Tag Archives: masculinity

Lessons and Failures from a Haircut

Below is a post from guest blogger Robson Govine about his experience getting a haircut and having to find a new hairdresser after moving away from his hometown.

“So what are we doing today?  The usual?”   I sat down in the chair and looked at Kristen, my hairdresser, through the mirror.

Who didn't think about getting "The Shane" at one point?

“Actually, no, I thought we’d try something different,” I said, somewhat fearful, as I handed her a picture of the new haircut I had been inching towards for years.  It was stereotypical – beyond that even – the epitome of gay.  Shane, from the L Word, Season Two (I know, I’m judging me too).  “I was thinking this only less strung-out-coke-head-chopped-my-hair-with-a-weed-whacker look.”

“This is different, I think I can manage.” Kristen went to work on chopping off about six inches of hair.  She tweaked the cut, of course, making it my own, and every visit it seemed to get shorter and shorter till we had it down to an unspoken science for the next four years.

One of the first "let's go shorter" cuts.

Kristen had made the task of getting a hair cut easy.  I didn’t have to worry about walking into a barber shop surrounded by men, or going to a random shop with a different person each time trying to explain how to cut my hair. I never thought that getting my haircut would be difficult – until three weeks ago when I moved away from my hometown and relocated to Boston.

My hair was shaggy and I was dying for a clean, fresh, cut – but where to go? I had already clogged the sink of my friend’s bathroom when I stubbornly decided I was just going to trim it myself.  “You’re screwing it up!  Don’t cut your hair in my bathroom, Robbie!  Just wait and go to my friend!  The back isn’t even!”

She wasn’t wrong.  I snipped more generously in some areas as opposed to others and for the next week sported a spotty trim. My roommate had suggested Supercuts because it was cheap. I was tight on cash, I figured it would be fine, it’s just hair right?

After walking in the wrong direction down Mass Ave. for five minutes, I walked into Supercuts, somewhat sweaty, in a pair of baggy shorts and a t-shirt, looking like a twelve year-old boy who had just tried chasing down an ice cream truck and miserably failed.

I checked in, having to use my first name (which sounds like I should have my own line of Southern bake goods) because I had to use a card to pay.  Evaluating my surroundings, I pinpointed the hairdresser with purple hair and decided she should be the one to cut my hair.  Unfortunately, right as I decided this, another woman walked up to the counter and called my name.

She introduced herself as I sat down in the chair.  “So how would you like it cut?”

“So, usually, I have the back taken in, along with the sides, but leave the top a little long.  No layering.  And the bangs just trimmed up, not too short, and chipped into so they’re shaggy and not straight across.”

She seemed confused.  I didn’t blame her.  I just gave her instructions that were as simple as a Rubik’s Cube with some of the colors missing.  “So do you use clippers for the back and sides?”

“Just on the back.”  Kristen had always used scissors for the sides.

“Do you know what number on the clippers?”

“Um…” crap, “no, sorry.”

Lesson number one: clippers have numbers.
Fail number one: I didn’t know clippers had numbers.

Not-Kristen took the clippers and started at a modest number saying we could go shorter if needed.  She began to clip the back, clearly the easy part, since it took her no longer than a minute.   Next she took a spray bottle, wetted down the rest of my hair and began to comb it.  And comb it.  And comb it.  I realized she had no idea what to do.  Any other person would have offered some direction, but I had no direction to give her.  I tried to think about possible terms someone like me could use that she, too, would understand.  Think Ellen meets Justin Beiber?  No, that would confuse her; I don’t think she would have understood what a forty old lesbian would have in common with a fifteen year-old pop singer.  Dani Cambell?  Who?  Gender-queer without the hipster?  Gender-what?   I realized there were no terms that could easily overlap.

Lesson number two: Language and communication is important.
Fail number two: I’m an English major. (I should be good at this, right?)

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The Value of Bodies

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: the value assigned to us, especially to us as queer people. As queer people, we are instantly considered less valuable – since we don’t fit the ideal of heterosexuality. A few things in the interwebs recently backed this up in an interesting way.

First, did you see Rachel Maddow‘s high school year book picture that’s been circulating?

