Summer's approaching, and you know what that means: putting on last season's swimsuit, getting to the pool, and heading right back home after realizing you forgot to shave the untameable forest of your bikini line. Or at least, that's we're expected to do — whether or not we actually want to. If that situation sounds familiar, you've been subject to one of society's oddly creepy expectations for women. Welcome to the not-terribly-exclusive club.
If there's anything the internet loves, it's picking apart societal norms that are totally creepy when taken out of context. The American propensity for eye contact, for instance, can come across as pushy or downright rude in other cultures, and everyone knows that when you stop to think about it, Facebook stalking is super invasive — not to mention a teensy bit awkward if you accidentally reveal too much of the information you've gleaned from social media. It's not enough to stop us from stalking each other, obviously, but there's no denying the creep factor there.
When gender comes into play, though, creepiness takes on a bit of a different connotation. The power dynamics inherent in most gender norms usually mean that a woman's space or privacy is being invaded in some way. Here are six expectations placed on women that are more than a little questionable — and which no one ever actually has to do, no matter how much our culture pushes us to do them.
1Women Must Be Hairless
I don't know if you've noticed, but women are supposed to be naturally smooth, hairless creatures (apart from the thick, glowing manes of hair on their heads). It's part of an ongoing obsession with dictating what women do with our bodies, and if you think it doesn't have consequences, allow me to direct you to the backlash every woman faces if she grows out her body hair.
It gets ultra-creepy when you factor in how closely society monitors women's pubic hair in particular. Not only does it evoke a prepubescent image, but it's also no one else's business what we do or don't do in terms of southward grooming.
2We All Have Daddy Issues
Sigmund Freud's teachings may not be in vogue anymore, but the "daddy's girl" trope still persists. Girls are often expected to unconsciously compete with their mom for their father's attention, and if they don't get it, they're seen as having "daddy issues." When you think about the implications, it's super creepy.
3Everything About Beauty Pageants
To be fair, some pageant contestants do find pageants to be empowering; additionally, there's been a growing movement for alternative pageants which aim to include those which traditional pageants — which typically cleave to one very specific set of beauty standards — often do not.
But I still have to ask: Why do literal beauty contests still exist? Is it not enough that life is a beauty pageant for women? Praising women for their genetics — in ways that men aren't, because male beauty pageants aren't anywhere near as popular as female ones — perpetuates an unhealthy obsession with women's bodies.
4We're All Future Mothers
As they grow up, men have a huge range of options before them. If they want to be an engineer with four children, great! If they'd rather be a childless artist, also great! They might face some pressure from their family to have kids, but not on a societal level.
Women, on the other hand, are ultimately expected to follow one life path: trying to become a mother. If you don't want kids, everyone says you'll change your mind eventually. If you do want kids, you're expected to put that desire before anything else. Society isn't only obsessed with female bodies; it also polices their choices.
5All Women Want To Be Younger
It's the subject of countless books and the driving force behind the cosmetics industry: All women should want to be young again. Most people could probably do without the clicking joints and cognitive decline, but for women, it's assumed that the worst part of aging is looking older. By extension, this expectation shows how much we value youth in women — and how it's conflated with sexual attractiveness. Ew.
6We Should All Be Given Away At A Wedding
Weddings are based in many, many outdated traditions, but the pressure to be given away by your father is by far the weirdest. It hearkens back to times when women were literally handed over to the groom in exchange for the bride price. Even though the actual sale of a woman to her husband can get you arrested now, the wedding tradition has (creepily) stuck around.