Friday, February 09, 2007

A Brief Disquisition into Gender Issues in Morocco

(or how I get the short end of the stick at my hair salon)

Because Mr. Cat in Rabat's French is less than stellar and since mine is a few degrees higher than non-existent, I normally accompany him to his barber so that he might avail himself of my interpretative skills. I confess that once acquited of my duties (i.e., advising the barber that Mr. CinR wanted "the same but shorter"), I 'd normally confine my attentions to the stack of Paris Match magazines in the waiting area (because one can never know enough about the Grimaldi Family), punctuated by furtive glances at my watch (because apparently one can).

Yesterday was his third visit and things didn't bode well for me. I was perturbed (and I confessed a bit miffed) to find that the current selection of magazines was especially dreary: I had either read them already (or more accurately looked at the pictures), or they featured people I had never heard of before. Having no all-consuming desire to expand my knowledge of French film stars and politicians, I turned my attentions to Mr. CinR's haircut.

Reader: his haircut took 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes! To add insult to injury, despite the fact that his hair is a smidgen shorter than mine, his coupe eclipsed mine by a quarter of an hour. And what did this extra 15 minutes buy him? Allow me to recreate the process as established by The World's Most Meticulous Barber:

1) Round 1 haircut with electric razor (back & sides of head only)
2) Round 2 haircut with scissors

3) Brief inspection of Mr. CinR's head
4) Round 3 haircut with micro-serrated scissors
5) Round 4 haircut with electric razor
6) Round 5 haircut with straight razor
7) Ear hair trim with scissors
8) Eyebrow trim with scissors (Mr. CinR has a unibrow so this is a good thing)
9) Nose hair trim with scissors
10) Neck hair trim (lovingly referred to as 'wolf hairs' by Mr. CinR) with electric razor
11) Round 1 Goatee trim with electric scissor
12) Round 2 Goatee trim with straight razor
13) Shampoo & towelling
14) The presentation of a box of Q-tips that Mr. CinR may dry his ears
15) Blow-dry
16) Penultimate inspection of Mr. CinR's head
17) Final scissor trim (straight-edge and micro-serrated)
18) Final inspection of Mr. CinR's head
19) Judicious application of pomade
20) Thundering Round of Applause by Cat in Rabat

Looking over this prodigious list, I am amazed that the whole thing only took 45 minutes. It put the 28-minute haircut that I received this week to shame, especially since I watched in horror as my stylist dropped her comb and scissors, then picked them up and resumed the cut. I highly doubt that The World's Most Meticulous Barber would have done the same. He probably would have begun again from scratch.

Oh! - did I mention that his haircut costs 55 dirhams (5 €) while mine is 150 (13€)? There is an engrained gender bias in the haircutting industry in North America, which (as a short-coiffed female) has never tipped in my favour. Mr. CinR & I used to frequent the same salon in Canada and he would generally pay 50% less than me for a similar cut. This revelation isn't anything new; it is not even particularly revealing. With the plethora of chi-chi hair salons in Rabat (in which no self-respecting man would consider casting his shadow), I was somewhat perturbed that my experiences thus far pale in comparison to those of my husband. Don't get me wrong: I'm not looking for a free eyebrow plucking or a bikini wax - I don't need a quickie Brazilian between the shampoo and cut ... but still!

The moral of the story: Next time I'm shanghaied into providing interpretation services for Mr. CinR at his barbershop, I'm bringing a book. It's just too painful to watch. Better yet, it's high time he learn how to say "the same but shorter" in French.


Anonymous Mr. C in R said...

You're just jealous!

5:06 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

“Welcome to my shop, let me cut your mop…yyyyyyyes, you’re next, youuuu’re so next!”

5:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How frustrating! A haircut in Meknes for women is closer to 80dh (not too shabby) but for men it's 20dh. Still quite unfair!

(Also, I love how meticulous the barber is. I think I'm going to find a man to cut my hair here anyhow. And this is gross, but I've gone a year and a half without a haircut, mainly out of fear of having it cut here)

(it's taamarbuuta - your comment feature wouldn't let me in!)

9:42 p.m.  
Anonymous Cath said...

Why can'tThe World's Most Meticulous Barber cut your hair, too?
"The same, but shorter" instructions would work just as well on your noggin.

10:28 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Wow! Is everything cheaper in Meknes?? Cath, I should probably get The World's Most Meticulous Barber to cut my hair as well. My nose hair could do with a trim ... as long as he doesn't venture further south.

10:35 p.m.  
Blogger Sylvia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:53 p.m.  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Shoot. I wish I could remember the name of the barber shop in the medina where all the surfers go.

I used to go to the place near the mosque in Agdal. I wonder if it's still there. I think it was called (eponymously) Beauty Club.

10:54 p.m.  
Anonymous ByronB said...

My nose hair could do with a trim ... as long as he doesn't venture further south.???????????????

I'm confused - do both Mr CinR and yourself sport a goatee? The mind boggles.

4:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we are talking way down south!

6:34 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone know of a good hair salon in Meknes? For a woman, I need my hair dressed.

6:19 p.m.  

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