Choices and conversations about choices.

A noteworthy number of women shave their legs. Then some people (mostly women) question the leg-shaving norm. Then other people enter the discussion to say “There’s nothing wrong with shaving your legs! It’s all about choice!” Yes. It’s all about choice. There is nothing wrong with shaving your legs. It’s your body. You can do what you want with it. However, it is not a waste of time to interrogate the pathology of a society that deems it obligatory for women to alter their natural state. This interrogation, this conversation, is important.

A noteworthy number of women opt to have their labia minora surgically removed. Then some people (mostly women) question the merits of such a procedure. Then other people enter the discussion to say “There’s nothing wrong with having your labia minora surgically removed! It’s all about choice!” Yes. It’s all about choice. There is nothing wrong with having your labia minora surgically removed. It’s your body. You can do what you want with it. However, it is not a waste of time to interrogate the pathology of a society that deems it obligatory for women to alter their natural state. (In this instance, painfully, dangerously, and at great cost.) This interrogation, this conversation, is important.

I see this happening in these conversations over and over again. I am tired of it. It slows things down. Please, well-meaning people with your vocal support of personal choice. Please. It’s not a conversation about choice. It’s a conversation about pressure and influence. Everyone knows that having choice is important, and that you should be able to choose what you do with your body. We’re trying to move beyond that. What most of us want is a conversation about the underlying causes of unhealthy trends. When such a choice is made by an insignificant number of people, then it’s probably just that. A simple, straightforward choice. But when a choice, particularly one as troubling as the surgical removal of the labia minora, is made by a noteworthy number of people and starts to look like a trend, then we have to start looking at what is driving people to make these choices. The objective is not to shame the people making the choices. It is, as you persistently and redundantly point out, their choice! The objective is to figure out why they’re making these choices and, where appropriate, to challenge the source of their body issues.

Thanks for your time.

Umbrella out.

EDIT: Thankfully society does not, for the most part, deem it obligatory for women to have their labia minora removed. But for those women who elect to have this procedure, it is more than likely that they are motivated by societal pressure. This is the conversation we need to have.

(This post was published on women24.com. The title change had nothing to do with me and the comments were largely irrelevant.)

2 thoughts on “Choices and conversations about choices.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Scar tissue usually has no feeling in it. I certainly would never choose this. What I can’t bear is that in certain African countries the women of the tribe do this to baby girls and claim that it will increase their pleasure. So in that case it is not a choice at all. And the subject of choices, I wish jewellers’ assistants wouldn’t ask me why I have never had my ears pierced. These days I just answer, “I have never shaved my legs either. So what?”

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