A Shaved Face Does Not (Necessarily) Imply Homosexuality

January 7, 2007 | By | 11 Replies More

Think about it. The primary (“God Given”) visible sign of male maturity is facial hair. Therefore the reason a man shaves his face must be:

  • To appear feminine, or
  • To appear underage

Now, to whom do men who shave their faces appeal? Lessee: Someone who either wants a feminine lover, or an underage lover. If we discard the pedophiles, who is left?
Or am I (really) oversimplifying the social implications of this relatively modern custom?


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Category: Culture, Sex, Whimsy

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (11)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    I grew a beard for many years. I didn't shave because . . . I didn't want to shave. If you shave for 3 minutes per day times 365 days, that equals more than 18 hours per year standing in front of a mirror in order to please others.

    But then I married a woman I wanted to please; she dropped about 500 hints that she'd like to see me without the beard. I finally realized that she was talking to ME. So I accommodated her. I now "meditate" for 3 minutes each day.

    But to answer your question . . . I'm guessing that it has to do with a display of fitness. For instance, skin condition and symmetry would both be obscured by a beard. So would a pronounced jaw (think of the drawings of all superheroes). Each of these things would thus serve as a token for health and therefore fitness.

    That's my guess. For guys who have good skin health, good symmetry and a pronounced jaw, the LACK of a beard will display these things to all who care to look, whether they be men, women or children.  But this doesn't really explain why so many men with good faces keep those beards.

    Here's another thing:  why is widespread shaving one's face a relatively modern custom?  Perhaps because modern gadgetry has made it (I assume) so much easier than it used to be. I was add, however, that shaving one's face has become part of a "uniform" for membership in certain social groups. 

  2. Erika Price says:

    Funny that you should call beard-growing ability "God Given". The Bible actually prohibits the growth of facial hair: "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard." (Leviticus 19:27) I never understood how the Bible could reconcile both this statement and the typical (bearded) depiction of Jesus.

  3. Jason Rayl says:

    And yet in the heyday of the so-called "Matinee Idol" it was cleanshaven males who exuded the most allure for women, who possessed the highest degree of desirability, the most machismo, etc. I'm thinking of

    Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Jimmie Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Tyrone Power, Jimmy Cagney, Humphrey Bogart…

    A few wore very trim, elegant small mustaches—Clark Gable, etc–but there were no bearded matinee idols. Even today, the epitome of maleness as seen on the big screen is cleanshaven.

  4. Chris C says:


    You've got it backwards somehow. Read your quote again–Leviticus is telling the Jews *not* to cut their facial hair. This is why so many orthodox Jews have large beards.

  5. Dan says:

    Shaving (or at least razors) has been around since 3500bce, according to the article, so hardly "modern." 😉

    And I say you are drastically oversimplifying the implications. Certainly some men shave from a desire to be more attractive. Some don't shave, for the same reason. Some just can't be bothered. Some feel pressure from society, especailly from ads. Some do because that's the way they were raised. It does not follow that anyone who shaves is trying to appear femenine and underaged.

    There's probably a wealth of information somewhere about the reasons societies have maintained over the millenia about why a man should or should not shave, but I'm not interested enough to find out myself.

    [ref:  Wikipedia's article on Barber]

  6. Dan Klarmann says:

    It's not that I'm so invested in the topic, but I felt that it was time to try to stir something unusual up.

    As Dan and wiki says, the Barber profession has been around for the last quarter of the tenure our particular breed of hominid.

    Other points from that article:

    "In more recent times, with the development of safety razors and the increasing popularity of cleanshaven men…"

    I stand by my position that clean-shaven is a recent majority fad.

    "…mentioned in the Bible by Ezekiel who said "And Thou, son of man, take thee a barber's razor and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thine beard

    Note the implication that shaving ones beard is on a social par with shaving the rest of your head.

    The article goes on to document the antiquity of barbering by noting the surprise of Ceasar that Britons shaved their beards. Again implying that this was not a common thing back in "civilization".

    After that, it seems a largely Briton inspired thing to shave, as the idea spread around the world.

    I suspect that Britons might have had a problem with face fungus on their moist island. But this is just a WAG (Undomesticated Donkey Supposition).

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    I had never thought of shaving as trying to appear feminine or underage; many men shave simply because their sparce facial hair makes any attempt at growing a beard look ridiculous — a consideration that, unfortunately, seems to not deter enough teenagers.

