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Friday, March 30, 2012

Thoughts on the headline: Is 50 too old to go bare "down there"?

I originally posted this on Facebook as it really has nothing to do with books, but in the end I decided that here was better than on my crafting blog. I certainly review books with a feminist slant, so here is my commentary on a news website I follow.

So a few weeks ago, I was a little bothered to see that the usual stream of "look at this celebrity in a great/ bad/ unintentionally privates-exposing photo" type articles (yeah, unfortunately there's a lot of that mixed into the news) begin to morph into something a little more sinister. One article asked me to sound off on whether or not a certain celebrity was wearing an outfit I liked. Okay, I'll pass. Then, a few days later, a headline asked me to share my feelings on whether or not a young actress was wearing an inappropriately mature outfit. Then, a few days further on I spotted an article asking the readers to comment on whether or not a particular celebrity, an adult this time, was showing too much skin. ("Too much skin for *what*?" I asked myself..."are we suddenly imposing a moral code on the women we constantly strip down in movies and magazines?")

I started to get annoyed. Obviously celebrity news gets hits, and hits are what Huffpost survives on. So it makes sense that soliciting the opinion of the readers makes more people click on that headline. But why is the message so consistently one of sitting in judgement of *females*? It seems to me that one of the best ways to perpetuate the idea that unlike men, women are answerable to society for their personal choices (fashion, sexuality & reproduction to name just a few) is to give them a vote on it on a regular basis. Today, Huffpost is featuring a blog post from a writer who thinks that she needs the world's opinions on whether or not a 50 year old woman can keep "it" shaved without horrifying others. That bugged me on a deeper level. I get that the discussion (between the blogger and a friend) on the respectability of a shaved hoo-ha later in life was amusing and a good blog topic. Why is she soliciting opinions from random strangers on whether or not it's "okay". Will she be sharing it with them? Will she be applying for some high level public service position where the grooming habits of her boudoir will be a qualifying matter? I don't get it.

So here's my point. All of this, the question of what we wear, what we shave (or don't), who we sleep with and how we get down is completely personal. It's no one's business unless we want to share it. It's no one's (except our partner's) business to comment on it. It *really* doesn't matter what anyone (except our partner) thinks. Really, really, really doesn't matter. As women, if we want to stop being subjected to a war over who controls our bodies we need to start denying the premise that there's a battle to be fought.

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