I recently read an article called 15 Things All Women With Short Hair Are Sick of Hearing and being “against the social norm” myself, you know being a long haired man and all, I quickly wrote on the Facebook page that shared this story…
“I could easily write the “10 Things Guys With Long Hair Hate Hearing.”
And then I rattled off ten things that are asked of me when I have long hair. Since the age of 13 I have grown my hair long and then have cut it (not always because I’ve wanted to, but because I have been asked to, but that’s another story for another day). So here’s my list of questions that, as a man with long hair, I hate getting asked…
1. How long are you going to grow it?
It’s funny. Earlier this year at my son’s school sports carnival, I was able to drop by for 30 minutes in my lunch break to cheer the kids on. While walking from the car park of our local sports centre I was greeted by a mother of a boy from my son’s class. And she asked me this. I wondered how many of the mothers she would ask this question to. I bet none. I bet this question never gets asked of women, well, unless their hair is down beyond their bum while standing up because, well, hair that long IS a talking point, right?
But I haven’t decided this time how long I am going to grow it. It’s currently down below my shoulders but not quite down as far as my nipples yet. That might be the limit for me this time. I might get it trimmed when it gets down that far.
2. How long are you going to keep it long?
As I mentioned, I started growing it when I was 13. That was in 1987. That was the year that I went from just listening to music, to making music part of my identity. That was the year that my older brother bought me Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet for my birthday and it stayed on my record player every single day, unless of course I was listening to either of their first two albums. Or that first Guns n’ Roses album, or their EP. Or Poison. Or Motley Crue. Or any of the other hard rock, cock rock, or glam metal bands that whet my appetite for the heavier music. And seeing that all the men in these bands had long hair, I had to start growing mine because I wanted to be part of that.
At first, I admit, I started off with the mullet (you know, short on top and long at the back), as was the style for guys back then. Remember Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce on Neighbours circa 1987? That look was copied by many a young man at my high school. But soon I was growing out my “bangs” and having a more of a decent long hair style. My mother was always a fan of me growing my hair even though my dad wasn’t so much a fan.
I left school halfway through the first year of senior high school because I wasn’t happy with my electives and I took on a part time job while waiting to repeat year eleven, which was self-imposed. While I was doing that part time job, the manager asked me if I was interested in doing a management traineeship instead of returning to school, and while I had dreams of being a lawyer back then, my dreams of being a rock star was also taken into consideration, and leaving school and getting a full time job that could facilitate the funds for my growing guitar collection won over. The only catch was; I had to cut my hair. Men couldn’t have long hair in the role I took on.
I know I said that’s for another time, but I’ll address this now; I faced that type of sexism and prejudice throughout most of my working life. If I was interested in getting a new job, or a promotion in the current place I was, with long hair, that was never going to happen. When I was offered a position as a sales manager at my last place of employment, the promotion came with the clause that I couldn’t grow my hair long and I had to cut my hair to take on that role to start off with.
So to answer THAT question, if it’s being asked; I’m going to keep it long until someone tells me it’s my hair or my job. After all, I have a young family to consider now…
3. Are you a girl?
I have to admit that this question generally gets asked by young children most of the time. At the open day at my son’s school, his fellow kindergarten classmates were running around playing chasing while the parents sat eating the picnic lunches we were advised to bring. Then a small group of his classmates came over and started talking to me. One of them piped up;
“Are you a girl?”
Hmmmm. I could see where this was heading, but, I took the bait…
“No. Why do you ask that?”
In 3, 2, 1…
“Because you have long hair and only girls have long hair…”
Who is teaching kids this? Like, really?
I know these kids are only five and six years old, but have they never heard of John Lennon, the rock and metal bands I mentioned from the 1980s or any other band with long haired men? Have they not seen Jared Leto rock out in 30 Seconds to Mars? Have they not seen Chris Hemsworth in Thor? How about the array of WWE wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Undertaker, and the list goes on?
Oh, and I’m pretty sure that full faced beard I was sporting might have also given it away that I’m not “a girl”. And I’ll forgive them for being confused when my son pointed and said “there’s my dad…” Actually, not forgiven…
4. Are you trapped in the 1980s or something?
Not trapped. One can not ever be trapped in the 1980s. You see, there’s this whole “time continuum” thing…
Look, I’d give you this one if I stayed with my 1987/1988 mullet, but once I moved on to whatever the trend in hair was for the time, be it the way the early grunge period meant that men could have shorter long hair, ala Kurt Cobain’s style, or before that, Jason Newstead’s long haired under-cut, it pretty much meant that long hair on men wasn’t a throw back from the mid-to-late-Eighties; it was something that could evolve and be a current style throughout the years.
