short hair

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.39.39 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.39.59 PM

Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Photo: Getty
Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Photo: Getty

The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.

He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

The essential argument is: men like long hair, and what sane woman would ever want to do anything that decreases her capacity to please men?

The advantage of articles like this, pantomimic though they be, is that they make misogyny legible. There was a time when feminists had to do that all by ourselves, but now we don’t have to point out the underlying assumptions of a lot of the bullshit we deal with every day, because there are people on the internet doing it for us.

So I’m almost grateful to Tuthmosis for writing this particular piece of recreational sexist linkbait. I thought I’d never have an even passably good reason to write about how little things like short hair change the way patriarchy responds to you.

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  1. Jessica

    Hilarious, in a horrifying kind of way. (Like much of the internet.) I cut my hair off when I was a wee young lass of 21. I had huge, thick, unruly hair and no natural inclinations to deal with it. I *did* stop getting those drive-by-horn-blows from truckers, and maybe slightly less random ogling. Neither of those struck me as bad things, then or now. My then boyfriend, now husband, was actually relieved to see it go, because the VAST quantities of hair I shed on a daily basis got everywhere. Women compliment me on it all the time, even with it down to about an inch long. The downside is that it requires frequent, fairly pricey haircuts, and that money could be better spent on things other than vanity.

    Speaking of which, I’d love to see you, as one of the most ethically/charitably minded people I “know,” talk more at length about the pragmatics of charitable giving for beginners. Our end-of-year numbers horrified me at how far my money had drifted from my actual values. Mainly how do you decide between fewer/larger donations and smaller/more diversified ones? And how do you keep down the flood of consequent money-wasting paper-wasting mail?

    • gingerama

      Hi Jessica!

      Sorry for delay, rescued your comment from spam …

      I’m with you on the hair. Mine is currently shorter at the back (nape of neck), chin-length at the front, mainly as I like to cover my ears in cold weather. I’m considering going properly shorter in the spring. Having thick wavy hair is definitely a good reason for going shorter: my hair is dense and when longer takes a good 3 hours to dry on its own; I dislike using hair dryers and suchlike, partly because of energy consumption, partly because I’m a klutz and the end result is either the same as or worse than natural air-drying. Hair currently takes under an hour to dry on its own.

      Because of its colour, I get people pawing at my hair when it’s longer. That happens a lot less when it’s shorter, though still a bit. Men vary in comments: red hair is a big divider, you get fetishists of various sorts; I’ve been “collected” in my youth (in every case a pleasant experience involving much feeding of chocolate, no complains, but I was lucky) but also had to evade creeps and weirdos. In some parts of the world, mainly the UK and Ireland, you also get ginger abuse. Whtv…

      Positive on the short hair: I feel like I have more of a face, and feel physically lighter and taller. Which is all nice.

      Charity stuff: I kind of balance things pretty randomly, but reckon on regular monthly donations (direct deposit from checking account or via PayPal) being at least 10% of my income. Like many (or at least, the good ones) Christians and Muslims do, for example, with the tithe system. I’m an atheist, so this part of my attempt to be a good atheist, and also a good religiously-tolerant person: some religions offer good examples to us all, and should be valued and praised for what they do that is right and good.

      Some of the charities I support I have done for a very long time: Amnesty International, for example, my family have supported since it started, when I was a small child (some of my earliest memories are from marches in 1977); Oxfam for longer, one of my grandmothers was a member from its foundation.

      I’ll also support some locally, depending on where I am and local issues: here in Vancouver, charities and legal aid funds for East Vancouver residents, especially abused and at-risk women. When I lived in the USA, I suffered taxation without representation and some of my income went to things I would never have supported had I had any say in the matter: so I donated more money to left-wing civil-rights hippie peacenik organizations.

      I still do the thing of having an upper level on “me” spending and donating an equal amount to charity if I overspend on myself. The fact is, I hate shopping, so it’s not that hard.

      Deciding on bigger/smaller and suchlike: individual judgement call, that’s all, in my case. You can sit down with an ethical financial adviser in some banks (not many, mostly co-ops) and financial consultancies and talk through your charity donations like you would talk through your investment portfolio. I’ve never done that, but I know people who have, with independent financial advisers or private banking. Makes a lot of sense: charitable donations are tax-free so they give you tax credit; and I think of them as investment, in a global future. That’s financial investment and planning that’s surely at least as important as your own retirement, your estate, and trust funds for your offspring…

      Paper-wasting mail: alas, often no way round that. I try, I ask people not to send me junk, just to email. But I’m not going to nix good useful people like the Red Cross and MSF just because they still do paper.

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