Rev. Emily C. Heath

Barbers, Gender, & Why $5 Matters

Filed By Rev. Emily C. Heath | June 01, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: feminism, financial costs, gender, gender identity, LGBT civil rights

I have a very simple haircut. Stop reading for a second and look up at my picture on the top of this page. See that? Short. Neat. Simple. I can be in and out of a barber shop in fewer than 10 minutes. The barber buzzes the back of my head with a two-blade and the sides with a three blade, and then just trims the top. I've found that barbers can do it better, and cheaper, than salons.

Barber.jpgMy two favorite places are both queer-friendly shops: Blade in the South End of Boston and the Monument Barbershop in Provincetown. I try to hold off on cuts until I am near one or the other. But earlier this week I looked in the mirror and saw that my hair was resembling Albie Grant's in Big Love. With a week of meetings to go until I vacation in Provincetown, I decided to give in and go to the barber in a nearby town.

When I arrived, the barber was busy cutting a man's hair in the first seat. I waited about five minutes, and another barber came out and called me back. She cut my hair in fewer than 10 minutes and I was on my way. The guy next to me was still getting his hair cut.

My barber rang me out for $25, and I handed $30 over to her, thinking to myself, "It's just as expensive in this Vermont town as it is in the South End?" And that's when it dawned on me that something wasn't right. I turned and looked for the posted prices, but they weren't there. So I asked:

"How much do you charge men for that same cut?"


"But I got what is generally considered a men's cut."

"We just charge women $25."

"But that's not right. You didn't do any more work."

She shrugged and said, "I just work here."

I didn't push it. I'm the sort of person who won't send back a bad meal because I don't want the waiter to think I'm impolite. I wasn't going to press a barber who didn't make the rules for $5. But as the day went on, it bothered me more. I got a haircut that took less time than the guy in the chair next to me, and I was charged $5 more based on my perceived gender.

I can understand charging a woman $5 more if she has longer hair or requests a more complex cut. But I would hope a man with long or complicated hair would be charged that $5 extra too. A certain cut should cost the same, regardless of gender.

I am sometimes struck by the reluctance of LGBTQ people to embrace the fight against gender discrimination as our own. The reality is that what happened today at the barber shop is a queer issue. We might be apt to dismiss it as a "women's issue" that's not relevant to the greater movement. But there's a danger in that. Beyond the fact that justice for us must be connected to justice for other groups, there is the reality that we live in a society obsessed with the gender binary and limited gender roles. The idea that it's a short jump from gender expectations to homophobia and transphobia seems at times to be lost on us.

And so, when we are faced with the little gender-based injustices of life, that is where our struggles begin. Whether it's checking off our gender on a marriage license application, fighting to have our correct gender shown on a driver's license, or paying five dollars too much for a haircut, it is a reality that our gender or perceived gender can be used to limit us, to unfairly define us, to control us.

Five dollars may not seem like much when we consider what it can buy. But in terms of what it costs us, it's a fortune.

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I'm going to have to disagree. This is not at all a queer issue and most definitely not a cases of discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity. It is solely a case of discrimination based on gender. In most jurisdictions, that's already a protected class and the advocacy needs to move from implementation to enforcement.

You made the argument yourself - that male or female with short hair should be charged one price and alternately that male or female with long hair should be charged a different price. That would be a fair structure that did not come from a place of gender based discrimination.

The problem here is message and mission drift. There are, in fact, three different classes in play here - gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. I am not naive enough to believe that gender discrimination has been eliminated by the passage of laws. However, the fight for gender equality is at a drastically different point in its evolution and therefore should not be completely lumped together.

As a general rule I have higher expectations in terms of training and skill for a stylist vs. a barber. A lot of perfectly good barbers are hopeless at doing women's hair and pricing reflects that.

That's speaking of things in general. In this specific instance, where it's a basic cut, it doesn't make much sense charging differently. Many places where I live charge a base fee with added charges for long hair and additional services. Gender isn't part of the mix.

This is clearly a queer issue. Thank you for naming it as such.

