My, oh my—American women are suffering a major mental health crisis. At least, a significant number of female Washingtonians are taking Hillary’s election loss badly. Very badly, indeed.
The great feminist heroine, the woman whose election would vindicate the political and ideological commitments of so many women, had been defeated by a misogynist boor. If they could not beat Donald Trump, what were they fighting for? They had gone all-in on Hillary, even though her successes, such as they were, derived more from her husband than from anything she had done.
Strangely, not one of the women who is flocking to the hair salon to make herself look less than her best has considered the possibility that Hillary lost the election by being less than a competent candidate and by being less than a successful public official.
We will not say anything about Hillary’s looks, or about her constantly changing hair styles, but she was not the most feminine woman around. For many women she stood as the woman who had overcome the feminine mystique.
Was that the reason why so many women did not like Hillary? One would like to see an explanation for that.
Perhaps these women were living in a bubble where everyone has been cowed and bullied into believing one thing. They are convinced that they are right; they are persuaded that they are leading the world toward a brave new world; they know in their viscera that everyone in the country is on the same page.
And then they are like the leader whose troops have deserted him, and who finds himself out exposed, and on his own. It's not a good feeling.
Are they more horrified at what happened or more horrified at having so completely misread the mood of the American people?
One hates to sound sexist here, but for many women it’s all about their hair.
New York Magazine reports that hair salons in the D. C. area are seeing more and more women asking to have their hair cut off. These women are disowning their tresses, and lowering their pheromones because they have no other way to protest and to rebel against the horror that has just befallen them. (For the record, most of a woman’s sexual attraction hormones, her pheromones are in her hair. Take that as you wish.)
Allow me to mention the obvious point: women in Washington are more likely to be working for the government or for a not-for-profit. They are less likely to be working in commerce, industry or manufacturing. One might say that the Obama years were golden years for them. And that, sexism notwithstanding, the Trump years might see government workers lose respect and prestige.
The women who are cutting their hair off are doing it for Hillary. Already, we have reason to question their judgment. And they are doing it to strike back against Trump. Yet, I don’t quite understand why harming your appearance is a blow against the patriarchy,. Then again, I did not take any classes in Women’s Studies.
Heidi Mitchell has the story:
That sense of malaise is spreading across D.C. As women stare up at that glass ceiling still hanging over them and contend with a pussy-grabbing kleptocrat moving into the nearby White House, they are collectively — however subconsciously — making their own statements of rebellion by challenging traditional notions of beauty.
Is it all be about shedding the trappings of femininity? Because that will teach those misogynist pigs a lesson. Then again, it might tell them to avoid your company:
“When you see that much blonde hair on the floor, you know something is going on,” says Nicole Butler, creative director and master colorist at Daniel’s Salon in Dupont Circle. During the notoriously slow month of November, her salon received a startling number of bookings, with at least three women a day sitting in her chair and asking for a drastic change, like cutting off six inches, going black, or going platinum.
Were these women declaring their independence? If so, independence from what: from curlers and blow dryers?
“Usually stuff like this is planned for weeks and put on the books after several consultations, but this was very spontaneous,” Butler says. “It was like a mass declaration of independence.”
Naturally, Mitchell has found an expert to explain it all. Marion Jacobs thinks it has something to do with control. In case you did not know, today’s therapists think that everything is a control issue. It’s their mental fetish du jour. I am sure you feel enlightened already.
Marion Jacobs, a former professor of psychology at UCLA and the author of Take-Charge Living: How to Recast Your Role in Life … One Scene at a Time, believes the phenomenon is a way for women in D.C. to feel powerful in a moment where a stranger has seized the steering wheel. “When people experience a change that is so opposite from their value system, that’s very unnerving,” says Dr. Jacobs, who has a private practice in Laguna Beach, California. “People will use all kinds of coping mechanisms, and cutting their hair and changing their look is one way to show or feel that they are doing something over which they have control.”
Surely, these women are sympathizing with Hillary Clinton, the candidate whose slogan was: Stronger Together. Was it all a bluff? Did certain segments of the American populace, including no small number of women, call the feminist bluff? Then again, are these newly shorn women trying to tell us that being strong does not coincide with being feminine?
But, wasn’t that the most obvious point about the Hillary candidacy?
In Mitchell’s words:
“One of my clients said, ‘Think of Melania Trump and go in the opposite direction,’” she says. “She said, ‘I don’t want to be that person people see as sexual, I want to be seen as strong.’” Another professional woman cut her hair into a flattop. One client got rid of the blonde highlights she maintained forever, “because she said she never wants to be seen as cheap. I don’t know where that idea came from, but maybe that’s what she’s hearing.”
Some women thought that by cutting off their hair they were showing that they no longer wanted to fit in to society. As mentioned above, biology has it that long hair contains more pheromones, so it’s not all about conforming to societal norms:
George Washington University teaching instructor Dr. Kristian Henderson had been battling with her hair for years, but after the election, she finally took off her weave and cut it all off. “The election results felt like an attack on minorities, women, and marginalized people in general. Having long hair was my attempt to fit into society, so after the election, I felt a need to exert my ‘uniqueness’ and not tie my femininity to the length of my hair,” she says.
To keep it fair and balanced, Mitchell notes that some women are keeping the look they had before the election. For Julianna Evans it was Goth. By her analysis, losing the election provoked the feeling a woman gets when her boyfriend dumps her and then moves in next door.
So, these women felt rejected, as though by a boyfriend. And they wanted to punish these men by clipping off their own tresses? Huh?
Evans is continuing to fight the good fight to defeat misogyny. Besides, she loves her narrative and even if the world rejects it, she refuses to give it up. In it she’s a commanding general… so it doesn’t matter that she has no troops behind her:
Julianna Evans likes the narrative she’s commanding, and says she’s keeping her goth look, though her stylist has added some more natural lowlights. “You have to live here to understand that we are immersed in politics every day,” the mother of two explains. “For many of us, with this election, it’s like your boyfriend dumped you in a really shocking way with no explanation and then moved in next door.” She is resigned to fighting against what she sees as a mandate for sexism through her own style choices. “Now, I feel like my hair says you can’t bring me down. This misogyny will not persevere. The bumper sticker for me is, ‘I am woman, hear me roar.’”
This is more than passing strange. It becomes even stranger when you try to put it all into something of a historical context. We know that some nuns do have their hair cut short. Presumably, their vocation and their membership in the sisterhood are not consonant with seeking to attract male erotic attention.
And then there is this. In France during and after the Nazi occupation women who were accused of collaborating with Nazis, of having sex with their captors, were humiliated by having their hair cut off, that is, by having their heads shaved.
The information comes from a site called Real Historical Photos:
French women who befriended the Nazis, through coerced, forced, or voluntary relationships, were singled out for shameful retribution following the liberation of France. The woman photographed here, believed to have been a prostitute who serviced German occupiers, is having her head shaved by French civilians to publicly mark her. This picture was taken in Montelimar, France, August 29, 1944.
At the end of World War II, many French people accused of collaboration with Germany endured a particularly humiliating act of revenge: their heads were shaved in public. Nearly all those punished were women. Most historians have stressed the sexual anxiety created by the Nazi Occupation and how women’s sexual activity was judged as part of a public “cleansing” after liberation. Similar to the vigilante gangs that punished men who collaborated with the occupiers, groups would band together to judge women by parading them in the public square. This episode in French history continues to provoke shame and unease and as a result has never been subject of a thorough examination.