Week Woman

A Pox on the Patriarchy

No More Silencing

Pubic hair. Always guaranteed to generate debate. Always guaranteed to make me cross. And this morning’s debate, instigated by the release of this article in the Independent was no different, and has left me so cross I am writing a post for the first time in weeks. Don’t worry it’s a short Her-Storyone, and basically consists of two points.

First: there are *no* subjects that are irrelevant or unworthy of discussion by feminists. Saying that is a step away from patriarchal silencing of women and their “issues” because “there are wars on don’t you know?” Or “there are starving children in Africa” – so why should we care about discrimination at work, abortion rights, sexism in the street? This is the strategy that has been used since time immemorial by those in power to silence those without it – and to make this clear to those who don’t “get” feminism, it’s like people saying we can’t care about people in the UK on less than a living wage, because, you know, they might not be starving like, again, those children in Africa. The first issue with this strategy is that it’s nonsensical, because, as we all know, the human mind is a wonderful thing that can care about many things and all at the same time – I can care about rape *and* pubic hair. More than this, if I care about rape, I *have* to care about pubic hair, because the same society that dictates what a woman’s body should look like is the same society that says a woman’s body is public property, available to all – although of course if she gives it freely, she’s a slut. Patriarchy is a system. You can’t pick and choose what you want to care about, because if you want to bring one thing down, you have to bring the whole edifice down.

Second: talking about the huge pressure patriarchy puts on women to conform to a certain beauty standard is *not* the same thing as telling women who conform to that standard that they are worthless, that they have failed, that they are to blame. No woman is to blame for patriarchy. We were born into this system and we have to do the best we can to survive within it. Some women will do this by conforming, some women are just lucky enough to match / like patriarchy’s standards – although of course more often than not then they face the problem of being denounced as “easy” or some other such patriarchal rubbish. But silencing women who feel actively oppressed by the system and want to be able to express that, is not the answer. Hearing every attack on patriarchy as an attack on you and your lifestyle, is not the answer. Granted, articles like the one above don’t help matters with their rhetoric of “Barbies”, but to stop women talking about these issues at all, because the mainstream media gets it wrong is frankly bizarre – when does the mainstream media get it right on anything? Women need to stick together or we will never defeat this system that oppresses us every single day. Divide and rule is exactly what patriarchy thrives on.

So women, a plea to all: no more silencing, and a hell of a lot more listening.

23 comments on “No More Silencing

  1. Michelle
    July 29, 2013

    I didn’t even read the article you linked to (sorry, don’t want to waste my time reading b.s. from a male-dominated newspaper about my crotch, but I can guess what the article contains :) But, I do have to say, I don’t even think about my pubic hair. It’s just there. I’ve never shaved it, waxed it or defoliated it because of what some guy wants (if he thinks a crotch should be shaved, let him shave his own!) and, if my pubic hair is a ‘deal breaker’ in a relationship…so be it.

    All I know is I’ve always thought pubic hair and underarm hair is there for a reason so, most of the time, mine stays exactly where it is.

    Honestly, I’m not sure how I ended up as a woman who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people think about my body or anything else, and rarely do anything because some man wants me to. I guess I’ll just blame my mother, as she’s the same way :) (Thanks Mum!!)

    Nice website, btw and good for you standing up to the tossers and Twitter twats.

  2. Tom Nightingale
    April 5, 2013

    “More than this, if I care about rape, I *have* to care about pubic hair, because the same society that dictates what a woman’s body should look like is the same society that says a woman’s body is public property, available to all – although of course if she gives it freely, she’s a slut.

    I suspect many reading that (and much of the rest) will think you are crackers. I certainly do.

  3. Chris
    March 20, 2013

    “First: there are *no* subjects that are irrelevant or unworthy of discussion by feminists.”

    That’s simply not true. Don’t you see that by focusing on trivialities rather than real issues you are letting the sexist establishment off the hook? Do you think they’re threatened by this? No one’s “silencing” anything – you’re free to talk about anything you like, but that doesn’t mean it’s productive.

  4. Guls
    March 20, 2013

    Isn’t this just another variation on the age old (au-naturel) female isn’t good enough? ‘You must work on yourself day-in-day-out’ to pass muster? Starve, shave, dress, adorn…. Female is beautiful. I love that my girlfriend doesn’t shave – she’s old enough (50+) not to have been sucked into this ‘trend’ amd thank god for that. As for the influence of porn, ‘when I was a lad’ ‘shaved’ was considered a ‘specialist’ niche; now ‘hairy’ is considered special; ‘kinky’ even. Damn this attack on femininity, on the female. When guys were growing ‘taches for Movember, women were growing pubes for ‘muffvember’ – a worthy cause but at what cost? Anti-feminnist at any measure.

