Every eight weeks or so I get my hair trimmed. I’ve finally found a hairdresser who gives me a good haircut. (This is a rarity: you’d think that my kind of hair came from outer space.) We’re slowly getting it stronger and healthier and longer after years of bad cuts and damage. The problem is that he has to straighten it in order to give me this cut. Which, on the one hand: cool, free straightening. It’s lovely to have that smooth, silky feel. I get to enjoy my hair in a different colour because light reflects differently off curly and straight hair. Most importantly, I get more of the length I’ve wished for almost my whole life.
But also, it’s a bit of a nightmare. I won’t rehash my issues with being misracialised; see practically everything I’ve ever written on my personal experiences with race and racism. Suffice it to say that my curls are the most prominent marker, for a lot of people, as to what I am, so when I get my hair straightened I get tense. It’s also a really different experience simply walking down the street because I don’t attract so many looks, and there aren’t hands reaching for my head. I get to blend in more and, like Justine’s acquaintance, don’t get seen through the lens of my hair in quite the same way.
I’ve found such application of specifically constituted feminist thought to other situations really helpful. Respecting other bodies as something I can’t access without permission has in turn helped me set my own boundaries about the extent to which I am comfortable with particular kinds of contact in everyday life.
[…]It is very disturbing to me when I encounter sentiment from progressives to the effect that religion is destructive and should be destroyed, or thinking that the pursuit of social justice and religious practice can never meet. Religion is embedded in people’s lives, embedded in culture, and a positive and vital part of them. An aim of getting rid of it sure isn’t progressive, because getting rid of what makes people different isn’t progressive, because taking the sacred from people’s lives is a violation of who they are. There’s nothing progressive about asking people to give up their communities and what is often the core of their lives or being in order to fit in with politics.
It’s disingenuous to act as though there aren’t woman-affirming traditions in even the mainstream Abrahamic religions that some progressives love to hate, as though progressive politics is something brand new and always secular.[…]