End the Deforestation of the Female Rainforest

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There are several things that we can all agree are disgusting about the human body: snot, dandruff, urine, faeces, and body hair on a woman?

There’s something unsettling about seeing a woman with hair in non-preordained places, something perturbing that kicks at the back of the throat and brings the gag reflexes into play. Hair is for men and the head of a woman. Period. Indeed, those of us that know the true pains of that particular word (womankind, the 52%), will know that hair-removal (henceforth known as ‘deforestation) is no easy feat. Hair sprouts, and you can cut it down but it will be back with a vengeance. This is no small battle, women and body hair are waging war, a full-on gruesome, strategic, bloody war, and unlike our monthly bloody war, we undertake it optionally and continually.

Then one day you might sit down and ask yourself ‘why?’ Why do I have to wage war with my body? Why do I find these natural tufts so alarming and revolting? Who am I shaving for? ‘For myself!’ I hear you cry? Maybe. But if you’d been brought up in some far distant civilisation where the issue of body-hair DSC_0031 (1)had never been raised you would never have even contemplated removing it. Female-deforestation is clearly a social norm, not something that we all individually dreamt up and perceived to be beautiful, but it is something we have learnt to appreciate, like an Apple mac, or high-top trainers.

When I first decided to let my hair grow last year because I could not remember what I removed it for, I did not think I would be confronted by such a public reaction. No-one had ever judged my body like that before. No-one had ever told me to cut my hair because the split-ends were making them want to vomit, or that I should probably lose/gain some weight because the political point I was making with my size was attention seeking, or that the colour of my eyes was radically unfashionable. Indeed, I did not know my body was a public exhibition.

My body isn’t for the public, it’s for me. Ultimately, I’m not a product. I’m not for sale. I’ve got no barcode on the bottom of my foot and you won’t find in small script at the small of my back ‘we’re sure that you’ll be happy with the quality of this product but in the rare instance that you are dissatisfied then please contact us’. My body is not for sale, it didn’t roll off of a production line, so ultimately why should it matter to you if I’m not the same as the other bodies? If you order a pink applique cushion and it comes in blue then complain away. If you find a worm in your lettuce packaging then please feel free to be outraged. But please don’t be outraged at my own decisions of what I’d like to do with my body.

But that’s just it. The sad reality is that women are products. Hair-removal isn’t viewed as a personal choice, it is a personal choice between being viewed as a fully-functioning model (normal) or as a faulty one (a hairy weirdo). There must be some deeper forces at work. This stinks of sexism. Men aren’t craning their necks in the shower to shave the backs of their legs and running their hand admiringly up their ‘smooth, silky’ thighs (‘hairless‘ in layman’s terms). I chose to not deforest my female rainforest. Yet female deforestation is not a personal choice, it is not a fashion. It is a ‘beauty routine’, AKA ‘I am ugly’. It is ‘taking care of oneself’, AKA I am feckless and incapable. It is being ‘sexy’ AKA ‘No-one will want to bed me as I am not attractive to other human beings’. It is ‘feminine’ AKA ‘I am a man?’

Well, I have body hair, it grows without my explicit consent, I don’t remember signing any forms, and I still consider myself feminine. In fact, I have a vagina and ovaries and a womb and breasts; pretty much the full collection. These are quite ‘feminine’ appendages I believe. Ultimately, women have to be hairless because this is the product description. Women are objectified. Women are the gender of sex, of attraction, of appeal and of allure and of seduction. We don’t see adverts of men grinding on white beaches in tight white pants with a burger hanging provocatively from their lips. Men aren’t products.

Let’s take our bodies off the market! It’s high time we women threw down our weapons, called for peace and ended the eternal battle against hair. Make tufts not war! Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no way suggesting we should just stop female-deforestation. Simply, that I do not believe that it is possible that 100% of the British female public independently decided that hairlessness is the fashion trend that expresses their individual and personal preference. After all, if every single woman wore their hair in a bob and sported red court shoes we would be nothing more than drones. Mindless, indoctrinated, socially-conditioned drones.

So wake up and smell the coco, or that putrid smell of sexism. Wind back the ball of weave to find the loose end. Did you only really buy Pokémon cards because all the other kids had them, although you secretly realised it was a highly successful market-ploy to exchange paper with pictures of creatures on for papers with pictures of the queen on? We’re not immune to social pressures, but it’s important to recognise them. We will have an awful long time to think inside the box when we are six feett under the ground. So I beseech you, if you love deforestation for the right reasons, then go ahead. Pluck every hair-molecule red raw and marvel at your body-baldness. Just be sure that no social pressure or conditioning is stomping on your individuality and freedom over your body and accept that other people’s bodies may not perfectly configure with yours, and that’s OK too.

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Discussion12 Comments

  1. avatar

    “But that’s just it. The sad reality is that women are products. Hair-removal isn’t viewed as a personal choice, it is a personal choice between being viewed as a fully-functioning model (normal) or as a faulty one (a hairy weirdo). There must be some deeper forces at work. This stinks of sexism. Men aren’t craning their necks in the shower to shave the backs of their legs and running their hand admiringly up their ‘smooth, silky’ thighs (‘hairless‘ in layman’s terms). I chose to not deforest my female rainforest.”

    It’s very easy to look at expectations placed on women and ignore expectations placed on men and brand any such expectation as uniquely sexist. The reality is that any expectation placed on a woman is matched by complimentary expectations placed on a man, mostly in regard to earning potential and social capital. That isn’t to say that there is not an increasing pressure on men to conform to physical ideals either. I’ve lost count of the amount of women I’ve heard say that they wouldn’t date a man who is shorter than them, and there is a demonstrable wage gap between short and tall men. And I think you’d be surprised at the number of men who are now taking to shaving, waxing and epilating.

