It may come as a shock to some to learn that women are not naturally hairless creatures. Every year, we spend obscene amounts of money collectively to be painfully groomed in order to live up to societal expectations of femininity. In addition to beauty treatments, we also cough up for products that promise to sell us eternal youth and flawless beauty. These products are usually more expensive than male-targeted equivalents; an inequality that has been referred to as the Pink Tax.
“Worldwide, women spend five hours a week grooming, and 35 percent of women use one to two products daily and 17 percent use three to four. Meanwhile men spend three hours a week grooming, and 54 percent say they don’t use a single product. So this certainly explains the holes in our paychecks. And they’re big holes. Women are estimated to spend $382 billion a year globally in the beauty industry.” — Newshub NZ
While the degree to which women are slaves to this industry differs, it is fair to say that those who present in accordance to gendered stereotypes of femininity pay a hefty price to do so. Furthermore, it is unfair to characterise this as a mere matter of choice as external pressures play a significant role in women’s decisions to spend on beauty and cosmetics.
“There’s also the expectation from places like your office that you will wear make up, style your hair and jam on stilettos. The standard business look for men includes a clean suit and a face free of bum-fluff. Whereas the standard that we subconsciously expect from women is simply more expensive. Hair, nails, make up….And when we don’t do that, not only do we look less ‘professional’, we’re also told we look like we’re about to collapse with exhaustion.” — Newshub NZ
So, when women have carried the cost of femininity for so long, demands by trans activists that transwomen must have their beauty and cosmetic costs covered by public funding seem more than a little unfair. Transwomen want taxpayers to fund their attempts to present as feminine women without considering that women are paying to look like this themselves. While women still struggle in most parts of the world to get the GST knocked off health necessity products like tampons and pads, trans activists demand we foot the bill for their waxing.
“Tampons, for instance, cost up to $16,000 in our lifetime.” — Newshub NZ
Jessica Sampson, a 39-year-old transwoman from the U.K. took to the press this week to complain about the “months of frustration” he has endured while waiting for his NHS funded hair removal treatment. This story is becoming more common with more frequent discussions about the supposed right transwomen have to these “vital” services rife throughout gender identity politics hotbeds Twitter and tumblr. It is an entitlement that women have never sought to claim and, quite frankly, circumventing this gendered economic pressure illuminates that ‘identifying as a woman’ means cherry-picking the bits one likes while retaining male privilege for others.
A spokesperson for Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’re sorry to hear about Ms Samson’s experience. As soon as we received confirmation of funding for this service for her, treatment was immediately arranged.” — Salisbury Journal
Often the justification for these demands is centred on the suffering of transwomen and their bodily self-hatred. This again fails to acknowledge that women suffer immensely from societal pressure and self-esteem related issues. Expectations of maintaining a slim figure is one obvious example with eating disorders overrepresented in the female population. Transwomen do not have the monopoly on social hardship either. Girls and women are subject to chronic critique and bullying if they fail to live up to beauty expectations. There was a girl in my class at school who had hairier arms than the rest of us and she was teased mercilessly by the boys. Likewise, I was once told by a previous boss in front of other staff that I needed to get my roots sorted as my regrowth looked awful. Some women, like Greenpeace worker and anti-nuclear campaigner Stephanie Mills, have even been humiliated on a national scale on television:
The episode began during a feedback section of Breakfast, when Henry ignored “please don’t” pleas from his co-host Alison Mau and read out viewer comments including: “I had no idea what Stephanie Mills was thinking going on telly with that enormous moustache. Wax is cheap you know”, and “Are mos for female Greenpeace members standard issue?"
The idea that microaggressions exist only in the realm of trans experience is insulting to women who live with them every day. We have hair ripped from our labia, eyebrows, upper lip, and more on a monthly basis, paying to endure the pain in exchange for achieving a degree of acceptability. We don’t enjoy it and it is not a privilege. We do these things to appease, adhere, feel validated, accepted, to avoid negative attention, and because we have been socialised to value our appearance.
“While a new study has revealed that more than 49 per cent of us hate the idea of hair removal, the average women still spends £23,000 to wax away unwanted hair over the course of her lifetime.”- Harper’s Bazaar
The incredible burden of femininity on women, financially and physically, makes it difficult to understand why transwomen should be entitled to beauty and cosmetic handouts. Being a woman isn’t automatically achieving the idealised image of femininity; many women elect not to or are not in a position to do so. It is expensive and hard work to chase that ideal. How superficial is your concept of womanhood if you assume that you are entitled to inhabit it in its most elaborate costume?
While women are expected to fork out for their femininity so too should anyone else seeking to mimic it. It is utter misogyny to fund male appropriation of concepts of female beauty while burdening women. It shows that ‘identifying’ as a woman does not mean understanding the complexities of every day challenges and expectations. The ‘cis privilege’ we are told we possess is a myth, a fallacy. Transwomen do not have a monopoly on hardship.
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