03-30-2012, 07:46 AM
#1
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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Shaving one's face is a manly activity. There's just no way around it. The vast majority of face-shavers are men, and the vast majority of men have to shave their face to one degree or another. Needing to shave is one of the landmarks of the journey to adulthood. For me, learning to shave at the sink with my father is another. There are men who shave other areas for a spectrum of reasons. And the rare woman finds the need to remove extra hair from her chin or mustache area. But in general, the shaving of the face is a common ground for men the world over.

Another landmark on many boys' journeys to manhood is the embrace of conspicuous masculinity. The central concern of conspicuous masculinity is to be sure that those around you (mostly other men) are aware of just how manly you are.
Quote:Don't care about appearance, that's girl stuff.
You must like rough-and-tumble football, because we're men.
You cook? What are you, homosexual?

Sadly, a lot of boys never grow out of this attitude, even after they have become (or should have become) men.

The Cult of Conspicuous Masculinity loves the idea of traditional wet shaving. A naked or near naked blade, skated skillfully across the face, centimeters from the flow of our life's blood. Manly men, doing manly things! After I shave I can use this razor to.. to.. skin a bear or something!

In fairness, that description is true enough, as far as it goes. The complete picture is much more nuanced, and I think more interesting. In the traditional shaving community, I see a lot of behaviors that would provoke disdain and confusion among some of those same Manly Men™ that I've known, and the young man I used to be. The same men who start their day with a deadly weapon on their neck trade suggestions for aftershave products with the best skin care attributes. We debate which shaving cream has the best rose scent. Roses! We offer each other suggestions about which cologne won't clash with the residual smell of our shaving soap. The men doing these things range from teenagers to retirees. Our occupations and vocations range from the the cerebral to the physical. Artists and soldiers swap Clubman stories with retired construction workers.

I'm not sure where the popular image of a "real man" took on this character of unconcern about one's person. I was lucky not to get that at home, so I never bought into it after the peer pressures of early high school. I think that care for oneself is vital to self respect, and self respect is the beginning of respect for those around you. Real manliness is about doing your best, caring for those around you, and taking care of what needs to be done. It's about being confident in yourself - confident enough to take action, and to know when you need to call for help.

I like the fact that traditional shaving and its related disciplines reinforce that while breaking down the stereotypes of "manliness."

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 03-30-2012, 08:07 AM
#2
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Great article Eric! Cool

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 03-30-2012, 08:35 AM
#3
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Eric, well done, well said.Thumbsup

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 03-30-2012, 08:47 AM
#4
  • Brent
  • Active Member
  • Columbus, OH
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Like the article Eric!

It's interesting how you relate that you learned how to shave at the sink with your father and learned other things from him. I think nowadays this isn't the case anymore - and this just isn't a comment about dual homes, etc. I think with the speed things go and how "simple" we're led to believe shaving is, some fathers just won't know to teach their sons this. I personally never had my father teach me how to shave but in the 90's when I was at the age to do so it was "here, use this electric razor" and that's about it.

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 03-30-2012, 09:21 AM
#5
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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I learned when I was about 14, if I remember correctly, so about 1987. My dad taught me with his TRAC-II, so I actually had to learn about blade angle and the like. When I got my own razor it was a Sensor, which had the pivot head, but I'd already learned on a fixed head so I didn't always take advantage of it.

Even in this world of 5 bladed, spring loaded, swivel headed razors, I can't imagine not teaching my son how to do it the first few times. There are still good ideas and bad ideas with any system that's not 100% automatic.

Of course, if I get my way I'm going to teach my son to use a DE, brush and soap to shave, but that's a few years off still.

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 03-30-2012, 09:47 AM
#6
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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I have an old Schick Injector that I don't use and on the case there is a sticker that says Ethan, my 5-year old grandson. When I go to visit them or when they come to visit us, me and Ethan lather up and have a shave together (no blade in his razor). His mother and grandmother are not to excited about the idea, but we have a great time. I love the smell of fresh coffee in the morning and my grandson waking me up saying, grandpa, it's time to shave.

Cherish those special little moments with your son Eric. Blink twice and he will be grown and gone.

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 03-30-2012, 09:51 AM
#7
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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I have been, Johnny. In fact, when I shave and the boy is around, he likes to help. He takes a turn on the brush when we make lather, and hands me my gear. He doesn't want to lather up and "shave" with me anymore, but I give him a bit of aftershave. I love the look on his face when the menthol kicks in. Wink

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 03-30-2012, 09:51 AM
#8
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
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Eric, great article.Clap

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 03-30-2012, 10:36 AM
#9
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Well written Eric Thumbup

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 03-30-2012, 11:50 AM
#10
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Usually those that are trying to get everyone else to live by a certain set of rules, more often than not, are the ones who cannot live up to them.

Conspicuous Masculinists or Feminists both tend to make me want to escape and find someone real to be with for my own sanity sake.

