why can’t a man be more like a woman?

I recently was alerted to an online rant by a young lady. She stridently expressed her absolute and utter loathing of beards and body hair. According to her preferences, all traces of them should be removed from men. Interestingly, facial hair and body hair are two of the main male secondary sex characteristics, which are physical features that distinguish men from women. In essence, she was screaming for men to be more similar to women. What good is that? The physical differences between men and women should be celebrated rather than obliterated. Grow your beard!

45 thoughts on “why can’t a man be more like a woman?”

  1. I’ve often wondered about women who are so violently opposed to beards, body hair, or just plain masculine men.

    Could it be they they actually prefer women?
    (What Would Freud Say)

  2. Justin,

    I wouldn’t go so far as to make that suggestion. Rather, I think it does point out that the mindless opposition to beards logically leads one unknowingly down the path to such a conclusion — when taken to an extreme. There’s so much cultural conditioning against beards, that far too many people reject them without stopping to ever analyze why. Much of the bias simply springs from the conditioning that we all have experienced just because beards are still relatively uncommon and unfamiliar. People are often uncomfortable with things that are unfamiliar to them.

  3. Our politically correct culture and especially academia increasingly see the males as nothing more than a defective female. Male characteristics are frowned upon everywhere from school, the workplace, to even homelife. The male stereotypical traits of competition, aggression, and even emotional control are frowned upon. The ideal man would be calm and in touch with his emotions. Likewise the ideal visual image of a man is feminized. It’s called the “metrosexual” – a man with female characteristics – and it’s increasingly being presented as the ideal visual image of a man.

    Nothing screams that a human has both an X and Y chromosome more than body and facial hair. Remember; since males are seen as nothing more than defective females, body hair comes across as a male characteristic that can be “fixed” with shaving.

    I know this doesn’t apply to all females that dislike facial hair, but someone would have a hard time proving to me that this isn’t one of the main reasons women dislike it.

  4. Also we are geared the think of facial hair as a sign of personal neglect, meaning the stereotype of a very well groomed man is one of a cleanshaven and shorthaired man, the inverse being a hippie, Redneck, or Hillbillie. We are educated to believe that only the uneducated allow the hair on thier face to go unchecked.

    Look at the Brawny commercials and the packaging of the towels themselves, the “Brawny” man, even though, he is always depicted as a mountain outdoorsy type, is always cleanshaven now. The latest Ad shows him touting a “Brawny Academy” where supposedly men will learn (there is that Education line again) to be more sensitive, and more toward the effeminate, it even touts, and exalts shaving with a knife while delivering the line “Learn good hygene.”

    Also we have to look at the way razors are marketed, there is ALWAYS a great looking girl at the end of the ad, it is as if the community of advertisers is indicating the message “Manly=BAD Female=good” and the public has largely bought into it.

    I, for one, am proud to say that I observe, but dont buy into this mess. As I believe was said earlier in the blog, We should celebrate our differences.

  5. Actually, my wife is the one who wants me to keep my beard! The few times I’ve shaved it in our 18 years together, she starts working on me to grow it right back. I do enjoy having a beard, but occasionally want to see a change. I’ll always have a beard as long as she’s around, though.

  6. Hi, Bob,

    That’s great! Sounds like she knows what she likes and doesn’t fall for all that cultural brainwashing!

  7. women who have a phobia of beards are suffering from excessive penis envy.

  8. It’s just another example of the forced feminization of males today. We’ve been pulled from our age-old roles as masses of masculinity and cast into increasingly “pussified” archetypes. The same thing is happening on the female side with the whole feminist revolution where the women take more independent, masculine roles and become noticably less feminine.

    This is exactly why I’ll always have a beard, I’ll always own a gun to defend my family, and I’ll never marry a feminist. The male should never be forced to abandon his traditional roles.

  9. Aside from the gender stereotyping/bashing point of view, don’t forget that body hair for both men and women is currently unfashionable and taboo in popular culture representations. This isn’t about feminization, its about making a fetish of pre-pubescence. The only other time of life when a person has no facial/body/pubic hair is when they are under 12 years old (or younger for girls). Hairlessness is currently considered sexually attractive and this strikes me as having odd undertones of pedophilia.

