David Thompson
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February 09, 2011

Comments

Min

Practically everything – even pubic glitter – has to be framed as a sociological issue and cause of feminist angst. There must always be some dastardly agenda beyond parting punters from their cash.

This is Laurie Penny we're talking about. There's got to be a 'sexist-capitalist-oppression of the week' story. What else could she write about?

Mike James

"It's all about making us feel that women’s bodies - which are supposed to smell, leak and grow hair - are shameful and need fixing."

Think of your body as a car, sweetie--if you take it to the car wash once in a while, and clean out the interior, you'll likely feel better about yourself. If you get a bitchin' custom paint job and some snazzy looking rims, why, then you'll be rolling down the street in style--people will look at you and say to themselves, "Ooo, cool looking ride."

But maybe the thought of car maintenance and customization would provoke in poor, joyless Penny an attack of...wait a minute...waiiit just a minute...oh, man, I just had a brilliant idea! Imagine matching ones' girlfriends' hoo hoo to ones' car--that would be awesome.

And a new class to compete in at Concours d'Elegance.

Anna

Baldazzling..

Mike James

Anna wins the thread.

David

“Baldazzling.”

That’s not what I was expecting. Which is probably for the best.

John

Does it surprise anyone that she has "teenage friends"?

dicentra

Yet another day in which I'm eternally glad that I don't chase ANY fashion fads.

Except cardigans with handkercheif hems, of course.

Trimegistus

Feminists have an awfully low opinion of other women's intelligence and strength of character.

Peter Risdon

As a slaphead, I feel Anna is oppressing me.

David

Trimegistus,

“Feminists have an awfully low opinion of other women’s intelligence and strength of character.”

Well, some do. It’s one of the reasons identity politics devotees have such trouble making a case. It often requires being sly.

If, for instance, you want to claim that lots of women are being oppressed and made to feel shameful by the menace of pubic glitter, or that they’re only buying the stuff because they’re riddled with insecurity and self-disgust, you can’t blame the women actually buying the glitter. That wouldn’t sit well with your egalitarian credentials and notions of sisterhood. It would also imply some degree of individual agency, which tends to undermine the argument you’re trying to nail together. Instead you have to insinuate some variation of “false consciousness,” whereby the women choosing to wear pubic glitter are victims of some ill-defined but morally corrupting power. They, unlike you, can’t see through advertising. They, unlike you, don’t know their own minds. That’s why they do things of which you disapprove. (Yes, if only they were freed they’d all agree with you.) But of course it’s not their fault they see things differently. It’s capitalism, corporate pornography, the patriarchy or whatever. Yes, that must be it.

mojo

Those fiends!!

Anna

Peter,

But baldies look better than hairies in winter hats. ;)

carbon based lifeform

Hats are just a symptom of sexual shame.

Adam

I’m not sure if this is a related topic but when I was reading this I couldn’t help but think about women and uncomfortable high heeled shoes. When I ask women why they wear high heels they usually respond that they like to look “cute” or “taller”. I assume that if I were to ask Ms. Laurie she would respond that women wear these instruments of torture because they are under the influence of a male dominated heteronormative society that demands women to be cuter and taller at all times. I correlate high heels and “Vajazzling” in that women willfully do these things to their own bodies purely for their own satisfaction and to impress other women. It appears to me that the problem lies not with men’s notion of beauty, but with how women judge other women. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that at least 90% of men don’t care or even notice what shoes women wear or how their lower bits look. The only time I care about these things is when a woman demands I shell out 20 bucks for a 3 minute cab ride because she is too uncomfortable to walk two blocks in shoes that I didn’t even notice she was wearing. And that concludes my rambling thought of the day....

witwoud

Laurie Penny has overlooked the practical side of Vajazzing: it provides an invaluable tactile guide for men who have a poor 'sense of direction', rather like the little bumps in the pavement that help blind people find a zebra crossing.

S. Weasel

...which are supposed to smell, leak and grow hair...

Oh. Ohhhhhh.

Thank christ this woman's not an illustrator.

Sgt Pinback

The only thing we know for sure after all this is that Laurie Penny has a big hairy fanny.

