Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My hair, my "crowning glory"?

Two High Court judges ruled that people regarded their hair as their "crowning glory" and could be "intrinsic" to their identity.
My understanding from the brief spot on PM is that this sets a precedent, your hair is now part of your person legally, and anyone who cuts it off without your consent is guilty of an assault, right?

Bloody right too. Number of people that "joke" about cutting my hair off, really gets to me, my choice to wear my hair long is a source of humour, a woman's choice to wear it short goes unmentioned. Why? Nice to see that my (mostly) neatly kept hair is now actually considered part of me and the law will now recognise it.

Serious issue? No, but if I can tell people to piss off when they effectively propose ABH and cite this case, then I'm happy.

Off out now, not that anyone cares, but light blogging this evening from me.
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Anonymous said...

Too right. I was told by my employer a few years back to cut my hair - the HR manager decided that long locks on a man was "unprofessional".

The locks are still here.

MatGB said...

Yeah, I've had that a few times; in my old retail job (G.W., a company run by hippies), my area manager was a former marine and, well, probably thinks Griffin is a top bloke; turned me down whenever a store came up, effectively drove me from the company. Their loss.

Current job, old MD made a few sideways "when are you going to..." implying it was a growing up thing, the new one hasn't said a thing but I think there's an undercurrent. My line manager was there when an Italian client came in at the end of his course, specifically to meet me and shake my hand; he'd had to cut his hair off for a job, and was impressed England allowed people to hold important positions with long hair.

Boss has never dared squeek since, especially as I've made a fuss, both ways, about gender discrimination before (my specific job is definately a 'female' role apparently). Also, the people they're most worried about me offending (the elderly/retired ladies that make up a lot of my contacts) think it's wonderful, two of them keep trying to set me up with their granddaughters...

Very weird. Meh, I tie my hair back most of the time by preference, sometimes it's down around the office when it's annoying me, everyone gives me funny looks.

Katy Newton said...

Allow me to bore you with some law, just because I'm awake and looking for something to do.

Cutting off someone's hair has always been a common assault in criminal law. Without reading the judgement I don't know for certain, but I suspect the argument was over whether it was just a common assault (which is any unlawful touching or threat of unlawful violence and does not need any physical visible injury), or whether it amounted to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which is a more serious charge and usually involves some sort of tangible damage (e.g. bruise, cut or broken limb).

However, actual bodily harm can also include serious psychiatric injury even without a physical injury in certain circumstances, and I would guess that the magistrates had dismissed the case because they didn't think cutting someone's hair could cause that kind of harm, and the judges decided they were wrong. But this is pure speculation on my part.

Everyone asleep yet? My work here is done. Cheerio...

Katy Newton said...

PS: Mat, I'm afraid that it's only an assault if someone comes up to you and physically cuts your hair off. If they tell you you can't come back to work unless you cut it off yourself, it may or may not be unfair dismissal - can't remember much employment law these days - but it wouldn't be an assault.

MatGB said...

Oh yeah, no, I know. But I now can tell other idiots that make stupid jokes like "we'll hold you down and cut that off one day", which I've had, to get lost and back it up with precedent now.

I'd also do an unfair dismissal case if it ever came up, but I doubt it will these days.

Regarding it actually being an assault, didn't know it already had precedent, had always assumed it did, but I definitaly think it should be ABH, a bad bruise takes a few weeks to heal, removal of 2' long hair is more than a few months to grow back.

I'd love to say I am asleep, unfortunately, I'm nowhere near asleep, and I need to get up on time tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Alas, as a short haired woman I can confirm that it is not the case that women don't get comments about having short hair. Not the same level as men with long hair I suspect (a la my husband) but still comments nevertheless. No one at work has ever suggested that it was inappropriate though and I would be livid if they did.

Biodun said...

"Appropriate" hair length is something that we are conditioned into accepting as the norm.

100, 150 years ago, I'm sure your having long hair wouldn't have been an issue. I'm not sure when it suddenly became taboo... very odd.

Having said that, I personally find long hair on men a bit unattractive, dunno why. I'm not sure if I'd date someone whose hair was longer than mine (sorry Mat, I know you'd been hoping.... ;-)
They'd have to have something extra-special to make up for it!

MatGB said...

Katherine; I've no doubt it does still happen the other way around, either way, it's wrong, small minded and petty.

Biodun; I'm not sure when it suddenly became taboo.

Started with Prnice Albert, the "teutonic cut" (or similar) it was called, and became the norm when compulsory military service and WWI made everyone shave it short.

Navy still lets you wear it long, but you have to tar it back I'm told, risk of entanglement in dangerous machines, something I understand.

I personally find long hair on men a bit unattractive, dunno why.
s'ok, most people don't care one way or another, but for everyone that shares your view, there's someone else with the exact opposite opinion, both my most recent exes made it clear if I cut the hair the relationship would be in trouble.

(sorry Mat, I know you'd been hoping.... ;-)
So I have a thing for inttelligent capable literate and eloquent women; I'm sure it's not a crime...

Anonymous said...

Actually, employment law provides no protection for long haired men. An employer may, should he wish, impose a dress code requiring a conventional appearance. Providing the dress code is equally restrictive for both genders, it may allow for long hair for women and short hair for men (Smith v Safeway 1996). It is when employers try to make it up as they go along that it gets interesting (Owen v PGA 2000 and Thompson v Dept of Work & Pensions 2003).

In my own case, the "policy" was being made up on the hoof by the HR manager and being applied to me as an individual because I worked in the same office. When I complained, the company realised that they wouldn't have a case if it came to a tribunal.

Joe said...

Hey Matt, I'm Joe and i've just been sacked because i have long hair and i refused to have it cut. Even though the guy who sacked me was the guy who (in person) offered me the job at the 2nd interview! I'm now tryin to sue the bastard for unfair dismissal! Wanna help?