05 December 2011

Her and Her Boyfriend Defeated Norsefire. What the Fuck Have You Achieved?

So obviously, as No Shave Movember started, a load of tossers on twitter started squeaking that it's not for ladies lololololol. And then obviously body hair and its removal became a hot discussion topic in the sections where people have half a brain between them. Some people are firmly in the pro-body-hair camp. One of them rhetorically asked what men who like shaved women see in it. And whether it was "the prepubescent look". This is a bit silly.

Aside from the potentially very interesting alleyway of how we don't bat an eyelid if men shave the post-pubescent hair off their faces, I've blogged before about how narrow and restrictive definitions of Proper Heterosexual Manlitude are. What I failed to mention was how these restrictions on masculinity, specifically men's tastes, are used to police women and their bodies. In my experience, with hair and breast size, particularly.

The thing is, not everybody grows hair the same way in the same places. And some adult women naturally don't have pubic hair. I mention breast size because hair-down-there is a symbol of adult womanhood, and its removal is associated with artificial immaturity and paedophilia in a very similar way to flat-chestedness. We're very keen to attach a moral dimension to this. Flat, hairless women are infantilised, their thinness a product of anorexia (simultaneously a mortal sin and a martyred affliction) and designed to keep women too frail to run away. In fact, it's so important for Real Women to have curves that flat-chested women have to have curves photoshopped onto them.

Most people are dimly aware that this restrictiveness isn't exactly nice to women. People with eating disorders are expected to look the part [Edit]. Violetta Crisis writes beautifully about what it's like not having a full crop of hair. Charlotte Roche's Feuchtgebiete/Wetlands (highly recommended) has a heartbreaking passage about the flat-chested protagonist's desperation to swap with her best friend Corinna. And tumblr always has a knack of being succinct.

But men are also involved in this. What hypothetical lads' mag readers do or don't prefer is used to tell women what kind of body they should have. The earnestly faked concern and frowny-faced moralisations, in turn, tell men what kind of consenting adults we should and shouldn't fancy. It's a really odd implication that sleeping with an adult woman in any way makes you gay or a paedophile, but even worse is the implication in turn that if you have alopecia, A-cups or a history of eating disorders, not only are you a failure as a woman and an adult, but only deviants, closet poofs and controlling misogynists will ever love you. And it's daft. I've always fancied bald-headed, small-titted, pretty shrieking genius Skin from Skunk Anansie and, frankly, if she's not a "woman", then "women" are just shite.

I get it that paedophilia is bad, I really do. I understand that eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness and those that look like they might have one need some sense shamed into them. But we're piggybacking on these taboos to wrongbody grown women and wag our fingers at consensual adult sex. Our culture has more than a little trouble working out the difference between sex you don't want and sex you're not supposed to want. And frankly, I think you're seriously missing the point if your main problem with paedophiles is their breast and pubic hair preferences rather than the bit where they rape children.

In fact, and this is perhaps an extreme position, but, I actually think it's preferable if, rather than engaging in horrific and traumatising acts of sexual abuse, a paedophile enters into a mutually respectful, consensual relationship with an adult who happens to look enough like a child to satisfy them. This might even be a good thing in a way, I don't know.

But the bottom line is this: Women's bodies vary. This is slightly distinct from patriarchy and child abuse. For fuck's sake get over it.


  1. I hate hair. I do wish we didn't have it anywhere other than our heads. I could never sleep with a hairy man, no no no.

  2. That's a bit harsh to people who don't have it on their heads.

  3. Acidfairyy: the point of the blog, you have missed it.

  4. Hair on or off, flat chested or bent double with the weight, I have to say I have no strong preferences, myself. It all looks pretty good to me.

    I'd love to say that this is because I'm non-judgemental and egalitarian, but there are probably less charitable explanations...

  5. Oh, I know this one. "Can't afford to be picky". Not quite as effective as gay or a paedo but a classic nonetheless.