The evening chill descends on my beachfront neighbourhood like a tiresome guest at a cocktail party. I sit on my balcony and sip a glass of Argentine malbec, enjoying the sound of the pounding surf. An unsettling thought suddenly occurs to me. For all of my hostility towards the hipsters, I realize, I actually share quite a number of similarities with them.
These are, for the most part, merely superficial. Flannel shirts and denim? I've been wearing them for years, although mine are probably laundered more frequently. Horn-rimmed spectacles? Been there, done that, about to do it again. Short back-n-sides or clipped haircut? Ditto, and you can check it out for yourself on this blog. Beard? Yes, it's well-documented, recently, too.
Important differences exist. For one, I don't have any tattoos, although I'm not particularly hostile to the idea. The other thing is, where hipsters often try to look like woodsmen, I actually have the physique of a lumberjack. Most of the hipsters I've seen are small, wiry young fellows. It's not their fault, though; I applaud them for trying. And finally, as you know, I thoroughly loathe bow-ties.
This comparison, I believe, was subconsciously prompted by a recent article at The Atlantic on beards. The piece in question essentially labelled as 'racist' European-American men who sport facial hair, such as yours truly. Reviewing the history of beards in America, it is an amusing piece of research, and reading it one would be hard-pressed to determine if the author, Sean Trainor, is being entirely serious. I suspect he is.
Anti-beardism, I would argue, is simply the result of lesser-male jealousy. Beard envy, if you will. A beard practically roars masculinity. It is blatant testament to the inequality between the sexes, and, one might add, among the races. And if one combines it with height, weight-lifting and the right attitude, it's bound to alarm the smooth-cheeked mangina contingent. All of these combine to produce a powerful rebuke to the prevailing ideology of egalitarianism.
One might go further. Bearded hipsterdom itself in a way represents a reclamation of masculine style and masculine pastimes. It is a carving-out of a masculine space in an increasingly feminized world. I would add here that there is a deep undercurrent of European-American identity in this project, however strongly hipsters and others might deny it. Note the appropriation of their forefathers' clothing, the dedication to old-school grooming, the taking-up of antiquated crafts and vocations. One might go on.
All of this, of course, is too great a shock to the fogey system and merits no more than a few moments' worth of reflection.
I pour another glass of wine, pull my Barbour quilted jacket around myself, and glare into the darkness.