Brace yourselves, readers, I’m about to answer the question “OMG WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ?!”
We’ve recently had a lot of posts about shaving, hairlessness, and societal expectations tied to those things. For the most part (and rightfully so!) these have focused on how women shoulder the vast majority of this obligation. To be clear I am absolutely not intending to diminish the time, effort, pain, and social obligation that IS imposed on women and girls by our society. If you don’t believe that shaving standards are overwhelmingly gender biased PLEASE GO READ THESE THINGS! AGAIN IF YOU WERE NOT CONVINCED THE FIRST TIME!
What most people misunderstand, and something that needs to be cleared up, is that just because something is gender biased doesn’t mean that there isn’t damaging social pressure on the non-biased group. One of the main ways Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) and just generally anti-feminism people shut down feminist arguments is by saying “BUT THIS DOESN’T JUST AFFECT WOMEN! WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN AWFUL PERSON? DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THE REST OF SOCIETY?!” But if you talk to almost any modern feminist they will tell you that: Firstly, you’re being completely dismissive of the lived experiences of people who are members of a demonstrably oppressed group, and secondly we realize that society is shitty to many different people in many different ways!
The fact that men deal with certain shaving standards is both true and something that needs to be addressed. But it is also true that a man’s worth as a human being is not overwhelmingly dependent on him strictly adhering to those standards. That is the difference between having shitty experiences and being oppressed by a social norm. Your HUMAN WORTH is not affected by it.
Finally I would like to acknowledge that the relationship between genderqueer/trans* people and their hair is incredibly complicated and unique and something that I am not in any way personally qualified to address. I speak for the cis-male experience and don’t presume to speak for any other.
With those caveats out of the way, I would like to talk candidly about the kinds of standards placed on men, and reinforced, by society when it comes to hair, body hair, and shaving. I will also ask some contextually appropriate rhetorical questions along the way for you to consider/ponder/ruminate-on, whatever your preference may be.