I Just Want The Awesome Barber Shop To Give The Nice Lady A Haircut UPDATED

Well, Yellowknife’s Ragged Ass Barbers is apparently willing to give men’s haircuts to women. Here’s a freshly tweeted tweet:

See? No big deal. Change the rules and move on.

Original post below.

Judging from Facebook, Ragged Ass Barbers continues to have a lot of support for its trouble-making and divisive “no haircuts for women” policy. While some of its defenders are reasonable, unfortunately, this comment on my original post stood out as reflective of too much of RAB’s support:

“…this is such neo feminist bullshit.. she is trying to destroy an honest, well liked and successful business thats here to fill a small niche in the community. There are hundreds of other hair stylists that can fulfill her needs.. there are also places like ‘curves’ that only serve women. She has launched an attack campaign that amounts to no more than harassment and is doing nothing to further the needs of her lesbian rights movement. There are bigger problems in this world. I say either grow a pair or stay out.”

“Neo-femminsit [sic] bullshit?” Don’t have a clue what that is, sounds like a made-up thing.  “Grow a pair or stay out.” Charming! “She has launched an attack campaign [that’s] doing nothing to further the needs of her lesbian rights movement…” Her what-movement, who now? Most of Evie’s supporters are boring straight people like me.

And then, this:

“…trying to destroy an honest, well liked and successful business…”?

No, hard-part refugee Evie Ruddy is not trying to “destroy a business”. As Evie herself says in the comments:

“…if RAB had a change of heart and continued to offer traditional barber style haircuts to anyone, not just men, it wouldn’t affect their male-dominated atmosphere as I doubt that very many women would want barber-style cuts and this could end.” [Emphasis added.]

She’s absolutely right. There will be a ton of support for RAB changing their dumb policy. It won’t ruin the place, or even significantly change it (girls don’t have cooties!) and we’ll all have a lovelier, more civilized city.

I understand why everyone’s worked up: it’s terrifying to be accused of discrimination and threatened with a human rights complaint, and it’s especially head-essplodey when the business on the receiving end of such a major complaint isn’t evil. And yes, an argument could be made that Evie went for the big guns (media, human rights complaint) sooner than she needed to, and ideally, she would have found gentler, friendlier ways to persuade RAB to change their dopey, ill-considered rule.

(Then again, one should be hesitant to judge the actions of someone who’s just been discriminated against: i.e., the actual victim who’s now receiving threats).

If this fight doesn't end soon it  could escalate to an Ezra Levant-category disaster.
If this fight doesn’t end soon it could escalate to a full-blown Ezra Levant-category event.

I understand that many people love Ragged Ass Barbers and are just defending their friends. And I’m pretty damn sure that Ragged Ass is a great business run by great people. I think everyone wants it to flourish. But it’s getting more clear by the minute that this men’s only rule is too divisive. People aren’t going to let this go. A week from now, this stupid brawl will be national news and Ezra Levant will be flying in to get his hair cut.

Ragged Ass will not like that. NOBODY will like that.

Ragged Ass Barbers gets to pick how it presents itself and what services it provides, and they’ve done a fantastic job of that. They shouldn’t pick who they provide their services to based on the customer’s wiener situation.

To Ragged Ass Barbers: change the policy, cut the nice lady’s hair and everything will be fine.

Prairie Dog will even buy you guys a bottle of decent bourbon to celebrate this stupid fight being over.

Ragged Ass Barbergeddon

August 1993 Vanity Fair cover | photographer: Herb Ritts
Cindy Crawford says it will all be okay.

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.

Ruh roh.

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.

More here.

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.