Got your attention there didn’t I. I bet you think this is some kind of Men’s Rights Activism piece about how men are having their masculinity cut from them by scissor wielding misandrists. But in fact you’re quite mistaken.
What I'm about to spew is in no way anti-women or anti-feminist, it is actually quite the opposite. Talking about things people say to you just because you have long hair may seem trivial, but to some people, their appearance is of upmost importance and reflects just how comfortable they feel about themselves.
This is really a rant about things I’m sick of people saying to me because my hair is the first thing they notice. We live in a world where the militant ‘short-back-and-sides’ is still enforced upon men to feel mature, but it doesn’t work for people like me. I know what I’m about to tell is in no way as bad as it is for women – especially black women – but it needs to be addressed.
Ladies and gentlemen and third gender, here are 8 things you should not say to men with long hair.
8. “Rock N Roll”
So you think all men with long hair are fans of Rock music? My hair growth was certainly given some legitimacy through my love of Metal music, but I grew it not to fit in with other metalheads, but because short hair had made me feel like a nobody. Having the same haircut as every other boy in my class just made me feel lost with no identity and a heavy number of insecurities which the white, middle class world bestowed upon me. Men grow their hair not because they’re into certain music, but because they want to feel comfortable. In fact in the Georgian period of history, it was pretty much compulsory for men to have long hair both due to fashion and class status. I’m not saying we should go back to that period, but we should not see long hair as something that only cropped up since the advent of Rock Music.
7. "How long did that take to grow?"
This may sound harmless, but if you take a quick step back and think for a minute, it’s one of the stupidest things to ask a long haired person, or even a bearded person. If someone has long hair they haven’t visited a hairdresser in a long time, simple as that. And the average time for a person to grow their hair differs due to environment, health or just how much they care for their hair. But one thing is for certain: long hair takes time. So it’s best to leave it be and just accept the length of it.
6. "He probably has no job."
Where the hell does this come from? The number of times I get this said to me is just mind boggling. Let me remind you that in the past, our ancestors cherished long hair on men. In fact, up until the Crimean War, it was very common for soldiers to have their hair braided back and waxed into a tight tail because it was deemed acceptable for troops to have hair this length. Don’t believe me? Just watch Sharpe.
And returning to the present day, yes we still have professions where hair length is a necessity, but there are nowhere as many of them as there were in the early half of the 20th century. Men with long hair is nothing new, it’s just not in fashion right now. I’ve worked in offices and on the streets and now in a swanky airport shop, so anyone who thinks hair length is a necessity for profession, they are in dire need of a re-education. I like to think I’ve made any long haired men anxious about their choice of career a little less worried with this.
5. "Why is your hair so long?"
The short answer to this is, “why not?” But to expand, I’ll say again, men grow their hair for all kinds of reasons. Religion might be the most common, but the ones that forbid hair cutting come with headwear like Sikhism, or certain styles are necessary, like dreadlocks in Rastafarianism.
But overall, it is to do with comfort and identity. I’m still amazed at how engendered hair is today. Hair is merely one part of the body, plus it does not define your gender. Gender is not defined by appearance or performance it is by who you believe yourself to be. I pride myself on my androgyny and I thoroughly enjoy the fact I look like a woman. This is completely different from being transgender because I’m still of the most privileged group of people and face a minute fraction of the problems trans people face, but I feel that my androgyny is part of my alliance with transgender rights. Be who you want to be, don’t let anyone else define you.
Homophobic and sexist in one. Why? Because you’re not just enforcing the myth that only homosexual men have long hair, you’re also enforcing the myth that long hair only belongs to women. This is a sexist idea that fits into everything else I’ve put here, but I’m telling you now, that we are all entitled to our appearance regardless of orientation or gender.
I also cannot express how pissed off I am at people who assume all short haired women are lesbians. Quite the double edged sword indeed.
3. "Can I touch it?"
I have had some good friends ask me this and I have complied because I trust them and because they have complimented me on it. But if a total stranger comes up to you and thinks your hair is such a sideshow and therefore warrants physical interaction, they are also in need of an education.
You’ve never seen long haired men before? You think you can touch people just because their appearance is slightly different to the norm? You therefore need to go back to the 19th century and bemuse yourself with the freak shows that would have titillated many a gormless idiot.
2. "He'd look better with short hair."
Now this is the ultimate double standard for men to hear regarding their hair. If you’ve ever said this to a long haired man, ask yourself this: would you ever say that to a woman? I thought not.
You are once again enforcing the trope that long hair only belongs to women and men with long hair are lazy.
And if you really want to see how I would look with short hair, here’s a few photos from my past. I hope you can now see why I chose to lengthen the locks on my scalp.
And now for the worst thing I’ve ever heard from a person’s mouth about my hair. Trigger warning: sexual assault.
"He looks like a rapist!"
Where the fuck do I begin?
This, ladies and gentlemen and third gender, is none other than the clearest evidence of rape culture in society today.
Do you really think men who commit sexual assault wear a proverbial badge that says they commit the worst atrocities of all? Do you think you can really separate the criminals from the norm? Absolutely not. Because you have just contributed to the culture that allows this sort of behavior to go by and be accepted as a piece ‘of harmless banter.’
Think of how often you hear jokes about rape and paedophilia and domestic abuse and think it’s just another part of life because some ignorant fools think it isn’t that bad a problem. Well it is. Sorry, but rape jokes are something that have to stop.
And even thinking you can trivialize such an atrocity without even thinking of the trauma that a rape victim goes through, you are also in need of an education.
Having been to a boys school and having seen the severely disgusting extent of sexual harassment on the internet and the horrendous references to it in popular culture, this really is the lowest of the low. You’re not just offending anyone who has been hurt by these acts, but you are displaying the biggest level of ignorance I can comprehend.
This is where I draw the line. Anyone who thinks it’s ok to say things like this to people really is going too far. We all have that point where things have to stop and this is mine. Trivializing something like hair length with references to rape is the worst thing you can ever do.
This is Dimmu Wulfenhume saying: think before you speak.