St Baldrick patron saint of subservience

What is the point of shaving one’s head in the fight against cancer? You raise awareness of the continuing plight of cancer victims? Adbusters You show solidarity with those afflicted? You normalize what kids can only regard as the stigma of chemotherapy? I’m not exactly sure. To be crass, I wouldn’t jump off a bridge just because my friends are suicidal. I’m not sure shearing one’s hair is not a more profound abasement than it looks.

Raising money for cancer feeds three coffers: medical care, medical research or media advertising. This year our local St Baldrick’s has set a goal to raise $150K for the cause. That’s a lot, considering these are pledges based on goading your friends about whether they will or will not dare to go bald. Let me ask you however, $150K buys a fraction of what in the medical world? It buys how many seconds on TV?

What is fund-raising for cancer but a secondary tax for funds to support a health care system, and no funds still flowing to the patients?

I’m sorry to be disrespectful of cue-baldness, or to exacerbate the stigma, but what do shaved heads denote historically? Captive peoples? Prisoners, soldiers, eunuchs, slaves. Today we explain it as a hygienic necessity when concentrating people in close quarters, or for spartan utilitarianism. But there’s a solitary reason people’s heads are shaved who have no say in the matter. Control. They are easily identified en masse, and their individuality is not only demeaned but effaced.

Chemo patients who lose their hair are thereby marked for their involuntary subjugation to man’s imperfect medicine. More instructively, they are victims of our imperfect, reckless, even murderous technologies. Should we not fight against the toxic causes of cancer, sooner than symbolically queue into the ranks of its unfortunate collateral damage? And how can we fight this foe with our highest potency?

Since ancient times, slaves were shorn to prevent them from blending in with free people. Shaving has served that function ever since: to preempt thoughts of escape, desertion, or assimilation. Early religions stressed letting your hair be. He who retained their hair retained their power. Even today, politicians and celebrities fare much better who have a full head of hair.

Many traditions still call for beards to be grown unrestricted. This de-emphasizes the individual by appearance at least. Similarly women are expected to cover themselves to varying degrees, also perhaps to equalize their haphazardly distributed differences.

I personally prefer a society of revealed and clean-shaved faces because it allows for people’s unique identities. Scientists might argue that craniums are equally unique. I suspect that’s true, most appreciably to biometric scanners. I’m unsure about the benefit to the community of man of appearing uniform, yet having individuals detectible at security portals or by surveillance cameras. You want unanimity among people except to their overseers?

Since the Enlightenment, the west has been enamored of its face. These days with makeup, chemical or scalpel, we can augment our face to suit us. Hair is where we have daily autonomy over how the world perceives us. It can conform or not, complement us or disguise us. Where our bone structure might be God-given, a hairdo, wig or hat is entirely ours to command.

Modern culture has accepted the shaving of facial hair such that we barely see it as an obeisance to the new norm. That Samson lost his strength owing to an involuntary trim, is not to me an abstract lesson.

5 thoughts on “St Baldrick patron saint of subservience

  1. AvatarColette

    I find it quite unfortunate that you keep such a close-minded perspective in light of the array of examples you present to stake your claim. Unfortunate that you choose such opposition against an organization whose sole purpose is to better the lives of innocent children who have no hand in the burden they bare. In the very light of the fact that the image of a bald head has accompanied many unfortunate circumstances, people today choose to humbly shave their heads with intention of finding themselves in symbolic circumstances with others – in this case, in solidarity with these suffering yet courageous children. However in doing so by no means do individuals claim to truly know the pain and suffering these children face, yet the act is done to offer hope in a tangible manner. In doing so, raising funds for an even more important goal – to eliminate the cause of such pain and turmoil!

    Though there are organizations who focus on providing financial support directly to families and patients who face the bills of their treatments, the purpose of St. Baldrick’s is to first and foremost find a cure. In the success of doing so, medical bills for cancer treatments will subsequently become obsolete. Your bold claims of opposition against an organization who could one day assist in the result of such a blessing seem to imply resistance against the very success that could change the world.

    Imagine if the mere energy you put into generating this post had gone to something greater than the selfish satisfaction of stating your dismal perception of a cause that’s done nothing but better the lives of thousands. What a shame that you’re blind to the reality of this powerful movement offering hope and life.

    May your heart be softened and your outlook reconsidered.

  2. EricEric

    So very well put, but we offer each other the same argument: why not put all that energy into addressing the CAUSE of cancer? You don’t dwell on a cure for murder, you arrest the murderers.

    People can do what they want, for all the best motives. I’m just weighing in about where I think cue-baldness conformity is leading.

  3. AvatarGonna go bald because I can

    What about gender neutrality and deviating from hetero-normative lifestyles?

  4. AvatarBrent

    You bitter fool. You take something positive and try and twist it fit your silly angst ridden world view.

  5. EricEric

    OR, StBaldrick’s is NOT something positive.

    Corporate polluters are the cause of childhood cancer. GODDAMN THEM for making us search for the “cure”, for making our kids suffer, and for suggesting we need to shave our heads so we’ll stand out as the idiots we are.

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