    The ‘sad reality’ is that PEOPLE are products.

    “We don’t see adverts of men grinding on white beaches in tight white pants with a burger hanging provocatively from their lips. Men aren’t products.”

    Except when they are of course. Just like in every nutritional supplement ad on the tube. And diet coke adverts. And air fresheners. And shampoo. And chocolate. And deodorant Just google ‘hunkvertising’. Your statement is just glaringly false. Even with the Protein World adverts the fact that there was a basically identical advert with a ripped hairless man taking the place of the lithe hairless woman was all but ignored.

    It’s great that you’ve figured that you don’t have to do everything you see other people do, but your ideology driven argument that women are products and that men are not just holds no water whatsoever. Personally, I’m going to keep on shaving my chest, cock and balls because I prefer it. You can do whatever you want and encourage other people to break social expectations as much as you want, but you can do it without propagating a false narrative of some unique war on women. Everyone is subject to social expectation.

  2. avatar

    I completely agree with you – this is the problem with Feminism, yet anyone in the feminist sphere believes that this ideology should be immune from any kind of critique, which is a flaw in and of itself. They perpetuate their own sense of victimhood and moral outrage, so they believe THEMSELVES to be weak and objectified – this isn’t being down for them. If issues such as body policing, rape and abuse have a woman as the subject there is, quite rightly, an outcry. Yet if the same thing happens to men, many of them are strangely quiet and just ignore it because it does not match their agenda – examples of this can be seen on the University’s Society page.

    Isabella Hunter-Fajardo
    avatar

    I would disagree, I and most feminists I know (men and women) see feminism as gender issue, not exclusive of any sex. There are pressures on men which are wrong: from the stigma of stay-at-home dads, to the ‘ideal’ man you see on billboards and so on. But this article was specifically about women’s body hair, a problem I remember was a non-spoken about elephant in the room at school for most of my girlfriends. I therefore applaud Amanda for this article. However, If anyone would like to write a response article or an article about male body hair or body image, please email me and I can set you up with a Wessex Scene writers account.

  3. avatar

    People do things to make themselves more sexually attractive.

    Women think bald men with beer bellies and back hair are unattractive.

    Men think women with hairy armpits are unattractive.

    There’s no oppression here…

    and women don’t have a monopoly on hair removal OR on finding it tedious.

  4. avatar

    Ah, yes, who needs personal hygiene anyway? Next thing you know showering will become sexist because women are expected to shower. I didn’t sign any consent forms and yet my body keeps sweating, so why not just let it smell like rotting flesh?!

  5. avatar

    “There are pressures on men which are wrong: from the stigma of stay-at-home dads, to the ‘ideal’ man you see on billboards and so on. But this article was specifically about women’s body hair,”

    Quite, but when you present this perspective and back it up with statements such as “Men aren’t products” then you leave the article open to people saying that you are underplaying male social expectations. It may have been ‘specifically about body hair,’ but the discussion on body hair has been used to endorse a far wider patriarchal narrative.

    When the author explicitly say “women are products… men aren’t products” they are repeating the ideological notion that men are (in De Beauvoir’s terms) transcendent and women and immanent, which isn’t supported by the similar treatment of men’s bodies in advertising and real life (short, neckbeard, wimp, pussy, etc).

    So as I said in my initial comment, it’s fine to question the practice of shaving, but to present it as if women are held to standards whilst men transcendentally do whatever they want is disingenuous.

  6. avatar

    With regards to the comment specifically made about the Feminist Society Facebook Page, the Society holds weekly meetings where they deal with a number of topics, which recently included sexual assault and rape against men and the higher rates of suicide among young men. The society continues to try and include as many groups of people to their society as they can, but the FB page allows anyone to post what they want, so if you want to discuss male issues then feel free!

  7. avatar

    How about the fact that modern feminism has nothing to say about the concerns of the vast majority of women – the ones outside of the university bubble. When will feminists talk to the young mothers who would really like to be at home with their children but have to work because it’s no longer possible to raise a family on one income? I understand that they’re busy mouthing off about armpit hair but if any of them paused to consider the lives of normal people then they should try and get round to it.

    Also, shave or don’t shave but please stop posting photos of your hairy armpits — it’s disgusting.

  8. avatar

    Peace Out – Unfortunately, more mainstream feminist organizations such as Refuge and Women’s Aid have already made it clear that male victims of Domestic Violence are not welcome in feminist spheres. As a male victim of DV, a feminist space is the last place I’d want to go to discuss such issues as there is too much of a chance for being blamed for a situation you had no power over.

    There are also feminist led organizations like CALM that attempt to tackle male suicide from within a feminist framework and as such fail to acknowledge the effects of DV, sexual assault, parental alienation in the increasing suicide rates among men and instead blame the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ as the driving factor behind the increasing gender suicide gap. The university feminist society is in no way qualified to handle the topics of suicide, DV and sexual assault against men.

    If you managed to get through a discussion about male rape and suicide without anybody using the term ‘toxic masculinity’ or ‘patriarchy’ then more power to you. Neither are helpful terms when discussing male issues of sexual and violent crimes.

  9. avatar

    “the FB page allows anyone to post what they want, so if you want to discuss male issues then feel free!”

    If you want to be driven close to suicide by the radfem backlash, sure. I wouldn’t call that discussion, however.

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