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ASU professor gives extra credit for changing body hair

“There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” Arizona State University Professor Breanne Fahs told ASU News.

She encourages women in her classes to stop shaving for 10 weeks in exchange for extra credit. Fahs asks men to do the opposite — shave from the neck down for those ten weeks.

“There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal,” Fahs said. “But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”

Well, not for men it isn’t. Shaving, in some form, is normal for guys. A recent study found that 95 percent of men “manscape” some of that unwanted body hair. We men aren’t judged for it. Not even by other men anymore.

We’ve seen too many pictures of Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps to worry about it. Perhaps that is the only answer to solve Fahs societal problems: Get everyone to shave everything. The ancient Egyptians did it so why not us? I, for one, am too lazy.

Women, though, are expected to shave. Stephanie Robinson is in one of Fahs ASU classes. She stopped shaving and summed up her experience.

“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. 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.”

Yes, we judge. Not just men. We, as in all of us. Call it a societal norm. Call it whatever. Here’s why: We’re used to seeing women with shaved armpits.

Ladies have been doing it for years. The Sears catalog first marketed to razors to women in 1922 and shaving has become the norm in America since fashion changed during World War II. Shorter skirts and sleeveless dresses were introduced.

That right there is why we judge. Not because it’s right or wrong but because it’s overwhelmingly normal. Overwhelmingly normal because it’s not a 50-50 split like most of the issues we seem to debate in this country. The split of women who shave versus those who don’t is probably like 99-1.

Sure, shaving is a pain. I hate it too and try to avoid it whenever possible, so I understand the frustrations surrounding it and how unfair it is that women are expected to shave more of their bodies than men. But let’s cut to the chase and call it what it is: Unfair or not, shaving is just more attractive.