Why are bears associated with masculinity

The full beard as half-covering - a particularly refined form of male self-expression

One of the great puzzles of our time is what exactly causes beards to sprout in young, western-urban men. Of course it's fashion, but paradoxically behind it hides a feminization of the man.

For the observant contemporary it is obvious that an alternative version of the male face has spread in the appearance of the cities. The usual image of sorted and styled faces is enriched by impressive portraits of young men with full beards, an outfit that gives rise to high-contrast associations, but which are misleading: with finger-croaking power boys in lederhosen or grim-looking faces of Salafist missionaries and their message «Read! “The lush whiskers have little to do.

But with what then? Is the obvious attractiveness of the full beard based on the motive to reflect on the prophetic in the grueling game of the sexes and to withdraw to the charisma of a social phenomenon, in which men - according to religious-historical sources - have always seemed to specialize? And then does the country face another debate about whether the full beard belongs to Germany?

Even though, despite the submission from Bavaria, which is not suspiciously associated with home, one never knows what is to come, a fundamental debate can be ruled out. We are dealing with no more than one fashion here. Their changing, but eternally revealing topic is the relationship between being and appearance. With the full beard, we witness a particularly refined form of male self-expression.

The man as a riddle

Half-concealment, according to Georg Simmel, is the secret of coquetry, according to which “the presentation of oneself is interrupted by a partial invisibility or failure that the whole is presented all the more forcefully in the form of fantasy and through the tension between With this form and the imperfectly revealed reality, the desire for its wholeness flares up all the more consciously and intensely. It is remarkable how the historical development of the veiling of the body allows this motif of simultaneous performance and failure to emerge. "

As a symbolic arrangement, the full beard is like a veil.

While, according to Georg Simmel's famous writing, coquetry is an art, in his words a "playful form of love", is addressed as a communicative ability and, according to the clichés of the time, this is primarily attributed to women, the interpretation suggests that the late modern era is asymmetrical Has definitely left write-ups behind. The man who, in times of gender discourse, is often blamed for the defendant's position, is evidently following suit. In the half-concealed face he presents himself enigmatic, if not communicative, but at least with the help of the artfully domesticated opulence of the beard hair, on whose sprouting can be relied on every day.

Different accents are set here than with the three-day beard, this casualness that has almost become a convention, which conjures a compromise between the intrusive anarchy of the beard and the promise of clarity of the smooth face. Anyone who is under constant stress at work relies on indulgence for the fact that they are willing to sacrifice daily beard care to the work asceticism. The full beard, on the other hand, does not communicate forgivable negligence or negligence on the part of a busy person, but rather an aesthetic project, a design desire that aims at a complex game of concealment, which promises authenticity, combined with the inestimable advantage of keeping yourself as a puzzle communicate. As a symbolic arrangement, it is equivalent to a veil and thus undoubtedly follows on from the cultural-historical significance of the beard, to give its wearer, rather the environment of speaking, greater effectiveness.

Every three weeks to the barber

Anyone who wants to go beyond fashion to pursue the deeper reasons for the spread of the full beard will encounter a remarkable constellation. It is more complex than a motive and unconsciously effective like many small things that surround us.

A student, asked with a compliment on his outfit, which was surprisingly new from one week to the next, replied to the question about the requirements for care: "Every three weeks we go to the barber." Without going into the reasons for the rhythm mentioned, only the semantics "barber" contain an indication of an informative, motivating reference to values. The barber is responsible, not the hairdresser. The linguistic nuance symbolically opens up a space of association for both exclusive and quasi-therapeutic body care, which transcends the trivial routine of beard grooming into a special concern that is only cultivated in modern society and is now granted to men as a matter of course .

Full beard and barber speaks to an exclusively male setting, an archaic gender complicity, a silent agreement between water pipe and perfume, which manages to combine therapeutic maxims with decorative-cosmetic ones as a matter of course. This is what makes the trend towards the full beard attractive and at the same time late modern: in a setting exclusively reserved for men, experts are given aesthetic judgments about their own faces. Professional means and techniques are used to create a coherent self-presentation.

The attractiveness, which has been attributed to the full beard for some time, does not simply refer to the constant ups and downs in the change of fashions, rather it marks a remarkable trend in modern society in the well-kept, hidden face. It's not about simple masculinity, but rather about licensed masculinity, professionally guaranteed and demonstratively veiled - so the stylish bushy face takes on the task of communicating transitory prominence, charging the first impression with a wealth of meaning. One (s) appears wild and domesticated at the same time before the first sentence is spoken.

Tilman Allert is professor emeritus for sociology and social psychology at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. The last time S. Fischer published “Greetings from the kitchen: Sociology of small things” was published in 2017.