Women: Would Cutting Your Hair Be A Punishment To You

I’ve been watching the best soap opera in the world, from Australia called Prisoner (Prisoner: Cell Block H) and several times (Chrissie, Sharon, Angel, Lexie) one of the “bad” prisoners gets on the wrong side of the “good” prisoners and gets their hair cut off as a punishment.

While I guess this would instill fear, having scissors so close to your head and would carry a lasting humiliation, as opposed to getting thumped, which is pretty much over with, I always thought it was a pretty “light” way of driving home a point.

I know after WWII they shaved the heads of women who co-operated with the Nazis as a punishment.

So my question to women of the Straight Dope is would having your hair cut off be such a horrible punishment to you?

I think it’d be pretty humiliating depending on the context, though I’d prefer it to being beaten with a big stick.

When I was a student (in Korean school) teachers would roam the halls with scissors. If your hair was longer than what was regulated, they’d grab you and hack off a huge chunk, so you’d be forced to get it cut shorter than the regulated length in order to even it out. That was extremely unpleasant and degrading, but pretty effective in getting the students to toe the line in regard to their hair length.

The actual action could be horrible, the helplessness of the situation you describe. The knowledge that “this is all we did but we could have done much, much worse”.

The actual haircut? Not unless it was the dead of winter - but then, the biggest reason I’ve never gone to a barber and asked for a full shave (I feel really curious about what my skull looks like and if a certain bump I used to have has disappeared) is that “it isn’t professional”. I’m not particularly fond of my locks; they’re just there, like my navel.

I do know women whose body image seems to be very, very closely tied to their hair (mostly very young ones). For those it would be absolutely horrible, and I imagine it would be horrible also for those who keep it long for religious reasons.

I have had my hair range in length from knee length [um, 3 feet?] to an inch, all self inflicted =) though it normally ranges between shoulder and bra strap length. I actually shaved my head when much of it fell out during chemo, so no big whoop.

Same with bleach/dye - it has ranged from natural with grey [current] to bleached out totally to platinum blond. to just the tips of the 1 inch length being bleached white so I could use temp dyes on the ends, to blue black, to deep grape purple, green, screaming chrome yellow, blue and cherry red. My favorite color was a deep deep burgundy/cherry that was almost black. Least favorite was strawberry blond.

Markxxx, please, turn off the telly. Y’know, Prisoner was sort of, once-upon-a-time cutting-edge soap (please excuse the contradiction in terms etc :smiley: ), but that was over 30 years ago now, and even I’M embarrassed to know what you’re talking about.

You’ve become obsessed with it mate. Doreen would be chuffed, and Frankie would prolly punch yer’ lights out. :smiley:

Fuck off and get a life!!


In the spring of 2009, before she came to live with us, my niece had her hair cut off. Her stepmother did intend it to be a punishment. The cut was horrible - boyishly short but not a proper teenager’s haircut, it looked like a little kid’s hair cut. That was definitely a degrading and humiliating thing for her.

It’s not the scissors, it’s the humiliation. Whenever you take something that normal a person has control over and take that control away, it’s a punishment. Normally, we control how our hair looks. I just got a pretty drastic haircut (and inadvertently discovered I have curly hair! :eek: ), and I’m pretty happy with it. But if someone had done it forcibly, I would have been very, very upset.

Didn’t we have some trainwrecky goodness a couple of years back because a poster’s friend cut off another friend’s braid in a bar squabble?

Also, in the context of an enclosed society, everyone knows why you have a buzzcut now. And get constant reminders for as long as it takes to grow out. That’s got to be humiliating.

In a situation like this, devastating. In a situation like prison…eh, I’ve got worse problems.

I think that’s the key. Wearing a red A on your clothing isn’t humiliating, unless people know why.

Or, at least, if you THINK people know why.

It isn’t the end of the world, but as others have said, it’s the loss of contorl. My aunt ocne chopped off all my hair when I was a teen - that was pretty devestating, to know that they didn’t even respect me enough as a person to let my hair be. But I got over it.

Ok, I’ll bite.

I have long thick hair, currently at about waist level. It’s been this way for at least 25 years and I’m 49 now. I had to admit it but it has become part of who I am. Mostly I like it long because it’s easier (for me) than keeping up a haircut. I wash it, braid it, sleep on it, brush out the next day and usually re-braid it. But I can’t picture myself with short hair either, it’s sort of become a signature, I guess.

