Equal Cuts

Some say that a haircut can define a person. I tend to agree, although if you’re anything like me or other women who braid their hair, your haircut’s ability to define you is only temporary, depending on how often you change your style. Either way, your haircut says a lot about you. I think we all know this so I’ll not hammer home the point any further.

Apparently, a haircut also defines your gender. Did you know that? I guess I never really thought about it until something that happened to a friend of mine very recently. My friend is a woman who has a short haircut. Because of this, she chooses to go to a barber rather than a hairdresser, because it’s often cheaper and for a while she had one who knew what looked good on her. Recently, she had to find a new barber that was closer to home, and that’s when the trouble began.

First she visited a seemingly friendly barber who had been established in the area for years. When she requested a “man’s price” (which was cheaper than a woman’s price for the same haircut) he refused, so she tried to leave, and he wouldn’t let her. Instead she was forced into having her hair cut by him once he had agreed to the price, all the while complaining about the fact that she brought the price down, whilst he laughed along to a sexist radio chat show talking about how incapable women are. I’m not sure what I would have done in that situation, as an elderly man holding scissors holds the door to his shop closed thus holding me captive, all because I wanted to exercise my rights as a customer to find a service that suits my needs. I would like to say that I would have kicked him in the balls and then legged it, but it’s not true. I would have been just as trapped as my friend and probably let him hack away at my hair rather than risk my life. Needless to say, I will be leaving a scathing review about the Sweeny Todd impersonator’s barber shop.

My friend was, quite unsurprisingly, shaken, so I went with her to find a new barber who would fix the mess the crazy kidnapper had made. And as it turns out, even if you as a woman have a short haircut not unlike a man’s number two, three or four length, you will be charged double to have your hair cut in a unisex salon or barber shop because you have a vagina. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, your genitalia has very little, if anything to do with the shape of your skull, so why is a woman charged twice as much as a man?

I’ve seen men with some pretty complex haircuts that cost them £10, whilst a woman who had her head shaved probably would have had to pay £20 for the privilege in the same shop. This is ludicrous right? I don’t think I’m being naive here. Perhaps I am particularly bothered because of the way my friend was treated by that first barber, and then had to go from barber to barber, introducing herself as a woman (I told her she didn’t need to actually say it and that it was obvious, but she wasn’t buying it) and asking if based on that fact, they wouldn’t mind cutting her hair for the same price as a man’s, what with it being the same style and length and all. The one she finally went with was actually very friendly and even gave her a cheaper price than expected, so she lucked out.

I guess I just find it bizarre that she even had to ask, and that one barber really did have a sign outside that said:
*Women’s short hair – £18*
*Men’s short hair – £9*

I find it particularly funny that of all the qualities used to price up a service that deals with hair (something we all have in one way or another, that differs in texture and not gender), genitalia is the deciding factor. I mean if you were specialising in cutting hair down there, then that would be a different story.

Another failure for gender equality and men in general, in physical positions of power, thanks to the demon barber.

Image credit: Scissors by priyanka from the Noun Project

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Maame Blue

Writer| Poet| Blogger| Ghanaian by heart, Londoner by nature

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