Growing Masculinity Or Growing Beard?

Is growing a beard become more of a social norm that an optional bonus? Are men to have more personality over their growing beards in a world where masculinity, according to them, is threatened because of the diverse taste in fashion, style, profession and personality?

I have taken the opportunity to discuss, in detail, about beards and the societal or “personal” paradigms of having to grow and maintain a beard that’s no longer a “No Shave November” issue. Also, keeping in check that there are many men out in the world today who love growing a beard because they love how it looks and not what it should mean in the conceived market of men. This article is not aimed or even remotely related to you if you love your beard because you love how it looks or, in any way, you feel more mature with one. This article is not even for those men who grow and maintain a beard because it’s….well…it’s the obligation of masculinity and that if you’ve hit puberty with such an “extravagant” bonus, you might as well show it off because that’s one mark a man can make in the market on worldly appearances.

While this topic, in the casual world, is thrown off in the format of silly jokes, slightly unnecessary compliments, and somewhat personal conversations meant for times that convey what I some might call fun, I find it downright senseless, boring and aggravating. The way of the world is not a well-crafted text book and neither is it a tutorial video. It’s built from an idea, growth, experience, knowledge, etc. among those simple standards that put us in the drivers’ seat waiting for a disaster. Men are built for growth and downfall, so are women, but what’s the hair got to do with anything? If we start discriminating men on the basis of how hairy they are, well, let’s just say we’ll be witnessing tons and tons of bullshit and encouraged stupidity over the coming years. For this article, I’ve made of use of thesaurus and dictionary to jot down the pre-determined synonyms of words:

  • “masculine”
  • “feminine”

I won’t begin commenting on the words and definitions to be found online for “masculine” and “feminine” because that would be me carelessly deviating from my point, but I will say this that growing a beard and masculinity are perceived conditional and reliable on their individual existence, according to some men and women who I believe, believe it.

Let’s take a look at its profound history:

Throughout the course of history, the society has reacted to and perceived male beards as a mark of masculinity, fertility and absolute power and control over others. Not only that, attitudes towards male beards existing in cultural and religious traditions have cemented that they represent a higher social status, machismo, and wisdom. On the other hand, there have been many traditions or sects that have considered male beards to be savage, uncivilized and filthy.

As we all know Charles Darwin, he initially mentioned male beards in his work, The Descent of Man, in which by the means of Evolutionary Psychology he explains that male beards are more dominant and in-demand than clean-shaved beards. But, some scholars and psychologists often signal towards it not being a signal of dominance in men but just as an appearance of attractiveness in men as women have since ages, have found men with beards more attractive than men without.

During the ancient and classical world during Mesopotamia civilizations, the traditions gave utmost importance to male beards and great care was taken such as oiling and dressing their beards, making the use of curling irons to intensify the shape of the curls, etc. of the beard by men.  Whereas in ancient India, men grew their beards nice and long as a symbol of dignity and wisdom (for me that just means proving that you’re masculine enough among all that’s masculine around you). Society was so tenacious that as a punishment for adultery or licentiousness, male beards were publicly cut-off. Men also practiced storing their beard as a pledge they made to others for payment of debt or promise. Now, we have public episodes of violence, disgust, and extreme punishment; feels mundane to know that once things were as simple and direct as cutting off a beard as punishment.

During the 19th century because of the uprising of mass communication and a well-driven funnel, the beard became linked to masculinity and male courage. It was as if that when a man intentionally hadn’t kept a beard, he had to have something wrong with his mind or else he wasn’t a MAN. How ingenious!

When it comes from my religious standpoint, in Islam, this is what is narrated: “Five things are part of nature: to get circumcised, to remove the hair below one’s navel, to trim mustaches and nails and remove hair under the armpit.”

This is what I found extremely interesting back during the Greco-Roman relic was that the male beard was seen as the defining characteristic of the philosopher; philosophers had to have beards and anyone with a beard was assumed to be a philosopher. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus expressed that a man’s beard is something almost sacred. That it expresses the idea that philosophy is no mere intellectual hobby but rather a way of life that transforms certain aspects of one’s behavior, including their shaving habits. And those who have not grown a beard and continue to shave it have simply put, not embraced philosophy as a way of life.

There’s more information out there about beards than you can possibly imagine, but in a nutshell, the current perception of beards is in no way different than what it was throughout history, aggressive and discriminatory. Beards are considered liberating and empowering, embraced by men to boast just that. But is that healthy when say you’re conversing and you’re more inclined to prove your “masculinity” (also a synonym for power, brave, strong and stallion?!) What’s a stallion got to do with being a man? Don’t you think it’s biologically incorrect and illogical to relate to a general category of words that are common, universal and absolutely credible for any grooming election and gender?