T.K. Torch

. . . . as if what women really need to empower themselves is not education and meaningful work, but genitals that resemble a traumatic, intimate accident in a Claire’s accessories shop.

I tried. I really tried. But I couldn't help wondering, "what kind of train wreck has she got down there?"

Excuse me while I autoclave my brain. . . .

Simon

genitals that resemble a traumatic, intimate accident in a Claire’s accessories shop

Gotta hand it to her though, that is a pretty accurate description of the process... :)

Jason

"The only thing we know for sure after all this is that Laurie Penny has a big hairy fanny."

HAHAHAHAHA *fist bump*

merc

Is anyone more patronising to women than feminists? They're so busy arguing with each other over whether it's due to the patriarchy forcing it on them or due to capitalism forcing it on them that the idea that women who do this might actually voluntarily enjoy it doesn't even rate consideration.

EBD

"This latest trend shows that female sexual shame remains big business."

I'm confused. Wouldn't a women who is ashamed of her sexuality be less likely to shave and garishly bejewel her hoo-ha for the purpose of display?

I don't know. Maybe the practice originated seventy years ago in the Presbyterian community, and I just never heard about it.

Andrea Harris

Grant you, "vajazzling" sounds like a stupid fad. But if Ms. Penny's parts are leaking and smelly, she needs to see a doctor.

JuliaM

Just wait until she gets started on buttock-enhancement...

Rafi

Instead you have to insinuate some variation of “false consciousness,” whereby the women choosing to wear pubic glitter are victims of some ill-defined but morally corrupting power. They, unlike you, can’t see through advertising. They, unlike you, don’t know their own minds.

Spot on.

David

EBD,

“Wouldn’t a woman who is ashamed of her sexuality be less likely to shave and garishly bejewel her hoo-ha for the purpose of display?”

Well, you’d think that might be at least as probable. But that would only get in the way of the predetermined rhetoric.


Rafi,

“Spot on.”

It’s a rough sketch, but it captures some of the dynamic. And it’s a Guardian staple. Ms Penny churned out something similar not long ago with her ”bikini ideology” piece, in which women only exist as dupes of advertising, anxiously fixated by “fairytale lifestyles” and the latest “cellulite-busting body scrub.” A caricature that doesn’t describe any woman I know. Long-time readers may recall Tanya Gold, who blamed her alcoholism and overeating on “sparkling advertisements,” pubic waxing and Heat magazine. Rather than on, say, her own disposition and incontinence. (At no point did Ms Gold - a grown woman - pause to ask why it is she chooses to care about the contents of Heat magazine.)

sackcloth and ashes

Hmm, nice to see Ms Penny at the forefront of cutting-edge issues for feminists, rather than wasting time on such trivial matters as the Taliban's treatment of Afghan women.

ojo

the all-powerful vajazzling conglomerates.

Band name, definitely.

Paul Saxton

"It seems we’re supposed to believe that women – other women – are largely passive and adrift, at the mercy of advertisers..."

As I've said before, if only that were the case - my job would be so much easier.

TDK

Damn you.

Yesterday, I'd never heard of vajazzling. Now in one step I learn how exploitative it is. I missed the stage in between where I could enjoy an innocent pleasure before I learnt how wicked I was.

prm

@Adam
Yes, one of the most ignorant tropes is this cack about men oppressing women because of Men's beauty demands, or whatever. Sure men together will be rude and filthy about women and how they look etc, but seriously, unless a woman is seriously unkempt/obese etc men don't really care. I have never once heard a man complain about bloody cellulite, or stretchmarks, or whatever. Women though, Jesus, they can be evil. I remember a minor epiphany understanding this, watching two female chums – who are intelligent, well-paid & thoughtful - cackle snarkily like stereotypical valley girls over some celeb on the front cover of heat. Women largely dress for other women, so far as I can tell. Men aren't that particular.