  10. As a bearded man. I have experienced womens reactions to beards in a diffrent way. I’m a Blacksmith. My wife has made a point of bringing her friends around the forge. While me and my mates are working. Out of the five of us there is not a single man without a full beard. And the general concensus of the women is its sexy as hell. The fire ,smoke, us sweating at the anvil swinging hammers. It conjures up pictures of the way men should look. Before the blowdried times. Before When the term metrosexual ment you were a gay man from town. Its a truly sad time when its expected of a man to behave like a woman. To seek your very nature and be shuned by society. We will be attending the latest marriage of one of my mates who meet his wife at the forge( four down, one to go.) Gentlemen, Its time we claimed what is ours. Grow your beard, have honour, be merciful and embrace what our fathers called being a MAN!!!

  11. All of these comments are very interesting and insightful. I am happy to be the first female to post a response to this column.
    My boyfriend has been growing a beard for 2 months now, and I’m very excited about the whole event. Each day I watch as his beard grows thicker and longer. He looks extravagently handsome–beard or no beard. I think he should continue to showcase his beard with honor.
    Others, however, disagree….but they don’t seem to know why, or even care. “We have reached a consensus,” one retorted in regard to the newly grown beard: “get rid of it.” Of course my bearded bear did not allow the impulsive criticisms get him down, but I could tell he was aggrivated….kind of in the same way a vegetarian or a hairy-legged woman becomes when she must constantly make a case for herself when those who question her intentions can’t seem to come up with a compelling case of their own. The “food-chain” argument–or the “it just ain’t natural” copout is exhausted and naive, albeit just as valid or true as a case reached through exhaustive analysis.) It takes too much for granted.
    Beards have become quite a conversation piece, a controversial one at that. Looking over some of these posts, however, I cannot help but notice the dangerously dychotomous trap that some have illuminated: male versus female, beard versus clean-shaven, strength versus passivity. I think sometimes it’s too easy (rightfully so) to see these things in terms of black or white. Just as men have been encouraged to frost their tips, shave their chests, and don those horrid shell necklaces, they do not stop being men. But they can be identified more so as women somehow, which does not make women any less feminine–or men any less, well, manly. I think we need to look at how we conceive or male and female. Difference disappears. Lines overlap. I’m interested in what people consider feminine and masculine, and why I’m so bothered when I hear a woman talk about how a man is too feminine–a woman too manly. What is at stake here? Why so much drama in the lbc?
    Of course, all of this talk about the social construction of gender and gender myopia is complex, and I can’t say I have much new to offer here. I would like to say to the human who posted that he would never marry a feminist: why not? This is interesting to me–just as interesting as all of this beard talk….all of this talk about social/cultural brainwashing and whatnot. Such claims also take too much for granted. What does it mean NOT to be brainwashed? Do all people behave merely like some aggregate of zombified drones who are not critically conscious? That people hate beards and loath body hair points to who we are….at least in the United States, in particular. If we are unhappy with beard-fearing females and males, what can we do about this?
    -grow a phat beard
    -make a t-shirt: it’s cheap and effective
    -support beards and body hair…..
    -write a song
    And as for never wanting to marry a feminist, no problem. Cool. But we should make sure to do some research about feminism, first–to see that it works to further gender equality–not gender superiority. Plus, what about the language that we use to talk about this stuff, these contraditions, these dychotomies?

  12. Ellla,

    Welcome! Thanks for your intriguing remarks. I’m glad to hear that you support your boyfriend’s beard-growing endeavors. I can’t speak for the other commentors, but my original point was to raise an objection to the seemingly mindless condemnation of beards that is sadly too frequent. Your boyfriend apparently experienced it when the group announced their consensus that the beard must go — even if they did not know why they reached that conclusion nor did they care. I like to challenge people on that, to stop them cold and make them take a look at their automatic assumptions that beards must go. If they do not know why they are against beards, make them examine that. It is a first step towards getting them to rethink their anti-beard biases.

  13. I married a feminist, and it was the best decision I ever made. A powerful woman is more likely to be able to deal with a man’s honest choices, in my experience. The second best decision I ever made was growing a beard. It is about being relaxed to me, not paying so much attention to scraping my face every day so people around me can be more comfortable. It’s more who I am.

    As for masculinity, however, mine is strong enough that I’m not worried about it dissapearing if I shave. It is bigger than a few hairs.