Just for your awareness:

SYNONYMS FOR MASCULINE:

  • Strong
  • Brave
  • Bold
  • Muscular
  • Hairy
  • Powerful

If beards are masculine, then sorry to say, if you’re without one: you aren’t any of the above. So sorry that many people and ideologies have apparently set these standards and reflected them back on your biological and grooming aspects.  Again, sorry.
This generation, most of what humans learn and what youngsters are learning is about equality, acceptance, freedom and solidarity, but isn’t it ironic that the most basic of all sources of information are yet so backward and bigoted? It’s grotesquely disappointing and aggravating that, at some point, when I look at a credible website such as an online dictionary or thesaurus for transparent and legitimate and well-reasoned information only to find that words like strength, strong, power, soft, dainty, etc. are words not with a meaning, but with a gender and grooming choice definition. On the surface, we all claim to be forward-thinking because we know how to be it, but are we reflecting that back into our daily lives and how we converse, function and think? It’s one thing to know while it’s another to exercise what you know consistently and deeply.

In my opinion:

Beards are a grooming choice, not a flag of certain characteristics that, in reality, and sensible effect, are developed by essence and effort. If you’re a man who doesn’t like to grow a beard, it shouldn’t become an aspect of any sort of discrimination and biases.  And, honestly, don’t take the dullness and lunacy of those who think it’s what makes a man out of this world. The masculine purpose is not what is set by standards, other than just biological aspects.

“Does your wife/sister/mother have the beard in the family?” –  This question is commonly imposed on many men when they indulge in acts and functions that, according to society, are considered womanly and puny.

If you love your beard and keep it for personal reasons only, you’re conveying a better message out into the universe because you’ve realized that it’s a personal reason, not a general norm that all men absolutely need to follow as beings of the male sex.

Easy Travelling With Uber

As someone with a medium breed dog, unless I have a small breed dog, most cabbies never permitted me to travel in their cabs, around the city for either short or long distances. The typical black and yellow cabs’ experience has been a disaster for me because I’ve had to run around pleading cabbies to accommodate my dog and keep assuring them that he won’t spoil or rip apart the insides of the cab. So far down the line, I felt the need to switch to a more sophisticated service that I expected would have a more defined system in place for passengers travelling with their pets, you know since it’s a metropolitan city and all.

Then, I tried Ola that had air conditioning and was convenient to book through their mobile app. In the beginning, I found that most drivers were reluctant to accommodate a dog along with 1-2 passengers because, according to them, it was against their company’s policy. As far as Ola’s mobile app was concerned, there not even a single utterance of travelling with a dog in a clear and concise way.

Once I was travelling back home from Marine Drive with my medium breed dog, and since I booked an Ola, we had to wait outside the cab for 15-20 minutes as the driver wanted to confirm whether Ola permitted dogs or not. Let me tell you, sometimes your dog barks and especially after a long walk, the dog may not stay as calm and patient because he wants to get home and simply rest. After a lot of arguing and speaking to more than one customer service representative over the phone, the Ola cab driver, not so willingly, let us sit in. The entire journey to where I stay was ruined by the driver complaining and mansplaining that I shouldn’t travel with a dog unless I have my own car, I should have informed the driver and requested for a separate cab because I have a dog (which I did inform, adding with confidence that my dog will not urinate, poop or spoil the insides of the car), and also why I shouldn’t have a dog when I can’t travel in my own car. Even after I paid the generated fare at the end of the journey, the cab driver kept complaining about the smell that sticks to the car after the car is vacant and also that I shouldn’t do this again because it causes him lots of INCONVENIENCE.

After a few such experiences, one more when I booked 3 rides with Ola and all 3 got rejected because the cab drivers weren’t sure to let a dog in during the monsoon season. I had to wait outside Oval Maidan, Churchgate, while it was pouring, for about an hour to get a decent cab driver to agree to let me in with a dog. Since then, I was bound to establish a generalized judgment that this won’t work with any cab company and that companies like Ola do not have any policy regarding animals in place. A long while after that, I completely barred using such services with my medium breed dog. If it’s to travel to my office, for a walk or someplace else, I always, always took my car whenever it was available. Something like this really limits my options in a buzzing city like Mumbai, but it seemed like I had no choice.

Then, I gave Uber a try. Many times I have travelled by Uber and the experience has been phenomenal: the entire booking experience on the app is easy, quick and convenient, the cab drivers arrive on time and are super-friendly, and the costs are affordable. I have booked Uber more than a few times and it’s been a great experience for me. Never had I thought that Uber was so open-minded, calm and friendly towards dogs. The drivers don’t seem to have any problem with my medium breed dog, although I do have to inform them before that I have a dog who isn’t going to cause an issue during the journey at all, but I do that because it’s my responsibility to take responsibility for my dog if things go wrong. Uber has restored my faith in great serviceability in all aspects.