Om Kalthoum | June 1, 2011 10:34 PM

Let's not make stuff so complicated. It's not a "gender" issue; it's not a "queer" issue (did the barber want to know who the OP was sexually attracted to before deciding on a rate?); it's a simple sex issue (you know, that old fashioned male/female thing). They clearly stated that they charged different prices for the exact same product solely on the basis of the customer's sex. That's called sex discrimination and it's probably illegal most places.

"Queer" denotes more than desire. The Rev's queer/butch gender expression means that she trangresses gender norms and assumptions in a barbershop, that her "simple haircut" complicates the assumptions behind a "man's" haircut (simple) and a woman's (an extra $5 worth of effort).

I will never stop being surprised at how many bilerico comments boil down to, "I don't want to be an ally to this person! Our struggles don't overlap!" when so frequently they do.

Ms. Stein is absolutely correct. This is a gender issue and a queer issue. Not only did the barber show gender discrimination, but they also forced customers into a gender binary that is in some cases incorrect. I'm curious when a gender issue becomes "queer enough" for those with tremendous gender privilege? Is it when a butch is kicked out of a men's store? When she is not hired for a job because of her gender expression? Or is it just when it's an issue you feel interested enough to explore?

Beyond that, what if this were simply an instance of sex discrimination? Why is it not a queer issue? Our allies from other movements have made our queer rights a labor issue, a racial justice issue, a religious intolerance issue, a feminist issue. Shouldn't we return the consideration? Each person is a unique intersection of identities joined together in the complex web of humanity. If they are queer and they face a form of discrimination, it becomes a queer issue because you can never remove their queer identity from the mix.

I'll also add that this is not the sort of area that groups like the HRC have ever been great at navigating. This call to craft a simpler "message" will never result in full equality for all members of our community. (And on another note, when was the last time you saw a butch featured by these groups? I doubt that's an accident.) The reality is that targeting the message so that it's easier and less complex leads to the kind of inaction and lack of results we've had for years. I've stopped donating to organizations that fail to take into account the complexities of our queer identities, or that sacrifice them in a failing attempt to win "respectability".

W/all due respect Rev. Heath... your butch gender expression does not speak for all butch women. There are PLENTY of butch women who will never embrace "gender" and it will ALWAYS be about their sex as a woman.

You don't have to agree w/it and in my experience they accept that you will not agree w/them.

I read the OP and this is the experience from a queer/butch gender expression.

But the same exact experience happens to butch lesbian women and to them... it's sexual discrimination.

Butch lesbian women, w/no queer affiliations are in fact experiencing discrimination in not being "woman enough".

Sex and gender. Two different experiences.

Surely there is room at the barber shop, no matter how long the wait or price we eventually are ALL paying for more then one perspective/belief?

I do understand that there are butches who claim different identities. And if you look back at my original article, you'll see I never defined mine there. That said, my point is that regardless of whether this is sex or gender discrimination (or both) it's problematic and that both issues contribute to the homophobia we are working to eradicate.

But you did in fact respond to Jessica Max Stein that... "This is a gender issue and a queer issue."

I grasped your experience as a gender/queer/butch in the OP and subsequent comments, as stated in my 1st comment.

"I do understand that there are butches who claim different identities."

And here is the crux of the "problem" as I have experienced it:
It's not an "identity" to many women.

They fuck who they want because they are women.
They dress the way they want because they are women.
They cut or DON'T cut their hair... because they are women.

Women doing their own thing being sexually discriminated against.
Challenging homophobia is ABSOLUTELY important.

But at last count... half the population still outnumbers queers and gender politics and we still don't have equality.

I still contend that this is a queer issue. Is it solely a queer issue? No, because it impacts non-queer persons as well. But is it a queer issue because it is tied an issue I face as a butch? Yes.

Eric Payne | June 2, 2011 2:38 AM

You were new to the barbershop.

And you didn't ask prices beforehand?

That seems... a little odd.

