Earlier today I was concerned that I’d planned to blog once a week, but that week had passed and I really needed to write a post about feminism. Turned out I needn’t have worried, because the good old cliché of “it came to me in the shower” just actually really happened in real life. See, tonight there’s a huge party (eeeeeeek!), so I shaved my legs, which I onky bother with when people might see them, and I realised I always feel guilty for doing so, because it’s an attempt at conforming with one of the ridiculous patriarchal beauty standards for women so I’m probably complicit in all that, right?
Then I realised how fucked up that line of thought is. From a young age, women are taught they have to “fit the mould” or face ridicule and rejection from others; then, when we attempt to fit the mould, we’re shamed for that too. Take all the jokes about women taking ages to get ready or that advert (I think it’s for Head & Shoulders, please correct me if I’m wrong) that begins with “Girls – why so many beauty products?”; erm, maybe it’s because most girls have to use so many beauty products just to look like what the media calls “normal”?! (Incidentally, I really like this song about the whole thing) It should be said that a great deal of this body policing can sometimes come from within feminism too, though; the idea that all women who wear make-up, wear sexually revealing clothing, shave, or do anything else the patriarchy expects us to do with our bodies are, therefore, complicit in these patriarchal expectations. So, if women don’t look 100% perfect all the time they are harassed and ridiculed, and if women even try to evade this they’re told they’re vain and silly and setting back feminism. In other words, women can’t win. For a change.
In addition, it’s important to consider that, well, women should be able to choose what they do with their own bodies, and some women actively choose to do all this stuff. HJ Street wrote a post about shaming women who wear revealing cosplay costumes a while back, and the same principles apply here. Yes, it should be noted that these choices aren’t made in a vacuum, but that’s not the fault of these women, it’s the fault of the culture surrounding them. That’s what should be criticised here.
If a woman chooses these things under her own free will, to shame her for this removes her bodily autonomy. If she only “chooses” these things under the constant pressure of patriarchal beauty standards, to shame her for this is victim-blaming.
Right, now to fix my hair…