If there's one thing that mystifies guys then it's girls' pre-going out ritual.
"How can you take so long!?" they howl, clawing at the doorframe.
"I could have resolved the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the time it's taken you to choose between nude and tan heels - which, since you asked repeatedly, LOOK THE SAME."
The pre-going out prepping session averages half an hour. It will include three obligatory outfit changes and a moderate quarter life crisis. It once scraped in at an impressive 15 minutes and once I was four hours late to a party because of it.
Shower, underwear, shave, ouch, outfit one, oh my God, outfit two, Christ alive, outfit three, I look like a pumpkin, outfit one, it'll do, shoes one, shit it's 10.30pm ...
You can read that as evidence of uncontrollable female vanity. You'd be a twit but you still could. Just watch a woman during that process. They don't spend the time going, "hot damn - what colour jeans make my butt more biteable?"
They spend most of the time worried, harried and close to tears. It's the face of unbridled insecurity. And it's real and painful.
The difficulty is that women, and men too, keep telling themselves the ritual is ridiculous. Ridiculous - and not very feminist.
So even as you're standing there, convinced you resemble a turnip, you're also telling yourself to shut up. You're telling yourself that you're being silly, petty, shallow, superficial and frankly as feminist as a 1950s domestic science class.
It would be great if giving yourself a stern talking to solved it. But instead it just makes you feel awful that you felt awful.
And even more awful when you realise you may be rational, intelligent and a feminist but you're still incapable of not worrying about your appearance.
Which is why telling yourself off for being a silly or being a bad feminist is stupid.
What's happening here is that you know that in a few hours lots of people will be looking and critiquing you. (Even other women - even other feminists.)
You cannot shake the idea that others see your self worth in your appearance. So you have to get your outfit right, or people will not think you worthy of love, attention or$2.50 canapes.
What this shows is that our self-confidence rests on knowing we look okay. Yes, that is silly. But it does.
How stupid that self-confidence rests on the approval of people we don't know and probably wouldn't talk to if we did. We've clearly internalised patriarchal beauty norms. But they're there now so we might as well work with them.
It's useless to tell ourselves not to care. It's obvious our confidence is too deeply tied to our appearance for that to solve anything.
I feel guilty about wearing high heels. They're painful, expensive, and mean we can't move any faster than a pregnant hippo. They're 21st century foot binding. But I still insist on wearing them to job interviews, dates, or posh parties because I don't feel confident without them.
It's the same with not waxing. I know I should be in favour of the feminist resistance against bodily manifestations of the patriarchy (woo, pubes!) But I cannot stop shaving because it makes me feel insecure.
And we need that confidence. We need it to get out of bed, ask for what we want, do what we want, and help who we want. It's essential if we want to make something of our lives.
It's also essential if we want to change this system for the better. If we want to tackle the structural factors in society that keep women, and men, oppressed then we need the confidence to go for it. We won't do that as a quivering lump on the bedroom rug. Which means that if we need to wear heels, wax, or primp for an hour to feel confident then that's what we need to do.
That way we can tackle the underlying structural problems that spawn sexism or exploitation. And when you've tackled that, you create a system were you don't need foot binding to create confidence.
But we're not there yet. And if we spend our time worrying that we're bad feminists because we want to shave, then we're never going to get shit done.