Not a fan of the lumbersexual fad that began sweeping the hipster world last year? There may be a deeper reason for that beyond hating how scratchy it feels when you kiss someone with one.
A new Australian study suggests that men with beards are actually more sexist than men who keep it clean shaven. This may be surprising to many, because there was also a recent study that said men with beards are viewed as more sexually attractive by women. So how can a beard be both enticing and morally repellent at the same time? The scientific answer is rather unfortunate — women overall find a more masculine-looking man sexy despite his views on gender equality. And men, in turn, grow beards because they want to appear more powerful to men.
Two Australian psychology professors, Julian A. Oldmeadow and Barnaby J. Dixson, decided to see if more masculine-looking men did indeed veer toward the misogynistic. They looked at a rather large pool of participants — 500 from the United States and India — and asked them a series of questions, first about their facial hair preferences.
Participants were given nine photos, each depicting a different beard style, and were asked to pick the one that most resembled their own. I suppose they did this to see whether guys with goatees were more sexist than guys with mustaches (probably). Once they were properly categorized, they moved on to asking them sexist questions.
These were a mix of what Oldmeadow and Dixson called “benevolent and hostile” sexist statements. That means that while both types are considered sexist, one is much less aggressive than the other. Here are a couple of the hostile ones: “Most women interpret innocent remarks as being sexist” and “women seek to gain power by getting control over men.”
In my opinion, the benevolent ones aren’t much better, but at least they don’t make me think the commenter might punch me at some point. “Women should be cherished and protected by men” and “a good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man.” Kind of sweet, right? If not rather outdated for this century.
Sadly the psychologists’ research proved their theory — men with facial hair gravitate toward sexist thoughts more than men without. Overall, these bearded fellows felt more connected to the negative sexist statements, and what’s worse, they weren’t afraid to voice that in this study. While that’s disturbing enough, the researchers did also notice that both bare-faced and whisker-faced men responded positively to the more benevolent sexist statements, which is disconcerting in its own right.
This proves we’re still battling those age-old, traditional gender stereotypes despite how far we think we’ve come with gender equality. Oldmeadow told Mic, “What our results suggest is that we still have some way to go to separate masculine identity from hostile sexist beliefs and attitudes. If wearing facial hair is an expression of masculine identity, then it appears that hostile sexist beliefs are still part of this masculine identity.”
While these results are certainly not true of all men sporting beards, it’s a sign we still have a lot of work to do. I think perhaps the best way to combat the stereotype during the holiday season is to systematically blast all sexist beard-wearers with glitter. That way they’ll still have their beards, but they’ll be a lot less gruff- and hostile-looking.