As you might know, I am a full time Internet
I edit video in New York and I reblog things that make me feel clever.
"fuck your bad vibes bro" — ughwhocares
"quit fucking up my zen, jackass" — party-wok
"Go fuck yourself. #LYLAS!" — whatwhatwhat
"dad ur drunk i can tell" — llhenley
"YAY JAMISON THAT IS HOW I MEANT IT" — luckypaperstars
"Whoa, that IS really cool about ferns." — taoistdrunk
"not saying, just saying" — johndarnielle
"Brilliant use of Larry David. Brilliant." — coketalk
"i rescind all objections" — twentysomethingfloater
"if you want to start shit, have some fucking balls." — nedhepburn
"hahahaha perfect" — nickdivers
do i have beard privilege? serious question
One evening when Avi and his family had been over for dinner, Randy had said, “I’m the beard, Avi’s the suit,” as a way of explaining their business relationship, and from that point Charlene had been off and running. Charlene has recently finished a scholarly article, deconstructing beards. In particular, she was aiming at beard culture in the Northern California high-tech community—Randy’s crowd. Her paper began by demolishing, somehow, the assumptions that beards were more “natural” or easier to maintain than clean-shavenness—she actually published statistics from Gilette’s research department comparing the amount of time that bearded and beardless men spent in the bathroom each day, proving that the difference was not statistically significant. Randy had any number of objections to the way in which these statistics were gathered, but Charlene was having none of it. “It is counterintuitive,” she said.
She was in a big hurry to move on to the meat of her argument. She went up to San Francisco and bought a few hundred dollars worth of pornography at a boîte that catered to shaving fetishists. For a couple of weeks, Randy couldn’t come home in the evening without finding Charlene sacked out in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and a Dictaphone, watching a video of a straight razor being drawn along wet, soapy flesh. She taped a few lengthy interviews with some actual shaving fetishists who described in great detail the feeling of nakedness and vulnerability shaving gave them, and how erotic that was, especially when freshly shaved areas were spanked or slapped. She worked up a detailed iconography of shaving-fetishist porn and that of shaving-product commercials shown on national TV during football games, and proved that they were basically indistinguishable (you could actually buy videotapes of bootleg shaving-cream and razor ads in the same places that sold the out-and-out pornography).
She pulled down statistics on racial variation in beard growth. American Indians didn’t grow beards, Asians hardly did, Africans were a special case because daily shaving gave them a painful skin condition. “The ability to grow heavy, full beards as a matter of choice appears to be a privilege accorded by nature solely to white males,” she wrote.
Alarm bells, red lights, and screaming klaxons went off in Randy’s mind when he read that phrase.
“But this assertion buys into a specious subsumption. ’Nature’ is a socially constructed discourse, not an objective reality [many footnotes here]. That is doubly true in the case of the ‘nature’ that accords full beards to the specific minority population of northern European males. Homo sapiens evolved in climatic zones where facial hair was of little practical use. The development of an offshoot of the species characterized by densely bearded males is an adaptive response to cold climates. These climates did not ‘naturally’ invade the habitats of early humans—rather, the humans invaded geographical regions where such climates prevailed. This geographical transgression was strictly a sociocultural event and so all physical adaptations to it must be placed in the same category—including the development of dense facial hair.”
Charlene published the results of a survey she had organized, in which a few hundred women were asked for their opinions. Essentially all of them said that they preferred clean-shaven men to those who were either stubbly or bearded. In short order, Charlene proved that having a beard was just one element of a syndrome strongly correlated to racist and sexist attitudes, and to the pattern of emotional unavailability so often bemoaned by the female partners of white males, especially ones who were technologically oriented.
“The boundary between self and environment is a social con[struct]. In Western cultures this boundary is supposed to be sharp and distinct. The beard is an outward symbol of that boundary, a distancing technique. To shave off the beard (or any body hair) is to symbolically annihilate the (essentially specious) boundary separating Self from Other . . .”
And so on. The paper was rapturously received by the peer reviewers and immediately accepted for publication in a major international journal. Charlene is presenting some related work at the War as Text conference: “Unshavenness as Signifier in World War II Movies.” On the strength of her beard work, three different Ivy League schools are fighting over who will get to hire her.
Randy does not want to move to the East Coast. Worse yet, he has a full beard, which makes him feel dreadfully incorrect whenever he ventures out with her. He proposed to Charlene that perhaps he should issue a press release stating that he shaves the rest of his body every day. She did not think that was very funny. He realized, when he was halfway across the Pacific Ocean, that all of her work was basically an elaborate prophecy of the doom of their relationship.