University Professor Gives Extra Credit to Women Who Don't Shave

This is an interesting way to challenge gender norms! Arizona State University professor Breanne Fahs offers female students extra credit if they don't shave their arm pits or legs for 10 weeks and keep a journal about it. She offers a similar opportunity to men, asking them to shave from the neck down for the semester.

The idea is to challenge why we shave (or don't) and what it has to do with societally-ingrained gender roles. The shaving norm was made up in the early 1900s by Gillette:

The norm of women shaving body hair dates back to an effort by Gillette to expand their market for razors. Starting around 1915, Gillette started a campaign "denouncing the (previously inoffensive) female underarm hair as 'unsightly', 'masculine' and 'unclean'." In the 1920s, they expanded their efforts to leg hair, glamorizing "a smooth, silky leg."

Still, "[b]efore the first world war, virtually no American woman shaved her legs. By 1964, 98% of women under the age of 44 did so."

Student Stephanie Robinson says, at first, "Many of my friends didn't want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught at the idea that I would be getting married in a white dress with armpit hair." Yet she felt increasingly liberated from these pressures after completing the experiment.


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