For International Women’s Day, kristy has put up a wonderful and thought-provoking post. So thought-provoking, in fact, that my comment turned into a post which turned into a series. This is the introduction of that series.
First off, let’s look at what kristy said:
Mr T and I got into a kind of unusual argument the other day. He was arguing that he doesn’t understand why I bother with traditional hair removal (I shave my underarms, legs, and pluck my eyebrows). While I agree with him that it’s not fair that women are expected to remove all of that hair while men are not expected to. Whatever way you look at it, is unnecessary and well just not fair. Why is it gross on a woman but not a man? While I understand this inequality, I am so socially conditioned that I can’t break through with leaving hair because I hate the idea of someone thinking of me as ‘gross’ and well I have heard those terms too often in response to female underarm or leg hair. Don’t get me wrong when I see other women with underarm hair or whatever I am not grossed out instead I want to say ‘good on you’. I just can’t seem to do it myself. Mr T said ‘if he was a female he simply wouldn’t remove the hair’ to which I was quite annoyed with because it is simply unfair for him to make that remark as a man. [...] It’s very easy to sit there from another side and argue ‘if….’ but let’s face it you really don’t know what it’s like til you have experienced it and dominant culture is quite powerful.
This resonated with me first and foremost on a personal level, because I have faced the same struggles that kristy is describing. It also resonated on another level because of some of the most persistent and annoying criticism my Equality List about how it’s all “frivolous” and “petty shit” (of course, one of the best responses was a woman named Janis who boiled that language down to what it really means: “You can vote. What more do you want? Now show me your tits!”). And then, of course, there’s Mr T’s reaction, which is (as kristy points out in her post) the standard one for people with privilege. I intend to discuss all of those, though I’m not sure if the last one will be a Privilege in Action post, part of this series, or if I’ll try for both.
Anyway, this will, I think, be one of my shorter series but I think it will be a powerful one, too. The more we women band together and discuss the issues, both similar and different, that we’ve experienced in our lives, the more we can understand that we’re not alone and share strategies to improve our lives and possibly pave the way for the girls and women who come after us.