Ever since I wrote my "Which Sex Has it Easier?" post and "Unfair Things About Being a Female" and got some (overly vulgar) feedback on it asking things like, "Why do you still choose to a woman since it's so difficult?"
This issue came up in English class yesterday, while reading the short story "The White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett. The overarching theme of the short story is accepting society's gender role as a woman, or acting according to your own values. Spoiler alert: Sylvia meets a guy she likes for the first time, and he's great (and rich!), except he kills birds for fun. He wants Sylvia to tell him where the extra-special white heron lives so he can kill it, and Sylvia has to decides to marry him and get the bird killed (which is what she's supposed to do according to society) or not marry him and let the bird live (which would be acting according to her own values). She chooses the latter.
Why do I choose to be a woman, and waste my time shaving my legs and have long, inconvenient hair and wear constricting clothes and wear painful high heels? As a woman, I'm seen as "ornamental" (thanks, English teacher). I have to look nice, while men are free from that. I have to pluck my eyebrows and do my hair, and a man can just roll out of bed and come straight to school or work. It's deep-seated societal sexism and misogyny. Why do I do this to myself?
Because I like it. I like looking pretty and beautifying myself (hence the obsession with eyebrows and makeup). But why do I like it? Because society tells me that's what the ideal woman looks like, and that's what I'm subconsciously striving for, or because it's actually my personal preference? I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know. I'd like to think it's a little bit of both. I don't wear heels because it hurts my feet, and I pluck my eyebrows because I can't stand them being the wrong shape or having stray hairs, and I do makeup in my free time, not just in the mornings for necessity. That makes me inclined to believe it's my personal preference. And there are some girls who don't shave their legs or have long hair or do their makeup or pluck their eyebrows. Perhaps that suggests it's personal preference. But most girls do those things. Perhaps that suggests it's society.
I don't know the psychological reason I like to look pretty, but I like it and that's why I strive for it. Probably for some girls, they do it because society forces them to (consciously or not), and for others they do it because of personal preference. For anyone who wanted to post another vulgar misogynistic comment.