I can’t help but wonder also if this public display of raw masculinity isn’t also a reaction to the relative decline in male power in American life and culture. As girls beat boys in school, and as women increasingly beat men in college, and as women out-pace men in vast swathes of the economy, and as old patterns of allegedly sexist male culture are policed and patrolled with ever-greater assiduity, the beard and the old-school manliness of the lumbersexual become new ways to express masculinity which cannot be denigrated or dismissed as sexist. It’s a way to reclaim manliness without running afoul of the new prophets of gender justice.
It’s s strange feeling to be ambling along for however many years, just doing my unremarkable, un-self-conscious thing, only to wake up one day and discover that certain tastemakers and media outlets have suddenly pronounced it to be a thing. Complete with an ideological stance, even! I knew there was a reason I kept those flannel shirts from twenty years ago; I just thought it was because they were so soft and comfortable and made to last.
Me, I was devastated years ago by the loss of my youngest dog to lymphoma, and in my grief, I happened to let a few weeks go by without shaving. As I returned to equilibrium, I decided that I greatly preferred the way I looked with a beard and decided to keep it, and so I have done. I wish I could pretend it had a more exciting genesis than that, but at least I’ll still like the way I look with it long after the politically-bearded have moved on to different fashions.
And what about that suddenly-fashionable appearance of mine? Well, according to the correspondent who recently sent me this picture from a beard site, I bear a “striking resemblance” to this guy:
Hmm. Well, the build and hairstyle are pretty much the same. My eyes are normally a little wider than that. I’m not as visibly tattooed, though, and my hair is a blend of ash-blond and light brown rather than red. And he’s probably a month or two ahead of me in the beard-length department. But yeah, I could probably strike a very similar pose, so I’ll accept it and be flattered by the comparison! I mean, that’s one handsome dude. Why, I could possibly even go a little gay for a fine-looking fellow like that. What? I could. Just a little bit, you know.
Howard: If I don’t get some action soon, I’m going gay.
Vince: What? You?
Howard: What’s so funny about that?
Vince: You are the LEAST gay person I’ve ever met.
Howard: I COULD go gay. You’ve got me all wrong. I could go gay like THAT, sir!
Vince: You can’t just go gay! It’s not like buying a ladder!