Eric, this is a low-key barbershop located next to a grocery store. I knew I wasn't going to be paying a lot. (And really, I generally get my hair cut in places with much higher overhead, so I was sure this small barber shop in a smaller town wouldn't charge more.) The rates weren't posted, and until she called me back I was talking to someone I knew. I don't think it's much more add than ordering a sandwich you're sure is going to be low-priced and then finding out the exact price at the check-out. If you're implying that I was somehow responsible here, I will admit that I committed the sin of not asking whether prices varied on gender before hand. I had no reason to think that they would.

Eric Payne | June 2, 2011 11:36 AM

The only siblings I have are sisters - four of 'em. So I'm very familiar with how men and women have, historically, been charged different prices for the same service.

I wasn't saying you committed a sin by not asking, beforehand, if there was a difference in price based solely on gender - according to you, in a shopy you had never before patronized, you didn't ask anything about price, even though there were no prices listed. That makes absolutely no sense, whatsoever, and flies in the face of human nature.

Eric, it's small town Vermont. I knew I wasn't going to be spending a fortune, and I had time constraints that meant i had to get it done that day. This is a completely irrelevant tangent. And what if I had found out it was $5 more beforehand? Would my point still not be relevant?

Eric Payne | June 2, 2011 2:54 PM

No, Reverend, that is absolutely not what I'm saying - if a serviceperson is not putting any more work for Person B than they are Person A, but charges Person B more based on Person B's gender, that is completely, absolutely, 100% wrong.

The only thing I was questioning was why you didn't know that discrepancy before the serviice was performed - that asking price is just human nature. It was merely an observation on my part, not meant to be seen as any support of that price differential.

Eric, as I said I was in a rush and in a small town at a shop that was not anywhere near fancy. It was just your standard, small town barbershop. I knew I wasn't going to get charged a fortune, and I was occupied talking to someone else right up until the moment the barber called me back. I'm sorry my consumer skills seem less than satisfactory, but I hope I am still worthy of receiving equal treatment just the same. (Ironically, I read your comment in the parking lot of my local BJ's where I was buying supplies for the next few months because of the better financial value. Perhaps there is hope for me yet.)

I was reminded of this comment this afternoon when I stopped into a cafe and ordered a large iced coffee before asking what it cost (oddly, there were no pricing signs). Seems a pretty regular thing to do, even for haircuts.

Jessica, I thought about how I bought cupcakes at the church bake sale last week without asking the cost. I should have been far more suspicious of those church ladies and demanded upfront pricing.

Btw, thank you for your comments on this thread. I've appreciated them.

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 12:20 AM

And that's where we differ, Reverend (and maybe it's because I was raised by two professionals - one a shopper, and the other a life insurance salesman).

The first three questions out of my mouth at the church bake sale would have been: "What flavor are these cupcakes? What flavor is the icing? How much?"

When Bill and I moved to Atlanta from Phoenix, we had to re-find all those little parts of daily life: groceries, pharmacies and, yes, barbers. In Phoenix, we're the kind of guys who utilized Fantastic Sam's. Here in Atlanta, there's a Fantastic Sam's, on the Sunday we first needed our hair cut after our move, we went there, first. Our first question: "How much?"

Turned out to be our only question, as this location was $15 higher in cost than the Phoenix location. We now patronize Great Clips.

See, Emily, there's your problem: you're just not naturally thrifty enough. It's something we all ought to remember as we endure the quotidian ways in which we get treated differently/are discriminated against on account of queerness/gender - always ask the price first.

The Revolution will be half-price! Everything must go, including original posts and logic!

And the derailment express continues...

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 1:45 AM


Please learn to read for comprehension.

In an earlier comment, I noted that no, there should not be a different price for persons who have received much the same service from a service person just because of their gender.

In other comments, I questioned how someone would have a service done and not know the price of that service beforehand.

It was a conversation.

You want to enter a conversation, only hear the last remark, and make a snarky comment? Go audition for Real Housewives of Wherever You Live.

Gee, Eric. I guess my parents didn't raise me well enough to deserve financial equality. I mean, they were both just children of the depression who worked their way up so that they could afford to give their kids the chance at a college education that they didn't have. Nope, no discussion of frugality in my household. Not when my dad was serving his country for 25 years on civil servant's pay. Not when my mom was cutting coupons on Sunday mornings. Clearly my parents were just inferior to yours when it came to teaching me to ask first about whether or not I'd be financially discriminated against when cashing out after a cheap haircut. Do you get this isn't the issue?