If someone gave me a compelling reason to cut it, I might. If someone cut it off out of spite or for punishment, I would not be happy at all. (Mad? Sad? Shamed? All of the above??) In a prison situation, well… I’ve never been in prison or anything remotely similar, so I don’t really know if it would make it more or less humiliating. I suspect I’d have bigger worries, but if status = safety and forced buzz = no status, then yeah, I’d be more than a little upset.

Did that make any sense at all? I think I need more tea. :dubious:

Absolutely, yes. I get upset when I come home from the hairstylist with a haircut I don’t like – I can imagine how mortified and angry I’d be if someone cut off my hair to punish me.
My grandmother abused my mom in many ways, including this one: My mom was in high school and wanted to get her hair cut to a more fashionable length, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. So one day, my mom took matters into her own hands and trimmed a couple of inches off her hair so that it was about shoulder length. When her mother saw it, she pulled my mom into the bathroom and buzzed off the back of her hair with a pair of clippers. My mom was completely humiliated, and of course her hair took months and months to grow out. Just thinking about this story almost makes me want to cry in sympathy for her.

Very true. I was getting tired of my longish hair (well, it wasn’t SO long but I have incredibly thick hair). I got it cut a few weeks ago and cut 3 inches instead of 1. I was starting to freak out that I’d cut it way too short and “ruined” it. So yes, for me it would be a huge punishment. Especially if someone else did it for me. It’s MY hair, dammit!

That sounds awful, gallows fodder. So evil.

I was thinking of starting a related thread about what would be worse/more defeminizing for women, losing one’s breasts or losing one’s hair. For me, it would be the latter. Yeah, there are wigs but I wouldn’t feel like me. I don’t want to put someone else’s hair on my head. I want my hair. I’d be sad at losing my breasts but my hair is just such a huge part of what makes me me.

Yeah, a month ago I might have posted that it wouldn’t be a big deal…but a couple of weeks ago I got a bad cut, and I’ve been amazed at the amount of energy I’ve spent thinking about this seemingly small issue.

Yeah, that’s what it was like for me, too. :frowning: I empathize completely.

Hell, leave the hair but you’re welcome to have the boobage. It’s such a nuisance, and I don’t even have much.
And for you guys that have had your hair forcibly cut/mangled as punishment as a kid - THAT is indeed cruel and so sad :frowning:

I wear my hair short anyway but a horrible miscommunication with a gal at the mall resulted in her running a set of clippers up the back of my noggin. I was able to watch the blood drain out of my face as I felt the wind on the back of my shorn stripe.

She was horrified, “You said short, you said short!” With visions of hats and combovers dancing through my head I told her it was fine and to just finish it. I was shell shocked. I tried really hard to maintain a sense of humor about the whole thing but I admit that I cried as soon as I got back to my car.

So yeah, it would be a shitty punishment. I might not care that much if I was in prison though.

She shouldn’t have used clippers unless she had asked if you wanted them. She goofed and she knew it, and you should have spoken to the manager.

When I feel the need to go from long to short, and I ask for four or more inches to be taken off, the stylist always asks me to measure it with my fingers, just so s/he knows that I know how much I’m asking to have taken off.

As a child, I frequently had my hair styled in a way that I hated, which included having short hair in the 60s and 70s, when all the cool girls had very long hair. I currently am wearing a bob of just above shoulder length. At the start of the year, my hair was over halfway down my waist, and the stylist kept asking if I was SURE that I wanted to get it cut so short. Yep. I did. I was tired of split ends, and my hair is thinning somewhat on top, so having very long locks with split ends just doesn’t work for me. But it was MY choice, and I’d have been upset if someone decided to restrain me and cut my hair. Another thing about forced haircuts, they usually aren’t done by people who actually know how to cut hair, or who care about styling and choosing the right cut.

I’ve had my hair every length from very long to very, very short and it doesn’t bother me much - I feel feminine regardless of it’s length (although when it’s very, very short I tend to wear more makeup to increase my ‘girlyness’)

With that in mind, being pinned down and having my hair forcefully cut? Yah, that would suck be it in prison or at the hands of some demented relative.