On a general point, rather like the South American who refused to convert to Christianity before execution as he had seen it in action via the Spanish, and wanted no part of it, so I think one of the reasons I am not an -ist, or of 'the left', is that I simply don't hate people enough. The staggering nose-aloft contempt these people have for the ‘lower orders’ is constantly astonishing. Whether it’s ‘women’ are too thick to see through their oppression – unlike the sainted Pen; or ethnics who are Uncle Toms for stupidly voting for Boris, unlike the sainted Yasmin; or the great unwashed who are too cretinously gullible to see how they are manipulated by advertising, unlike the sainted Guardian columnist, the colossal snobbish arrogance never fails to amaze me. And yes, I know this is a standard failing of the left, documented by Carey and Aron amongst others, but still. The sheer fury of such people when confronted with others who dare to believe and behave differently, and must therefore be wrong, failed, and are thus to be dismissed, is very interesting psychologically, I must say.

Nele Schindler

I agree with the comment in that 'consumer culture' which disempowers women which is a patronising concept.

However, having read the original article, I think Laurie has a point, especially when she talks about labioplasty (I mean - would you have thought a few years ago that this actually exists??) and the fact that our 'nether regions' are supposed to look more and more like porn stars'. That is a fact - that female body hair is seen as vaguely disgusting and that porn 'culture' has had a huge influence on this.

That said, you can still say Stuff it and make up your own mind, but having been a teenage girl once, the peer pressure that thrives on these fads can be very damaging.

Patrick Brown

The epiphany I had was to notice that when women talk about beauty treatments that sound totally tedious and uncomfortable to me, they talk about "pampering themselves". Women don't want to change any of the stuff they're "expected" to do, from cosmetic treatments to fashion to ridiculous shoes to taking time off work to look after the baby. They know they have the better side of the bargain - the luxury of greater leisure and financial support - but they want us to believe it's the worse side so they don't lose it.

David

Nele Schindler,

“The fact that our ‘nether regions’ are supposed to look more and more like porn stars’.”

A fact, you say? I didn’t get that memo, nor did anyone I’ve asked. How many people are casually talking to you about the appearance of your genitals?

“That is a fact - that female body hair is seen as vaguely disgusting and that porn ‘culture’ has had a huge influence on this.”

It’s not exactly my area of expertise, but I suspect that if you asked around you’d find a variety of views on female body hair. Some keen, some not so, some indifferent. And if porn stars are an exaggerated fantasy and employed to appeal to an audience, it’s hardly surprising that some people – some people – choose to emulate certain attributes. This isn’t without historical precedent, nor, in itself, is it particularly distressing.

“Having been a teenage girl once, the peer pressure that thrives on these fads can be very damaging.”

Broadly speaking, it’s as damaging as you allow it to be.

Adam

I occurred to me that when I'm out on a date or out with friends I'll put a little gel in my hair and wear some nice clothes in order to appeal to the opposite sex. I don't particularly enjoy buying expensive clothes or putting grease on my head but I do it because I feel like I need to live up to the preconceived notions of the matriarchal society that we live in that demands men look like preteen girls. They even have men's makeup now. It’s all about making us feel that men's bodies - which are supposed to smell, pass gas, and grow hair - are shameful and need fixing. Victimization in all directions!

TDK

When I was a teenager, punk happened. Clever marketing people like Malcolm McLaren packaged up rebellion and sold it to teenagers. It wasn't just music, it was a whole look. Pretty soon girls were wearing the sub S&M bondage clothes of Vivienne Westwood and buying day-glo cosmetics to look like Poli Styrene, Siouxsie, Jordan (not that one) or Toyah. Ersatz revolt with a label.

And here's the thing, the clever educated arty lefties of the NME celebrated this commercial success as something "good" that allowed people to be individuals. None of then had palpitations at the thought that these were victims of hidden forces. Of course, there were "shocked" people but they weren't on the progressive left.

I can't see a qualitative difference between this latest idea, and other adornment ideas. I'm going to make a wild guess: Penny conforms to bien pensants that I know in being okay with some body adornments, eg. tattoos and piercings. Why are tattoos good and stick on crap bad?

Anna

How many people are casually talking to you about the appearance of your genitals?

