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Women; As I See It
Perspective is Everything
To Shave or Not to Shave...That is the Personal Choice
I admit it. I shave my legs; even if it is only when I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have sex. I don't do this strictly for my boyfriend. Although for him unshaved female legs fill him with fear that I may whip off my bra in public and set it on fire. He has a rather low threshold of embarrassment, which makes me wonder just what he sees in me.
Yes, I am aware that this behavior has been socialized into me... it is one of many learned superficial mores just like chewing with your mouth shut or not peeing on the toilet seat. We could certainly survive without these things but they do serve a purpose in making our lives a little more agreeable. If we stopped to think about where all our beliefs and customs come from then tried to erase them we'd be running around naked eating out of garbage cans. I'm not sure you want to see me naked... especially if I haven't shaved my legs.
As a cultural norm hair removal is one of those things that run the gamut. In the Middle East young women remove all the hair from their bodies before their wedding night... yes, that is ALL the hair. In Europe the thought of hair removal is as absurd as fat free cheese... it is simply not done. If I choose to succumb to one female social mandate it is balanced by my refusal to go to Tupperware parties or watch mind-swallowing women's movies on the Lifetime Channel. But the real point is that these are all conscious decisions.
Shaving my legs is a conscious choice even if it is imposed by a social code. However not shaving your legs can be a political statement not unlike sporting a tattoo of a marijuana leaf on your forehead. I know that there are some women who simply choose not to shave and what I say is more power to them! However, the majority of women I know who don't shave are advertising their feminist sympathies and have not even given personal choice a glimmer of thought. I do not identify with militant feminists. The semantics of words like "mankind" do not offend me. Some of my best friends are men... and some are women. I like the variety.
My opinion about radical feminism has ancient roots stemming back to my first and last women's lib meeting. It was back in my senior year of high school in the early days of women first discovering the significance of their genitalia. At my all girls Catholic High School career day a group of young feminist graduate students from the University of Buffalo came in under the guise of career opportunities as activists. Someone in the feminist group had the bright idea that a Catholic girl's school would be a fine place to solicit young malleable girls for The Cause. The Libbers whispered to the seniors in corners about attending a Women's Lib meeting in the dorms of UB later that week.
A few of us more adventurous ones went to the meeting. Once we got there we were served tea and were told that sugar was not available. If we wanted sweetener it was honey... that was the RIGHT way. Next we discussed shaving our legs. We were told with no uncertainty that as liberated women we were required NOT to shave our legs. They told me that it was an unnatural act inflicted on innocent women by the terrible male beast. The thought that I would be walking around in my school uniform with long flowing leg hairs poking out of my panty hose horrified me. The fervor with which this issue was addressed gave us the impression that this step in our personal hygiene would change the state of women's lives all over the globe. I was dumbfounded. In my already cynical youth I asked the leader why being forced not to shave my legs by them made me freer than being forced to shave my legs by the penis-toting enemy. I questioned, "Let me get this straight... If I shave my legs because men tell me to I become a slave but if I do not shave my legs because you tell me to I will be liberated? There seems to be a serious logic problem here." That's when we were asked to leave. So maybe my insistence on shaving my legs is still based in juvenile rebellion and stuck in my psyche like that whole cheese cake I ate is to my thighs... forever more