Sunday, May 24, 2015

The GOOD MEN PROJECT: Keep the Rug

An Appreciation of Male Body Hair

Paula Russel makes a strong case for the appeal of a natural, hirsute hunk.

I love body hair. To me, nothing is sexier than a guy in all of his naked, hairy glory on a bearskin rug. Chest hair, leg hair, facial hair… Be still, my heart! Unfortunately, I live in a world that encourages men to remove it all.

Chest hair removal harkens back to ancient Egypt, where hair removal was common to protect against fleas, lice and other infestations. In ancient times, lack of body hair was often indicative of civility, with ancient Greek men removing their body hair to appear more youthful and refined, and ancient Egyptian priests practicing hair removal in order to present a pure image to their gods.

Male body hair removal was less common in Europe, as body hair was generally accepted in early Christian Europe and even considered lucky by certain groups, such as Jewish Europeans in the Middle Ages. For the longest time, body hair simply wasn’t an area of concern for European men. The influence of Europe in global fashion trends helped hairier men to be seen as sexy throughout the 1960s and 70s.

In contrast to the mild popularity of hairless chests in American films in the 1950s, such as Marlon Brando’s in A Streetcar Named Desire, European productions showed masculine chests in all of their hairy glory. Sean Connery and his furry torso on the beach in the very popular James Bond film Dr. No helped usher in a fantastically hirsute era in which the Burt Reynoldses, Tom Sellecks and Alec Baldwins of the world could bare their sexy man-rugs without shame.

Sadly, a recent poll suggested that these days, 49% of women prefer hairless chests. Part of me wonders how this preference has evolved. Like many of the pressures put on women and their bodies, this figure is undoubtedly heavily media-influenced. The late 1980s ushered in another era of hairless chests – from the covers of Harlequin Romances to a hairless Sylvester Stallone slugging out an equally hairless Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, to a hairless, shirtless and ripped Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise or Fight Club in the 1990s. Thus began a pervasiveness within the media of hairlessness as the new norm. It is rare that one sees a chest these days with much more than a treasure trail adorning it.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine confessed to shaving his chest frequently. He said it started when he started to read GQ and saw how different he looked from most of the men in the magazine. He’s an attractive, muscular guy, but felt hopelessly inadequate because of his body hair. I laughed at him at the time and made fun of him for being a metrosexual, but looking back on the experience, I regret teasing him. His shaving wasn’t a result of metrosexuality, but a response to the way men are now taught that they need to look. While the media’s unrealistic expectations of women is well-known and questioned within feminist communities, we need to also address the pressure put upon men to look a certain way.

Men shouldn’t be ashamed of their body hair, just as women shouldn’t be ashamed that they’re not necessarily a size two. Your body hair is a part of who you are and it’s not worth being self-conscious about it. Whether you have a hairy chest, a hairy back, or only a patch of fuzz in the centre of your chest, you’re sexy. Nothing feels better than lying next to you and stroking your manly chest hair.

I beg the men out there to stop shaving, waxing and plucking your excess hair. The modern media might not encourage your body hair, but it is sexy and natural. Men need to start questioning the media’s portrayal of male body hair and accepting themselves for who they are.


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ABC Science


From an evolutionary standpoint, why is it beneficial for men to have facial and chest hair? — Tash

If you look at some of our relatives, we primates are a fairly hairy bunch.

Primates tend to have all sorts of interesting facial and sometimes even shoulder hair, so humans are not odd in this regard, says anatomist Professor Ian Gibbins from Flinders University.

In fact, Gibbins suspects it wasn't that long ago that we sported a pretty impressive fur coat of our own. The evidence for this comes from goosebumps.

But evolution is usually pretty prompt at getting rid of features we don't need, says Gibbins, so the reason men still have facial and chest hair is more likely due to sexual selection.

At some stage while we were losing our excess body hair either women found hairy men more attractive, or men preferred non-hairy women.

"The usual argument," says Gibbins, "is that [sexual selection] is some sort of surrogate for your overall fitness."

"So if you're a good enough feeder or hunter or breeder, or whatever it is, to have enough energy in reserve to make some flashy show then it means you're probably ahead of the pack."

Basically if you're a very hairy man and hairy men are in, you get the girls.

However there are some caveats to this argument.

Firstly, hairiness can vary quite dramatically between different ethnic groups, so to make general statements about male hairiness is fairly difficult. For example, men from a Mediterranean background generally have darker and thicker hair, whereas men of Asian descent often don't have much facial hair at all, says Gibbons.

Secondly, men and women have approximately the same number of hair follicles, what differs is the coarseness of the hairs.

We have two types of hair on our bodies: the coarse, usually pigmented terminal hair which includes our head hair, pubic hair and for men their facial and chest hair; and the finer, less visible vellus hair.

Hair growth and size is modulated by hormones, in particular androgens like testosterone, which kick in during puberty. As men generally have higher levels of testosterone than women they tend to have more terminal hair. Testosterone also increases the size of hair follicles on men's faces at puberty so that they begin to grow visible beards.

While the rise of the metrosexual have seen growing numbers of men shave, wax and laser their way to less facial and chest hair, Gibbins says don't expect a hair-free man to evolve anytime soon.

"Evolution is much too slow for that sort of quick cultural stuff," he says.

In fact, manscaping is more likely to subvert evolution than help it along.