:D

rsj

Had to de-lurk for this one. Hair is a lubricant, right? Makes the old in-n-out more smooooooth and flowing. I have this horrible vision in my head of post-vajazzaling coitus gone wrong. Picture it: a chick on the poorer side getting the kmart hoo-ha special (imported from china and supposedly lead free) and both he and she mowing the lawn so to speak before the big night. Frictions burns, screams, poor production quality of the vajewells scraping and slicing tender delicate flesh....I cant wait till the first 911 tape is released. Almost makes up for not being able to get the image out of my head.

Anna

TDK,

I'm going to make a wild guess: Penny conforms to bien pensants that I know in being okay with some body adornments, eg. tattoos and piercings. Why are tattoos good and stick on crap bad?

Some body adornments are more equal than others.

http://twitter.com/PennyRed/status/35765316348809216

Sean D Sorrentino

I remember watching a TV news bit about women getting their feet surgically altered so that they could fit the cutest heels. Apparently if your feet aren’t just the right size or something, heels don’t fit. So I turned to my friend and said, “You know that somewhere, a crazy feminist is saying it’s all the fault of the oppressive patriarchy, forcing women to mutilate themselves in order to fit into heels that validate men’s views of female beauty.” He agreed. Then I said “You know what the worst part of it is? If you ask the average man what kind of shoes his girlfriend or wife looks best in, he’ll say ‘shoes? I didn’t even know she had feet! I’ve never looked down that far!”

Boil Yourhead

Your blog is the biggest pile of shit I have ever seen, and I've crawled through some festering heaps man.

David

Boil Yourhead,

If you’re hoping to hurt my feelings you’ll need a much bigger stick.

Tom Foster

And now everyone's second-favourite lefty rad-fem weighs in.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/11/womens-pubic-hair-removal-porn

David

Tom,

“Women have responded with unquestioning servility… pruning their pubic hair in a desperate bid to gain approval… At least now we can confront the naked truth about women’s submissiveness… Are women so ashamed of their bodies…?”

Heh. The rhetorical similarity is quite eerie. Grand assertions and leaps of assumption apparently based on nothing, with no supporting evidence or substantive argument, and a conviction that people who choose to behave differently must be “servile,” “submissive” and desperate for approval. Women, it seems, are unthinking, feeble creatures - unlike the fearless author, whose moral and intellectual superiority is simply dazzling.

Anna

pruning their pubic hair in a desperate bid to gain approval

So everyone must be doing it because of the shame and need for men's approval... but between them Laurie and Bidisha can't even find one woman who said that's why she does it?

WTP

Women, and the more effeminate of men, are masters of manipulation. I see this vajayjay obsession as a ploy by women who already have boyfriends, etc. to keep their competition occupied with time and budget consuming nonsense. The more time they can get other women to spend doing something so obviously useless as this, the less time they will have to manipulate and/or steal away other men. After all, by the time any man would notice the effort, the deal would already be sealed, so to speak, so really there is no point in it.

sackcloth and ashes

'Boil Yourhead', it's good to see that someone as articulate as yourself can explain why David' blog is 'the biggest pile of shit I have seen'. Such incisive and unanswerable criticism. I presume you don't need to use your fingers and toes whenever you have to count.

Patrick Brown

Odd. I had always assumed Bidisha's whole purpose on the Guardian was to provoke comments, and thereby hits, and thereby advertising revenue. Yet here she is, writing a provocative piece on a provocative subject, and no comment thread. What's going on? I'm reliably informed that calling her "Biddie" or mentioning her surname will get your comment removed, so maybe they're giving their poor exhausted moderators a break.

Anna

I'm reliably informed that calling her "Biddie" or mentioning her surname will get your comment removed

Isn't having a surname a bit bourgeois? I thought she was too edgy to have one.

Patrick Brown

According to Wikipedia, she's "Bidisha (born Bidisha Bandyopadhyay)"

Patrick Brown

And according to the talk page on her Wikipedia article, someone claiming to be her contacted one of the contributors to the article saying "I have never used my surname in my public work, do not consent to your use of my surname, and eschew it for serious, private, family reasons. Please cease reinserting it. I will not enter into negotiation with you about this."

