Not Shaving Earns Extra Credit at ASU

Not Shaving Earns Extra Credit at ASU
Susan Dutca-Lovell

What better way to defy social norms and gender expectations while earning extra credit than by refusing to shave for ten weeks? Female students at Arizona State University are putting public opinion to the test as they refrain from shaving their legs and armpits. To avoid any sexism, males are also permitted to participate, and must shave all body hair from the neck down. Women and Gender Studies Professor Breanne Fahs began the assignment in 2010 as a way to teach students the realities of gender and social expectations, when it comes to physicality and bodily aesthetics. Some "manscaping" or removing excessive bodily hair, is not uncommon - however, complete hair removal is less practiced and Fahs believes it gives greater insight to a woman's tedious hygienic routine.

Students experience first-hand the negative responses to the rebellion. Many people find it unattractive and inappropriate, even close family and friends; but students feel empowered in their bodies as they better understand just how pervasive genderization is in American culture. Furthermore, the consensus is that participating students feel a sense of community in their act of rebellion. Fahs claims that generally, women will be concerned with how their partners react to the change, and men will be preoccupied with other men's opinions. What is emphasized most is personal choice and to what extent that is influenced and manipulated by conventional gender expectations. After all, is true beauty not skin deep?

Should body study curriculum and such extra credit opportunities be more readily offered at colleges? Does this serve a good purpose in higher education?

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