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 3:04 AM

Is this really a game you want to play, Reverend? Who is, and is not, frugal?

Well, let's see, who doesn't ask the price of something before they buy it - be it haircuts or cupcakes?

I'd heard that the Reverend Pat Robertson, and the late-Reverend Jerry Falwell, and the Reverend(s) Graham didn't/don't concern themselves with the costs of material goods, but I hadn't realized that wealth had trickled down to spiritual leaders of somewhat smaller congregations. I'm glad to hear that! It must be an indicator the economy is picking up.

As for us... well, Bill just got a raise that'll see him top just over $150K this year. My residuals have decreased, somewhat, but with my script now being used at the new museum in Pigeon Forge, TN, as well as the residuals from the last two books I produced, I'm expecting the last two quarters of this year to hit me with another $12K. Not bad, considering I haven't really worked a day in the last 12 years or so.

As for my parents: both my mother and father come from the hills of West Virginia. My father was born in 1931 and enlisted in the Navy in 1937. In 1942, after four years in the Navy, he enlisted in the Marines, and served with them until October of 1957.

He was the youngest of 8 children, the entire family lived in a one-room shack in the company town of Twin Branch, WV, the "company" being one of the many coal mining companies then in existence. My paternal grandfather was shot to death in the doorway of that "home" by my father's eldest sister's husband in 1937, before April of that year when my father would have been six. Dad's brother-in-law was never prosecuted, and it was only last year - in the last year of my father's life - my cousin and I speculated as to the reason that might be. He approached his mother with a supposition of ours; my cousin David later told me the way his Mom acted, David was sure I'd guessed right. That guess? My grandfather was a mean SOB who, when he was horny, it didn't matter if it was his wife, one of his daughters or one of his sons - someone was going to make him cum. Dad's sister was 15, had already been married for two years, but was back at the "family home" that day because her mother (my grandmother) was ill and needed help getting everyone fed that day (coal burning stove, no electricity, had to kill your own chickens and pick your own vegetables... you know, regular, mundane stuff). Aunt Nell came over, later that day her husband came back to the house, my grandfather opened the door, and got shot with a double barrel shotgun.

All of my father's brothers went to work in the mine. Two of his three brothers predeceased my father, both of them died from black lung disease. Neither of them had children.

Nell was ostracized by the family - my father never mentioned her, at all, until I was 13 and her husband died. My father and his siblings all attended the man's funeral, in KY; on the drive back from KY to PA after the funeral, my parents told us kids (5 of us), who this "Nell" was, and what had happened.

One of Dad's other sisters married a coal miner, punched out 8 kids, and continued the cycle. All of her children attended college; five of them graduated, all but one escaped West Virginia - and that one has a doctorate in nursing.

The last two sisters, my father's only surviving sisters, both became registered nurses. Both were married for over 40 years; one is still with the same man she married almost 70 years ago.

My grandmother was killed in a car crash in Florida in 1955. I never met either of my paternal grandparents.

My father enlisted at the age of 16, as I found out just in the last 2 years, not out of a sense of patriotism, but because he had knocked up his girlfriend. Just a couple of months before my 50th birthday, I met my 61 year old half-sister for the first time.

My mother was the second of four children - two and two. There's Mom and her older sister, born one year apart. There's mom's two brothers, also born one year apart. But there's almost 20 years between Mom and her first brother.

Mom married Dad at 18, four days after Dad got out of the service, in 1957, and two months after meeting for the first time. I firmly believe Dad married Mom simply because Mom wouldn't put out before she got married... so they eloped, driving from Beckley, WV, to Roanoke, VA for the ceremony. They "honeymooned" at The Natural Bridge State Park, in Roanoke, then, the Monday after they married, Dad paid for the lodge room they were staying in for the upcoming week and he drove to Akron, OH, for a job interview. He got the job - with National Life and Accident Insurance Company - and was with them for over 30 years, accumulating the largest amount, in both premiums paid and policy face values, than any other employee had ever done for that company. He started as a debit agent; by the time he was forced out, he had risen to a Regional VP. He was forced out when National Life was purchased by the American General Life Insurance Company, and AmGen forced out any employee over 50 who had vested retirement plans.

