Come on guys, let’s show off our manhood!

Abstract: This is not about what you think. It’s about that which makes men, men and how it’s being cut off.

Man, as opposed to woman, is facing his ultimate emasculation, and it seems it may ironically be the kindest cut of all. He may not even notice it happening and, when the blade finally falls, women around the world will smile with satisfaction and say, “there, our work is done”.

Outside of the actual disseminating of his reproductive material, is there anything a man can do that a woman can’t? Think about it – thanks to panicky liberal thinking and the strident, affirmative actions of women’s rights campaigners, men are no longer kings of anything anymore. Women swing pickaxes down mines and fly space shuttles; and at the end of a sweaty day they burp, break wind and knock back a couple of beers like the rest of the boys. Go and watch a rugby match at Loftus – that bastion of all things huge and hairy – and they’re all over the place. Toss the ball to Bryan Habana and the stadium erupts into a cacophony of squealing oestrogen as if Justin Timberlake had just walked into a girls’ locker room!

Is nowhere free of this female incursion? Exclusive men’s clubs have had their hearts ripped open for fear of legal action; and in former smoky corporate boardrooms, now ‘makeovered’ with trendy clean lines and a hint of jasmine, well-dressed women are making the decisions.

But there is one thing left, and one thing only, that men can do that no woman can: shave their face. A woman can run a blade over her legs but if an unwanted hair appears on her face, she hastily turns to tweezers. That’s because women don’t need one – a hair or two above the lip does not a moustache make. The fact, therefore, remains that what grows on our face, and what we do with it, is what really makes us men.

So why are we so afraid to show it? Say the word ‘moustache’ and a pastiche of images of 70s porn stars plays through our minds. We have been conditioned to believe that the moustache is passĂ©, or that it belongs only above the lips of men with mullets perched on their back collars.

Try and think of a world leader with a moustache. Robert Mugabe? No, that’s just a hairy inchworm stuck on his face. I’m talking about a real moustache. It’s only Middle Eastern dictators and South American drug czars that now hold the fort for the humble ‘stache. As for beards, they’re even more conspicuous by their absence. Thank heavens for Fidel! What a man!

Arguments for a man to be free of facial hair include the fact that shaving is nothing new and that it may be healthier not to have a beard, after all, who knows what food remnants could fester within the twisted confines of an aberrant mop around the mouth?

But it’s in the very act of shaving where the ultimate emasculation has taken root. In the past, shaving was an unashamedly manly pursuit. It was not for sissies. Like a carpenter crafting a table leg from a tree stump, rugged yet finely tuned tools – usually a shaving brush, soap bar and real blades – were used to hew and carve the bristles from the face.

Nowadays the shaving toolbox has been swept aside to make way for shaving ‘cream’ in a can and an ergonomically designed shaving utensil with up to four blades safely tucked away in a plastic head and cleverly coated to be kind to the skin and reduce any irritating tug on the beard. Hell, you might as well wash it off! What passes for shaving ‘tools’ are colourfully unisex and presented in all their pastel glory in elegantly designed packaging. Whatever happened to blades in a box?

I think it’s time that men stood together before it’s too late, and pre-empt what could be our ultimate emasculation: the sissification of the shave. It’s time we took our faces back, ditched those delicate devices and reached for a block of sunlight soap and a bowie knife. Perhaps I should start the revolution. I’m going to stop shaving, jut out my stubbled jaw and declare that I am proud to be a man.

I just need to check with my wife first if that’s OK.
Originally published in the Saturday Star, 19 August 2006