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Religious pressure on women to keep long hair

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    Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:48pm
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the existance of "social pressure" on women to cut their long hair. Dave has perhaps been the most outspoken proponent of this theory, and several others seem to agree.Now, in another thread, Jerky Flea has raised the issue of social pressure on women to NOT cut their long hair. This made sense to me, as per an experience in my own past (when I was a much different person than I am now, and due to my experiences growing up, felt the need to exert strong control over my environment).Anyway, I have a co-worker whose wife has very long hair, and she keeps it long because he MAKES her do it! Well, he does not physically force her NOT to cut it, but he and his friends from his church seem to be exerting pressure on that whole group of wives to NOT cut their hair for religous/social purposes.They are members of a charismatic christian church (sect or cult may be a better phrase to use!), and I asked him about the reasoning.Well, they actually seem to believe that god has ordained that a woman's long hair is a sign of her submission to her husband's authority! No joke.Definitely, this is one of the most bizarre things I have heard in a while.BTW, these women DO cut their hair, they just don't cut it SHORT. They are all good looking, stylish, well dressed, normal-acting, with pretty hair that is healthy, and in some cases permed or colored....they keep their hair long (below the shoulders and longer) to placate their husband's religous beliefs (and presumably they actually believe this stuff too).Comments????
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H.Taylor View Drop Down
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Hello, Lurker! I'm glad you brought up this point. . .it's one that has actually bothered me for quite some time. Throughout junior high I attended school with a girl whom I believe belonged to the same denomination as that you mentioned, and she never even TRIMMED her hair. All of her female family members kept their hair long, and never wore any short clothing of any sort -- even short sleeves were prohibited! It was definitely a control issue and, although she had pretty hair, think of the price she had to pay for it. Personally, I don't remember anything about God having such "requirements"! *Sigh.*In college I also met a girl of a similar background, who believed that it was "evil" for women to alter themselves, as in wearing cosmetics, cutting their hair, and so forth. Whew! Talk about lack of individual expression! She married early and I'm not sure if she finished college or not, but I can pretty much guarantee you her hair still hung down to her knees in sad shape. Of course, I'd be more worried about spiritual "split ends," so to speak. . .I think everybody should have the right to freedom of choice, including something that seems so "simple" as hair. If one wants to wear their hair short, feel free to do so, and obviously if one wants to wear their hair long, the same applies. If a church, boyfriend, or friend ever tried to convince me otherwise, I'd run!
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> Throughout junior high I attended school with a> girl whom I believe belonged to the same denomination> as that you mentioned, and she never even TRIMMED her> hair. All of her female family members kept their hair> long, and never wore any short clothing of any sort --> even short sleeves were prohibited!These people act and look quite normal....in fact in most ways they are very average, normal people. The woman are all nicely dressed in stylish fashions, they DO cut their hair and do perms and colors and such....the just don't cut their hair SHORT. Also, none of the men have long hair, just the standard men's haircut.> It was definitely a control issue....At first this looks like a "control issue", because the women are "forbidden" to have short hair. But, the more I asked my friend, the more I get the idea the women really see this an a suplication issue....their religous beliefs are that long hair on a woman shows her submission to her husband's authority. And, I assume, to their particular church's teachings.The husbands will not allow the women to have short hair, but I kind of get the feeling (or course this is the man to whom I am speaking!) that the women really believe in the issue of long hair as a sign of their devotion to husband and god.Weird to me, but I have come to find there is an Indian religion called Sikh where neither the men NOR the women EVER cut their hair!> In college I also met a girl of a similar background,> who believed that it was "evil" for women to> alter themselves, as in wearing cosmetics, cutting> their hair, and so forth.No, these women definitely wear make-up and such.> I think everybody should have the right to freedom of> choice, including something that seems so> "simple" as hair.As has been noted here in many posts, hair is a VERY powerful religous and cultural symbol, so I am kind of coming around to the idea that it will ALWAYS be a contentious issue. I am reminded in the 1960's when the issue of "hippie hair" was such a big deal.Things really just have not changed much over the centuries!Hasta la Vista!
