An extra credit assignment in a gender studies class challenged students to take a look at how we view body hair and gender. The results are so interesting!
Arizona State University professor Breanne Fahs gave her gender studies students an interesting extra credit assignment, according to our sister site, Ecolocalizer. This was no paper or presentation. Instead, women in her class could stop shaving their body hair for 10 weeks. Men could participate by shaving everything from the neck down for the same time period.
The students got a chance to see what happens when you violate societal gender norms.
Body Hair and Gender Norms
I thought that this quote from a female student was especially eye-opening:
“Many of my friends didn’t want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught at the idea that I would be getting married in a white dress with armpit hair. I also noticed the looks on faces of strangers and people around campus who seemed utterly disgusted by my body hair. It definitely made me realize that if you’re not strictly adhering to socially prescribed gender roles, your body becomes a site for contestation and public opinion.”
We talk a lot in this space about healthy shaving products, but what about women who choose not to shave at all? Or men who prefer a hairless chest or legs? I’m struck that people aren’t able to feel good about their body hair choices simply because of their gender.
I shave my armpits regularly, but I tend to let my leg hair go for a long time between shaves. I’ve never felt particularly judged when my leg hair is long, and I wonder if hairy armpits are the biggest sticking point when it comes to women and body hair.
I would love to hear from you guys about this! Are you a woman who doesn’t shave her pits? A man who does? Let’s talk body hair and gender in the comments!