Nine months and two days after they married, my sister Karen was born. Nine months and two days after their first anniversary, I was born. Mom and Dad would, ultimately, have a total of five children in nine years. They wanted 10 kids, total, but after five, Mom's body wasn't up to the task.

When Mom was pregnant with my elder sister, and still living with her folks in WV while Dad established himself in OH, my mother was prescribed Thalidomide for a very brief period of time. While my elder sister was born, without incident, I was born with some unusual exterior birth defects and some pretty serious internal birth defects. My three younger sisters all, also, were born with some exterior and interior abnormalities; thankfully, surgeries were able to correct my sister's problems.

My mother never worked outside the home until after three of us left home; she was a product of the times in which she was raised. As children, her children wanted for absolutely nothing, it was only looking back, as adults, that we appreciated those nights when our supper was peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, or biscuits and gravy, or bacon and eggs wasn't because those were foods us kids really liked but because those were the foods we could afford that week.

In early 2008, my mother had a cancer scare. She had some tissue biopsied, it turned out to be noncancerous, and was burnt away. In June, 2008, my mother found a lump in her breast. She underwent a lumpectomy in early July. In September, 2008, her oncologist said she was cancer free. In January, 2009, Dad noticed a new mole on her neck, she went in to her doc to have it checked out. He put her in the hospital She never checked out; her entire system was riddled with cancer. It was in her brain and bones, her lungs, lymphatic system and liver. By nothing but the greatest of good luck/God's blessing/pick the label that fits, I was the last person to speak to her. My family and I had been completely (and I do mean completely... no birthday cards, no "Merry Christmas"es, nothing. My father had even told relatives who asked about me that I had died) estranged.

When we moved to Georgia in 2008, I started calling my folks once a month, just to check in. On one Saturday, Bill and I came home from grocery shopping, and I noticed a number I didn't recognize on our caller ID. There was a message waiting in our voice mail; it was my youngest sister letting me know Mom's death was imminent, that she had gone into a coma. That sister lives in the same town my parents did, I figured the number in my caller ID was her number, so I hit redial.

It was my mother's hospital room; when the phone rang, my mother woke up and answered the call. Two of my sisters were sitting at the foot of her bed, shocked she had opened her eyes. We talked, but very briefly. I apologized for anything I'd ever, intentionally, done that had hurt her. She called me by name, thanked me, and asked me to forgive her, too. I couldn't stop blubbering (hell, I'm on the edge of blubbering now), but told her I did. She said she was pretty tired and couldn't talk anymore, and thanked me for calling. Then she hung up, closed her eyes and, two days later, died. Two months later, my father and I reconciled in person. He died in September, 2010, on what would have been my mother's 71st birthday.

Do you really want to compare tragedies in our parent's and grandparent's lives?

And why are you so touchy about anyone asking you a simple question, anyway?

No one - least of all myself - implied you did ANYTHING wrong, Reverend; all I remarked was it seemed odd you didn't ask the price before the service was performed, that's all. It doesn't change the fact the shop you patronized has two different price structures, for fundamentally the same service, based on the gender of the customer. That's wrong, and should be brought to some consumer board.

Eric, nobody wants to "play this game" with you. What everyone is saying is that your issue was totally irrelevant to the $5 discrepancy. If you want to try to hash out whose family had it worse with every person on this board, then go right ahead. Believe me, there are folks who write on here who have had it far worse than yours. But you are so far afield that you've missed the point entirely. Your original comment was off topic, and your continuing comments show your general cluelessness about the issue.

And, by the way, Eric. If you want to start slinging personal insults at me and others, you can take it elsewhere. I saw your insulting personal comment about a trans woman on another thread last night. Disgusting.

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 9:28 AM

The only person who's made any type of claim that my comment was attempting to belittle you, Reverend, is you.

