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October 10, 2008

hairy feminist signing in

Posted by dogpossum on October 10, 2008 6:52 PM in the category domesticity

I've had hairy legs and armpits for so long I tend to forget that there's anything unusual happening down/under there. But every now and then someone else'll notice, and I'll get a suprise. Look at that! Who'd have thought!

I'm always impressed when I see other Ladies with hairy armpits - that's awesome. And I see them so rarely. It seems the most radical people on campus these days are academics - if I see someone with hairy armpits (international symbol of radical inattention to grooming) I think "YEAH!"

But every now and then someone else'll notice and I'll remember. Usually, their gaze gets caught. And they keep having to look. And they look away. And they have to look back. It's kind of odd - I mean, it's so ordinary to me, I simply don't notice it. But for most people, a Lady with hairy pits or legs is so unusual it gets a stare. I mean, people can't even really See homeless people on the street, or a guy asking for a dollar. But they can't look away from a bit of delicate insulation.

I've always been a bit disappointed I don't have really hairy legs, but since giving up shaving as a bad job in 1990 (grade 10, thanks) and forgetting to shave my armpits at about the same time, what little hair I do have has gotten a lot less fierce. It's kind of soft and delicate. It lacks angry feminstah passion.

I'm not much into 'beauty products' either. Sorbelene, shampoo and conditioner, herbal toothpaste, blistex for my chapped lips and some no-chemical soap. That's all I need. Oh, and a bit of hair colour for when I've forgotten to get a haircut. Because I figure it's not worth being scruffy if you don't make the most of it. It takes me 15 minutes to get ready to leave the house.

Something that's brought home to me whenever I spend any amount of time with another woman who isn't as into minimal grooming (and, well, that seems to be most women), is just how much time all that grooming takes up. I really can't believe people waste good reading time shaving their legs. Or good bullshit-story-telling time in front of the mirror. I rarely look in the mirror (puberty's over - the good stuff has happened and I doubt anything much is going to change for the next twenty years). I'm not about to tell people to get over that grooming stuff - that's their business. But it really does stun me.

The bit that really bothers me is the fact that most men don't bother with this stuff either. Sure, there're stories about metrosexuals (and I do have a few in my acquaintance), but for the most part, all this attention to physical appearance is something that clutters up women's time. Would it be wrong for me to point out that all that grooming really is part of a grand plan to keep you from Looking Up and noticing that there's more important shit going down? I mean, how could we possibly get on with fighting The Man (or kicking arse with righteous fury) if we had to stop and spend two hours every day fixing our hair? I mean, how much fun are we if we're always worrying about what we eat or how our trousers fit us? If my arse is inside my pants, I figure it's a win. If I'm clean, then we're all laughing.

So what I'm saying is: grooming. It's ok - it's not bad in itself. But when it's only the ladies who 'have' to do it, then there is something wrong. That's not cool.

I have plenty of more important things to think about. Who's going to relearn all those historic jazz dance routines? Who's going to sew all those amazing new clothes? Who's going to teach those darling little chundergrads about essay structure? And the internet's not going to fill itself full of shit, is it?

I'm also a little concerned by the emphasis on pain and self-punishment in grooming. Don't eat that, even if you want it: deny! Pluck that hair out - handle the pain! Put that hot wax on yourself, then pull it off (but don't you dare get turned on)! Stick that chemical-tested-on-bunnies right up in your delicate eye ball. Wash your vag out with that stuff. Wear that incredibly constraining waistband - you won't want to do any dancing or stunts or have any fun. And no one will want to see your fabulous physical comedy.

I mean, really, am I alone here? Is it just me that thinks all this shit is just plain nuts?

[btw this rant is in part inspired by a fabulous collection of Germaine Greer's letters to newspaper editors and small publications. I want it.]

Posted by dogpossum on October 10, 2008 6:52 PM in the category domesticity