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  6. srhplfrth
    March 19, 2013

    Had been trying to out my thoughts together on this but you have done it for me! Thank you. Personally incredibly disturbed at evidence of widespread pube shaving, struggle with the idea that it could ever be a good thing. But maybe I am old fashioned as well as rather liking this 61 year body of mine with all it’s so-called flaws.

  7. Zitterberg
    March 19, 2013

    I’m glad this short but insightful article recognises and acknowledges the totality of patriarchy by focusing on these so-called meaningless issues. It’s also invigorating to see more members of the feminist movement preach acceptance for women who do conform to these societal norms, either out of their own volition or involuntarily due to patriarchal pressure.

    I might be rambling a bit too much and I apologise for that, but what feminism has always been about to me is offering women – of all backgrounds – agency, autonomy and choice. Ostracising or dismissing women who, in this instance, shave their pubic hair as enablers of patriarchy is exactly the kind of mentality we should be fighting against (easy to say for a white, cis gendered, heterosexual male, I know, but still, these are my sincere thoughts).

  8. hillbillyzen13
    March 19, 2013

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? This is what we are reduced to now? Heated debate on whether or not we’re allowed to discuss the appearance of our nether regions? Has it occurred to no one that whipping this into an “issue” is playing right into the hands of the patriarchy? I can just see a bunch of liver-spotted old men around a table somewhere rubbing their hands together, hissing “Yes, yeeeessss. This will keep them so busy they won’t notice their subjugation.” (I’m picturing them as a cross between Mr. Burns and Gollum; feel free to picture your geezer of choice.)

    Honestly, this almost makes me cry, I’m so pissed. It’s like the advances we made in the 70’s never happened. So here’s some advice from an old warhorse to the young whippersnappers: Wake up and smell the Nair, ladies. It’s pubic hair, for pete’s sake. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, get rid of it. If your significant other asks you to defoliate and he/she is worth the discomfort, indulge them. Every second spent on this minutiae is a second not spent discussing equal pay for equal work, or why men think it’s ok to rape a drunk female, or why women are still openly or subtly considered to be the property of their husbands. This subject is cocktail conversation at best. Stop making the rest of us look like empty-headed, appearance-obsessed fools.

    • Week Woman
      March 19, 2013

      Dear hillbillyzen13,

      Thank you for your very detailed response. I refer you to point one on the post.

      Best wishes,

      WeekWoman – an empty-headed, appearance-obsessed fool.

      • hillbillyzen13
        March 19, 2013

        My sincere apologies, Week. In my verbose frustration over the subject of your post I neglected to include my agreement with your stance. In following your blog I have never found evidence to suggest that you are anything less than an extremely intelligent woman. Mea culpa.

      • Shoeful of Drool
        March 20, 2013

        Harsh.

  9. jonathanochart
    March 19, 2013

    I agree too, as a self-proclaimed male feminist (: Thanks for sharing and enlightening!

    -Jonathan

  10. feministaspie
    March 19, 2013

    THIS. ALL OF THIS. :D

  11. Elizabeth Eva Leach
    March 19, 2013

    Totally agree. Pubic shaving (by both sexes) as an issue is quite deeply implicated in the whole structure of patriarchy, and discussion of it is usually silenced by some neoliberal rhetoric of choice invoked by those who deny the workings of cultural pressure in constraining or forcing choice.

    On the subject of shaving and when the shift from fetish to norm occurred, there has actually been some earlier research, despite what the Indy article claimed — see the interesting graph here: http://www.jpehs.co.uk/2011/11/01/no-shave-november/

    • Week Woman
      March 19, 2013

      Thanks for this – interesting!

  12. Ruth Rosselson
    March 19, 2013

    Totally agree. well said. :)

  13. Week Woman
    March 19, 2013

    Oh dear, I’m really sorry to hear that. Don’t let it happen!

    • feimineach
      March 19, 2013

      It’s, erm, yes, it’s very difficult. I shall keep you posted. Thanks!

  14. feimineach
    March 19, 2013

    Agreed! Well said as always. x

    • Week Woman
      March 19, 2013

      Thank you! Now feeling slightly less cross :)

      • feimineach
        March 19, 2013

        GOOD! (By the by, I’ve been in the position of being silenced this last week, which has been difficult. It’s ongoing and very upsetting and frustrating.)

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