Do we really know who we are as women? It may sound like an odd question but how much of what we understand about being female is heavily impacted and overshadowed by expectation and stereotype?
“Respect female existence or expect our resistance”
Feminism isn’t about burning bras and seeking to usurp men. It is about the right to being treated as equals, being allowed a voice and an opinion without question or retribution; and the vast portion of that equality comes from being allowed individual choice.
“Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are.” – Barry Schwartz
Every woman should have a right to choice.
A right to choose what she wants to do with her own body.
The right to seek whatever vocation she chooses or to follow whatever life path is right for her.
An unquestionable choice to look however she wants without succumbing to expectation or stereotype.
And, possibly most importantly, to be able to meet acceptance, and not be discriminated against, when she does make these choices.
“People too often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life.” - Rachel Wolchin
The ongoing debate surrounding the bureaucracy of abortion and a women’s right to making decisions about her own body has given rise to yet another crucial issue facing women.
The question as to whether the expectations on how a woman should look visually still exist within society and whether the way women continue to dress or modify their bodies is still heavily influenced by misogyny.
Take for example body hair. Women are expected to be groomed and (with exception to their head hair) almost hairless. Leg hair, lip hair, eyebrows, bleaching, waxing, threading…the list is endless but the social consequences of not jumping on the hair-free bandwagon can be very brutal.
The sight of female body hair can actually cause repulsion. But why? Men have the right and freedom to be both hairy and/or hair-free. So why can’t women?
We could argue that the idea of expecting hairlessness is down to making women look prepubescent – young, unworldly and therefore less significant than their male counterparts. Keeping women almost baby-like and in need of being taken care of or ruled over by men.
Traditionally hair is seen as a way of signifying strength and masculinity. We only need to look at the story of Samson and Delilah and the impact caused by the lopping off of hair. Could the same elimination of strength and power be subconsciously being fed into the female sector through expectation of hair removal?
In spiritual terms, hair is seen as an extension of the nervous system, akin to the nerves growing through the skin as an external symbol of thoughts and feelings. Could we argue that women being expected to remove body hair is a way of eradicating these superfluous emotions and thoughts and therefore dulling down any personality or idiosyncrasy?
Whatever your thoughts on the purpose behind why women are expected to continue modifying their bodies in line with social expectations, it is still a matter of concern that a woman does not have the societal luxury to look how nature intended without causing disgust.
Where do you stand on this? Do you prefer au naturel, wax-to-the-max or have you not actually stopped and considered that you have a choice? This subject continues to be an ongoing source of debate, even amongst the most staunch feminists but the point to take away from this is not whether you need to be throwing out your depilatory cream, it is that body hair is yet another way that women can choose to exercise their right to choice!