"It's a classic example of cultural aspects completely overriding any evolutionary pressures," says Gibbins.

Men who are unable to grow hair may be a bit jealous of those can do so easily. I have also realized that genes and culture have a lot to do with the amount of hair on a man. It’s a shame women force their men to undergo desperate means to rid them of what nature gave them to prove their manhood.

Goosebumps: evidence of our hairy past?

Nearly every hair follicle on our body has a little smooth muscle, known as a piloerector muscle, connected to it. All these muscles have a nerve supply, so when the nerves are activated, the muscles contract and the hair follicles rise.

"Since most of our hair is so thin nothing much happens except the goosebumps. However, if we had more substantial fur in our follicles, like a cat or a guinea-pig, then this action would fluff up the hair," says Gibbins.

Cats use piloerection to trap air in their fur when they're cold, and to make themselves look bigger when they're under threat.

Humans still have a complete set of neural pathways for both these responses which suggests we were using our piloerection system properly until sometime fairly recently in our evolutionary past, says Gibbins.

So when you next get a 'chill down your spine' just imagine how scary you'd look with all your hair standing on end!

Professor Ian Gibbins was interviewed by Suzannah Lyons.

Grab Bag Sunday

Portrait of the Evening

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis is Attitude’s new cover guy

New Banner Dude

Honor Our Armed Forces By Avoiding Unnecessary Wars


Honor Our Armed Forces By Avoiding Unnecessary Wars

Cynthia Tucker
May 23, 2015

With recent military victories by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, President Barack Obama’s critics are once again ratcheting up their rhetoric, blaming him for the spreading violence in the Middle East. Beginning his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) chimed in: 

“If you fought in Iraq, it worked. It’s not your fault it’s going to hell. It’s Obama’s fault,” he said.

That’s been more or less the tack taken by all the declared and potential candidates in the Republican presidential field: Pretend that George W. Bush’s invasion had nothing to do with the disastrous escalation of war and terror from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. Blame it all on Obama. Play to a public nervous about the gruesome videos of Islamic State jihadists beheading their captives.

But here’s the one thing that you’re unlikely to hear from those armchair hawks: a plan to put large numbers of U.S. forces on the ground. The graves that are being spruced up for Memorial Day are too fresh, the memories of our Iraqi misadventure too raw.

Then again, GOP politicians still want to pummel the president for allegedly pulling troops out of Iraq too soon. Speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire recently — and trying to recover from a dumb defense of his brother’s invasion — Jeb Bush accused Obama of following public opinion rather than sound military advice.

“That’s what the president did when he abandoned, when he left Iraq. And I think it was wrong,” he said.

That’s a glib answer from a man whose children don’t serve under fire, whose friends and fat-cat donors keep their kids far away from the duties and demands of the U.S. armed forces. And that’s true for the vast majority of the GOP field. Graham was a military lawyer who never saw combat, but at least he served. Most of them did not.

Indeed, the drumbeat for war depends on the service of a relatively small percentage of Americans. Fewer than 1 percent of our citizens currently serve in the armed forces, and they are disproportionately drawn from working-class and lower-middle-class households.

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As a rule, members of the 1 percent don’t go. (None of Mitt Romney’s five sons ever served.) For that matter, neither do the members of the top 10 percent.

And it’s especially irksome that those armchair hawks refuse to acknowledge that George W. Bush’s decision to depose Saddam Hussein set up the conditions for the current chaos in the Middle East. (Young Ivy Ziedrich, a college student, was right when she confronted Jeb Bush at a Reno, Nevada, event: “Your brother created ISIS,” she said.)

The Islamic State jihadists are largely Sunni; while they claim many grievances, they are chiefly waging war against their fellow Muslims who are Shi’a. Saddam was a Sunni who cruelly repressed Shiites and granted special favors to Sunnis, but his iron-fisted rule kept the peace.

Had the invasion of Iraq depended on a military draft, it’s unlikely Bush would have attempted it. It’s hard to imagine that the U.S. Senate would have given him the authority to go in. The news media, which were largely quiescent in the face of Bush’s warmongering, would probably have asked more questions.

After all, it was clear even then that members of the Bush administration — especially Dick Cheney, who received deferments to avoid service in Vietnam — were exaggerating or distorting intelligence claiming ties between al Qaeda and Saddam. And while most Republicans now claim that faulty intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was to blame for the invasion, the fact is that should not have mattered. Even if Saddam had WMDs, they were no threat to us. A few months before 9/11, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had said as much.

If we’ve learned anything (and it’s not clear that we have), it should be this: As brave and capable as they are, the men and women of the U.S. armed forces cannot calm every conflict, destroy every dictatorship or bend the world to our will. The best way to honor their service is to refrain from sending them recklessly to war.

Cynthia Tucker won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007.

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P.S. In the category of blatant hypocrisy...and assuming voters are stupid...

As anyone who knows how to read can easily deduce, there’s a blatant double standard applied to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address when she was Secretary of State. The people screaming about Hillary don’t acknowledge that Colin Powell did the same thing with one gigantic exception: he destroyed all of his emails including official messages about Iraq’s lack of WMD. The GWBush White House used private email addresses and wiped out millions of messages. Did any of those millions of deleted emails concern the administration’s knowledge that there were no WMD and that they took us to war anyway? We’ll never know, and you’ll never hear about it from the people screaming about Hillary.