Dance woman, dance

Dance woman, dance

Dance woman dance

I’m the worst at debates. I literally walk away from confrontation. But one day, I found myself in the middle of a discussion on sexism and I had a personal perspective to give.

Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that the discussion wasn’t about learning at all, but about what dramatic remarks and sexist jokes would purposely inflame the other side.

And I was stuck between wanting to contribute with a meaningful comment, and being taken for a fool.

In all fairness, I don’t think this was anyone’s cruel intention. But I walked away wondering, just why did the discussion go sour?

Maybe issues like sexism make us feel uncomfortable. Maybe we don’t all agree on the same points. Or maybe we’re afraid that what we’re thinking in our heads will reveal us as horribly ignorant monsters.

All I wanted to do was share how I felt about the unfair portrayal of men and women in the media. I wanted to talk about how we grow up in a system that promotes impossible standards for the ideal man and woman, of which the latter have had to overcome an incredibly derisive impact.

I felt strong and confident in my perspective. And yet, I doubt anyone was listening to a word I said.

Instead, they noticed the passionate look in my eyes, heard the edge to my voice, saw the flush in my cheeks. And here’s one that will haunt me forever: the way I smacked one hand against another to emphasize my point.

They remembered the way I performed.

And that was what left me the most wounded of all.

In a discussion about sexism, one of the lasting elements was not the words I said, but the way that I said them.

I was just being wound up, so they could watch me dance.

I don’t know how to fight that, besides closing my mouth and keeping my head down. And for the last couple of weeks, I’ve wrestled with how to react when a touchy subject comes up in a room that can go from seriousness to laughter, based on how someone voices their opinion.

I’m still trying to figure this out. But here is what those closest to me have said as I struggled through this.

If I ever feel I would be better off just keeping my mouth shut, the problem is with the people in the room, and not me.

And if this is an issue that I’m very passionate about, no one should be able to take that away from me.

I’m still working on believing these things for myself.

I have hair on my legs

I have hair on my legs

I have hair on my legs. So what.

I wasn’t alive when the world decided women had to be hairless creatures in order to be accepted into mainstream society. I’ve often wondered just how this became the norm.

I’ve seen women shame themselves over leaving millimetres of unkempt hair on their legs. Women who shave as obsessively as they brush their teeth. And it doesn’t stop at legs. Arms. Backs. Fingers. Toes. …..other regions.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not calling for all women to stop shaving. If you want to shave your whole body, go ahead. Smooth skin feels great. But I should have the liberty to wear shorts in 38 degree weather and not care about the half a centimetre of hair on my legs. Obviously, in my mind, I have a knack for attracting judging eyes and pointing fingers.

My long-suppressed turmoil with this issue inspired me to reach out to another woman in my life to ask what her relationship with hair removal was like.

My co-worker, Jonsaba, only started shaving recently in her twenties. She never cared about it before but once she started, she discovered that shaving was a double-edged razor. It made her feel more feminine while at the same time making her feel more insecure about her body hair.

“Hair is very political,” says Jonsaba. “When we see a woman who doesn’t shave or has underarm hair, it’s like whoa. It’s rare for us. And we judge them. Oh, they’re feminists. Oh, they’re one of those hippie women.”

Ok, so I’ll confess.  The other day, I said goodbye to friend and when she lifted her arms to hug me, I was shocked by the sight of her underarm hair. When I got home, I felt compelled to share this story with my mom and sister. I immediately began to come up with reasons as to why she would reveal her underarm hair like that. Maybe she’s a hippie feminist. Maybe she was hot. Maybe she doesn’t care who sees her underarm hair for half of an insignificant second of their lives. Maybe she trusted that another woman would be the last person to judge her for that. Yikes.

“For the most part, pop culture influences a lot of what we do in our daily lives,” says Jonsaba. “We see a lot of celebrity women. They’re all shaved. They look perfect. They have no hair. They look like they have nothing.”

They look like they never spent the countless hours pouring hot wax on their bodies that the rest of us do. In fact, the opposite is true. So maybe I won’t judge other women for for letting it grow, or choosing to get rid of it. How about we just do what we want to do, and move on to ending world hunger?

What’s your relationship like with hair removal?