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the (non)sense of anti-feminists : why are feminists so hairy?

#getlaid and #findaman were hashtags that accompanied a tweet from @louchambers who wrote that she ‘can’t cope with those feminists who refuse to shave their armpits to prove a point.’ The relationship between feminists and what they do or don’t do to their bodies has always been a point used by antifeminists to define the differences between feminists and non-feminists. This was no better exemplified when I was reminded last week of the stupidity of Zoo Magazine’s search for Australia’s sexiest feminist back in 2007. The winner of the competition was showered with a year’s supply of deodorant and a photo shoot published in the magazine.

It is with some irony that the sexiest feminist competition was launched as a sign of equality after complaints were made about the magazine offering a breast enlargement for readers’ girlfriends. There was something lacking in the neurons of Zoo’s then editorial staff in thinking that the sexiest feminist competition was a concerted effort in rectifying the treatment of feminists.

The idea behind the competition is one that plagues a lot of antifeminists; that feminists are different to normal women and are some kind of spectacle to behold. The effectiveness of this is evident when some feminists distance themselves from other feminists by saying ‘I’m a feminist, but I’m not that kind of feminist.’ The idea that feminists are a spectacle is a clever way of making women shy away from feminism altogether.

The emphasis given to the supposed differences between feminists and non-feminists through what they do or don’t do to their bodies is another way to make feminism seem irrelevant and foreign to women. If women are reluctant to identify with feminism then they are less likely to join the push for feminist reform that can be of assistance to lots of women at work, in the home and to their lives in general. And this is something that suits anti-feminism because if less people are supporting feminist change, then feminism is made to seem irrelevant and out of touch. So next time you’re asked whether you shave your underarms because you are a feminist, perhaps a good reply would be that feminism is about a whole lot more than hair.

By Kate Barker

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