On Internalized Misogyny And Female Grooming

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Can we just take a pause to consider all of the total fucking bullshit to which we subject ourselves?

If you caught Ask Momma Bare this week, you might recall that we were discussing body hair: its absence/presence, why we remove it/do we really need to remove it.

You might also recall that I am still pissed at Shonda Rhimes. Seriously, Shonda.

I digress. As part deux, if you will, I offer this commentary regarding internalized misogyny and its influence on the female gender, specifically as it relates to personal grooming.

Misogyny is, put simply, the deeply ingrained prejudice against, and oppression of, women. Over the course of history, we've come to accept the expectations imposed by misogyny as a given. They are such an integral part of our make up (get it? MAKEUP) that it doesn't occur to us to challenge them. And thus, internalized misogyny is born.

This article, for example, titled "50 Ways to be a Woman," not so subtly reminds us of all things considered feminine. And, as proof of that whole internalized misogyny thing, it was written by a woman.

I perused this piece hoping one of the 50 ways was, "Ignore the other 49 ways and do whatever the hell you want." Alas, disappointment.

Among the ways to "be a woman," we find the following:

1. Practice good personal grooming habits. If you are going to have colored hair, keep your roots covered. If you are going to have fake nails, keep them filled. Take care of your skin, take care of your teeth.

Teeth, okay. Because, halitosis/gingivitis/other itises. Skin, fair enough, dirt/seeping wounds/infectious disease, etc. But am I supposed to be existentially concerned about my roots? And what if I just don't want to get my nails filled?


Did I just become a man?

25. Cross your legs.

What? What in the name of all that is sacred does that have to do with being a woman? May I remind you that Sharon Stone was very much a woman in that movie where she totally flashed Michael Douglas her beaver. I rest my case.

23. Be the woman a man needs, not the woman that needs a man.

I don't even know what you're talking about anymore.

Some of the suggestions are worth consideration. Number 47 for example: Never allow a man to make you feel inferior. Useful.

On the whole, though, I feel like she's missing the point there. And this is (you saw this coming) probably influenced by her own internalized misogyny. Which is what this whole thing is about. So, thanks?

If I may offer another suggestion of "how to be a woman"? Call yourself one. Bingo. Woman.

On the same site as that ridiculous "50 Ways" piece, we find cited my favorite feminist, Caitlin Moran. I like to call her Cait, despite the glaring reality that we are not acquainted, in any capacity whatsoever. What's up, Cait? If you're reading this, I love you. I mean, I love you, whether you're reading this or not. Too much?


Cait says:

You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, "And are the men doing this, as well? "If they aren't, chances are you're dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as "some total fucking bullshit."

All of which brings me to this: can we just take a pause to consider all of the total fucking bullshit to which we subject ourselves?


Leg hair, armpit hair, facial hair, crotch hair, head of hair, all of the hair we groom and coif and deplete. Do we do this for ourselves? I mean, do you love a Brazilian wax? Well then, to that I say, get it girl. But I, for one, do not love having my ass frosted with hot wax and then ripped free of all traces of hair. A) It doesn't really feel very good. At all. B) Though waxing results in significantly fewer ingrown hairs, it does not eliminate the risk of said hairs completely. I prefer to operate under a 100% absence of ingrown hair guarantee.

We went over the hair debate in detail Monday, but let's suppose ALL men loved pit hair, leg hair, ALL the hairs. What would you do then? I suspect that men don't even know whether they like hair or not. They are just accustomed to seeing cleanly shorn women everywhere (*ahem* porn). And therefore, hairless = sexy.

Furthermore, may I suggest, that since we are born with hair, it presumably serves some purpose. I'm not a scientist, but I do believe strongly in evolution. If we did not need hair, wouldn't it have removed itself by now?

What about your tresses, then? I think it's safe to say that the majority of men prefer long hair. If I may throw some scientific kindling on the fire, from a purely anthropological standpoint, in days of yore (ie the paleolithic era, which I know you can all relate to because of the Paleo diet), hair of considerable length would probably have been an indicator of good health. Long hair = food? Perhaps in mate selection, our club-wielding alpha male simply scanned the cave for whatever female had the shiniest mane. And was therefore guaranteed A) offspring B) Wooly Mammoth?