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H.Taylor View Drop Down
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I have no problems whatsoever with Sikhs. . .as a matter of fact, I am fascinated by them. However, in the denomination I mentioned, the men of course have short hair -- and the women "must" keep their hair long. It *is* a control issue -- control by the church, control by the husbands or boyfriends (no premarital sex, of course), and so forth. I simply don't understand it. . .and I have to admit that the girls were pretty bitter. However, maybe this bitterness will serve a purpose -- maybe one of these days they'll feel that they can break free if, in fact, they choose to do so.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:49pm
To throw in a few cents worth here...I have studied this a little from the outside (web sites) and don't think it is as cut and dried as you see it. There are a variety of denominations out there with different viewpoints (I personally am agnostic, so I see it with some detachment).For the most part, these groups are taking a literal interpretation of the bible. There is a verse in 1 Corinthians that states (paraphrased) 'hair is a woman's crowning glory and is given to her as a covering' There is also something in there about men not having long hair as well.Different 'sects' have different interpretations of it. Some don't allow any cutting, some say the women need to have long enough hair to differentiate from the men,etc...Again, many different interpretations...I have read that this there are two primary reasons for this:- To follow the Biblical teachings- To try to avoid temptation... in some cases this means to quell homosexual urges/leaningsI have not seen any outward relatings of this as a control issue for the women to be submissive, but you could probably extrapolate that fact.Well, different strokes for different folks. I would hope that those that practice these beliefs do so on their own accord, but there are probably some that don't have a choice.No real point, but just like to see my thoughts in print :):):)LJ
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Holly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:49pm
Never heard of that one, I don't think-"To quell homosexual urges". As a Christian (with a protestent background)I do believe in following the Bible and reading it in literal terms unless it's plainly stating a symbolic verse. For example, certain sections of the book of Revelation. What really bothers me though(and believe me, as a make-up wearing, stylish woman I have encountered this many times in certain Churches) is how much dedication is given to little things as what people are wearing or how they groom themselves-i.e. long or short hair,not wearing make-up etc.and not to more important factors such as compassion for all, forgiveness, and all the important teachings of Jesus such as these. Instead, some Churches care only about this. I would like to remind these people(the ones who take issue with hair and make-up-if this is something they don't put upon others, fine, but some Churches actually have rules in their Church doctrine about make-up) of one thing-it also says you're not to set yourself apart like that, showing your pioty in how you dress. Look at the Pharisees in the Bible-Jesus condemned them for always looking wan and showing everyone how they were suffering because they were fasting, as well as other condemnations for their acting better than everyone else). You see, I grew up in a Wesleyan Church with a lot of focus on these things (although they had many good teachings, so I don't want to be critical sounding) but many did not live by the "Love Thy Neighbor" teaching of Jesus, and instead went around thinking they were better Christians than others because of how they dressed down, didn't cut their hair, etc. So, my Mother, who is just like me, and myself were repremanded for our looks-it's not as if we dressed with revealing cleavage or too short of skirts to Church, they just think Women need to be plain. I think so much importance is given to it that the more important factors are sometimes downright ignored. What is important is your relationship with Jesus, and how you treat others. Anything else to do with looks is secondary, if not lastly. I'm not reducing the words of St. Paul to mean that they aren't important-but we have to use our intelligence when reading the Bible as well-meaning take into context the times and what was going on at that moment.There is a teaching that women should never wear pants-not that it says this outright in the Bible, but there is a reference to it where it says (not in this exact wording but words to this effect)that men should not wear women's clothing and women should not wear men's clothing. How do you account for the Roman outfits that by todays standard would look womanly on a man? I actually agree with this verse of the Bible, but I personally think it means cross dressing as transvestites do. It obviously isn't natural, it's odd. Likewise, though, I think St. Paul was speaking in terms that everybody thought was naturally wrong in those days anyhow. It wouldn't be natural and it would be downright disrespectful and wrong if a man came to Church dressed as a woman nowadays, and back then it would be the same if a man covered his head and a woman didn't-it would be today's equal of cross-dressing! I'm not saying that these versus should be discounted as not important (not