Female students get extra credits for not shaving legs and armpits
Male students get extra credits for shaving the whole body from the neck down
Female students can obtain extra credits if they allow their leg and underarm hair to grow for 10 weeks during a semester, while male students need to “shave all body hair from the neck down.” That’s according to an associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University.
“There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” Associate Professor Breanne Fahs said in statements published ASU’s website. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”
Female student Stephanie Robinson reportedly initially refused to take part in the extra credit activity but she later “took the plunge” saying: “It really was a life-changing experience,” according to the report.
“Many of my friends didn’t want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught at the idea that I would be getting married in a white dress with armpit hair,” Robinson said.
“I also noticed the looks on faces of strangers and people around campus who seemed utterly disgusted by my body hair. It definitely made me realize that if you’re not strictly adhering to socially prescribed gender roles, your body becomes a site for contestation and public opinion,” she added.
She said peer pressure was behind her initial decision not to participate in the exercise.
“It’s interesting how peer pressure within the class can create a new norm,” Fahs said. “When practically all of the students are participating, they develop a sense of community and enjoy engaging in an act of rebellion together.”
Fahs said the tendency to rebel against social norms is different for male students.
That act of rebellion isn’t quite the same for males as females, according to Fahs, who said “manscaping” is not uncommon for men today.
“Although a co-worker questioned why I shaved my legs, I felt comfortable in my own skin,” says a former male participant, Kurt Keller. “It helped having classmates who were so willing to lay it on the line too.
“I think shaving is an expectation that partners can place on each other because of personal taste,” Keller added.
“However, just because a boyfriend or girlfriend pressures you to shave, it must be your own decision. I really hope that people, including myself, can treat our bodies with respect, regardless of relationship expectations. If your partner expects you to do something that feels unnatural, at that point there needs to be a separation, or at least a discussion,” Keller said.