As for my comment in another thread; there's history there of which you are completely unaware. Judge not, lest ye be judged, though... right, Reverend?

Pointing out a misogynistic and transphobic comment is not judging. It's calling out the kind of bullying behavior that we as a community need to stand up to. I don't care what your past is with her, it's just wrong. You didn't have to stoop to that level. Eric, I've read your comments on enough other articles now. I'm choosing not to engage with you any longer.

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 10:33 AM

By all means.

Close yourself off to someone who may have a differing view than you do... oh, wait... I DIDN'T have a differing view from you concerning discrimination, now did I?

Misogynistic, huh? Oh, geez, what a laugh - but I guess you need some hook upon which your obvious dislike for me, a total stranger to you, because to simply dislike me flies against the very Biblical principles which you, supposedly, are to embrace more tightly, and hold to more strenuously, than a simple lay person.

Therefore, asking the question: You didn't ask price beforehand? Becomes some assault on you, your frugality, your spending habits and your family history. An admittedly snarky comment left in reply to a snarky comment directed toward me becomes a misogynistic, transphobic rant.

Reverend, I had absolutely no thought as to your personal character prior to our conversation. You've changed that; unfortunately, not for the better.

And by the way, I lived in Atlanta 11 years. I went to the Cutzoo on North Decatur. My recollection is that it was cheaper than the Great Clips. I'd say this means that according to your scale I am now somewhat more deserving of equality, but I'm sure you'll show me my flawed shopping techniques once again.

Hey, I did try to direct to d4d ages ago, but concern trolls prefer the trolling to the actual issue.

Careful not to tip the applecart, though. Wouldn't want to trigger another oppression olympics post.

oh, wait. Nevermind -- already done that. Next we'll have calls for removal and whining about how there is too much focus on trans issues...

Eric Payne | June 3, 2011 1:22 PM

I'm not starting with you again.

For the "fetching" comment, I apologize. It was a snarky comment made in response to a snarky comment. I should have been better than that.

This will be my last comment to you.

Lynn Miller | June 2, 2011 7:15 AM

Whether sex or gender/queer discrimination, I think it is an appropriate issue for our community. Similar discrimination can readily be seen in the pricing of deodorant or disposable razors, with products aimed at women costing more or providing less for the same amount of money.

Om Kalthoum | June 2, 2011 9:25 AM

"The reality is that targeting the message so that it's easier and less complex leads to the kind of inaction and lack of results we've had for years."

"Inaction and lack of results" is walking out of the barbershop without asking to see someone in charge and explaining why you will only be paying what anyone else (male) is normally charged for the exact same cut (after slipping the barber her tip). They told you why they were charging you more. Why don't you believe them? Usually people aren't so straightforward about discriminatory practices.

I do believe them. I never said I didn't. And as far as "inactivity and lack of results", I've contacted both the local paper and a town select person. I just wasn't going to take my frustrations out on a woman who didn't make the rules and couldn't do anything about it. That just seemed unfair, and there was enough unfairness that day.

I've also spread the word in the local queer community, who I hope will avoid going there, and am writing the owner a letter explaining why he won't get my money in the future. And, I wrote this article. I'm not sure what you think I could have done better in the moment. The people on the floor said "I just work here". I'm not going to get them in trouble because of the owner's bad decision. But in the coming weeks this practice will hopefully be examined on a larger scale in my community. Which means, 1) even if the money had been refunded to me, my guess is it would be a one time thing. Now it will hopefully be changed for good. And, 2) Other local businesses will see there are consequences to discriminatory business practices.

Om Kalthoum | June 2, 2011 10:14 AM

I didn't see your two responses here before replying below.

"I'm not sure what you think I could have done better in the moment."

I didn't claim it was the only option, but I did suggest asking to see "someone in charge" and paying only what anyone else not female would have paid.

I think it's great that you're bringing this to their attention. Perhaps it would have been nice to have an intermediate step of explaining your reasoning before telling them you are essentially calling for a boycott of this small business. That would give them an opportunity to change before putting out the bad publicity that some people never forget regarding a business.

