Straight up; this isn't like my usual posts. Although, this is something I feel particularly passionate about. All I ask is that you, please, take the time to read these words with an open mind and an open heart.
So here it goes...
Big words, I know. And I completely appreciate their weight. However, I am not about to discuss the gravity of everything that these two words mean to me. I won't talk about my dreams of seeing the battle of the sexes abolished, in favour for a balance of the sexes on a global scale. I would simply like to tell you of a local barber shop, just trying to do their bit for the lads of Adelaide.
Robbie's Chop Shop, quoted to be "The Last Male Sanctuary," resides on King William Road in Hyde Park. On the surface, it is a place where guys can go to get there hair cut and their face shaved. Easy, yeah? No. This establishment is limited to the more masculine sex. No women allowed.
I know, right? Dun-dun-duuuuuuun!! How can I possibly sleep at night knowing that there is a place where I am not welcome? That I cannot freely walk in, with my hard earned money, and pay for a service. All because I have a vagina?! What is this world coming to?
If you just had a "you tell 'em, girl!" moment, I will ask you to refrain. Robbie, and his faithful crew of amazing young men, have worked hard to provide a space that is purely for the boys. It is a place where men can go, hang out and take some time for themselves. Where they can feel safe to be who they are, free from judgement.
Look, let's face it (and I may just be speaking from my heterosexual view point, here) the dynamic between men changes when in the presence of women. Their behaviour becomes more subdued. Stifled, if I may say. I see a change in the behaviour of women when the situation is reversed. Whether it is girls trying to get noticed by some dude, or on the flip-side, feeling the need to completely emasculate their partners in front of their friends.
Think on this: Girls love to have their Girls Nights! Taking time to laugh, eat naughty food, share thoughts and, generally, just feel like they don't need to work as hard to be seen. Please note that this is a very generalised statement. I am not saying that all women are like this. But do we not enjoy being just with the girls on occasion? Do we not have all-women gyms? Places we can go to sweat, work hard and leave looking absolutely mangled without the fear of being seen by, dare I say it, a man?! Why even have these establishments if this is not the case?
You may not like to admit it, but the fact of the matter is that something in the air changes when men and women are in close proximity. Perhaps we feel we are to behave in a certain manner. Girls are (well, they were in my time) taught to be courteous, lady-like and assertive. Boys are told to behave, don't cry and "be a man." When we are around our own genders, these rules no longer apply. We are completely free to say, do and be what we feel is natural to us.
Now, this idea may not resonate with you. But think more broadly. For example: I am a woman, and I know how society, my upbringing and those around me make me feel. Therefore, I am not alone. Men and women, alike, are being controlled by the idea of what it is to be in their own body. Their gender becomes part of their identity.
I know it seems like I have strayed off the path and into the valley of where-the-hell-is-she-going-with-this? Please allow me to bring it on back for you. Robbie's Chop Shop is one little place where boys, potentially your boys, can go and feel comfortable being themselves. There is no premise of being anything more than one of the guys. Having a laugh, and leaving relaxed and looking dead-freaking-sexy.
I understand that there are women out there who would like to take their son's to Robbie's and get them all schmickafied. But I ask you this: Do you really need to be there, holding your son's hand while he gets his hair cut? What is it about this situation that frightens you? They are completely safe and will be taken care of. Chances are, they are going to have the best time ever! It also affords your little boy an opportunity to become the independent man you want him to be. It seems simple, but by allowing him to take responsibility for this tiny portion of his own life, you could be granting him the freedom to explore the person he was born to become. What a gift! Imagine that this small act of selflessness, on your behalf, is actually setting your child up for greatness!
Look, Ladies... We want equality. True equality. This doesn't need to continue as demands of what we want to take. I would love for us to start thinking about what we can offer. We don't need to be there. We don't need to invade every single space that men have previously sanctioned for themselves. Let our sons, boyfriends, husbands, brothers, cousins, fathers and grandfathers have one fucking space to call their own.
Ultimately... Haters gonna hate. If you feel any resistance to my words, I welcome free discussion. However, I implore you to take a few minutes to check in with that negativity you may be experiencing before making contact. Where does this fear come from?
Allow me to leave you with these final tasty nuggets of truth. I have a nephew, he has just celebrated his ninth birthday. It brings such unfettered joy to my heart that there is somewhere he can go to be supported by other men. Smart, funny, courageous and loving men, who can show him what it is to be a man today; creative, strong, masculine, beautiful, giving, kind, generous, loyal.
I, for one, want more men like this in the world.