saying that at all!) or saying to read the Bible and interpret everything to your own philosophy on life-many do this and this is why there's even Churches for homosexuals where it's shown to be outrightly wrong to be homosexual if you read the scriptures-I won't get in to that discussion here, but I'm just saying that you have to read it and think about what you're reading as well, some people just do what their church tells them is right without looking it up and seeing if it is right themselves! My and my family's Church is Methodist, now, and believe me when I say that there are more Churches that ARE NOT like that then those that are. I guess the most important thing is not to look at other people and how they act, or you may not ever discover what true Christianity is all about.I'm sorry I wrote so long, but this is an area in which I and my Mother and others have been subjected negatively to by some people. Please feel free to post back personally or here at Hair Politics. Thanks for reading.Holly
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> the most important thing is not to> look at other people and how they act, or you may not> ever discover what true Christianity is all about-That's what is MOST important :)
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Interesting issue isn't it?Now as a confirmed atheist I don't really have an insider's insight into this, and my view is that people should act on thier beliefs providing this does not impact in a negative manner on the lives of others. The operative word here is 'their': if somebody believes that their God wishes them to have hair down to their knees, hair 2 inches long, or hair that is green - then fine. Where I think this has really negative effects is in situations such as Holly alludes to below where others sanction what one wears. My understanding of how people view God is that he is an all-powerful creater/provider/protector; would such a being really care two hoots how people dress?I once got involved in a quite unpleasent flame war on hairtalk over this issue but I am prepared to risk it once more. Your looks are down to you - wear your hair the way you choose to wear it. If your religious beliefs make you feel that long hair is 'correct' then grow away. We are people in our own right, not the dress-up dolls of others.Here therefore are my ideas on this contraversial subject.With really long hair your freedom of movement is constrained, not only literally by its length and bulk, but figuratively as a result of the time it takes to care for it. I once knew a flight attendent with thigh-length hair who couldn't wash it if she was on call, because she had to be ready to fly in two hours and it took longer than that to dry. Women's dress and hairstyles are often a means to constrain their freedom of movement.Look how many girls cut their hair at around 12/13/14 years of age. This says 'I'm grown up now'. The issue of long hair on older women is of course a whole can of worms in its own right. If you do not 'let' women cut their hair (this goes for domineering partners as much as domineering religious groups) do you not symbolicly prevent them being viewed as adults(this may well be totally unconcious)? Watch the movie 'Deep in the heart' aka 'handgun' where the moment that the adult character becomes an adult is when she cuts her hair. Are you actualy saying that 'Your' women are only little girls really who cannot really make important choices for themselves. I find it interesting that so many of the 'long hair' sects also encourage their women to dress in clothes which emphasise their feminity but not their adult woman shape.Interestigly the converse is that long hair is erotic. Long hair is tactile and many men (and women, even straight ones) find it very stimulating. If the purpose of 'making' women have long hair is to render them less sexually appealing, then this would surely work against it. What cannot be denied is that anybody who chooses their partner's hairstyle for reasons of their own (as opposed to a mutual choice) is mistaking their partner for a dress-up doll.Long hair on women is a powerful gender discriminator, especially if you frown on long hair for men. It determines gender identity. If you encourage long skirts and other feminine clothing for women you underline this.I repeat, have the hairstyle you think is right for you. Just make sure you remember you have to be comfortable with your choices. Sorry for writing in such depth, but I wanted to make these points. Your comments are welcome in either postings or direct e-mail
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Holly, I loved your post. . .thanks for putting a new spin on both priorities and perspectives! :)
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Thank you, H.Taylor, I appreciate that!Holly
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The most important thing is not to look at other people and how they act, or you may not ever discover what true Christianity is all about-That's what is MOST important :)
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> Thank you, H.Taylor, I appreciate that!> HollyH.Taylor,I forgot to put another heading for the subject, so I wasn't sure if you read my "Thank you" post or not:). Thanks again.Holly
