Adventures in Feminist Teaching

This is another “episode” in the memoir I’m writing for my Creative Non-Fiction class. My first installment is here. I figured I might as well lighten the mood from my last post. Hope you enjoy! (And, just to state the obvious, “Quirky” is a pseudonym, and a rather fitting one).

Oh God, Hala! I felt so weird! I couldn’t wait to get out!” Quirky shuddered, “The only reason I didn’t leave early was because I was in the front row and I didn’t want to cause a disturbance.”

I stifled a giggle, “Dude, the class is called ‘Feminist and Queer Theories’. It would be weird if it wasn’t weird.” I knew Quirky had a penchant for the dramatic, which is why it was entertaining to see her riled up. “Besides, what was it that shocked you so much?” I asked.

“Man, there were these people there with mohawks and piercings and tattoos! Which, by the way, is all good, I mean, do what you want and all, you know?” she barely paused to inhale, “But! There was this one girl! She was wearing a sleeveless shirt and she didn’t shave AT ALL! It was dis-GUST-ing.” The indignation and repulsion were practically tangible, and now I really wanted to laugh my head off.

Now, to be perfectly honest, my first experience with a woman who didn’t shave her armpits was no more mature than hers. It was in a public restroom in Canada and I definitely did a double-take and stared more than I should have. Being pretty ignorant, I often brought up the memory as something to laugh at. I know better now. So I can’t say I blamed Quirky all that much.

However, thanks to having lived in Canada, by now I had watched and supported gay pride parades, read feminist blogs (radical and otherwise), and often debated heavily with people holding vastly different viewpoints than mine. At the moment, sharing a feminism class with a woman who chooses the au naturel route wasn’t on my list of odd experiences. When it comes to people’s very personal life choices, I find it problematic, at best, to categorize them into black and white, “right” and “wrong”, without asking myself a lot of questions first.

Quirky, however, was about to explode from the indignation: How could she “let herself go” like that? Didn’t she want to be attractive? Didn’t she want to be seen as beautiful? Why would you want to do that to yourself?

I glanced up from my bag of chips and raised my hand to stave off the stream of rants. She quieted down, but I could see the confusion and outrage still dancing in her eyes.

“Well…what if she doesn’t want to be judged as attractive just because she shaves? What if she doesn’t even care? Why does she have to be seen that way?”

Quirky stared at me for all of two seconds before exploding, “This is how society is! Just live it! Why do we have to question everything?!”

For the sake of brevity, allow me to draw a curtain over the rest of the scene.

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