Food is pretty readily available now, so I think we can dispose of this tradition.


Oh makeup. How do I love-loathe thee? Let me count the ways. Foundation: $50 (Bobbie Brown does not fool around). Mascara: $28 (plumping, lengthening, clumping, etc). Lipstick: $25 (one each in sheer, opaque, and sparkly, to cover your existing lip color. Which is, I might add, PINK). Lip gloss: $18 (to go over the lipstick. Duh). Eyeshadow: $18-46 (for contouring, accentuating, letting your children crumble into 17,000 pieces). Eyeliner: $28 (to make your eyes pop [right out of your head, because TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS]). Blush or cheek stain: $18. (Pro tip: Just slap yourself in the face. It's free.) Etc.

Now, before you are all like, HOLD ON, JONI. Do not even try to say that you can't wear makeup and be a feminist. Let me say, it's not about the desire to wear makeup. I won't even say it's the makeup and beauty industry (though they are basically stealing 160 BILLION of our dollars every year). But I will say, when did we start wearing makeup, and why? Would you like to cut, oh say, 20 minutes off your morning routine? YES. More sleep? More coffee? More time to do anything other than shellac your face? If makeup is artistry, and not imposed enhancement, then, good on you. If not, maybe just save your 20 minutes and your $203.

Regardless, this still doesn't make sense to me. Male peacocks are downright majestic. And the female peacocks (which are actually called peaHENS, by the way) look like mutant pheasant. They aren't even a little cute.

Why don't human males wear eyeshadow? That seems more apropos. Lemme see ya shake ya tail feathers (a la The Blues Brothers or Nelly feat. P Diddy, depending on your age. See also: objectification).

Body Alterations

Ladies, come on. Do you really want to cut your breast open and wedge a hunk of silicone in it? I mean do you really? I know a fair number of women who have had their breasts augmented/lifted/evened out. Reasons cited: I want my clothing to fit better/look nicer. I want my boobs back to "normal" (whatever that is). They aren't big enough.

To which I say this: who made you think your clothing didn't fit? Who decides normal? (And furthermore, how long can you rally against gravity?) How big is "enough"?

Women pay to have their vagina returned to its former glory (hole). The vaginoplasty "procedure," akin to an episiotomy, will freshen your vagina right up, to the tune of $6K. Well, what a bargain! But wait. If less than well-endowed, would you expect your partner to plop down a hefty $6K for a bigger lightsaber? No. You would not. Because that's just not a thing.

Why is THAT weird, but the idea of a woman having her vagina intentionally sliced apart and then sewn back together is a completely acceptable (and apparently frequently Googled) practice?

I'll tell you why. Because a man invented that surgery. You know how I know a man invented it? Because women do not give one shit about the diameter of their vagina. Literally not even one shit. Unless they are told to.

Once you've tidied up the inside, and your partner is again satisfied, and you are again reminded that a taut vagina is not always the best vagina (because, ouch), you'd better attend to your lady lettuce (that's a real term, I did not coin it). There are actual plastic surgeons who will actually shave off part of your labia minora. In fact, one such Dr. Red Alinsod claims to have invented the technique he calls the "Barbie." Which is tantamount to shearing off the labia minora to create a clamshell effect (what?). Because, ohmygod, what is to become of your uneven labia?

The aptly named labiaplasty costs anywhere from $5,000-8,000. I just Googled that, and I'm still sitting at my desk imagining all that I could do with $8,000 (go to Disneyland 4 times [not 5], buy 1,777 pints of Ben and Jerry's, pay for 1/5 of one year's tuition at Harvard), besides give it to some "doctor" to cut off a chunk of the part I love mostly dearly.

This is your body, women. would you pay someone to remove your finger? That's rhetorical. Because unless it was gangrenous, you would definitely not.

I think you'd be better served getting that Ben and Jerry's.

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