Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Male Enclave

I took my son to the barber shop the other day. It's a little old-fashioned place just down the road from my house, a little shabby, a little quirky and very traditional. It has the blue, red and white barber pole and they don't take appointments. You just rock up and sit on a hard wooden bench while you wait for one of the two chairs to be free.

The day we went, only one barber, Mark, was working so there were a lot of people waiting on the bench. They were all men. In fact, one old guy got up and left when he saw me come in with O. Clearly barber shops are not meant for women...

Sitting there was fascinating. The magazines were all about sports or cars or male sexuality. The posters on the wall were for rugby games and soccer matches. The conversations going on around me were all about home renovations and women. Elderly men stepped up to the chair for their weekly trip, getting un-needed haircuts I think, so they had someone to chat to for a few minutes.

One man let two people, including my son, go ahead of him, perhaps because he wanted to get rid of us - especially my unwanted feminine presence - but I think it was more because he enjoys the companionship of being there. Women have many gathering places where they can chat about anything and everything under the sun. The gym is one that comes to mind, the salon, the playground where we take our kids. There aren't so many places where men gather to talk, other than bars, and when you add alcohol, it changes things.

While I don't believe women should be excluded from going anywhere they want to go, maybe we should leave the barber shop to men...


  1. Interesting experience, and I think you've touched on something in human nature that so many people don't want to recognize these days. Men do need places to be men. Women do need place to be women. Homoginization of genders may not be healthy.

    But I will not preach or ponder further in your blog ^_^ I'll just say that must have been fascinating to watch, especially as a writer who loves getting into character's heads (like you).

  2. I love things like that. An insight into a corner of the world you didn't realize existed. I imagine I'll discover more of these little man worlds given I have 2 sons...

  3. Hey, Kate,

    I used to go to barbershop just like that when I was a little boy. My dad used to drag me in there kicking and screaming. I hated having my hair cut because Dad made sure the barber buzzed it off. Dad being a ex army sergeant... need I say more.

    I can understand how uncomfortable they made you feel. Women don't belong in an old-time barber shop with men.

    Try sticking a guy into a local beauty shop with all the blue-haried ladies. Same thing.

    At least you got to experience something from a day gone by. Those are hard to find in this day and age.