If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably aware Regina is having an epic brawl over a much-loved local barbershop that’s in hot water because it doesn’t serve women.
Last week, local human-with-hair Evie Ruddy tried to make an appointment at the Cathedral neighbourhood’s beloved Ragged Ass Barbers. Evie wanted a particular style of men’s haircut that they’re really good at. But when she called to make an appointment, she was told they don’t cut women’s hair and wouldn’t serve her.
Evie isn’t the first female customer RAB has turned down but she is the first to fight back. She also might be the first to have worked as a journalist and activist, which is probably why she thought to turn to the media to announce a human rights complaint against the shop. From CBC:
A Regina woman is planning to make a formal complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission after being refused service at a barber shop. Evie Ruddy says she went to Regina’s Ragged Ass Barber seeking a men’s style hair cut known as a hard-part. Ruddy says she learned the shop only did men’s cuts for male clients.
“It makes me feel discriminated against,” she said. “Because the only reason they are denying me service is because I am a woman.”
She added that when she pressed the point and asked how the shop would respond to a transgender person seeking a haircut, she was given an emphatic answer.
“He launched into this rant saying if they start accepting trans clients and lesbians then what if a lesbian with long hair wants their hair cut? Where do you draw the line?,” Ruddy told CBC News.
I thought about this situation a lot yesterday. I talked to a lot of people — because this town is so small, I know Evie and I also have friends who love Ragged Ass Barbers. I also know a lot of opinionated people in the Cathedral and even other neighbourhoods.
I pondered the issues, I weighed the facts and I’m now ready to share my thoughts.
Here’s what everyone should think and do.
First, Ragged Ass Barbers needs to immediately change their idiotic policy. They also need to apologize to Evie, offer her a free haircut and maybe make some kind of additional gesture — small donation to an organization for women’s advancement, maybe?
Ragged Ass needs to remember that this is Canada in 2014. A business attempting to discriminate against women is not going to win the fight.
Once they do this, Ruddy should graciously accept the apology (haircut optional) and drop the HR complaint.
Second: no one wants Ragged Ass Barbers to change its business model. Ragged Ass is a lovably scruffy, hairy, beardy, male-clientele focused barber shop. It can stay that way. It doesn’t have to start doing perms or shag haircuts or flower braiding or whatever. What its misguided defenders aren’t realizing is that this is the environment Evie wanted to get her hair cut in. She didn’t pick Ragged Ass because she wanted to change it, she picked it because it seemed like a cool place where she’d fit in, and get the cut and service she wanted.
Evie is a natural Ragged Ass customer. The problem is Ragged Ass doesn’t realize it.
Third: Ragged Ass Barber’s is not some evil club of woman-hating man-trolls. While I don’t know owner Craig Zamonsky, I do know some of his friends and they assure me he’s not a sexist idiot. I don’t know if anyone’s breaking out the rope, but if they are, let’s hold off on the public lynching, okay? This isn’t some men’s rights creep. This isn’t an organized effort by Real Women Of Canada to undermine hard-won rights. This is a businessman who through no fault of his own grew up in a sexist, homophobic and dumb society and, thanks to long-term exposure to cultural toxins, innocently blundered into a minefield.
There’s a lot of misogyny, homophobia and transphobia out there that deserves excoriation. What’s happening here doesn’t (at least not yet). This isn’t malicious. We should look at it as the cultural equivalent of a fender-bender. The fender can be un-bendered!
Fourth: drop the stupid arguments. “How come Curves can be a women’s gym but Ragged Ass can’t be a men’s barber shop?” Answer: because society is not as welcoming for women as it is for men. Thanks to harassment, sexual assault and violence, women need safe spaces in a way that men don’t. No one can reasonably claim they’ll suffer because a woman got a men’s-style cut at the same place they get their beard trimmed. But a lot of women have been harassed while working out.
Fifth: there is some genuine hatred being directed at Evie, which tells me that she’s right to challenge this dumb rule.
Finally: let’s put this in perspective. Women do not have cooties. An occasional female client is not going to ruin this manly-men’s barber shop/salon/whatever people want to call it with their stinky period smells. Ragged Ass Barbers is not going to see an influx of imaginary feminists demanding armpit hair grooming. Get real. The only “risk” is that a popular local business becomes a little cooler (and more successful).
Selling a male-style haircut to the occasional female customer will not ruin Ragged Ass Barbers. This fight, if it continues, might.
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