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> There has been a lot of discussion lately about the> existance of "social pressure" on women to> cut their long hair. Dave has perhaps been the most> outspoken proponent of this theory, and several others> seem to agree.> Now, in another thread, Jerky Flea has raised the> issue of social pressure on women to NOT cut their> long hair. This made sense to me, as per an experience> in my own past (when I was a much different person> than I am now, and due to my experiences growing up,> felt the need to exert strong control over my> environment).> Anyway, I have a co-worker whose wife has very long> hair, and she keeps it long because he MAKES her do> it! Well, he does not physically force her NOT to cut> it, but he and his friends from his church seem to be> exerting pressure on that whole group of wives to NOT> cut their hair for religous/social purposes.> They are members of a charismatic christian church> (sect or cult may be a better phrase to use!), and I> asked him about the reasoning.> Well, they actually seem to believe that god has> ordained that a woman's long hair is a sign of her> submission to her husband's authority! No joke.> Definitely, this is one of the most bizarre things I> have heard in a while.> BTW, these women DO cut their hair, they just don't> cut it SHORT. They are all good looking, stylish, well> dressed, normal-acting, with pretty hair that is> healthy, and in some cases permed or colored....they> keep their hair long (below the shoulders and longer)> to placate their husband's religous beliefs (and> presumably they actually believe this stuff too).> Comments????First of all I cannot see how you can compare the religion belief to the social pressure . Religion is such a personal subject to some people and we have to respect that part as they have to respect our beleifs in whatever religion we choose.In my part of the country there are ways of life that people do adapt to like being part of the Mennonite colony and so on. IN those cultural groups one does have long hair and they are very very humble and live simple lives. The women and men don't really mix with the rest of society.I have never came across in our society in general that would say" Gee women don't cut your hair" and forces us to keep it. Gee kind of sounds like a dream for some males that a society would say " women don't cut your hair" lolIt would be a very interesting thought for some people. I am just thinking of those guys that loves long hair on women only.Diane
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> First of all I cannot see how you can compare the> religion belief to the social pressure . Religion is> such a personal subject to some people and we have to> respect that part as they have to respect our beleifs> in whatever religion we choose.Good point. People choose their spiritual beliefs. Socialpressure is oftentimes thrown in our faces ("our" beingpeople in general).> In my part of the country there are ways of life that> people do adapt to like being part of the Mennonite> colony and so on. IN those cultural groups one does> have long hair and they are very very humble and live> simple lives. The women and men don't really mix with> the rest of society.For what it's worth, and to comment on the "degree" oramount/frequency of influence to wear one's hair longer orshorter than might otherwise be the case, certainly thereis far more societal pressure to conform to the norm (whichis "short") than there is within several very small (interms of numbers and percentages) religious denominations.> I have never came across in our society in general> that would say" Gee women don't cut your> hair" and forces us to keep it.Absolutely. There is far, far more societal pressure forwomen to cut their hair than their is to keep it long.If ever a woman with long hair is complimented on it, it isgiven (at least in part) as positive affirmation of her*present* choice. When someone is told to "get a haircut"(in whatever "gentle" words, such as "you would look somuch more professional/hip/stylish/etc"), it amounts tonegative criticism of the woman's present choice!Gee kind of> sounds like a dream for some males that a society> would say " women don't cut your hair" lol> It would be a very interesting thought for some> people. I am just thinking of those guys that loves> long hair on women only.Diane, I know that you're just playfully hypothesizing...but I would not want to live in a world the opposite oftoday's. How about people being free to choose (long hair,if they want?) without the societal pressures (especially,to cut) so often dispensed?Dave
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Diane from Canada Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:49pm
> Good point. People choose their spiritual beliefs.> Social> pressure is oftentimes thrown in our faces> ("our" being> people in general).> For what it's worth, and to comment on the> "degree" or> amount/frequency of influence to wear one's hair> longer or> shorter than might otherwise be the case, certainly> there> is far more societal pressure to conform to the norm> (which> is "short") than there is within several> very small (in> terms of numbers and percentages) religious> denominations.> Absolutely. There is far, far more societal pressure> for> women to cut their hair than their is to keep it long.> If ever a woman with long hair is complimented on it,> it is> given (at least in part) as positive affirmation of> her> *present* choice. When someone is told to "get a> haircut"> (in whatever "gentle" words, such as> "you would look so> much more professional/hip/stylish/etc"), it> amounts to> negative criticism of the woman's present choice!> Gee kind of> Diane, I know that you're just playfully> hypothesizing...> but I would not want to live in a world the opposite> of> today's. How about people being free to choose (long> hair,> if they want?) without the societal pressures> (especially,> to cut) so often dispensed?> DaveHello Dave:So nice to hear from you. No I was teasing the males that really would like to see tons of females with long hair that is all.It was playing in a fantasy. lol.Of course it would be nice to have such a perfect society that people wouldn't have all the negative messages thrown at them all the time. But c'est la vie.Diane
