I’ve had a beard non-stop for the last year and a half. Occasional visits to my barber, a brush and a supply of beard oil is all I need for keeping a nice full beard, brown with a hint of red and blond. It keeps me warm in winter, it protects me from the sun in summer, and it is just plain awesome. Before that, I toyed with different facial hair ideas and experiments: during my last Secondary School year, I showed off my precocious development with a sparse beard (the equivalent of female cleavage); I went clean shaven (God, I hate that expression) during my first two years of college, but then I grew it again and kept it short and trimmed; it even appears in my graduation picture. Then, I spent some years abroad, and that was the perfect time to let the facial hair go wild without getting weird looks, questions or subtle or open discouragement. I’ll admit that I looked like a bum for some time, and then I had the good sense of getting “professional help” in the form of a barber (awesome fellow), who gave me some invaluable advice and, more importantly, a selection of beard-related products available. Now my beard is accepted by my family and friends, and I’m no longer tempted to shave it before a job interview. I have accepted it and people notice that.
Now, what on Earth does this hirsute story have to do with men’s rights? More than you may think, at least for me, and definitely much more than the “neckbeard” accusation we routinely get from detractors. I’ll structure this around three main points that I find the most obvious:
FIRST: The beard is a clear symbol of masculinity. Leaving aside the biological function and the historical implications and meaning of beards, they are something that women just cannot do, no matter how many affirmative action policies are implemented. That is why the catchphrase “There are two kinds of people without beards: women and children” is so popular: it speaks directly to men’s hearts. As Karen Straughan has accurately explained in Men not marrying, men need ways of expressing themselves that are UNIQUELY male; something their male identity can be rooted around. In an increasingly androgynous and ambiguous world, a beard is a safe way of proudly expressing your maleness, something that is frowned upon nowadays.
SECOND: The bearded community is also one that necessarily revolves around men, around what THEY want and how THEY can look good (although there are many women that are involved in the bearded community, as female barbers or as fans). These male spaces easily and naturally expand and turn into discussions about much more than beards: Beardbrand’s Eric Bandholz, for example, regularly talks about fatherhood, entrepreneurship, mourning, scheduling and becoming a better man in his secondary channel, Urban Beardsman. Barbershops are making a comeback as places where men can get together, talk about their stuff and let their defenses down. I refuse to see this as an entirely hipster fashion; I’m convinced that once the oomph has faded, the essence will remain, because men yearn for these kinds of experiences that are more and more difficult to get nowadays. So the bearded community is actually helping building those necessary male spaces “with the excuse” of beards.
THIRD: The beard has also become a symbol that YOU and what YOU like are more important than what other people may think of you; more important than getting laid (in a culture where the standard and acceptable style for men is, or was, always clean shaven, and therefore a beard would reduce your possibilities with women). Thus, among other things, it can be considered a symbol against gynocentrism. The Australian comedy folk rock band The Beards are an extreme but great example of this. They have recorded five albums between 2007 and 2015, and each and every song is dedicated to one aspect of the “bearded life”, with glorious titles like “Beards are Back”, “This Beard Stays”, “Touch Me in the Beard”, “Why Having a Beard is Better than Having a Woman”, “I Have a Beard and It Looks Really Good”, “Still Got My Beard” and “Got Me a Beard”. Despite the obvious comical obsession with beards, they really are advocating for the importance of loving yourself before anyone else. Check out the “Got Me a Beard” videoclip and the story of a man who dumps his girlfriend when she demands that he cut his beard; he fells overwhelmed by omnipresent beard-cutting messages, but then he finds salvation in a rather peculiar way. I think it works beautifully as a metaphor for a red pill moment. Even their more female-centered songs (like the hilarious “You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man”) actually play with the idea that women are irresistibly attracted to the beard, and the man sporting it just doesn’t give much of a damn.
So, that is more or less my take on beards in regard to men’s rights. This post was partially inspired by a short online exchange with Mike Buchanan, who has recently started walking the bearded path, and partially by a messaage left by a Honey Badger Brigade follower regarding beards and trucks. I’ll leave you with the inspiring and cheerful lyrics of “Damn That’s a Nice Beard”, inviting you to post your thoughts in the comment section:
He walks into town
With his head held high
And people gaze in awe as he walks by
He doesn’t have much money
Doesn’t need any friends
‘Cause what he has on his face
Makes him a king among men
And wherever he goes
Everyone knows he’s the man, the man, the man
And wherever he is
Everyone says damn, damn, damn
That’s a nice beard
He looks at the world
And smiles to himself
His beard has brought him more joy than love or success or wealth
He’s not worried about dying
‘Cause he knows this for sure
That the legend of his beard will live forevermore.
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