    I think you guys are on the wrong track with this whole ‘people want you to be women’ thing. I agree with the poster who said that people want people want us to look like boys. We live in a youth fixated culture, all images of ‘normal-ness’ are pictures of kids. Old men and women are not treated with respect. Signs of aging are seen as signs of defeat, failure.

    Women know this most of all, through all of the crap they get put through for not hiding wrinkles, or gray hairs. Men also know this through the general dislike of beards, which is a very clear sign of adulthood, of not worshipping the image of a pre-pubescent teen. What blasphemy! that we should want to mature.

    anyway, that is my 10 cents. Thanks for the forum, guys.


  15. The modern “feminist” movement seeks to make women equal to men by becoming men and by feminizing men.

    Not all women are down on beards for that reason. My grandmother hated beards when she was young “because she had to kiss her bearded family.” And, “didn’t like getting a mouthfull of wiskers.”

    A woman friend tried to get me to cut mine by making me feel “dirty.” She asked, “How do you clean that dirty old thing?” I told her, “I shampoo it every day when I take my shower.” That took the wind out of her sails.

  16. Men shouldn’t have to shave their FACES AND CHEST to appease women/look like people on TV and women shouldnt have to shave/wax their ENTIRE BODIES EITHER!!!!!

    I think that hairy women go through just as many or more problems than hairy men do. It’s entirely natural for women to grow hair, thats their natural state. But its pretty frowned upon in society of they don’t shave/wax every single spot.


  17. lol well done Aldon.
    Everyone asks me how I clean mine, as if it is some kind of riddle.
    Are people really so dense that they cannot conceive of how to clean a face/beard?

    Says more about their hygene than ours 😛

  18. People told me when my beard was longer that it looked “nasty” or “unkempt” even though I washed it every day and trimmed the straggly hairs to keep it even. Most people think that it’s going to be coarse and scratchy and they’re surprised when they feel it and it’s soft and springy. I do my best to take care of my beard in the best way that I know how and I think I do a pretty good job. I ask people why they say these things to me and they usually cop out and say things like “I don’t know” or “that’s just what I think.” I keep asking why and they tend to get extremely defensive, even though they haven’t explained anything to me. So confusing.

    When my fiancee and I met, I was still in high school and all I was allowed to have was sideburns that stopped at the bottom of my ears (even though I said “Screw this” and grew mutton chops…I was a senior and they didn’t do anything until graduation day when I had to shave them off) and she said to me that she didn’t like beards, but she did like sideburns.

    We had just started dating and I told her that as soon as I graduated, I was going to grow a beard. She told me that I should go ahead and grow it, even though she didn’t know if she was going to like it. Two and a half months later I had a respectable chin-curtain and she quickly changed her opinion of beards. She loves them now and I’ve since gone from having a chin-curtain to a full beard to a goatee and now I’m back to a full beard (all in one year!). I told her, “Baby, if I ever say anything about shaving my beard or trimming it down short again, please punch me in the face.”

    Anyway, she went from not liking beards to loving them. My opinion is, is that if you give beards a chance (either growing one or if your boyfriend/spouse wants to grow one) you may change your own opinion of them. People just need to give beards a chance!

  19. All three of my wifes hate beards , or maybe just mine – I dont really know . What I really know is I like my beard and it stays .

  20. The argument whether or not to wear a beard is up to the man. Or, if in a relationship, or married, jointly decided. There are many religions that dictate a man shall have face hair. As for the current social stigma that beards are unacceptable, that’s rubbish. Basically, it’s a personal decision to wear/not wear/or dislike facial hair. Personally, I’m not attracted to facial hair on women, but that’s just my internal dislike kicking in until I get to know the woman behind the mustache. After I’ve decided the female has a good personality and character, the facial hair disappears from my mind. As for the term “metrosexual” whomever coined that word should be shot at dawn! Men are Men and Women are Women. Get to the middle ground people and learn to get along and get rid of social phobias. Oh, one last comment — Advertising is designed to sale products – they’ll use whatever it takes to make a dollar.

