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Stop Policing Women’s Bodies

October 11th, 2021

A phrase that is near and dear to me.

It’s been used to fight for reproductive rights, combat slut shaming, shut down dress codes full of double standards, and promote body positivity. But it often gets thrown to the wayside when certain feminists don’t like the choices other feminists have made for themselves.

In 2010, I wrote a post called, “I don’t hate you, Feminism. You just get on my nerves sometimes.” The title still holds true, but there’s quite a bit in there that I don’t agree with anymore. I doubt any of the people who tried to educate me at the time still read my blog. Man, was I infuriating. I would not be friends with 2010 me if I met her today. She was dead set on not getting it. I’m glad she’s not me anymore.


There’s this notion that expecting women to remove their body hair is rooted in pedophilia. It’s probably correct. I’m not here to argue with that.

But with this notion, as with all feminist ideas, comes a crowd who is vehemently against removing body hair and will tell women who continue to shave that they’re “setting the movement back decades.”

I don’t know about all that. Here’s what I do know:

You don’t know most of the women you’re saying that to. You don’t know why they choose to shave. And even if you do, it’s their body, their choice. You don’t get a say. I don’t care how offended you are by what you think them choosing to shave represents.

I started shaving when I was 12. Everywhere.

No one told me I had to. My mom only shaved her legs and only when she was going swimming. She was pretty ahead of the times as far as feminism is concerned. She started wearing dress pants to work instead of skirts before that was socially acceptable. She stopped wearing heels when it was still required of her. She worked with the Girl Scouts, focusing on teaching girls survival skills in the wild and in everyday life.

In fact, my mom tried to hold me off as long as she could, and in middle school, I stopped shaving for a while because I didn’t actually like doing it. But then a boy I had a crush on made fun of me, so Mom bought me an electric razor and let me shave with that.

Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth with shaving.

I rarely shave my pits because I don’t really get much hair there and I think pit shaving is stupid. The hair that does grow is mostly blonde so you can’t see it unless you’re really close. But eventually, I shave them because I know M prefers it, and it takes 5 seconds, and I’m not adamantly against it, so I do it when I feel like it.

At some point in my adult life, I developed really sensitive skin. I don’t know why or how that happened. But it’s bad. So bad that if I don’t at least shave my bikini line, I get really painful rashes from the friction of hair against skin.

A few years ago, I developed a weird skin condition (that I still haven’t gone to the doctor for because it ends as quickly as it begins so by the time I’d be able to be seen, it would be gone) where I get really, REALLY itchy everywhere for no apparent reason, and when I scratch, I start to develop hives. It’s the worst on my legs. If the hair gets long enough that a breeze makes it move, it’s damn near unbearable. But if I shave too often, my skin gets dry and itchy which also exacerbates the weird skin condition.

So I shave about once a week. When I’m on my period, I give my FUPA and vulva a break to allow any ingrown hairs or razor burn to heal. I still shave my legs, though.

I took at least a year off once, convinced that the people who kept telling me that I was experiencing those things because I shave were right. My skin would acclimate. I’d stop getting rashes and itches. I’d eventually be able to stop shaving forever. Which would be great because I actually hate the act of shaving. It takes so long, and it’s dangerous (because I’m clumsy), and until the last couple years (and switching to a mens razor), no matter how careful I was, I got really bad razor burn everywhere I shaved.

And I was miserable.

My skin never acclimated. I kept getting rashes. I tried everything. Showering more. Showering less. Lotions. Oils. Lube. Desitin. Vaseline. Powders. Not wearing underwear. Only wearing underwear that didn’t have elastic. Wearing loose underwear. Wearing tight underwear. Drying and/or washing my creases every time I went to the bathroom. Nothing helped.

So I started shaving again and never looked back. I refuse to sacrifice my health and comfort for an ideal.

And even if I wasn’t doing it for my health and comfort, I should be allowed to choose to shave where ever I want to without being shamed by other feminists, just like I allow them to choose not to shave without being shamed by me. I mean, I don’t think femme-presenting people should be required to shave, so I’d never think to shame them for not shaving in the first place, but you get my point.

Feminism is and should be about giving people choices. It’s also about equity, and that’s important, but with equity comes the right of choice. People should be allowed to make their own choices regarding all aspects of their lives as long as the choice they want to make isn’t endangering another individual.

And spare me the notion that my decision to continue shaving is endangering another individual by perpetuating the myth that not shaving is unhygienic.

Most people don’t walk around staring at other people’s legs and the only person who sees my vadge is M most of the time. No little girl is going to somehow find out that I shave and decide that she must shave or be considered gross or dirty. And if some kid did ask me about shaving (I’d be really fucking confused because I don’t have many conversations with kids), I’d tell them I do it because I get painful rashes if I don’t, but that I’m the exception, not the norm, and they should do whatever they want with their body.

I get the point. I even get why they feel the way they do about people who continue to shave despite the connotations. But if your brand of feminism includes telling people what they’re allowed to do with their own body, you’re doing it wrong. Especially if you don’t even know why they’re doing it.

So stop policing women’s bodies.

And I guess that’s all I have to say about that.

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