And I hope you didn't confuse them with all that gender stuff. :)

I did actually tell my barber that I would not return because of the price difference. Whether that will be relayed to the shop owner or not, I'm not sure. My hope is that preliminary inquiries about why this is his practice will first be made. But, in the meantime, I don't think there is anything wrong in letting my friends know that they will be charged more. That's a little different than calling for a full-on boycott. (Also, you'll note, I haven't used the business name here because I'm not trying to put him out of business.) It seems like first you think I didn't do enough, and then I did too much.

Om Kalthoum | June 2, 2011 11:02 AM

"It seems like first you think I didn't do enough, and then I did too much."

You continue to not reply to my specific points and questions and to attribute words and thoughts to me which I have not expressed here. I think I shall bow out at this point.

Good luck in your quest for fair pricing in your haircuts. For the last year, I've been getting free cuts from trainees at various locations in my city. Now that's another whole can of worms!

Om Kalthoum | June 2, 2011 10:03 AM

"I will admit that I committed the sin of not asking whether prices varied on gender before hand."

But did you tell them what gender you identify as? They told you they discriminated on the basis of perceived sex, not perceived gender. They perceived you as a woman and charged you more. For all they (and I) know, you may identify as any number of genders. I'm not trying to deny this part of your being; just saying that the salon didn't seem to give a fig, if they would even comprehend what you're claiming regarding semiotics.

This seems to be a classic case of sex discrimination. Do they charge women more than men for the exact same product? They proclaim, "yes." Why won't you accept "yes" for an answer? If today you were to go to that grocery store next to the barber shop and see a sign that says, "Whole Milk - $3.00 for men; $3.75 for women, would the lawyers be arguing about gender identity as the basis for their law suit? Why not?

I couldn't agree more with this section, Emily.

The reality is that what happened today at the barber shop is a queer issue. We might be apt to dismiss it as a "women's issue" that's not relevant to the greater movement. But there's a danger in that. Beyond the fact that justice for us must be connected to justice for other groups, there is the reality that we live in a society obsessed with the gender binary and limited gender roles. The idea that it's a short jump from gender expectations to homophobia and transphobia seems at times to be lost on us.

People like to put things in boxes and, as the above comments reflect, it's hard to wrap your head around multiple levels at once. It's not the human way of thinking. We like black and white, red and blue, etc. Opposites.

Keep fighting the good fight and know that I support you.

As an identified cis woman with short hair, I applaud this article! There should really be a length limit - if your hair is under 2" long, the cut costs less (unless your doing additional treatments like dying, etc). I cut my hair at home with electric trimmers because 1. I got sick of going into the salon and having clueless stylists ask me at least 10 times if I was sure I wanted my hair that short. 2. It is WAY cheaper than paying the "woman haircut" price.

Eric, it's small town Vermont. I knew I wasn't going to be spending a fortune, and I had time constraints. This is a completely irrelevant tangent. And what if I had found out it was $5 more beforehand? Would my point still not be relevant?

You talk about what it can cost us but do you really know the price? The simple fact that you were even allowed to get a haircut in a barbershop points to huge steps forward. But is deconstructing the gender binary really a step forward or would be bigger step forward be that you could get the same haircut in a place traditionally viewed as for women at the same price a man normally would and have no one bat an eye or doubt your womanhood? I personally am not a huge fan of gender deconstruction for way to many reason's to list here but I am a supporter of equal treatment and equal pricing. Personally I found that if you love your hair long or short or even cut the way you want it whether your a man or a woman or some wheres in the middle the barbershop is not the place to go. Feminist issue maybe gender identity issue I'm not so sure of especially if the issue is about not having one.

Why are you paying that much for a hair cut in the first place? I live in expensive San Francisco and I've never paid more than $10 for a haircut. Of course, I am a man so that helps.

This strikes me as missing the point. Confronted with blatant bias, you instead write in to criticize my willingness to pay more than $10 for a haircut.

Actually, if you can tell me a barber in New Emgland who charges $10 for a cut (to people of all genders) please let me know. The cheapest I have found is $18.

See the Comment of the Week post tonight (Sun @ 7:00 pm) to see which comment from this thread I put up as Comment of the Week.