  21. I think that young lady is “SHAVE CRAZY ” – I bet even the bears in the zoo arent safe !

  22. Hey ….. Some of my best friends are Hippies , Rednecks , and Hillbillies – Nuff Said !

  23. I agree with you, specially with PAUL SHEPARD. in Spain there is also a general idea that men should wear no beard, but there is something worst. there is also a general idea that the sexiest men are those who look more like women.
    I don’t understand because if beard and corporal hair are one of the things that distinguish men and women, shouldn’t it be sexy for girls? instead they act as if you were a caveman.
    I’m 18 and I’m hairy, and I’m not going to look like this society wants me to look like. instead, my main preocupation now, is that I still can’t grow my beard properly, (so if you can help me with this I will thank you eternally!!)
    Maybe women are becoming lesbian?? is it the end of the REAL MEN??
    I hope not. When I manage to grow my beard, I will wear it proudly.
    say not to metrosexual tendency

  24. Instead of turning this into a “male ego” thing, perhaps you should try to understand the reason WHY a woman might not like facial hair. I am a older woman who has an adversion to men with facial hair and excessive body hair and it is NOT because I secretly prefer women. For years every night, clear through my fifties, I had paralyzing nightmares where I would lay in bed afraid to move, afraid to breathe, terrified that the “hairy” monster would come and get me. You would have to be pretty obtuse not to figure out what caused these nightmares. Even now in my sixties, after all the theraphy, I still have to sleep with a night light. So, yes, I like men and I like them to be clean shaven. A lot of women do for various reasons, maybe not as extreme as mine, and, yes, As long as there are men who prey on children (it’s in the news every day), you need to accept that there are going to be some after effects. If shaving is all it takes to make a woman be more comfortable then
    I think men should be a little sensitive without getting all macho about their right to grow a beard.

  25. Jane,
    I’m sorry to hear of your trauma and its long-term effects on you. However, there are men who commit misdeeds whether they have a beard or not.

  26. I use to be affraid of the “owl that hid under my bed” (silly I know, but it was an owl to me) but I didn’t try to eradicate all the owls out there.

    For what ever reason, men stopped growing beards in the old days I think possibly the resurgence of beard growth is at least partly due to men growing tired of “women” telling men how to be more manly. How does a woman know what is more manly (They substitute “manly” with “sexy”)? … They only know what they want and will do whatever it takes to get it.

    Men of the world unite and take back some of your masculinity … GROW YOUR BEARDS.

  27. One reason why women should love a man with a beard is that the more a man looks like a man … the more she looks like a woman.

  28. Well I like beards on some men and not on others. It just depends on how they look.

    But this whole thing about body hair being a masculine trait is just frustrating to me. Yes, men have more body hair than women, but women have body hair too and are just not supposed to admit it. But believe me, even the most feminine model walking down the runway would have hairy legs and underarms if she would just let it happen…naturally! I have had so many men and women tell me how “disgusting” and “dirty” they think women with unshaved legs and underarms are. They never seem able to give me an answer when I ask them if they think men with hair on their legs and underarms are dirty.

    So some of you men think women don’t like beards because want men to be women. Do you think that women who let their body hair grow want to be men?

  29. Ellen,
    I think you’ve pointed out a great example of cultural conditioning. We’ve been conditioned to seeing women with shaved legs and underarms to such an extent that seeing the contrary is uncomfortable for many.

  30. Agree with Ellen and really can’t see the big deal. If you want a beard have one, some look better with them but I think most don’t. My personal preference is clean shaven but either way if I love the guy makes no difference.

  31. BEARD, BEARD, BEARD! Whoa! I hope I didn’t scare any Women out there. And, my Beard is real BIG & FLUFFY! ( in the backround is my ex yelling at me) Well yes, okay, yup your right, yes always right, Yes, I guess I should stop it, Yup I know must really be scaring a lot of women and girls out there. Yup sorry, Yes okay, Yup don’t worry, okay, yup, I’,m going to shave now. Yes don’t worry, that’s what I’m doing, I’m shaving. Yes I know, a real close shave. And I’ll stop worshiping Jesus Christ too, okay! Cause he is bad I guess! why? Cause he had a BEARD too.
    You know, this whole world makes me sick! The people in this world are being contorted physically and mentally (never mind what is being done to the world its self). And, how would/should we apply the metaphysics to this (the BEARD phobia that is)?
    One point I want to mention, is that there are women out there who have also abused children, and there are some women who have abused men. As society has painted a picture like it is only men who do such thing.
    Poor BEARDS. whatever happened?
    If a woman truly Loved me, and she was tired of shaving as woman do, it would be fine with me as true Love is a very powerful, rare happening. I would much rather have that, than the Hell I already had with NO Love.

