Herizons Magazine (Canada) | A review

Herizons Magazine

Traveling through Canada I picked up some feminist mags in indie bookstores just to try out some new reading.

Impressively worldly

Herizons has informative short reports from around the world of advances and current campaigns for women's issue rights in addition to local, Canadian and North American reporting.

Who are you and why do I care?

I wish the columnists had a short bio or byline to explain their credentials or angle.  The writer Susan Cole wrote an essay concerning the trend towards renaming Women's Studies programs with various incarnations of the word "Gender" that reminded me all too ominously of religious literalists.

Later in the magazine I realize through a photo caption that she went to Radcliff in the 70's and her view starts to make a little more sense, both because I now give her more benefit of the doubt as a long term activist, but also because that generation worked so hard to get Women's Studies on campus that I can sympathize with her complaint more.

Still, one of my favorite tenets of feminist academia that I have kept all these years is an attachment to the personal, and I want to know who is saying what just as much as I want the what.  I still don't agree with her opinion, but now that I know just a little bit about her, I can understand it better.

Political branding

Naomi Klein has an excellently written essay concerning political branding and the Obama presidency.  It's the first time in a long time I've read an article and thought to myself, Now this person is smart.  "Marketing is the New Morality" is not only smart, it's comprehensible.  It's efficient and informative and has the perfect balance of past history and present example.

The personal is political

The whole reason I looked forward to reading this magazine though, was the cover story, "Rhymes with Cubic Pear" by Renee Bondy.  It's a good reminder of how new the cultural norm of shaving really is.  She cites a leap in hair removal beginning with the flappers when they moved to short skirts and sleeveless arms.  

A solid exercise in the personal is political, Renee stops shaving in order to write the article and reports on her own experience with it as well as exploring overarching political theory:

[...] over time, I grew to enjoy [...] the hair itself.  It softened; it glistened in the sunlight; and the furriness on my legs even quivered in the breeze, producing an oddly stimulating sensation.

Leg hair, it turns out, feels nice

On tour, I didn't intend to stop shaving, but over the course of a month of traveling, hiking and camping with only one shower, and that at a dock shower in a fishing town, it just happened.  And by then I was in Northern California and there were all kinds of women running around unselfconsciously brandishing body hair.  I started asking every woman I saw with hair how it happened and how she felt about it.  One woman said, "Just wait till your underarm hair grows all the way out, it's awesome."

I was curious enough to explore, but as I moved into city life again I felt the social pressure and the discomfort.  But I stuck it out just to go through it, as I was surprised at how pressured I felt.  I was embarrassed to wear shorts and the sight of it as it got long enough to be curly offended me.  But when I get into bed and I've got soft fuzzy legs, I dig it.  When I ride my bike and feel the wind on my legs, I'm into it.

Reading Ms. Bondy's article was a reminder to not only think critically about a subject, but to make it tangible for a better view of the many sides of every issue.

"Herizons Magazine: Women's News and Feminist Views" is produced partially through Canadian government assistance as well as province art funding and is produced out of Winnipeg.

Spring 2010 Vol. 23 No. 4

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Comments

I really dug this article.  I am now in a comfortable relationship with a partner who really couldn't care less if I shave or not (he did spend his formative years in Copenhagen), but I still dutifully shave below my knees...because I haven't been able to shake the societal pressure.  I also have noticed the sharp uptick in frenzied junk landscaping and "manscaping" in advertisements, films, etc. in the past 10 years.  I recently saw  a commercial that went approximately like this:
Male, introducing three female (hairless) models: "These ladies like their men to be totally hairless.  And they're not ashamed of wanting them this way, are you ladies?" [gestures towards first pouty model]
Female: "No." [knowing, seductive look towards camera]
  I also distinctly remember my first boyfriend being horrified that I had "cubic pear."  I suppose when an 19 year old boy has only ever seen sterilized, waxed and otherwise unreal images of naked women (in Playboy, or Maxim), he has no idea what to make of the messy, human reality of sex.