was the general recommendation to shave up before an interview and so far this advice has worked pretty well for me).

I shave because I find it pleasing to my own esthetic, and because it is my right and my choice to do so, just as it is someone else’s right to grow their armpit hair and dye it rainbow colors (I kid you not.  Google it.  It’s a thing.)

Again, I have no problem whatsoever with women who feel more comfortable al natural. What I take issue with is the judgement that comes along with these posts that if we do shave we are not as good at being women and feminists.

Don’t we face enough judgement and vitriol for our every move as women and mother’s?  I know, as a working mom, I never feel like I am doing anything right, let alone living up to the grand and splendid tenet of feminism that Yes! We can have it ALL.

Please.  I beg of you.  Let me shave in peace.

I’d like to leave you with some lyrics from my OG feminist troubadour, Ani Difranco’s song “Little Plastic Castle”:

People talk about my image like I come in two dimensions

Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind,

Like what I happen to be wearing the day that someone takes a picture

Is my new statement for all of womankind.

I wish they cold see us now, in rubber bras and leather shorts

Like some ridiculous new team uniform

For some ridiculous new sport

Quick someone call the girl police

And file a report.  

I dunno if Ms. Difranco shaves, or not.  But she got that one right on the nose.

Momaste to all of you women and moms out there who are working hard at whatever it is you do.  Take a minute to accept, appreciate and love yourself just the way you are.  You’re fabulous and I’m so happy you’re here.  The mom and woman in me bows to the mom and woman in you.

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8 responses »

  1. Ani! Ani! SO glad you quoted her at the end of this. I always return to the most important tenet of feminism: choice. (Choose to shave, woman, or not.) My two cents: I don’t care what anybody does with their bodily hair. After years of not shaving my pits, I shave my pits. I don’t shave my legs because I have so little hair on them no one has ever noticed. As for the lady bits, I’m lazy. I trim, when I remember. I tried a Brazilian once (ouch!). I confess I do get a little freaked out by women who go full bore on the vulva (as in, take it all off). I dunno…a friend recently told me she thought her pubic hair was gross so she lasered it all off permanently and it made me kind of sad, like she was just internalizing negative images about women’s bodies. But, again, it’s her choice…

    Was that all TMI? : )

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve also gotten crap because I like to wear makeup, jewelry, and fun clothes. In reality, I think what’s more anti-feminist than anything is telling women they MUST do any particular thing in order to be a true feminist. A true feminist encourages other women to be themselves in whatever way works for them.

  3. EXCELLENTLY SAID! Well done!!!! I’m a feminist and I shave too! Love this. Equally true about wearing skirts, makeup, etc. Silly because it’s NOT TRUE. Now admittedly I get a bit freaked out by the Brazilian waxing of every pubic hair and it’s not for me, because I do find it’s a bit paedophilia-in-appearance but I would never judge another woman for HER CHOICE as you say that’s the foundation of feminism our right to freedom! Well said very well said

  4. YES!!! Omg!! Can I like this post a million times? I recently participated in a heated discussion with a group of mom’s about this very issue & the word “enough” kept popping up as well as the phrase “a real feminist”. Is there such a thing as “fake feminist”?
    I would like to know who put us in charge of deeming whether other people are being “a real whatever” or “enough” of something? Are we supposed to fit some feminist mold that I am very unaware of? And why do we have to tear each other down? It seems to me that there is this thing about being “right” more than finding an understanding between diverse opinions.
    What do I know, I’m a mom who is a feminist, I shave, I want more wine in my life, I am a wife, I frequently use the phrase “N Shit” because reasons, I occasionally wear dangly earrings with Doc Martens at the same time, & I am a chapstick lesbian. I’m sure my version of feminism isn’t “enough” for them, but I don’t live for them, I live for me. I am really glad you live for you too because eff them, you are enough.
    Again, your post is FANTASTIC & I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. I was nodding my head & grinning the entire time. You’re such a wordsmith. AND you used Ani… I love that SO much! Thank you for this. 😉

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