Patrick Brown

The history of the Wikipedia article is interesting too. Edits from anonymous users with edit summaries like "Surname removed. Bidisha never uses her surname and has in the past taken legal action against newspapers who have. She has also contacted her old college, Saint Edmund Hall, to cease usage", and repeatedly removing a cited reference to both her parents being IT lecturers, with summaries like "Hello, this is Bidisha. I was brought up by my mother, who is an academic in the field of Computer Science. The original article was wrong. Do not reinsert it please." Psychodrama indeed.

David

TDK,

“Yesterday, I’d never heard of vajazzling. Now in one step I learn how exploitative it is. I missed the stage in between where I could enjoy an innocent pleasure before I learnt how wicked I was.”

Quite. Yet it’s still not clear who’s being wicked, if indeed anyone is.

Some people are a little too keen to invoke the Terrible Crushing Force of peer pressure, as if no-one else had a mind of their own or the capacity to ignore it. And if peer pressure is an issue, if only for the less capable, then surely the peers in question are likely to be other women? I suppose it’s possible that there are huge numbers of porn-addled men who are quietly coercing their partners to denude their nether regions, but that hasn’t been established in either article. So why must we assume it, adamantly, based on nothing? As Anna pointed out, neither Laurie nor Bidisha provide even one direct quote or anecdote to that effect. Apparently many of Laurie’s friends are “popping off to get vajazzled,” yet none have obliged with a comment supporting Laurie’s argument. There doesn’t seem to be much evidential basis for the claims being made.

In the NS comments there is, though, this, from a reader “elliban”:

“[Pornography] leads to pressure on women to act the way the porn stars do and allow their bodies to be treated similarly extremely, not because the men themselves even necessarily want that, but because they [women] assume that’s what sex is supposed to be like.”

So if there is any coercion to be railed against, who’s doing it?

Patrick Brown

I think the point is, if feminists want to consider women "oppressed" in the modern west, and their movement thus still necessary, then unless they're prepared to make stuff up (which a fair few of them are - sex trafficking at the Ryder Cup?), peer pressure is about the only thing they have left to be oppressed by. There's a pay gap, which is more than made up for by other sources of wealth to the extent that women spend four times as much as men. There aren't many women in parliament or in boardrooms, but women can achieve wealth by marrying it and political change by media campaign in a way that men can't, and there are also not many women on building sites, down coal mines, on the front line in war or sleeping on the street. Women live longer, retire earlier, have more money, more leisure, more choice, more legal rights and fewer responsibilities than men. All they have left to call "oppression" is trivia like vajazzling. Why are we still indulging them?

sackcloth and ashes

I thought Bidisha's surname was an exclamation mark.

David

“I thought Bidisha’s surname was an exclamation mark.”

As we’re apparently not allowed to use her actual surname, it seems only fair to make the most of what we’ve got.

So. It’s Bidisha! [jazz hands]™

The jazz hands are silent, obviously.

Nele Schindler

David:

How many people are casually talking to you about the appearance of your genitals?

You'd be very, very surprised. You cannot deny that the fact that almost every man consumes porn has had an influence on their sense of 'aesthetics', for want of a better term, as much as it has had an influence on what actually is expected of you as a woman. I haven't got any scientific study on this, but I've been around long enough and talked to enough men and women to believe I'm right.

Porn has messed up a lot of things in a lot of people's heads.

Broadly speaking, it’s as damaging as you allow it to be.

Very true, which is why it is important that people like Laurie (shite though they sometimes write) bring up the subject and question it. When I was young and rubbish was afloat about what you should wear / eat / do, it always helped to have the budding school feminist proffer her opinion, if only to make you see the thing for what it was. If you're fifteen or sixteen, and the subject is taboo in your house or embarrasses your parents, that can be very important.

I read Bidisha's article in the Graun on the subject today. Almost every time Bish picks up a pen, you know she shouldn't have bothered, but this one I liked very, very much - not the bit where she whaffles about the 'subjugation of women' (whatever that means) but the one where she says that the self-hatred and body disgust amongst women has no parallel in the male world.

