Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Armpits and Lawns

I finally succumbed:

Sorry to inflict that on you.  Surprising though it may seem, that's after the removal of most of the hair, although it's a work in progress.

This is something I've been resisting for a long time.  I used to find the absence of armpit hair disturbing and distasteful, although I should emphasise that that's my personal taste.  I'm aware that with the current cultural construction of gender in England among WASPs the presence of substantial hair in a female armpit is seen as a bad thing, and I find that trend to be rather disturbing in itself.  However, on a whim this morning I decided to begin to conform.  There's more to come.

I don't see armpit hair as a sexual characteristic.  It's provoked by adrenal hormones, not gonadal ones, and is present in the same pattern regardless of your sex chromosomes or internal hormonal regime, and as such taking it away is not a mark of femaleness so much as femininity, and being femininity, it's an Anglo-Saxon thing too.  I imagine other cultures do the same but to me it's English and therefore a teeny bit foreign to remove axillary hair, like drinking tea.  Nonetheless I've done it.  Why?

One way of putting it might be that I fear the disapproval of others although it's more that I fear that I have such a ridiculously vertiginous and unachievable climb up to the peak of being able to pass as a woman that even this seems like a good idea.  However, I also resist it because it seems "unnatural", whatever that means.

Another thing I resist because it seems unnatural is doing much about this:

This is of course the famous lawn, which I've avoided mowing.  I avoid mowing the lawn for the same reason that I avoid shaving my armpits.  It seems unnatural to do so.  I can remember the first time I dug a hole in soil and saw earthworms squirming in their disrupted environment.  I can also all too clearly imagine the huge scale of slaughter that mowing a lawn wreaks on this currently somewhat diverse environment.  Having said that, I did make a peremptory attempt at mowing the lawn, rather than using shears, the other day, for the same reason that I have just shaved my armpits.  I feel pressurised into acting against my conscience, thereby inflicting damage on the environment.

However, on balance I would prefer to shave my armpits than mow the lawn because the damage done is minor.  It's rather like gender transition in that respect:  it's not ideal but it's not as bad as eating meat, and I don't judge people for that.  Mowing the lawn, on the other hand, is a clearly violent act, and the fact that it was mown rather than cut using shears, as I would have preferred, makes it worse because that involved, in our case, the use of electricity.  On the other hand it's in our tenancy agreement, so I suppose I have to succumb here too.