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Femme Problems 114: To Shave or Not To Shave…

In the woman’s world, shaving is an art form. From adolescence to adulthood, we femmes spend our entire lives wrestling with the razor, trying all sorts of products that burn, pinch, and rip our follicles to shreds. We spend copious amounts of time and money on this hygienic hoopla, while others of us simply refuse. After reading about American Apparel’s recent mannequin merkin display, I really started to question and ponder on the necessity (or lack thereof) of shaving.

I know that many of us femmes have certain expectations about how high the grass may grow and how often it must be cut. But what happens when the girl you take home surprises you with an ambush (pun intended)? For many women out there, there is no greater disappointment than believing you’ve struck gold just to strike ground and discover that you’ve actually uncovered a swampland. But do we take the time to appreciate the natural beauty in those who take the alternative approach?

I argue that it’s not the act of shaving itself that is the issue, but the why. I’ve had more than one conversation with my best girlfriend who swears by waxing. She gets just as much pleasure from her silky smooth skin as her partner does. Though I’ve never been brave enough to take that plunge, I have found a way around the razor. One of the greatest finds I’ve ever uncovered is the Finishing Touch, a sleek, effective hair removal wand that uses micro-vibrations to remove hair, leaving absolutely no razor bumps or chance of cuts. This is just one of the many tools in my femme toolbox that I swear by. For me, shaving is a more conscious, deliberate act, and I still remain steadfast to my decision.

I wonder how many of us femmes think through our motivation for keeping unwanted hair on our arms, legs, and other lady parts. Like the HOA, I too have certain limitations and restrictions in how one must present and maintain her front and backyard. In my dream house, the carpet doesn’t have to match the drapes, because hardwood floors go with anything. Ultimately my pleasure, and the pleasure of my partner, means more to me than taking some self-righteous stance against “the man”. I understand the importance of reclaiming power from misogynistic, heteronormative viewpoints of our bodies; however, for me, there is no greater form of empowerment than taking control and embracing one’s own pleasure.

But that’s not to discredit the beautiful biology of our female form and those who embrace it. After all, there has to be some anatomically ordained reason why hair is there, functioning almost like a mote to keep intruders from too easily accessing the castle. While it’s not for me, I have learned recently to truly respect it, and the rationale behind it.

But I wonder if those who opt not to partake in this arguably misogynistic, socially learned behavior extend the same courtesy to us as well.

I’ve sat through many conversations in which I’ve sensed some assertion of social superiority for not having these expectations and placating these demands. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it makes you more of a feminist because you don’t shave, anymore than it makes me any less of a feminist because I do. At the end of the day, I wholeheartedly believe in a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, and that decision—no matter what it may be—deserves respect from all.


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