    Most American women also shave — typically legs, armpits and "bikini area" — while many European women do not. A result of American advertising, perhaps? Clearly it is a normative behavior. I wonder what it was in 3500 bce — perhaps a status symbol to indicate the fact that one had spare time?

    Of course, beards and armpits are not the only hairy (ahem) issue facing human society; there is also the question of head hair: long hair on men has occasionally been the norm — and clearly not in an attempt to appear feminine. Ben Franklin had long hair, as apparently did many men in 18th-century America. It appeared again in the 1960s and '70s. Perhaps it is a perennial symbol of revolution? Long hair is also a component of the Sikh religion: known as the Kesh, it is the belief that humans were created with hair that grows (as opposed to fur, which does not), so to cut the hair is considered contrary to the will of God.

    Venturing off-topic, we might also consider the suntan. In most developed countries, a suntan has long been considered a status symbol, at least before concerns arose about skin cancer. Conversely, in most developing countries, pale skin has long been considered a status symbol. Why the difference? Because most people in developed countries work in offices, so a suntan, especially during the cold winter months, is a sign of wealth. By contrast, in developing countries, most people work outdoors as farm laborers, so pale skin, which signfies having an office job, is a sign of prestige.

    Returning to the subject of appearing feminine, we might also consider the wearing of jewelry. Men's fashion in America has made the rounds, from gold neck chains, to arm bracelets, to earrings. Earrings were the last barrier to fall: at first, only homosexual men wore earrings, and only a single earring in one particular ear, to signify their preference. Then, some (presumably) straight men adopted the same practice, but put their earrings in the opposite ear (or was this just a myth?). Now, some American men wear earrings in both ears. Often these men are wealthy professional athletes or musicians, who wear large diamond earrings (and sometimes also large gold chains, large diamond rings, etc.) as symbols of wealth. Collectively, it has been termed, "bling," and can include other conspicuous, glittering objects, such as SUVs, houses, airplanes, fashion models, etc.

  8. Charlotte says:

    Wow. Erika. What part of "do not cut the hair…" do you not understand?

  9. Scholar says:

    In the spirit of capitalism, I decided to buy a $90 electric shaver. The way I justify it is that I will save time (and possibly money) by using this new Norelco. So far, I am extremely pleased, but it could just be that the blades are still sharp, and the performance will decline in a few weeks.

    Anyway, it takes about 90 seconds per day to shave using this new electric razor (charge lasts 2 weeks), as compared to the 3 minutes (approx.) with the old way of shaving cream and a Gillete razor. Depending on how much your time is worth and how long until it needs new blades, the $90 might actually be a *bargain*. This electric razor is better (so far) than other electric razors I have owned. Here is a link to the one I bought and recommend. It is from the "speed XL" series, but they have lots of other choices too.

  10. Dan Klarmann says:

    I've been using shaving soap, a brush, and a 1980's vintage Trak-II compatible handle since it was new. I spend about $1/year on the fancy soap, and buy a new $10 brush every 10 years or so as the boar's bristles get thin. It's been so many years since I last bought a pack of refill blades that I don't remember their cost. I did learn that brand-name blades last longer.

    I enjoy the relatively sensual experience of working up a lather in a mug with hot water (~1 minute) and brushing the thick, delicately scented foam onto my stubble. Then the quiet scrtiching of as I draw the simple, pivoting head through the cream and stubble. I consider it a total of 3 minutes well spent in a sort of zen state, as well as a cost-effective way to do my ablutions. Also, the soap and brush are lighter and smaller than a travel-can of shaving foam.

    Don't I feel the need to go to 3, 4, or 5 blades? I remember the 1970's SNL parody commercial for a triple-blade razor when the Trak-II came out: "If you fell for two, we figured you'd buy three".

  11. Scholar says:

    Funny how times change. I liked the double-blade also, which was *almost* twice as good as the single. However, 3 blades wasn't much better than 2, and 4 was even less of an improvement over 3. Thankfully, we now have the Fusion which consists of 5 blades, and ironically, a sixth (SINGLE!) blade offset from the other 5 which is necessary for areas of the face (most) which are not easily trimmed with an unweildy stack of 5 blades.

    I also enjoyed the SNL skit…but the skit I saw didn't stop at three blades, it was for the "Mach14". "If you haven't tried 14 blades…"

    About the number of blades "required" to shave as it has evolved…

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