Much like name changing, shaving seems to involve heated discussions amongst feminists. Every feminist does what it takes to get by in the patriarchy. There are compromises that we all make to get through each day. However, every issue that we compromise on makes it that little bit harder for the feminist that doesn’t compromise on that issue. Any woman that doesn’t shave has a harder time of it because of every woman who does. So there’s conflict.
I personally do shave. Because I’m a coward. I don’t have what it takes to happily walk into work in a skirt without having shaved first. I’m not even sure how the company would react to this, as it is technically a ‘professional’ dress code. And ‘professional’ dress code is usually a nice way of saying ‘patriarchal’. But maybe they wouldn’t care and I’m just hiding behind it as an excuse for compromising. For the record, wearing pants everyday is not an option as I live in Australia. It gets hot. Very hot. Pants are damn annoying when it hits 40 degrees (Celsius) outside.
In Sweden in December I didn’t shave anywhere for three weeks. When I got home it was over 30 degrees outside and I threw on a pair of shorts and a singlet top without even thinking. It was liberating. Unfortunately, as stated above, I’m a coward, so it didn’t last very long. It did spark a debate with my (male) housemate though. He buys into the beliefs of the patriarchy as happily as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s an uber conservative Christian, and we disagree on absolutely everything. We talk about issues a lot and his response to a few of my dilemmas has often been “you’re going to hell”.
But it was interesting listening to him try to justify why women must shave. At one point he compared it to men shaving their face, however as far as I’m aware men can choose to grow a beard, or remain clean shaven and it is a choice entirely up to them. Heck, some men even do the stubble look and there are many devotees of this. Women aren’t given this choice in the patriarchy so I don’t see it as a faithful comparison. There was nothing he said that held up to logical reasoning and was not able to convince me it’s better if I shave.
There are many compromises to my beliefs that I make everyday to get by in life. I have misogynistic friends (and housemates). I shave, I pluck my eyebrows, I dye my hair (although this is debateably feminist), I wear skirts and painful but pretty high heels. I am not perfect. But I do feel guilty each and every time. And I defend any woman who is brave enough to break free from the conditioning and do what she wants. The more there are, the easier it will be for me.