4

Most discussions of gender differences in hair length seem to argue that men have had "long" hair in many cultures (such as the answers to "When and why did having long hair become associated with women, and short hair with men?"). However, I'm not interested in the question of "how long is 'long'". Rather, it seems to me that, irrespective of how long might be considered "long", in almost every culture I've read about, within that culture, women's typical hair length is normally noticiably longer than men's typical hair length. So, I'm not interested in comparing hair length across cultures, but rather with comparing typical hair lengths for each gender within cultures. Hence, my question: Has there been any culture where men typically have longer hair than women?

The only possible culture that I've read about is ancient Sparta, where apparently men wore their hair long and married women cut theirs short. However, in the brief mentions I've read about this, I've never read anything about how long was the hair of unmarried women relative to that of men, so that anecdote doesn't necessarily prove to be an exception, or if it is, it might only be a partial exception. I have asked specifically about the Sparta situation in a separate question.

EDIT: I am already aware of the question and answers to Have fashionable hair lengths ever been reversed from their current styles?. However, that question and answer does not seem to generalize to a culture-wide phenomenon. More importantly, there is nothing in the answer that indicates that "long" hair for men meant "longer" than what was typical for women, which is the crux of my question. So, my question is quite distinct from that one.

  • 2
    What cultures were you reading about? In many cases where men kept long hair, it was the result of keeping it as long as it could grow. Thus the length was more or less equal between the genders. For example, all the various periods and distinct cultures of Han Chinese civilisation, or Koreans and their buns. Some shave/cut parts of the head but let other parts grow to their limits; for example, Manchurians with queue (ponytail), Khitans, or Jurchens. – Semaphore Jan 2 '16 at 14:35
  • 3
  • @Tom Au, I've edited to clarify why this is not a duplicate question. – Ochado Jan 2 '16 at 16:38
  • @Semaphore, could you please expand your comment into a formal answer? I'm not a historian, so there's a LOT that I've not read about. – Ochado Jan 2 '16 at 16:39
  • @Ochado It wouldn't be an answer to the question, since I was commenting only about your statement that "in almost every culture (...) women's typical hair length is normally noticiably longer than men's typical hair length". Which is certainly wrong, but does not directly relate to your topic of whether men's hair was actually longer. – Semaphore Jan 2 '16 at 17:44
2

I believe there were some North American tribes where that was common, but I'm having trouble coming up with proof. There's surprisingly little writing on traditional native hairstyles for women, particularly in individual tribes.

However, its incontrovertible that many native men grew their hair as long as possible, so in their case it was at least as long as their women's.

Hair held great symbolic importance for men in many Native American tribes, especially in Western tribes like the Sioux and Blackfoot. Men in these tribes only cut their hair to show grief or shame,

enter image description here

If you happen to live somewhere near "Indian Country" (as I do), it is not entirely uncommon to see men of native extraction with very long braids today.

6

Hasidic Jews.

Nicholas I in 1851 forbid the practice of women shaving their heads (remember that Hasidic men do not cut their hair, so their hair is longer). hat tip to user6591 for correcting my error. Hasidic men do not cut their sidelocks, so on the aggregate, Hasidic men's hair is longer than that of Hasidic women (or at least those that practice the custom).

An article from a modern Hasidic Jew

Detroit Interfaith has perhaps a clearer version of the cultural practice

Some ultra-orthodox Jewish women shave their heads and wear only a kerchief (called a tichel) on their heads. It is a lot easier to cover a shaved head than it is to cover a full head of hair under a wig. Most Hasidic Jewish women wear wigs. Modern orthodox women might wear only a hat that covers only part of their hair.

  • 1
    This is partially true. There is a minority of hassidic Jewish women who shave their heads (for the most part they themselves don't know why, reasons range from ritual purity to discouraging the rapes by surrounding gentiles in eastern Europe). As opposed to hassidic men who by and large do shave their heads. The point of confusion is in the sidelocks which again the vast majority of hassidic men grow long which you may see curled, but this is only a small part of their heads above the ears. If you see a hassidic man without his kippa, you will see his head is shaven. – user6591 Jan 3 '16 at 0:14
  • Thank you for the correction; I was working largely from memory, and having trouble finding sources for the reasons you cite in your parenthetical. I shall correct the error. Even with your corrections, I think this fits the criteria. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 3 '16 at 0:41
  • 2
    That's why I wrote partially. The sidelock part:) but again, it is only a certain small fraction of hassidic women who shave their heads. It Is hard to pinpoint which groups do practice this and which don't. Also that interfaith article is kinda misleading. There is a large group of Jewish women, probably just called orthodox or ultra orthodox who fall between the two groups in that article who completely cover their hair with wigs or turban/tichel/what-have-you who do not shave. The vast majority of Hasidic women will fall under this last category. – user6591 Jan 3 '16 at 0:53
  • This is definitely good, but if you read my comment about Sparta in the original question, you will see that it is not quite what I was looking for. The question here would be: is the hair of Hasidic men typically longer than the hair of unmarried Hasidic women? Cultures where married women cut their hair short or shave it (ancient Sparta, Hasidic Jews, maybe others?) are only partial exceptions, but in both cases I would like to know if the men's hair was/is typically longer than that of unmarried women. From my personal experience with Hasidic Jews, the answer seems to be NO. – Ochado Jan 3 '16 at 17:15
0

I believe that in some cultures and some times it was considered immodest for women to show their bare hair in public. Thus women would wear their hair short enough to be covered up with hats or kerchiefs or whatever. If it wasn't considered shameful for men to show their hair, they might sometimes and some places have wore it longer than women.

  • 2
    This post could be a lot better if it cited any specific examples or resources confirming these claims. – Gwen Jan 3 '16 at 4:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.