After that trip to Istanbul last year I wrote about feeling some moral discomfort about getting naked and then getting a deliciously decadent rubdown from another woman, but committed to going to a hammam in case it was just the stale atmosphere of bourgeois decadence and entitlement at the five star where I was staying that was killing my buzz. It turns out it was. I've been going to Le Riad in the immigrant district next to the Gare de Nord regularly for a few months and I'll keep going at least once a month until I leave. It is ace, and nothing, NOTHING like the thing in Istanbul. Communal (kids get in free and were running around all over the place, having waterfights in the rubdown room), loud (when I was there Saturday a wedding party came in and ululated, which I'd never heard in the flesh before), friendly (helpful attendants running around telling me what to do, since my hammam etiquette isn't down yet, and slapping everybody's asses) and unintimidating.
Anyways. I was there on a busy Ladies' Saturday (most days of the week, women only get half the hours, with men the other half) and the steam room and rubdown slabs were over-capacity, so I was waiting in the nice warm, sunny lounging space upstairs, wrapped in a sarong, sipping a complimentary mint tea and reading Colin Tudge's charming The Secret Life of Birds, when a lady came in to start threading eyebrows. Mine were badly overgrown so when she started loudly complaining of a cancellation, I stuck my hand up to be trimmed. I'd never been threaded before, never even seen it until I started going to the hammam and seeing these women seemingly only having threads ran across their face and emerging hairless, so I was curious.
Which brings me to the point of this post, such as it is. The lady reduced my viciously rambunctious eyebrows to a state of civilization in two minutes. It didn't hurt nearly as much as waxing or plucking and the skin wasn't irritated. It cost six euros. I had no idea who she'd done it, so I came home and read this and watched this. I got a length of darning thread, practiced for ten minutes, and then did my upper lip, which I usually bleach, but in my paranoiac hippiedom I'm sick of smearing myself with chemicals so I've been looking for an alternative that doesn't involve accepting my manly side. It worked; it hurt a bit, but not much, and even with my unpractised hands it only took a few minutes to do the lot.
Now look. This is nice, but at the same time it is absolute BULLSHIT. Let me write it once again: I used a length of darning thread. I used about 50 centimetres of a 20 metre spool of darning thread that cost less than 2 euros to take care of the hair on my face that millions of women shit themselves over, spending a great deal of time and money on; that many women in my family (of whom I'm one of the less sasquatchy members and I'm still quite sasquatchy) have decided they would handle with electrolysis due to the time, mess, expense and trouble involved in waxing. I'm not saying I was ripped off by the lady at the hammam, absolutely not; despite how easy the incredibly beautiful girl in the instructional video above makes it look, I'm more than happy to have somebody else do precision work like eyebrow plucking for me (versus upper lip when you just want it ALL off, though I did give myself an amusing half-hour walking around the house with a Hitler moustache) and I would happily pay her more than six euros, even though her overhead costs for the work she did on me probably ran about 5 centimes. But I AM saying this shit makes me absolutely sick.
Women get screwed, man. They get screwed and screwed. When you can use 5 centimes worth of darning thread to get a result that's better than what you get with with something exponentially more expensive, like waxing or one of these fucking montrosities, that's all I can conclude: we are screwed and screwed and screwed. Not just screwed by notions of beauty involving hairlessness, which is such a common theme across so many cultures that I don't see any real point to objecting to it any more, but really, unforgivably screwed in terms of how bastards try to get our money off us for stupid shit that not only do we not need, but is worse for us than the exponentially cheaper alternatives. On a slightly smaller scale, it's like the flannelette rag towels versus the disposable ones all over again. Just so - fucking - ARGH. Fuck. I really don't think men have the experience to appreciate how structurally screwed women are, on things like this, these little day-to-day things - I mean, I don't blame men, because a lot of this screwing is being carried out by other women; I would just like to communicate to men how structurally screwed we are so they can understand where we're coming from. I love being a woman but my beloved history teacher who blew his brains out a few years back was right: in economic terms women in overdeveloped countries are the aborigines of the modern age, being exploited by cynical profiteers and trading our wealth for shit.