The typical caricature of a feminist includes a man-hating woman who is offended by conventional beauty and by a number of typically feminine grooming habits. Most of us have seen this. A woman who refuses to wear makeup—not because she happens to choose to not wear it, but because she is intentionally rejecting “the patriarchy’s insane demands that women paint themselves to please men.”
This is a caricature, and, like most caricatures, it’s a wildly inaccurate one. If a woman shaves her legs or underarms or privates purely to please a current or potential man, then she’s welcome to do that. I would argue that it’s better if she does it for herself. Honestly, though, I tell myself that my own grooming is “just for me,” and that’s mostly true (I lived alone for a summer in an apartment above a shop and I kept showering and shaving and actually lost a lot of weight), but I’ve caught myself shaving my face and doing some mild manscaping ahead of my normal schedule simply because I’m going to a party that night and, well, fortune favors the prepared.
Mostly for me, a little bit for other people. I hope that that’s the case for most people.
Every November, there are a group of “people” (I’m using the term loosely) who grow facial hair for No-Shave November. I don’t know if it’s some sort of insecure display of the fact that these young men continue to produce testosterone, or just a flimsy excuse to avoid shaving for a few weeks.
There was a statement going around last November (and perhaps in previous Novembers?): “Girls who participate in No-Shave November will also be participating in No-D December.” The letter D, here, is a euphemism for penis, and the only people who use it sincerely are the same little meatbags who use the word “swag” with a straight face.
That kind of statement is inevitably followed by people railing against guys for telling women what to do with their bodies.
For the record, I am opposed to telling women what to do with their bodies . . . aside from the occasional: “Work it, girl.”
That said, ladies, men can have input on your grooming habits. Guys can say that they like you with your hair down or up. They can say that they like when you wear glasses or they can identify which blouse you wear they think really brings out your eyes. Oh, and they can say if they’d prefer that you shaved your arms, legs, and/or privates.
There’s an upside to this—you can have input on their grooming habits. Some boys don’t shower regularly. Some boys let their beard grow in uneven patches that are so not the same thing as “sexy stubble.” Some guys grow hair on their backs. Some guys shower but somehow fail to properly clean their groins, leading to a horrible smell that makes you want to keep your face away. Some guys think: “Hey, I have a feeling that maybe I should grow a mustache”
Respond with the Pitch Perfect quote: “Well… sometimes I have the feeling I can do crystal meth, but then I think, mmm… better not. ”
Because no, it is never cool if you grow a mustache. Honestly, a mustache is about as unattractive of a characteristic as an addiction to crystal meth.
Anyway, I’m not saying that you should make demands of boys in retaliation for them suggesting that your genitals are more aesthetically pleasing when they don’t look like . . . whatever female genitals look like when they still have hair on them (I certainly don’t know what they look like—it’s 2013. How would I? I know that some women still have pubic hair, but I’ve never seen any at any naked parties, or in those traumatic naked women who show up in banners when I’m just trying to innocently pirate episodes of a television show that I just watched legally on cable but now want to take screenshots from).
Telling guys which grooming habits they should have isn’t revenge, but may let them know what it sounds like when other people give you input on your own body. It might also shape them to be more to your liking. We all give each other feedback, and where we grow hair on our bodies is a fine place to give polite, respectful input.
PS: By the way, if anything, you have more of a right to tell a guy to shave his beard than he does to tell you what to do with your . . . Eye of Sauron (is that an inoffensive euphemism for female genitalia? Yes. Yes it is). We live in a society in which we have to see other people’s faces all of the time but usually only see other people’s groins when we elect to do so. Facial hair is definitely more in-your-face (ugh pun so unintended) than any other body hair.
PPS: Okay, there are certain scenarios in which other body hair is more in-your-face, literally speaking, than facial hair. Work out your respective list of grooming demands with your partner or partners if you disagree over these sorts of maintenance issues.