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> My understanding of how people view God is that he is> an all-powerful creater/provider/protector; would such> a being really care two hoots how people dress?Exactly, Andy,I agree! I'm sure He doesn't care. He is more concerned with people's relationship with Him and their soul, meaning whether they have turned their lives over to Him, not what they choose as a hairdo, styling choice, or to wear or not wear make-up.If people feel (and it is true that these are only certain Churches in the Protestant faith, and they are not the majority of protestant Churches)in these denominations that they should follow these rules, but don't judge others for it, then that is only right because they shouldn't. What I and my Mother and others have found, though, is that a lot of them do judge others who attend these Churches, but don't follow their ideas on clothes and hair. They might not do that to those who don't profess to be Christains,and go to their Church, but to those of us that do, and attend this type of Church, but don't agree with the dress and hair code, they can look and treat you very judgementally. Just the way they act around you is enough to let you know, although it can and has been said out loud. These people just don't see the damage they cause by being this way, and miss the whole point of what they stand for. Luckily, I and my family were grounded enough in our Faith that it didn't turn us away from God, but there are others who have just from this kind of mentality!This is not to brag on my part, but I've been reading the Bible since I was 13 years old and I'm now 31. I read usually two chapters and read it almost everyday. The reason I mention this is because I don't ever recall seeing that women should not have short hair-just that it's shameful for it to be shaved, and that it's shameful for a man to have long hair. I covered in my first posting about this topic what I think this means. I truly don't feel it's wrong for women to have short hair, or for men to have long hair, as long as the woman looks like a woman, and the man looks like a man. Now if people are trying to lookk like the opposite sex on purpose, that's another story, but this isn't what these certain people are saying-they just feel you are to look one certain way, because anything else is too worldly, in their eyes, and that they should look more plain, to set themselves apart. I don't think it's because the men are putiing rules down to women because they feel they can't make their own choices-the women are going along with this too,and agreeing with it in many cases. The men usually follow rules themselves-short hair only, is the usual one. However, I've seen at times where the men may have terrific haircuts and snazzy clothes, but the women look like extras from "Little House on the Prairie"- and I think, o.k., they are worried about women not doing any coloring and perming (although some Churches do allow this, more on that later)and cutting their hair, but it's alright for them to style theirs, and wear clothes that are good-looking-don't they think that women can be attracted to that in a man, though, like a man can a woman? This is the kind of thing they are trying to avoid, I thought? See, I feel like if it's good for one, it's good for all-both men and women. Then you have those that pick and choose their rules-you can't have short hair but you can make it as sexuallyy appealling as possible. Well,, if your going to follow these rules, then you better go the whole way in following them. Maybe they have their own reasons, but to me they are man-made reasons and I agree with your point Andy. If anything, you are not be like the Pharisees in the Bible who always went around trying to show how religious they were, and Jesus condemned them for it. I still have to emphasize that MOST protastent Churches Aren't that way, I and my family have found a new Church some years back- but the media-T.V., movies, and the news, always seem to find these types of individuals to center on and make the reprsentatives of all Protestant faiths. I'm not totally criticizing these Churches-most of them have good sound teachings about Christianity-that I agree with-but they just get too judgmental, and about little things like hairstyles and clothes, and they can end up doing more damage than good with people. They're not cults like someone else said they might be, they just are hung up on the little things, and thats a shame because otherwise they have very good teachings. Any one who wants to write personally can write to my e-mail address, or of course just post here.Holly
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I've always thought that most people don't get the difference between spirituality and religion. Someone can be very spiritual and never set foot inside a church.Jeff.