  32. One quick point I want to make about when I have had a BEARD and when I have NOT. Is that with a BEARD I have noticed that I am treated with more respect, than when I am clean shaven. NO lie, it is the truth.

  33. Rich P., I have to say that on more than one level I agree with you. (particularly the last half of your first post) It is sickening. I am in the military and am not allowed to *not* shave. I get out the end of this year, and you bet your lucky stars that my razor is going in the trash. I want my beard. My dad, my uncle and numerous other men in my family all had them and I’ve wanted to grow mine out as well. If a woman doesn’t like it, and doesn’t like me for it, then I guess we just don’t need to be around each other. A friend of mine in college had grown his out and I always envied him. Now, soon, I will be following in his and my relatives’ footsteps. I’m so excited that I lose sleep! (lol, no really, I really can’t wait!)
    I feel more enlightened after reading through these post though, and I must say thank you to all of you who’ve contributed to this beautiful conversation. (A good conversation is a rare thing, indeed!)

  34. Great feedbacks. However, there are some who like hairy male or female. But, I would invite anyone who is really into hair to visit and speak with say a Rastafarian person, just to get his/her opinion about facial hair. As for as I know more than any individual being or religion or even race the Rastafarians carry the most facial hair.
    And, there are hypocrites here who say I like a man’s hair but in their mind they hold a man who perhaps has just a few hair there and here. A Rastafarian grows thick long dreadlocks and long beards uncomb. In some case the Rastafarian body hair is really frightening. so only the die hard tolerant could or would accept a full body hair person without any complaints. Body hair is okay and also no body hair is fine. I am balance when it comes to body hair. I like hairy women and I like nonhairy women, too. I find equal attraction to both characteristic. Having body hair is not about being feminine or masculine. A man having body hair does make him more masculine than the man who does not; the same goes for the lady who has body hair, she is no less feminine in any way. Life or nature presents us in many form and that we should celebrate our differences and we must develop due tolerance for life. so my facial hairy guys I am cool with you and my hairy gals I am with you. I am also with you guys if you are nonhairy and gals I am with you if you are nonhairy. I looking to meet a dreadlocks women so that I could really reason with her about how she feels and how society sees her. Keep the fire burning let us cherish life.

  35. During the “World Beard and Mustache Competition” in Alaska, for the entire week that I was there, I saw NO negativity toward the many beards that were all over the town of Ankorage. Everyone, including the women, were very friendly. Talking to us, giving us deals in their shops, taking pictures of us and with us. On the return flight home, one lady wanted her daughter to pose with me for a photo. One couple sandwiched me between them for a photo at the contest. The women there were eating it up.

  36. Not to bring up race/cultures ,but i have NOTICE That in all my travels it looks as though women of color accept facial hair more the europeans do .in fact in the african american or afro latino commmunity if men shave of all facial hair you are looked at as weak.and when we speak of clean shaven we mean living just a well groomed mustach.

  37. I literally just asked my boyfriend if he’d grow a big burly beard for the Winter for me! He said yes! I can’t wait to see it! He’s so handsome anyway, he’s tall and rugged and his hair is nice and thick -its going to look AWESOME! Beards are sexy as hell on the right man…and he’s definitely one of ’em. I loved Aldon’s comment that a good reason for a woman to like a man with a beard is because with him she looks more like a woman…or something. So true! But for me, its more like being with my BF who is 6’3, brutally virile and strong, plus with a hot full beard will make me feel like a woman. I consider myself a feminist, but for me feminism is more about honoring my feminine qualities and celebrating my individual achievements and those of my sisters and not so much wanting to be a man…or any less a woman. I’m smart and secure enough to know that we all have our own strengths as a result of our gender. I mean, I am a maternal goddess! No man can ever be that! Period! Nothing pleases me more than seeing a man, or a woman embrace who they are regardless of societal influence or pressure to conform. And if I could grow something I’d definitely have a handlebar mustache! HOTTTT! But there’s a reason why women can’t grow facial hair! And there’s a reason men can and do! If I could guess at why clean shaven became so wildly popular I would say it was because men were getting, literally too hot inside all day…when work started becoming less (outdoor) labor intensive -as with the industrial revolution.

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