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.