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> H.Taylor,> I forgot to put another heading for the subject, so I> wasn't sure if you read my "Thank you" post> or not:). Thanks again.Holly, thank you for the thank you! :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:50pm
Dear Lurker,There is no doubt there are people who use religion as a means to exert "control" over other people. That is unfortunate because many end up in situations from which they cannot escape. Some of these people are well meaning, "good" people, and sincere in their beliefs, while others are just using it as a place to exercise their strength. Religious convictions go to the core of an individual and it is not easy to have a black and white response to this issue.It is not my desire to condone any such activity, but I hope, as a Christian, that those reading this do not judge all Christians by such groups. I personally believe Gods intent is for us to have a better life with freedom, not bondage to another. The entire issue of submission and headship is not something to be debated here, but I can assure you that my wife is equal to me in all things and not subject to my demands.I must admit my wife and I would not be welcome in such a group. I have very long hair and my wife has relatively short hair. Also, it is unfortunate that many people in groups like this feel they are the only "true church" and wouldnt see my fellow believers as part of that body. I believe that although the basic truths of the faith are the same, God reveals Himself and allows people to express themselves in different ways. Enough theology!I personally like long hair on women. But I also feel each person has the right to make their own choice. And I dont believe it is a theological issue! I love my wife no matter how she wears her hair :-)Sadly we had some friends who, at one time, belonged to a similar group of Christians. We met them when they joined our church. For several years we met together in a home bible study. They had four children, two boys and two girls. The wife always wore her hair long, but usually tied up in a bun. There was no doubt her husband was the leader and she followed his commands. My wife and this man did not get along very well because of his domineering attitudes. But there developed a friendship and bond between everyone in our group and we accepted each other unconditionally.Although this man and his wife left our church for another, we maintained a friendship through the years. Several years ago he contracted cancer and recently died. We learned through the husband of one of his daughters that through the childhood years of his children, he had molested the two girls. It was an abhorrent revelation and very sad to learn what happened to these two beautiful young women. Unfortunately, the wife did not work and apparently saw no way out of the situation. Now she is alone and it will be interesting to see if she changes her image.This is a sad example of belief gone awry, and hopefully not what is normally the case. I think people should be free to choose, everything from religion to hair length. And if a person is unhappy in a bad situation, as Lurker mentions, I hope they would have the strength to get out.Kent
Kent
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TinaBrowning Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2000 at 8:50pm
> The most important thing is not to look at other> people and how they act, or you may not ever discover> what true Christianity is all about-> That's what is MOST important :)To Holly, H.Taylor et al: This has been a rewarding discussion, to the MAX! Altho I'm a very secular person and an admitted 'fetishist' concerning the beauties and erotic appeal of very long hair, it is extremely helpful to not get too stuck in my own Thing, but to open up to new and different perspectives such as those you've offered here. As one theme emphasizes, I like others have my strong aesthetic and erotic preferences toward beautiful hair (as a 'God-given' Blessing to be cherished, when one is fortunate enough to have it and know how to care for it), but I stop well short of trying to force or control women or anyone else in their choices. The examples given are thought-provoking. It's my first visit to this site, but I'll be back, hoping to participate and learn more. Luv, TinaBrowning (on the Web, I am transgendered m/f).
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