Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Point Shaving of an Entirely Different Sort


Yesterday I was in a bit of a funk, being completely overwhelmed by my outrage at our political classes, and felt the need to engage in a full-scale rant of the sort I haven't done for a while. But now that I've gotten it out of my system, perhaps we can move on to other, more interesting (if offbeat) things.

You may be familiar with the concept of "point shaving," the system of cheating on sporting events in which, in exchange for a bribe, one or more players agree to ensure that their team will not "cover the point spread" - that is, that the team will run up a score that is outside the margin predicted by the oddsmakers. The gambler then wagers against the bribed team and is guaranteed to win.

Point shaving as such doesn't matter very much to me, as I never bet on sporting events, but I ran across an article the other day that brings a whole new meaning to the term "point shaving" - University Offers Female Students Extra Credit for Not Shaving Their Armpits.

It seems that Arizona State University professor Breanne Fahs, who teaches Women and Gender Studies, challenged her students to explore the differences in gender expectations by having her female students stop shaving their legs and underarms for the ten-week term, and keep a journal which documented the reactions they received. Male students in the class got a somewhat different assignment: they were to shave their entire body from the neck down and keep a similar journal. The point was to allow the
students to reflect on gender inequality as reflected in how society reacts to women with body hair and men without. Both the male and female students received extra credit if they shaved (or didn't) and maintained the journal. This picture accompanied an article on the program from the Arizona State University newspaper.


Now, I personally don't have an issue with whether women shave or not. I think hairy arms on a woman can be very sexy, and I never cared one way or the other about leg and underarm shaving ... probably a reflection of going to college in the late 60's and early 70's when many coeds burned their bras or stopped shaving as a perceived act of rebellion against male standards of beauty. I also lived in Europe in the late 70's and early 80's, when it was very unusual to find a woman who bothered to shave*. But I found the reactions to the story about Professor Fahs' class to be interesting ... men tended to get hysterical at the very idea that a woman would choose not to shave, and the trolls came out in force to fulminate that a lack of female depillation clearly heralded the end of civilization as we know it.


Have a good day. Shave if you want to. Or not. It's all the same to me.

Bilbo

* The situation is much different now, with most European women - at least in Western Europe - just as likely to shave as American women.

10 comments:

Linda Kay Christensen said...

My first visit to your blog, and you have me giggling! Thanks for the entertaining commentary! I'll be following your blog.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

A very interesting classroom exercise. I get the point: it's to act contrary to alleged gender expectations. On the other hand, maybe shaving or the lack thereof is influenced by a personal esthetic. The professor assumed that women shave their armpits and legs because of pressure from men. Probably the truth is that most don't notice.

Grand Crapaud said...

Some guys might find underarm hair sexy. Just like pubic hair.

Bilbo said...

Hello, Linda! Glad to have you along for the ride ... please feel free to comment any time.

Angel - I think that a lot of men make a fuss about it because they've been conditioned to expect women to be hairless. I think shaving is a pain, and all I have to shave is my face ... I can't imagine having to worry about everything else. As long as the lady's hygiene is good, why should anyone care?

Bilbo said...

Grand Crapaud - my observation is that that's very true.

Mike said...

It's rumored that Ronald Reagan said, when he saw Nancy shaving her legs, 'Hair you go again'.

Bilbo said...

Mike - you're fired!

Anemone said...

Men notice your boobs and your bum and your hair color. Hair on legs or in armpits? No so much.

Duckbutt said...

It is an odd assignment; I am amazed!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Just no Brazil waxing for guys!