November 16, 2011

No Shave November intrigues, irritates, itches

For the past three weeks, males and females everywhere have let their hair follicles run amok, unhindered by the razor in the chilly month of November. No Shave November has hit with reckless abandon for finals, but I find myself disappointed with the outcome.
In my experience with the eminent Novembeard over the past few weeks, there have been essentially two reactions I have witnessed: one, a veneration for a revived masculinity; or two, a complete disgust at a lack of taste and hygiene. The former has more often than not been male subjects, while the latter has been primarily female.
I received wealthy amounts of praise from males, especially during the post-first week period. Perhaps we were united by the bond of our testosterone-induced ambition, or perhaps simply lonely due to our female counterparts’ abandonment and ostracism. Either way, the events that happen as a result of No Shave November seem to conspire to make it a time when male bonding is at its peak.
In light of this, the commitment males tend to have to the tradition in spite of the stigma it carries can be rather admirable, albeit baffling. For example, in 2007 at a college in New Zealand, getting banned from end-of-year graduation prizes wasn’t enough to keep several male students from growing out their mustaches during the month of November.
Of course, for the first week, it seems that the general consensus among females is that scruff is enough, so to speak. The look of the rugged everyman combined with a defined jaw line is an age-old symbol of masculinity, and most women found a little scruff attractive, if not intriguing.
Once it gets past the first couple weeks, however, you will watch those expressions change from curiosity to consternation, those pleasant smiles into suspicious stares. Yes, your newly found charm will dissipate before your eyes, and you will be forced to retreat to your hairy circle of heathens.
However, the tradition is not restricted to males, of course. Many females participate, and the problem of ostracism could be potentially solved if more did, and if the month did not carry the stigma of males proving their masculine nature to the world. In fact it could be argued that the month has more significance for females, whose faces, legs and armpits are assumed by custom to be clean-shaven nearly every day.
So after all, perhaps No Shave November does not have to be a month in which genders are divided by the custom of hairlessness. Perhaps not all participants must sleep alone in the cold for finals. Perhaps, yes, perhaps, this could be a chance for brother to line up with sister under the banner of hairiness. Embrace your natural egalitarian roots, friends! Embrace your hairy essence! Adieu.

Sam Brownson
Sam Brownson ’12 majored in philosophy and minored in anthropology and sociology. This is his second year copy editing for TKS; he is also currently a post-baccalaureate fellow in music and theater and will be composing the music for two productions as part of Knox’s Repertory Theatre Term. A self-described grammar Nazi, Sam worked as a TKS reporter and as a writer and editor for his high school newspaper before joining the TKS editorial staff. He also manages social media for Brownson Properties in Holland, Mich.

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