I have a beard.
Whatever you may think of it, it is the one thing I feel I deserve by virtue of living without concern for opinion. I stopped shaving when I went into the shipyards and began to work with steel. I stopped because it felt good not to shave and my world didn't have a dress code. I never had to listen to complaints from a boss about the hair on my face or the length of it on my head because it did not matter. I didn't have to impress anyone. I wasn't getting paid to be presentable, but for building ships. My beard is neither a social statement nor a sudden post-middle aged nod to a bohemian standard; nor is it an expression, a paean to anyone's idea of what a beard must represent in political, social, religious, or ethnic terms. If anything, it represents freedom. It's been almost constantly a part of me since 1975. I kept the beard when shipyard work ended, kept it when I went back into the working world at large and against or in spite of dress codes or fashion because I was comfortable with a beard. I hardly think about it anymore, except to trim it... or when people say something about it.
I am a man.
Whatever people may think of that circumstance, it's never really been a matter of choice for me, since I have always been comfortable as a man. Being a man does not necessarily overwhelm my intellect or my life. It's driven my history to some extent, but not my mind and certainly not my artistic perceptions. To be sure, there was a time that it ruled my time and influenced how I perceived social circumstances around me, but these were mostly biological not intellectual considerations. I doubt that my maleness made me any less appreciative of those qualities in life and the world around us that humanity perceives as transcendent.
I am a man with a beard.
Try not to presuppose how I think, or how I think of you, or how I perceive the world by those facts. I am not your enemy because I am a man and I am not a patriarch. I'm not even a man who writes. I'm only a writer.
One of the most beautiful concepts of equality is rendered in the typical statue of Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice... the ones that depict her as blindfolded, unswayed by color, fashion, by perceptions of wealth or beauty, by fact of gender or appearance. Justice must make her way to understanding without the benefit of irrelevant things and circumstance. She must make her way to understanding through unbiased truth.
It is a wonderful concept, that.
A concept worthy of universal acceptance.
Well said, James!
Yes, well said. There's a lot of misandry out there, and that's just as unfortunate as misogyny.
I like this meditation. It could be submitted as a story with a different attitude. As a forum topic, it may seem to rest on opinion more than artistic form.
I call the men I knew in Madison "beards." I traveled N. America and didn't meet beards like them. When the Madison beards moved to Manhattan, they trimmed their beards and tied their pony tails neatly, but they carried that hard-won Ph.D. Wisconsin brawn with them, as men held rigorously to the demands of feminism. The gay beards from Madison were also more rigorous than gays from other towns who didn't have feminists at their heels. Tiny little, dyed black fashion beards, punk rock, or hard metal goatees appealed to me, too, but the beards in Madison might have felt I had lost, to trade out a coop beard for a club beard. Southern beards in general were a little more gentile, a little more conventional in their ideas about women. And what about women's beards? I once visited a woman in the hospital who'd crashed her motorcycle and broken both legs. She had plucked her chin hairs until a beard grew. What about nether beards, pubic hair at all? Subject for another thread?
Quod scripsi scripsi. Nothing more to say... and after that, why would I try?
You think beards is an important forum thread? I'm about to start one about eyebrows. Watch the frig out. It's gonna get real in the Fictionaut Parking Lot. You know the deal with those little eyebrows that they got!
word to your mother. I am out.
"You think beards is an important forum thread?"
Kate, that really hurt. Especially since I respect you as a writer, have always done so here. Did you really think my post was about beards? Did you even read it? Do you think I'm that shallow?
Y'all can have this thread. I'm done with it. I'll just go back and play with my guns and dream of shooting Bambi's mom, maybe knock back a few beers with the Stereotypes and make jokes about wimmens.
Y'all go bake some cookies and talk about eyebrows to your heart's content.
Strange reaction from Kate.
I am sorry for hurting your feelings, James. If you had posted this in your creative work section I would have read it and responded (or not responded) about the craft and the intention and the art of it. Posting it here seemed like some sort of diatribe/reaction to an assumption that women (and beardless men??) think this:
"Try not to presuppose how I think, or how I think of you, or how I perceive the world by those facts. I am not your enemy because I am a man and I am not a patriarch. I'm not even a man who writes. I'm only a writer."
I never thought otherwise, and if someone insulted you in that manner then I suggest you address them directly as the doofus that they are and don't scold the general non-bearded-people who most likely never presupposed this stuff about you.
I left Fictionaut for a spell because I felt like things were getting less professional and too personal, but then I returned because I like to have writers to talk to and celebrate, etc., and last night I read this and another (what I thought was ill placed) forum post and I got fed up. Saying "What I have written I have written" does not seem to be a way to open up a discussion in a discussion forum.
I thought my post was funny--but perhaps you never saw that viral video I was referencing. -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UFc1pr2yUU
You should watch it-- it's freaking hilarious!
Again, sorry to hurt your feelings (I never really try to do that to anyone, even when I'm peeved). I'm off to bake those cookies now. And I'm sure I will screw them up because I'm a terrible cookie maker.