This question is tough for me and I have found myself reading blogs with various ideas about what constitutes a “proper” or “good” or “productive” feminist. This word to me was something I was raised with… but I think over the years the term has evolved. In the past few days I have seen it revealed just as I revealed my scalp… just as my feminist tattoo completed its healing.
1st of all, the last time I had my hair this short it was a weird situation. I was doing fetish porn and I was offered $1000 to shave my head. At the time I was coming out of the butch closet. I did it for $1000 – ya I even have a video of it. Then I just kind of kept it this short from then on. Except for the past couple of years I began to explore various hair cuts although my hair never really got past the bottom of my neck.
Recently I had been daydreaming of summer and a shaved head. Seriously I was dreaming of sunshine on my head…. sometimes you just miss the warm weather. I have major cabin fever here in Central PA, USA. It’s cold here for about another month but occasionally we get warm days and they just make me want to stay outside. So I have been moody lately for good reasons and I had the day off. I peeled myself out of bed and tried to stand the outdoors… it was cold but I loved the bits of sun on my skin. Later, I borrowed my son’s hair clipper and plugged it into my deck. Leaned over my fence to the abandoned back yard and shaved my head into the dead grass. Each cut I felt the sun pouring its way in and it felt dam good. I felt like I was letting something go – I have no idea what really. But I let it all go. I left it to be recycled by the earth’s creatures – I figure some mother bird will be thanking me for such nice materials.
I looked in the mirror and I laughed. Wow, I think that’s kind of sexy and bold. Ohhh I immediately recognized the feeling of freedom, it resembled the feeling when I cut my waist length hair to shoulder length when I left my husband. But this time it was raw and real, similar but not the same. This time it was about me, not about him. This was about the woman inside that I refuse to give up on…no matter what anyone says or does.
I knew I had to work today… I work every other weekend, dayshift, at a nursing home. Conservative Progressive Nursing home….with a diverse group of co-workers, but most of the residents are at least conservative, rarely liberal. Considering their age its the best way to describe them.
When I walked into work this morning at 7am I was amused at the reactions to my hair. The one that made my sadist smile was the one that would quickly look up at me and then away very quickly and not say a dam word about my head. Nothing, they were totally uncomfortable. Including the few “dyke” like straight girls. When I say “dyke” like I mean that when you first meet them your gaydar goes off but then they say something like “My husband….” and your confused. That’s a “dyke” like person. I seen at least 2 of them today numerous times and each time they avoided eye contact. Its not like them to treat me that way. Interesting.
Second was my immediate nursing supervisor who began to question me in the rooms while we assisted our dear residents with their morning routine. She said something like “Seriously Holly, help me understand this. I am not judging I just don’t get it.” Now in my head I am saying… no your choosing not to see it. This woman in a feminist but doesn’t know it – she puts up with her children’s father because she thinks its the right thing to do. I have heard the conversations. I push her boundaries and make her question her choices, its how I help her….she admits to it. I said on my way past her, “Simple… would you be asking me that if I were a boy?” She pondered this for hours and then later said, “Actually, no I wouldn’t. I see what your saying. But you are not a boy.” and I responded, “Why does gender matter? Would you tell your daughter she couldn’t be an auto mechanic if she really loved it?” she responded with a “Of course not.” and I said, “exactly… so why does it matter.” That ended today’s conversations but she assured me that she would ponder my choices and get back to me. No issues, I enjoy her challenge for me.
Then there was my 88yo liberal democratic stubborn german feminist. She opens her eyes and says, “Dear Lord! What did you do to your hair?” I responded with a simple, “I shaved it off. Buzz! Buzz! Right into the grass.” She stared at me with a crooked eye. I smiled and said, “It’s a feminist statement, actually.” I realized as I thought about my interaction with the nurse. She responded, “You look like a boy!” I smiled, “My point exactly, why do boys get all the easy haircuts? Are all women to be nothing more than pretty things for boys to look at?” She pondered that for a moment and said, “Good one. Your a smart one.” I smiled. I had appeased her question this time but I knew she would ask me that exact same question 150 more times before I left at 2pm. She did. Ohhh dementia…
Then a young girl whom is fairly close friends with a group of local lesbians sees me and I swear her eye lashes batted way faster than I had ever seen before. Wait, was she flirting with me? She complimented my hair like 10 times in less than a 1/2 hour over the lunch rush. Well this was a different experience than the nurse that is married to a man with several kids and the same age as me. This girl is in her early 20’s. Of course not everyone has seen my hair yet but as they see it, I am amused at their reactions. It’s a lot of fun!
So what is a feminist… well I think that definition might change depending on your situation, exposure, generation, and experiences. But I think we all have an inner feminist.