As a dog owner, comfort is the most important feeling for my dog while commuting, and Uber provides just that. Travelling with Uber is easy travelling to wherever I go.

Easy Travelling With Uber
Ayesha Dhurue Photography
Easy Travelling With Uber
Ayesha Dhurue Photography

A Totally Simple Perspective on Cybernated Technology

cybernated-technology

Humans have, over time, matured to monumentalize experiences, celebrations, and general episodes in life by storing data of visual evidences or what I like to call: declarations of being able to re-experience those felt emotions, feelings and reactions back in time and again. Having the capability to store such data, that one day might not even matter to you, and that when you’re uncompromising to any means of affection and sensation, you’re already in denial of everything you’ve ever accomplished which fades out of your mind and what you’ve seen, liked, commented on and shared with others cease to exist at all.

What’s the point of cybernated technology when, for your future self, it doesn’t have to be of any value to what your socially active lifestyle or hippy Instagram photos or quirky yet intelligent Facebook shares stood for?

This is a totally simple perspective on cybernated technology. This is how and when one mind meets one technology that’s so diverse, intensified and anarchic that it completely, definitely and unconsciously blows up certain pre-defined paradigms to life, knowledge and existence. This is the discovery of technology and everything humans are in soft alliance with thinking that it symbolizes something or it leaves an impression of an idea, thought, a material or even illusions. The way I see it, the bigger questions or the “controversies” are a part of the trigger of a much simpler predominating shadow that we persist over ourselves. The truth is completely overshadowed as much as it is forced in place of someone’s opinion, perspective and experience. There is a serious possibility that my truth may not be yours.

But, what’s the truth got to do with cybernated technology?

Three points how cybernated technology begins with the truth and ends with something in replacement of the truth

  1. Isn’t how we surf/scroll/obsess over the internet subjected to how/why/when we want to perceive the gathering of words on a singular topic?
  2. Where is the truth when the information/material knowledge/controversy is build by and for human mind and understanding?
  3. Is the truth well defined and away from becoming someone else’s figment of perception, convenience, comfort and/or imagination?

Clearly, defining the point is not rudimentary to making it. Again, what is my truth may not be yours. If we broaden the scalability of truth to relate to how humans understand, react, think and function on a daily basis is as obvious as saying that if you’re looking up at the night sky, you’re not going to deny that it’s after dark.

But, where’s the evidence?

Where does the evidence lie amidst many truths that are measured through likes, shares, and comments?

The definition of prolonging your cybernated-self in front of your real-life self can only be declared if all of us start imagining both of our versions positioned parallel in alternate habitations, much like how the earth is, only in one of them the scope of discoverability is more profound and extensive than the other. The truth of the future can only be set apart and negotiated in terms of difference and similarity between those two worlds. Then there will be war, there will be digitally augmented noises that will break your existing paradigm of truth; they may even break yours as quickly as they will form a new truth in place of it. If today, cybernated technology is all about the truth, it perceives truth and wants to harness it, these tiny and irrelevant pieces of evidences bundled together to form experiences and adventure will soon obliterate into darkness and the moment when one mind meets one technology will forever be destroyed and with it the meaning of perception and what sets it apart exclusively. So, instead of searching for the truth, the meaning and the purpose of cybernated technology, delve deeper into the pools of what it does for you. Lose yourself inside the vast, great depths of personality that it offers and see how many you mask. If all were masked to become one truth, you wouldn’t be thinking how it would be like to see your own cybernated-self in a world where discovery and knowledge go so close in hand that materiality feels like a drug. Humans aren’t made to live one truth, especially in the cybernated technology; they’re meant to live many, endless and unimaginably colorful truths.

Against All Odds With The Internet

The essay, User Behaviour published on Aeon speaks about how designers, websites, and apps have more regiment over users who are curious and seeking to find more and more information to share, buy, sell and exchange with other users. The matter at hand is whether if the internet is addictive and if it is, shouldn’t the internet be put under digital supervision and moderation for its regimen and conventions? Michael Schulson wrote the essay to verbalize the praxis behind clichéd ‘infinite scrolling’ digital graces of users on websites and apps designed woo and impel users in ways to turn on to consumer data and money-making that ultimately siphons the entire foundation that the internet was built upon.