I saw it about a week ago, had the reaction of, “Oh wow! That’s weird, she looked totally different,” and moved on. Apparently, the rest of the world has had a different reaction, with people saying they’d “tap that” and how “hot and sexy” she was while openly wondering why she would “give all that up”. Autostraddle had a really great analysis of mainstream media’s reaction and how Maddow’s gender presentation bothers some people, and how she is called a “man” or “manly”. I would really, really recommend reading it. It’s really well done.

I don’t know about you, but I think Maddow is incredibly attractive, both for her appearance and her amazing brain. She can analyze politics like no other.

The next thing pop culture threw my way that got me thinking about value is RuPaul’s Drag U.

I was a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1 & 2, especially since a friend of a friend’s was on Season 2 and is now on Drag U. However, I was a little disappointed with the underlying message of this series. The premise of the show is that drag queens from seasons 1 and 2 make over more masculine looking women into drag queens to get them in touch with their “feminine” and “fierce” side. Fierceness, fine, but the show often calls the women “boys” and puts down their style. It really sends the message that women are not allowed to be anything but girly, and if they’re not, there is something very wrong with them.

Only one episode has aired so far (which you can watch at logo.com) so I hope it improves, but it really looks like this is what the show will be – constantly telling women that they need to change.

The last thing I came across recently was this amazing, wonderfully done commentary by Ivan Coyote. It’s kind of long, but it’s worth sticking out to the end. Ivan discusses his love of full bodied femmes and his own experiences of feeling valued.

I, too, am sick of people saying that I’m not valuable or that the people I’m attracted to are not valuable and that I am inherently wrong for finding them attractive. I know there’s a little bit of hippy in me, but there’s beauty in everyone. I see it. Don’t you?

An Untapped Gem

Ever notice something that should really be happening? For years now, I’ve been talking about the crazy amount of money that could be made off of selling men’s clothing made for women’s bodies (talking in the traditional sense of the words, of course). Butch lesbians and genderqueers have long had to shop in the little boys’ sections, search endlessly in thrift stores, or learn how to alter clothes for affordable clothing that fits their style, but its not typically made for their bodies.

Sadly, there’s still not a lot of resources out there, but here are a few I’ve found in my travels to share with you. Feel free to share yours in the comments as well.

PinkBoyBlueGirl

Did you fall in love with Dani Campbell during the ridiculous A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila? The only good thing to come out of that trainwreck was Dani Campbell. She started a clothing line called Futch which became PinkBoyBlueGirl. Sadly, it looks like it hasn’t really become much yet. But we can hope that she’s putting something together with the other folks she’s brought together to this new label. Anyway, I’d keep my eyes peeled on this site. Especially if she plans on selling things like she’s wearing on the left…

DITC, dykesinthecity

I used to see these guys every time I went to a queer festival of some sort. They started off with t-shifts and a-shirts (the nice way of saying a wife-beater) and moved on to ties and such. Looks like they’ve got a nice selection of products. Not necessarily the tailored shirts, pants, or suits that many people are looking for, but they do have some nice designs that make ties and shirts a little more interesting. They also have some things that are for lesbians who are a little more feminine.

DapperQ

This site is the most promising that I’ve seen so far. While they’re not selling any clothes, DapperQ is a great fashion blog for people with bodies that are traditionally considered female who are interested in masculine and queer gender expression or identity. Susan Herr has done a great job so far of talking to everyday and more well known queer people about their fashion and how they get around the issue of wanting to dress more masculine and finding clothes that they feel comfortable in. I would definitely add this site to my RSS feed if I were you. Also… it doesn’t hurt that they put up a super cute picture and post from my girlfriend (pictured left).

So if I were you, and I was wanting to make a fortune, I’d take advantage of the (oy, am I really going to use this horrible business cliché?) low hanging fruit by getting myself a degree in fashion – or at least take some sewing classes – and get to work on creating the clothes that all these super cute butch or genderqueer identifying (or other identifications) queers would like to be wearing. Because wearing clothes that you feel good in makes you feel better about yourself and better about your prospects in the world.

What do you do to find clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident?