For the last couple of months I've not concerned myself with the ridding of my armpit hair.
This has all been welcome in "hippie" or "empowered women/feminist/lesbian culture. In fact, in moments it's felt like it gives me more cred there. Its proven a bit of an edge for me specifically because I've been at the gym working out and showering more communally than I ever have before. It's also entering into the summer heat, which means the wearing of tank tops and sleeveless things.
When I'm in the locker room and pull my dress on over my head will anyone notice? And I recognize that the concern that arises for me is, will they then detect my masculine?
Will they detect the part of me who has ravished women and has explored myself in my predatory, penetrative self? Will they determine that I'm not a conforming woman?
Will they see me as a threat or traitor in their midst?
Will they sniff out my embrace and welcoming of my inner masculine and project onto me all their fears of men?
And I also realize that, as a cis woman, who outwardly appears very feminine, it's unlikely I'll actually need to deal with someone noticing my masculine in such a context. My concern over some armpit hair gives me an itty bitty taste of the trans experience- that at any moment someone may feel justified to challenge my right to belong.
I've never had to deal with someone insisting I'm not the gender I identify myself as to them. That's a particular experience.
Recently I was misgendered for a moment in a way that works for me. It was dusk and I'd just pulled into a parking lot that straddles a block between two streets and services a number of restaurants. I'd opened my door and was sending a text when I became aware of a woman walking quickly across the lot. A male voice was pursuing her, saying aggressive and unkind things. I stood up and moved into the periphery of the man's path. Mid sentence he turned towards me and was a bit startled, but in that moment looked me squarely in the eye.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I mean, Ma'am!" He was embarrassed by his 'obvious' mistake. Then he stammered something about the history of their relationship. I shrugged and continued looking him in the eye with solid presence- just letting him know that I saw him. He stopped talking and trotted ahead to catch up with the woman. I never said a word. Apparently my masculine said enough. And not just my masculine, but the potent totality of me in that moment.
I've now decided that I feel cooler without the underarm hair and also less pungent. So, I'm shaving again due to that personal hygiene choice. But the point is that it's now something I've played with and can be consciously chosen rather than blindly followed for social reasons. And the totality of me is feeling more integrated and grateful for the opportunity to come around to the choice on my own.
I'm also aware that men are expected to *not* shave their arm or leg hair. If I were identified as a male, I wonder what I would think of that.