Students at Arizona State Agree to Stop Shaving for Extra Credit

playful father and his son shaving and having fun in bathroomHow important is shaving for you? One professor made that question into a challenge for her class this year at Arizona State University. Professor Breanne Fahs asked her students to shake up their shaving routine. If they chose to participate and document their experience in a journal, they would receive extra credit for the experiment.

Fahs asked men to shave from the neck down, and women to stop shaving, for the duration of the 10 week class. “There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” she said in an interview with ASU News. Although the project has gotten a lot of national attention lately, Fahs has been offering the option since 2010.

Although most people know what to expect with a project like this — people will react negatively to the presence or absence of body hair depending on gender — some students were still surprised by the severity of reactions people had to those stepping out of their prescribed gender roles. “Many of my friends didn’t want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught,” said student Stephanie Robinson.

Currently, the majority of men shave their faces about five times a week, and about 60% of men perform “manscaping,” but typically it’s only swimmers who shave their entire bodies. By contrast, over 90% of American women shave most of their body.

While some people have reacted to the idea that a social experiment isn’t real “work,” many have chimed in to disagree, arguing, as english teacher Jordan Drevdahl does, that “actively challenging social and gender norms in such a visible way is much more difficult than you’re giving it credit for.” Other users chime in to say that learning is about being pushed out of your perspective comfort zone, and that the project did require a write-up as well.

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