I think that's something lots of women don't want to face, and which feminism exposes - that women do stupidly follow trends or delude themselves about their own motives, right down to doing things that are painful, humiliating, time-consuming and expensive.

David

Nele,

“…which is why it is important that people like Laurie (shite though they sometimes write) bring up the subject and question it.”

Well, it’s possible that even inept, inconsistent, grossly question-begging articles can prompt readers to ask questions of their own. But that’s setting the bar pretty low. One might also argue – more convincingly, I think – that Laurie and Bidisha are providing readers with other, less edifying lessons. Say, that conclusions can simply be rushed to and announced, regardless of evidence, realism or internal contradiction. Or that adamance and assertion are just as good as argument (and hey kids, so much easier – plus that way you’re always right). Or that being a walking parody, an oblivious caricature, is the yardstick of edginess.

Min

But that’s setting the bar pretty low.

Like I said last week, if we ignore almost everything she writes she's doing really well.

Nele Schindler

Well, it’s possible that even inept, inconsistent, grossly question-begging articles can prompt readers to ask questions of their own. But that’s setting the bar pretty low.

I frankly don't care where the bar hangs, what it's made of or who hung it there if it provokes some interesting train of thought.

I agree that generally Bidisha's writing is a shit-stirring letdown, but only generally, not always. Her article on the subject at hand was quite funny and clever. I read all of her stuff only for the freak-show value that is inherent in most offerings on Cif, so I was quite astonished to find she could come up with something coherent. Not earth-shatteringly brilliant - just some nice, clever, original piece of writing.

And I think in this case she is right. To get somebody to rip their pubic hair out with strips of wax takes a long time of prior cultural conditioning. It is of course hard to prove this, because nobody likes to admit that they only do it because they think they ought to. And that's basically the point she's making - that most women are sold to an image of hair-free splendour that portrays body hair as something undesirable, and that the increasing cultural acceptance of a hair-free pubic area comes from porn.

I don't think it's wrong to point this out, and to me, this is the real meaning of feminism, to constantly ask women whether what they are doing comes from a healthy place or not.

David

Nele,

“To get somebody to rip their pubic hair out with strips of wax takes a long time of prior cultural conditioning. It is of course hard to prove this…”

Well, quite. Yet questions are begged and adamant claims are made, based largely on supposition and rather doctrinaire beliefs. Extrapolating from anecdote and presumption to sweeping sociological claims is a hazardous business and shouldn’t be indulged in, or indulged, quite as readily as it is. We could use some actual data, yes? And if a political columnist doesn’t have any evidence (or much apparent interest in finding any), shouldn’t that limit the kinds of things she can assert? Isn’t that a basic condition of being taken seriously - of writing in good faith?

Which is sort of my point.

WTP

“To get somebody to rip their pubic hair out with strips of wax takes a long time of prior cultural conditioning."

Umm, well first of all it doesn't have to be ripped out. Second, I have it on quite excellent authority, namely my own, that there were a few women shaving their private areas (OK, two by my count, but it was a small county in Florida) in the 80's long before free porn was available. Even then, when what porn was bought-and-paid-for-available showed hairy privates. Had to do with bikinis and a "why stop there" thought. Or so I was told. Thought it a bit strange myself at first.

Patrick Brown

“To get somebody to rip their pubic hair out with strips of wax takes a long time of prior cultural conditioning."

If that's true, what about the "cultural conditioning" that requires men to shave their faces? The denuded male face is our cultural default - hair grows naturally on the male face, but we are required to shave from the moment it first appears, and "bum-fluff" and adolescent moustaches are mocked, although they're entirely natural and normal. It takes a deliberate decision to stop shaving and grow a beard. Not only that, but the part of the body we are required to depilate is always on display, so everybody can see if we haven't shaved, or the razor has slipped and we've cut ourselves. There can be real social consequences to not shaving. If I turn up to a job interview unshaven, chances are the interviewer will not consider me a serious applicant. I know a guy who missed the first half hour of one of his A Level papers because he turned up unshaven, and the school made him go away and shave before they'd let him in. It is a requirement of employment in the army to shave one's face (although if you reach the rank of sergeant you may grow a moustache).