Well written article. Thumbup

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 03-30-2012, 02:08 PM
#11
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Great read! Well done!

I remember Dad at the sink with a DE razor, what I don't remember is great lather, but I was very young and I could be wrong. When it was time for me to learn he was using a "tear 'em out by the roots" electric, and a minor bout with that instrument of torture was enough for me to know I needed to travel another route.

I have to laugh about the "You cook? You must be queer" reference. Well, OK, who doesn't know that? But, not necessarily too. I've never leaned that way; not even a little waver, and I cook and I'm good at it too! Give me a kitchen and basic ingredients and I can whip up some decent chow, but I won't call myself a chef, just a cook. Ladies love men who can cook, even better if one excels at it! I thank my Mom for teaching me to cook.

Oh, and the ladies love clean shaven men too. What a surprise.

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 03-30-2012, 04:49 PM
#12
  • GreekGuy
  • Not saving money yet....
  • La Jolla, CA
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Very nice Article Eric. I think it articulates several fine points that we have all contemplated at some point or another

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 03-30-2012, 05:32 PM
#13
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Enjoyable article Eric, thank you.

I'm one of the ones who's dad got me an electric razor when I needed to shave a bit more regularly. That's about all I used until I got fed up with the electric getting hung in my stubble. So I switched to carts & goo with no instruction. I just "winged it"!

Thanks to the Internet (forums like this, YouTube videos, etc) I finally learned the art of the traditional shave. So while I haven't yet mastered my new skill, I sure am enjoying it.

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 03-31-2012, 08:48 AM
#14
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Great article Eric, I grew up watching my dad shave before work in the mornings because he would cook breakfast afterwards. I sorta learned how to shave and cook eggs at the same time. Sad thing is dad passed away a year before I started to shave. Basketball coach told me to shave before an away game, we had to dress up when we traveled.

Clayton

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 03-31-2012, 09:30 AM
#15
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Dad bought me my first strait razor and had the local barber teach me how to care for it. I remember those days well.

Eric, this is another part of your piece that I really liked reading:

(03-30-2012, 07:46 AM)Songwind Wrote: I'm not sure where the popular image of a "real man" took on this character of unconcern about one's person. I was lucky not to get that at home, so I never bought into it after the peer pressures of early high school. I think that care for oneself is vital to self respect, and self respect is the beginning of respect for those around you. Real manliness is about doing your best, caring for those around you, and taking care of what needs to be done. It's about being confident in yourself - confident enough to take action, and to know when you need to call for help.

Well said.

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 03-31-2012, 12:50 PM
#16
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That is very good article. Good for you for setting things straight.

Here is my take on the "masculine" attitudes quoted:

Quote:Don't care about appearance, that's girl stuff.

Don't care about your appearance? You'll get precious little sugar looking like a skid row bum.

Quote:You must like rough-and-tumble football, because we're men.

On the whole, men tend to be naturally rough and tumble. There's nothing wrong with that. It is part of the cosmic order of things, and one of the reasons our species has survived the last 20,000 years. That being said, simply drinking beer and watching football on TV won't make you manly.

Quote:You cook? What are you, homosexual?

You don't barbeque or cook over a campfire? What are you homosexual? Yes, those things count as cooking. Gobbling down Big Macs doesn't make you a stud.

Sadly, a lot of boys think being a loudmouth or an attention whore will make them men. Traditional wetshaving by itself won't make a guy manly or prissy.

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 03-31-2012, 04:53 PM
#17
  • Sargon
  • Member
  • St. Louis, Missouri
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Nice article, Eric.

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 03-31-2012, 05:50 PM
#18
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Eric, Well written. Thank you.

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 03-31-2012, 06:50 PM
#19
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Superbly written article, sir. The most essential message for most men, respect of oneself leads to respect of others! If most men understood this, then we would not have so many confrontations as their are at the present time.
Congratulations, sir!

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 03-31-2012, 09:41 PM
#20
  • CMur12
  • Semogueiro de Coração
  • Moses Lake, Washington State, USA
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Great article, Eric.

I lived in Brazil, 1975 - 1977, and in Portugal, 1978 - 1981.

In Portugal, a man stayed at home and his mother took care of him until he got married and his wife took over. If a man knew how to cook, he didn't admit it unless he was a chef. This is fairly typical traditionally of Latin countries, in general, but it may be changing now.

So, there I was living in a boarding house in Portugal, cooking for myself, as I really had no other options, anyway. One day, some of the women there were talking about the fact that I could cook, which they obviously approved of. I explained to them that where I grew up a young man gets out on his own when he can and that he has to know how to take care of himself. It is a threat to a young man's pride and masculinity to tell him that he should have stayed home with his mother. Then I told them, "A little old lady 3000 km up the Amazon taught me how to wash clothes by hand, and I'll bet I know tricks you all don't know! Tongue"

- Murray

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