In the beginning of the essay, Michael, very smoothly illustrates how a simple pigeon experiment conducted by Skinner is, in most cases, knitted together with our contemporary digital etiquette of giving websites like Facebook, Twitter and other interactive feeds the power of persuade or even “coerce” us into getting hooked and addicted to how digitally we’re empowered by communication and information. Currently, psychologists have no way of figuring the veritable and descriptive list of how a user suffers from internet addiction and whether if it’s even a real phenomenon. As noted in the essay, I strongly believe that the internet has a profound level of utility for users to exhaust and grow with, but such kind of utility is not for everyone as much as it is unique to each user’s psychological awareness to it. What this means is that grace of surfing the web for one user may be more productive and useful than the seemliness browsing for any entertaining and distracting purpose for another. The brain wave of how conscious a user is towards the internet is linked to how disputable it is to say that internet addiction is conveyed by triggering users to react and re-react consistently in a controlled digital environment by designers to ends that satisfy both the internet-creators and users. That’s addiction, but that is only confined to one user’s psychological habits.

Comparing the internet to institutions that require assured regulation like casinos or drugs is inevitably biased because moderating the internet would be an alternative and ultimately a license that users may or may not prefer. Casinos, on the other hand, are neither privilege nor preference; it is an outcome of human behavior’s drive to mismatched lawlessness and chaos.

Read the essay here.

If a user wants to exercise willpower, responsibility and self-control with the help of websites like Facebook, Twitter, and other gaming companies to alert them when their usage patterns resemble any psychological problematic behavior, it will be a choice, not a complete regulation by itself. Users concerned to keep track of their digital graces will have already gained the conscious nudge of alertness and guilt when browsing websites and apps. They will stop when they’re obligated by themselves to do so. Most of the times, users don’t like to be told or consistently notified how much they should or should not browse any kind of information and while this remains unbiased and probable, regulations for the internet remain ungovernable and they will not shake the influence away from websites and apps to users conscientiously. If anything, regulation of the internet will discover new, twined and mind-boggling tactics and strategies that users will again spoil for. 

What is your take on this? Do you think the internet, in general, requires any sort of regulation or enforcement to alter the way users interacte and utilize the internet? Share your opinion below.

Feature image extracted from Aeon by Bettmann/Corbis. 

Chennai’s Ill-fate Is India’s Vivication

While the devastating natural crisis is being suffered in Chennai, the common denominator that binds every crisis with that of the whole country is as banal as its cities. The workaday talk is not how mortifying floods are, but rather how disastrous it would get if we don’t incorporate the run-of-the-mill precautions into our everyday life to prevent something like that from happening in Mumbai, or in any city.

Let’s focus on what the government is implementing and not implementing, but also on the transparent measures that citizens can put in practice per diem. Nothing gravitating on this earth can prevent monsoon, and in some cases even a temperate flood is inevitable, but floods that at the maximal level cause damages that are beyond reason and convention can be interfered with.

Each level of government has a different role to play in the pre-flood and post-flood crisis, and which out of the two is most important is not valid at this point.  Just like the government, the citizens of this country, too, have a different role to play in the pre-flood and post-flood crisis.

The severe flooding in Chennai again proves that India is not ready for extreme weather conditions which are becoming more and more frequent and intense. Such disasters can’t play a role in the awakening of the government to realize that it needs to become more weather friendly, with the growing intensity of monsoon each year from June to September, sometimes even further down the year. But, unfortunately, Chennai’s ill-fate is India’s vivication. The combined parts of performances by builders, planners, administrators and even common people in matters of environmental and infrastructural development and maintenance is abysmal. Much of Chennai has grown without a plan and with no regard to water flows, and without anticipating extreme weather conditions. Then there’s illegal construction. The authority held responsible for this unplumbed show is the Chennai’s Metropolitan Development Authority; without pressing further blame, which it is not the intention, the master plan drafted in 2008 and its short-comings has paid a very unfortunate prices in 2015. What’s next?

Are we waiting for 2015’s master plan to blow-up in our faces, cause damage, suffering, and more suffering in the next 5-8 years?

Chennai's ill-fate is India's vivication

India’s unsystematic and biased procedures that rise from the ground up almost at the wake of every personal gain, political or otherwise, must get methodical and evenly selective to the means for environmental clearance. The drivers behind these procedures include all government bodies and common people. With the disgraced urban planning and development, which has led to the floods in India’s fourth most populous city, dumping indestructible plastic which accumulates in water channels and storm water and sewage networks, causing blockage is forbidden in the name of humanity, not law. Stop caring about what the media covers and doesn’t, anticipate every nook and corner before flinging these weapons of destructions as they will hit you back one day either by the waves of the sea stumbling on Marine Drive (which happened this year!) or by the floods that take away your freedom, health, sanity, and homes. Think about both human and animal sufferings before you carelessly disrespect your own future by your lazy and reluctant lifestyle.