It's always amazing the questions people are willing to ask in public advice forums. In today's Guardian, a man writes in to the advice columnist to ask whether his wife's new short haircut indicates a subconscious distaste for sex — and, yes, their sex life is bad. Therapist Pamela Stephenson Connolly's advice is okay, but I think we can add to it.
Writes the anonymous person:
Is it true that a woman with a short hairstyle is subconsciously indicating that she does not want sex? My wife had a drastic haircut four days before our wedding and our sex life was a damp squib from the start. The erotic side of our marriage has died completely. My wife considers me childish and says that as all other elements of our relationship are fine, I should not want more than this.
First, a few questions: While the sexual and anthropological importance of hair is well-documented as an indicator of health, beauty and desirability; and while long, lustrous hair is equated with youth, femininity and wanton sexuality; and while short hair is sometimes perceived as either asexually androgynous or I-give-up mom style... really? Is he serious? Second: did they not have sex before their wedding? When did this "damp squib" start? Because if it was pre-wedding, then it seems highly circumstantial to blame the haircut (and maybe they should have addressed these issues beforehand); and if not, there's not much basis for comparison. Is he just looking to the haircut as a means of figuring out whether he can actually blame his wife for this? How long have they been married? Do they have kids? Has her hair grown out or has she continued to cut it? I think it also needs to be asked: was she happy with the haircut, or did it go horribly wrong and make her feel unattractive? Inquiring minds want to know.
The actual advice columnist doesn't seem to be bothered by this lack of information. She says,
Cutting one's hair does not necessarily point to an avoidance of sex, although deliberately reducing one's attractiveness in a spouse's eyes may well signal some desire to push them away. You sound angry and full of longing for a fulfilling sexual relationship - and that is understandable.
Wait, "not necessarily?" I get that advice columnists — especially of the respectable, clinical psychologist variety, probably try not to judge and there are so stupid questions, but this question was idiotic, conveying as it did a certain reductive lack of self-insight and, if you want to go all out, anachronistic homophobic undertones. Besides which, doesn't it seem unlikely that anyone would strive to make herself deliberately unattractive in anyone's eyes at her own wedding? Anyway, does she know he hates her haircut, or is this some weird passive-aggressive thing, where this guy prefers to write anonymously to a stranger and pretend his marriage's deep problems can be summed up by a few inches of keratins? Connolly suggests sitting down and talking — without judging — and find out what's really behind the sexual issues. Sure. But if he thinks the clues to his marital problems lie in a trip to the salon, maybe a set of extensions would be more to the point.
Sexual Healing [The Guardian]
[Image via Moviecritic.com]