I've never heard anyone claim that men are "oppressed" by this cultural quirk, or that shaving is based on shame and disgust at our natural male faces, which are supposed to grow hair. I've never heard anyone tell women that, if they have a preference for a clean-shaven man, they can't cope with the natural male body or want us to look like pre-pubescent boys. And I don't think we should start thinking or saying any of these things. We've been selectively grooming and removing hair since the stone age. It's natural human behaviour.

sackcloth and ashes

'It is a requirement of employment in the army to shave one's face (although if you reach the rank of sergeant you may grow a moustache)'.

Not disputing your basic point, but you can't wear an NBC respirator with a beard. Even with stubble it breaks the air-tight seal. So in the British Army and RAF you can't have beards (although you can request permission to grow a tache). The Royal Navy insist on a 'full-set' (beard) or nothing. No taches.

With Op Herrick British troops are allowed to grow beards in theatre, partly because it supposedly impresses Pashtuns, but also because the Taliban don't have WMD. I did grow a tour tache in Iraq in '04, but I shaved it off. Not because of any peer-pressure, but because I looked like a militant member of the Village People.

As for sexual pressure, I had at least one lady-friend who insisted I shaved off my stubble, because it would irritate her skin when we smooched (or when I performed another act of intimacy). But then maybe I should have complained that I was being 'repressed' ...

Q30

Patrick: That's because everything is men's fault. Men shaving, women shaving, the rise and fall of the tides. Men's fault. The claim doesn't need to even be explained. Just asserted.

For further reading, see: Penny, Bidisha! et al.

AC1

> you can't wear an NBC respirator with a beard

The female hegemony have stopped designers even considering the needs of men!

Do they want them to die?

/Mirror world Bidisha

sackcloth and ashes

AC1, I believe that this was one of the logistical problems the Army faced on Telic 1, when Rowan Williams came out to visit.

Laban

"Bidisha never uses her surname and has in the past taken legal action against newspapers who have"

Hmmm.

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/pensions/making-sense-of-the-report-what-does-it-mean-for-you-517659.html

"Bidisha Bandyopadhyay, 26, is a self-employed writer from north London. She used to contribute £100 a month to a private pension but could not sustain this due to her sporadic earnings, so now contributes nothing.

"With my own parents coming up to retirement age, it is frightening to see how little money they will have. They have always been prudent with money but my mum [aged 59] has calculated her income will drop by two-thirds." (Mum works at UEL)

wreckage

It's a bit rich to assert that no-one's trying to exploit male body-image for commercial gain, or that they're failing at it. Check your inbox. How many emails advertising a bikini wax? How many offering a larger, harder, more awesome erection, so that women will like you?

I disagree with David a bit: people are influenced by what they see, whether or not they "let it get to them". Something to do with neurology, and contrast bias, stuff like that. And in the case of porn, plenty of men and women enter their sexually active years with nothing but porn tropes to set their ideas of normal, desirable, or likely.

David

wreckage,

“I disagree with David a bit: people are influenced by what they see, whether or not they ‘let it get to them’.”

Well, it seems to me there are two broad approaches to this kind of issue. One, as favoured by Laurie Penny and many others on the left, is to invoke dark conspiracies and to fall back on a kind of presumed victimhood and feebleness, as if the alleged victims had little or no mental autonomy and thus little or no responsibility for whatever it is they’re doing. Among those who take this view, the most commonly proposed solution is to regulate or abolish whatever the temptation in question is. And of course there’s always something, somewhere making someone feel inadequate.

The other approach is to accept that there will always be things that may potentially bruise someone’s self-esteem and there will always be social fads and preoccupations that are trivial or geared towards unrealistic vanities. And since one can’t – and shouldn’t - go through life banning and regulating everything that might – just might – overwhelm the insecure and foolish, and since cultivating victimhood is patronising and dishonest, it’s best to try something else. That being to encourage an inclination to rely on one’s own judgments rather than peer group expectations or shiny advertising.

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