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Its a Mans World - Sexism in the Barber Industry

men only barbershop

The year is 2022 yet the barbershop stigma remains, it is a mans world. The barber world belongs to men; male barbers who don't want women in their shops and male customers who don't want women cutting their hair.

Warning: political correctness is not my forte, so if you are easily offended, close this page now.

The Merrium-Webster dictionary defines stigma as "an identifying mark or characteristic". And I would be lying if I didn't say stigmas exist for a reason. Just like any other group of people (Black, Asian, Native American, Gay, Transgender etc), women have a stigma associated with them based on historical "fact". 

Note: I use fact in quotations, this is because what may be factual in instance, doesn't necessarily reflect the majority. Historically, mass media has impetuated stigma by involuntary conditioning, just as advertisers do. 

 

just for men



 

 

I'm no stranger to sexism, having spent five years in the Army and another five working as a police officer (shhh). I am not sure why I gravitate to male dominated industries, but as a female barber and barbershop owner, not much has changed in this mans world.  
I've always had to work a little harder, be a little stronger, have a thicker skin, just so I could prove I was worthy and not unwelcome. However, sexism still pokes its ugly head up from time to time. Some of the shit I have seen and heard is pretty unbelievable, especially in this day and age.

Just a few months ago one of my female staff answered the phone in the shop. The conversation went something like this...

Staff (answering phone): "Barbershop"

Customer: "I'd like to make an appointment"

Staff: "When would you like to come in?"

Customer: "What do you have for tomorrow, with a caucasian male barber?"

Staff (mouth open): "Ugh, we don't have any 'white male barbers' is there a specific reason you are asking?" 

Customer: "Because I am a caucasian male." 

What do you even say to that?

On another occasion when I was working in a different shop we had a call asking for a haircut appointment, at the end of the call I heard our receptionist say:

"Ok great, you will be with Heather at 2:30 tomorrow"

And what I imagine happened next is that the customer told him he didn't want a female cutting his hair because the next thing I heard was:

"Sorry sir, this is 2016, not 1916 and your appointment will be with Heather or not at all"


(Kudos for you Joseph, I still remember that)

He did come to the appointment and apologized to me at the end of his cut, letting me know he almost didn't come and that it was the best haircut he ever had. I then explained this to him.

visitsoco.com

  

Before moving to Austin Texas I lived and worked in Baltimore Maryland. I worked in a small three chair walk in shop with two guys; we had a blast together making jokes, dishing out cuts and just having fun. I hoped to find a shop like that to work in when I made my move. At that time, there weren't many shops to choose from in Austin (times have changed), and one shop stood out to me. I won't name them here, but I will say this - fuck them.

I sent them several emails to see if they were hiring, with no response. I befriended several barbers who work there, and they told me they weren't hiring (although within weeks of my inquiry I noted they hired two new barbers). Two years later a co worker showed me a private message he received from this particular shop on Instagram. This message was an image that said "Barber Wanted" and then underneath said "male barbers only". I would affirm what I always suspected, they refuse to hire women; never have and never will. They prefer to hire substandard male barbers over more than qualified and talented women, simply because they have a vagina.

That is bullshit. 

As a shop owner myself, I understand not wanting to have a staff full of women. However, I also don't want a shop full of men. I think there should be a balance of people of all sorts, genders, nationalities, personalities etc. This allows for variety, variety of skill, variety of experience, variety of personality. Not every customer wants a "Caucasian male barber". I also value talent and won't rule out a barber based solely on how they came out of the womb. 

 

In Rotterdam, shops like Schorem  have brought barbering into the spotlight.

Often times I hear people reference this shop when discussing how the barbershop is a place for men. Rumor has it, they don't allow women in the shop. While I don't disagree with this, it is not entirely accurate.

They do in fact have a female barber working in the shop. However, they do not let men bring their girlfriends or wives inside. If I could get away with this, I would likely mirror this rule. This would be because the significant others often like to hover, and dictate what you should do, making the haircut extremely uncomfortable for the barber (not because of their gender).

I don't know if they refuse to cut women's hair (I've never been there personally), but there are some women who do like barbershop clipper cuts, so I hope this is not the case. 

Try googling "women don't belong in the barbershop", and you will find tons of other female barbers ranting and raving about exactly what I'm saying here. Women who feel like they are outsiders, or don't know how to further their career because nobody wants to give them a chance. One article that pops up, https://theurbandaily.com/2604676/7-things-that-dont-belong-in-a-barbershop/ specifically states that women and crackheads are two of seven things that don't belong in the barbershop. 

At the end of the day, hiring in the barber industry should be based on talent and personality.

Is the barbers personality the right fit for the shop?  

Do they have the necessary skills to ensure clients of the shop leave happy?

If the personality fit isn't right, the barber won't be happy nor will the other staff members, and if they don't have the skills, the clientele won't be happy and nor will the shop owner or the barber (who will not be able to build and retain a clientele).

Having a penis or not should never be a a deal breaker. It's the year 2022, and it's time for these "old school" barbershops to get with the times and leave the old school mentality behind.

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