Even now, the latest craze in men’s styling is the man-bun. And all the cool guys are doing it, right? (Please tell me joining in this sub-culture makes me somewhat cool even though I’m a dad who is now forty).
5. How come you don’t let/make your boys have long hair?
Both of my sons have short hair. Recently I took my six-year-old to the hairdressers and he wanted to get the same style as the two boys before him. It was really short on the sides and long(ish) and spiky on the top. My wife was looking around the shops with our three-year-old when our eldest took to the chair, and she came back two thirds of the way through his haircut and freaked out at how short it was. But that’s the style he wanted, and by the end of the haircut, she was loving it. I might be a little bias, but that boy of ours has the sort of face that can rock any haircut he’ll ever want, and he makes the style look good, not the other way around…
Having long hair is my choice. There is some element of me being rebellious by growing it, knowing that men having long hair is still, for the most part, not acceptable in society. It’s freedom. It’s the freedom to be able to grow it, or cut it at any time. It’s the freedom to be different in many ways. But when I CAN grow it, when the job that I’m in allows for me to be able to do it, I do it, because I can.
I see lots of dads with long hair and their sons also have long hair. I wonder whether it’s the boy’s choice to grow it, or whether there’s an expectation for the boy to have long hair to “be like his father”. It’s sort of like that tired excuse for circumcising your sons to be like Daddy.
Of course, when the time comes, when either of our sons want to express themselves by growing their hair long, they of course have my blessing. It would be hypocritical of me not to offer that. But you know what? Screw me and what I think. They don’t need my blessing to grow their hair long, just as I never needed my own father’s blessing to do so. My hairstyle is my choice. Their hairstyles will be their choice. End of story.
6. You must play in a band, or, what instrument do you play?
Admittedly, as I mentioned earlier, my influence to be a long haired man came from my love of hard rock and heavy metal where all of the men in those bands had long hair. When I started playing guitar and joining bands, having long hair meant that I “looked the part”. This might sound funny, but I was pissed off when the bass player in Bon Jovi showed up with short hair in a promotional shoot, and when I discovered that Extreme’s drummer didn’t have long hair, I thought it was sacrilegious. Yeah, I’ll admit to that stupidity in my youth.
Having long hair band members didn’t make these bands rock any harder. It didn’t make them sound any cooler. It didn’t allow them to be better musicians. But damn, it did make them look cooler, and that was good enough for me.
But just recently in a Facebook group, a stranger asked me what instrument I played. It was out of the blue. It was off topic. It was, well, weird. So I quizzed them about it. I asked them why they assumed that I played and instrument (knowing all too well what the response might be). And I got the reply I was expecting;
“You don’t see a lot of men with long hair who aren’t in a band.”
Yep, the assumption was based on the way I looked. And to be honest, that’s possibly right. Many men with long hair more than likely DO play an instrument or are involve in the creative and performing arts somehow. But maybe if it became the social norm for men to grow their hair without judgement, then men from all walks of life, not just those in the performing arts will take it on.
7. Are you just trying to hold onto your youth?
At my age, many of my friends, former school mates, colleagues and associates are either thinning or bald. I’m pretty lucky that at forty I still have my hair. Not only that, I’m lucky that at this age there is not a single strand of grey hair that I have had to pluck from my scalp. When I started to grow my hair long in my mid-thirties I had a friend from high school suggest to me that I was trying to capture my youth. I laughed it off.
The same way I’m not trying to live in the Eighties, I am not trying to make time go backwards and pretend that I’m that 15-year-old young man sitting in his parents’ backyard rocking out to some hair band from my youth. The truth of the matter is, at any time, my hair COULD start falling out more than it does when I brush it. My hair COULD turn grey over night. My body doesn’t look or feel like it did when I was in high school, and my face doesn’t look like I’m a teenager or young man any more.
I’m not hoping for this to be my fountain of youth, but I am grateful that I have the ability to grow long healthy hair at my age.
8. Are you gay or something?
Yes. I’m gay. You know, ALL those long hair dudes in those bands I mentioned are gay. All of them. That’s why they had scantly clad women in their film clips, and on the cover of some of their albums.
