Close shave with Human Rights Commission for 'men-only' barber store

A male-only barber shop in trendy inner Sydney has come under fire on social media for its strict "no women allowed" policy. Photo / Getty Images
A male-only barber shop in trendy inner Sydney has come under fire on social media for its strict "no women allowed" policy. Photo / Getty Images

Feminists have declared war on hipsters.

A male-only barber shop in trendy inner Sydney has come under fire on social media for its strict "no women allowed" policy.

But customers of Hawleywood's in Newtown, which also has three stores in California, have leapt to the chain's defence, urging it to not be "bullied by the mob".

The latest flare-up came after musician Kelly Jeanious posted about her friend's experience visiting the Hawleywood salon on the weekend, Yahoo reported.

"A guy came in for a cut," she wrote. "He was told his girlfriend could not wait 'cause it is a men's only space. Then the guy proceeded to talk about the inequalities of men for the next half an hour and how unfair Fernwood gym is."

Lindsay McDowens posted a picture of a map of the globe to the store's Facebook page, writing: "Here's a picture of a safe male space.

Grow up you crybaby scaredy-cats."

And in January, Mahlah Grey wrote: "Am I able to come in if I need to purchase a gift voucher or product? Or will my vagina/breasts/level of oestrogen freak you out?

"What if I'm transgender? If I'm a female undergoing hormone treatment and growing facial hair do I qualify to enter your establishment? Or if I was a transgender female with fake titties but still had a working c*** would that give me the right to sit in your chair?

"What if my husband wanted an appointment but had our two young daughters with him. Would he need to leave them outside? Just want to make sure as I would hate to breach your man's club etiquette.

"Have you heard of equal rights? Or the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984?"

Amber Lee complained that her friend was turned away because she was female. "Her hair is always done at a barber shop because she gets it shaved and styled like a typical man's haircut," she wrote.

"When we asked how her hair was any different to a man's hair, one of the barbers rudely suggested she contact the Human Rights Commission if she didn't like their policy and smirked at us as we left.

"The whole experience felt like barely concealed misogyny and was gross to see in Newtown of all places." understands a sex discrimination complaint against the store was made to the Human Rights Commission, but was dismissed. Hawleywood's declined to comment when contacted on Wednesday.

But in a lengthy response posted to Facebook in January, Hawleywood's defended its policy. "We pride ourselves in an impeccable cut, shave and male grooming in a secure, understanding setting sensitive to the insecurities men feel during these procedures," the store wrote.

"We cater to men who posses [sic] insecurities with [their] grooming, they feel uncomfortable receiving these services in a grooming environment that is targeted towards women, especially during the uncomfortable and sometimes awkward process of removing excess overgrown nasal hair, ear hair, eyebrows and during the process of hair cuts that cater specifically to the concealment of baldness, an issue most men [are] sensitive and embarrassed about.

"They prefer the sanctitude of an understanding and empathetic male environment that lacks judgment during these procedures.

"We also cater to a large homosexual community in Newtown, and assist a number of regular transsexual/transgender clientele that are in the process of transition from female to male genders with inherit insecurities regarding gender, craving advice from men on how to groom themselves during this transition that Hawleywood's is more than happy and honoured to provide."

The store said that if the policy were to change, "we will no longer be able to provide this sanctitude and privacy for men who feel uncomfortable getting these procedures done in front of women".

Male-only barber shops are no different to businesses that exclude men for the "personal comfort, confidence and privacy" or female clientele, including Fernwood and Curves.
"We don't vilify or discriminate against homosexuals, over 50 per cent of our customer base is of homosexual orientation," it said.

"There are a number of barber shops within a 50 metre radius offering hair cuts and razor shaves that do cater to women."

Many on Facebook have defended the store. "Good for you on the no women policy," wrote Carolyn Palmer. "Stick to your guns and don't be bullied by the mob. Plenty of woman-only places around and they don't get bloody hounded."

Amanda Houghton added: "Good on you. As a woman I have no problem with this, we as women have salons, gyms, beauty salons, parking, doctors and a range of other things that are women only.

"You have no reason to justify your actions of men-only, I don't see others justifying women-only anything."


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