Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Highest Sexual Organ

The recent “niqab debate” in Canada has brought attention to the fact that hair is a sexual organ

A woman in niqab.

Some Muslims feel that a woman is irreligious if she fails to cover not only her hair, but her face. 

The garment used for this purpose is called a niqab

But many more feel it is essential for devout Muslims – men and women – to merely cover their hair (but not their face) out of concern for “modesty.” The female version of this is called a hijab

What is so immodest, though, about exposing the hair on one’s head? 

Head-wear has been a feature of civilized life going back many centuries, in the Occident and elsewhere. 

As modernity progressed, head-wear was worn more so in vanity than for modesty — this is true, especially in regard to women’s hats. But for vain flourishes in head-wear partaken by bohemians and Beau Brummel types, men’s hats tended toward the functional — like the stylishly-utilitarian “fedora” style of hat, which was the choice of virtually all men in the Western world, from the late nineteenth century until the 1950s. 

The fedora, in its many variants (such as the Homburg brand), was so commonplace during the first half of the twentieth century that in photographs of public scenes taken during that era, almost everyone is wearing a hat. 

Hardly a bare head in sight.

President John F. Kennedy is often credited with making the hat unfashionable for men, by refusing to wear one during his swearing-in ceremony in January, 1961. However, Kennedy did in fact have head-wear during at least some of his inauguration day — the round top-hat appropriate to his status as an untitled nobleman. 

The counterculture of the later 1960s is also blamed for the demise of the hat in men’s wardrobes. If anything, though, the hippie movement is noted for a revival of hat-wearing that had already been in decline for a decade or more. Amongst other types of hats, there was the Australian bush hat and its derivatives, that is so identified with the counterculture that it is colloquially known as the “hippie hat.” 

In recent times, the venerable fedora is reserved for those with artistic pretensions, and men too vain to expose their bald head, or won’t wear a toupee. It is more common to see a woman in a hat, but even women wearing hats is uncommon nowadays. 

The most common head-wear worn by men, is the baseball cap, which (as the name suggests) is scarcely a hat at all, and isn’t ever considered formalwear. Significantly, the ball-cap is commonly worn both in and out of doors. It is a concession, by contemporary men, of the functionality of the hat (as a means of keeping the head from the elements, and sun from the eyes), whilst its ignoring its formality. 

For that matter, bald men in fedoras and other types of hat, usually don’t remove their hat when coming indoors, either. Just as, until recent times, people were supposed to wear hats when out in public, decorum demanded also that, when coming indoors, the hat was to be removed. 

In the Psychology of Clothes, John Flugel observed as to how “We have invented a number of objects which are in the nature of transitions between clothes and houses. The roofed-in car or carriage is ... one type of such an object. The umbrella is another. As regards this little instrument with its emergency roof, it is difficult to say whether it corresponds more to a miniature transportable house or to a temporary outer garment.” 

The hat is transportable shelter, too, and its removal from the scene, just as television radically extended the reach of the public into the private realm, foreshadowed the informality and even dishevelment of men’s styles especially that characterized the second half of the twentieth century (though women’s fashions became more informal as well). 

First, out went the fedora. Then gradually, the other formal aspects of men’s attire — the necktie, the cufflinks, the suit jacket, the button-down shirt, creased pants — was put away but for “special occasions.” 

The disappearance of the hat was the first step toward today’s fashions, characterized by what people not so long ago would have considered indecent exposure. 

The last of the bourgeois gentlemen.

Hair is a sex object, as the ancients well knew (with the Biblical story of Samson losing his virility when the Delilah cuts off his hair). The bare head was suppressed, along with all other types of corporeal immodesty, with the rise of Christianity during late antiquity, as well as Islam later on. 

Religious authorities understood then – they understand now – that permitting the exposure of one’s hair, usually leads to the immodest exposure of the rest of the body as well.  This is why they fight tooth and nail against the immodesty of removing one's hat outdoors.

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