Whenever I hear that I’m reminded of the Joe Jackson song from 1982, Real Men;
See the nice boys, dancing in pairs
Golden earring golden tan
Blow-wave in the hair
Sure they’re all straight, straight as a line
All the gays are macho
Can’t you see their leather shine
When you consider that the stereotypical gay man actually has quite short hair, that comment is so far from making sense, it’s not funny.
But when you look at the “or something” in that question, it really beggars the thought that this “something” that’s being eluded to is “are you effeminate?” Yes, having long hair makes me an effeminate man. Much the same way that having short hair makes a woman butch.
Which it doesn’t…
9. What does your work say?
I’ve been asked this more times than I would have like to have been asked over the years. This question is really a reflection on society’s inability to accept men with long hair. As I mentioned, when I want to look for a new job, or get a promotion in an existing place of work, while I have long hair I pretty much rule myself out of that.
But once I get that new job, or get that promotion, if I feel like it, I grow my hair again. Once I have proved myself, once I have shown my worth to the company, I feel like I can be the real me again. And really, it’s none of their business. I do my job. I bring in the money. Short hair wouldn’t make be a better employee. Having long hair does not make me a bad employee.
Whether I am face-to-face with a customer at their premises, or if I’m on our stand at an exhibition or conference people will come up to me and ask questions about the company or our product or services and, seeing I know my stuff, they leave knowledgeable about what we do and what we sell, and that’s all that matters. I dress in the company uniform (which I introduced and maintain for the company so we are up-to-date on the latest look in corporate attire), and I always look presentable with my hair tied back or up in my man-bun.
And the real sad part about people asking the question is that it comes from men who have either been prejudiced against when having long hair in the past (possibly attending a school that forbids boys to grow their hair longer than their collar), or from men or women who hold the idea that men in the workforce shouldn’t have long hair, and therefore they would not employ or put forward a male candidate that was a long haired man.
10. Does your wife like you having long hair?
That old sexist chestnut. Well, it really ain’t a “chestnut” in the true sense of the idiom, but, like all forms of sexism, switch the gender and see how that question sits. Of course, in this example, you also need to change the variable that’s the focal point of the question.
Does your husband like you having short hair?
Imagine asking that question to a woman. Imagine asking her if her husband approved her short hair style. The feminists would be all over you like a rash. And fair enough too.
I will admit to having a penchant for women with long hair, and it being more of a preference that the woman that I’m with “should” have long hair, but that would be hypocritical of me if I was to suggest that my wife couldn’t have short hair, or shorter hair than I. One of my favourite photos of my wife is one where she had reasonably short hair. It was styled very nicely. This was after she took to her own hair one night after our first born son pulled at it once too many times during a breastfeeding session. With the sleep deprivation and the stress of having a young child who changed the dynamics of our relationship, the dynamics of our household, and the dynamics of our individual lives, although I thought she was crazy to do so, she decided in the middle of the night to take the scissors and hack it off.
Not long after, after she calmed down and had caught up on a little sleep, she took herself off to a hairdresser who not only rescued her hair, but created a short hairstyle that made me look at my wife and think “there truly is a gorgeous woman who can carry off that style.”
But as I said, I prefer her to have long hair, and have always preferred to “ogle” the long haired celebrities rather than the short haired ones. But in truth, if I was a single man, I would not be knocking back the likes of P!nk, Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence, Ginnifer Goodwin, or any other woman who had shorter hair than I, but who I was mentally or physically attracted to.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the size of this problem. Often times I bring up the issue of the prejudice against men who have long hair when discussing the feminist debate. And while this rather small issue is no match for the oppression that woman have faced and many still face, I am totally on board with women getting everything that they want, everything they need, and everything they deserve in their fight for equality.
I’m not asking for this to be one of those amendments that the US politicians tack onto a Bill to get it through the congress, you know, you support MY proposal, and I’ll vote in favour of yours. I’m not saying you have to jump on your soapbox and be the champion for my cause, but if we’re going to accept (at least one) dictionary’s definition of feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”, then all I’m asking is, we don’t make a big deal about men who want to have long hair, and we don’t prevent them from being a part of society.
We don’t stop them from joining the armed forces. We don’t stop them from joining the police, fire brigade or rescue departments. And we don’t suspend boys from school just because their hair is longer than their collar. Would we suspend a girl for cutting her hair short?
SO, you know, equality for the sexes.