Weddings, beards, and the Amish

11 Oct

I asked Greg to grow his hair and beard out last summer, about a month after we set a wedding date…so that would make it in July.  He has a very heavy beard, largely coal black although it does have a light sprinkling here and there of silvery hairs.  His hair is VERY thick, very black, and while it’s straight when it’s short, it has a definite curl when it starts getting longer.  In other words, like many men, he has hair AND eyelashes women would die for.  I can only wish that my hair was that thick, that shiny, had that kind of body, etc.

Yeah, I admit it…I get jealous.  It’s even worse because he’s so nonchalant about it and doesn’t even appreciate what he has on his head.  He would happily shave his head, especially in summer.  In winter, he MIGHT appreciate the warmth of such a thick head of hair.

So his usual goatee is long gone.  In its place, we have a thick bushy beard and his head is topped by hair that even I will admit is getting pretty unruly, especially since the owner of that head doesn’t appreciate the use of a hair brush much.  I tried to talk him into letting me tie it up or braid it–no go.  He might be comfortable with his own masculinity, but I have a sneaking suspicion he wants no funny looks or comments from the men in the area for some reason.

Now, if you have gotten this far, you are wondering what on earth the Amish have to do with Greg’s hair, because even though he IS from Ohio, he isn’t Amish, nor am I.  That isn’t necessarily a given, since some formerly Amish people are using the internet, I suppose…somewhere.  I grew up in a very progressive household in Iowa and Arizona.  Greg grew up in Ohio and West Virginia in an equally progressive household.

But, this whole post WAS inspired by an Amish incident recently.  It seems that there is some sort of a religious-based dispute between two groups of Amish in Bergholz, Ohio.  As a result of the dispute, a number of Amish men and women had their hair and beards cut off.  Two of the accused are the sons of a man called Sam Mullet.  (Article is located here.)

This is something you could not make up…that a man named Mullet was responsible for the beards of some Amish men being cut, and the hair of some of the women.

The gist of the story is that the two sons, along with a third man, hired someone to drive them the distance to the other community that had apparently offended Sam Mullet over some religious differences.  With battery operated clippers and scissors, the hair cuts were forced upon their victims, and the perpetrators fled.  The victims are upset, and I can sympathize with them.  I’d be upset, and my hair has no religious significance, nor does my culture demand that it be a certain length or done in a certain way.  The same for Greg.  He has a long beard and long hair right now, with three weeks before the wedding.  I’d be upset if he had his beard and hair cut now, he’s spent several months growing it.

Some of these Amish men and women had spent decades growing theirs.

It seems the Amish quit trimming their beards when they get married.  That would mean that by visual appearance alone, they are declaring the length of their marriage by the length of your beard.  That’s kind of profound in a way, and isn’t easily removed, like stashing your wedding ring in your glove box when you are on that business trip.  (I’ve actually known many men who have done exactly that, and some men have gone as far as to have a girlfriend in several towns and a wife in at least one town…all at the same time.)  Okay, so maybe fooling around doesn’t happen when you are Amish, but…we’ve seen it happen all across the globe in a wide variety of cultures, so I suspect it happens there just like anywhere else.  It is even in the Bible that such incidents occurred.

Not that I am worried about Greg fooling around, I’m not.  But, I have been there, done that before, as I was married before.  I can appreciate a man who is honest and trustworthy as a result.

It’s just that I’m so disappointed in the whole Amish incident.  After all, most Americans regard their choice to maintain a separate and simple life as the epitome of peaceful, and now, we see an incident that is as profoundly violent as anything in the mainstream.  Granted,  there was no blood shed, but this was a violent attack on these peaceful people, in which they had something they valued taken away from them, something that cannot be replaced.  This act has undoubtedly divided their community and caused great dissent as well.

It makes me worry about what on earth is going on when we see the Amish involved in violent episodes too.


We’re seeing protests, riots, acts of violence everywhere…and now among the Amish?  Are we dealing with some kind of cosmic influence that is going to reduce us to brutish mobs tearing our own societies apart?  What is going on?

So, I shall reflect on this new possibility, and at the same time, beginning Wednesday, our own wedding preparations start into high gear.  My mother comes from out of state, and with her arrival, we’ll have the “rocket fuel” drive of an aging parent who’s probably more than ready to marry off her sole single chick, especially since she likes Greg.  She knows ALL of the buttons to push to spur me to action, because even though I’m also a grandmother…I’m still a daughter.

Psychologists would undoubtedly label our family as dysfunctional–it seems that all normal families are.  At the same time, we function well with our dysfunctions.  I come from a family of opinionated, intelligent, and independent women.  We also have smart, independent, and opinionated males.  The outlaws, those who dare marry one of our members, have to be smart, opinionated, tolerant, and independent as well, or they are either not going to last or get run over.

The perfect litmus test, I discovered late in life, is to expose the prospective male to my mother and one or more of her sisters…for several days.  If they survive the experience without a serious misstep, they are a keeper.  If they don’t survive, it prevents a divorce later, because over those several days, they are going to get it all–razzed, teased, tormented, picked on, laughed at, jokes, and our quirky family mores.  Lord help the male who can’t appreciate a matriarchal family, or thinks that it demeans a man to belong to a family that is matriarchal in operation.

That’s the thing.  Matriarchal does not mean that men don’t matter, it simply means that a number of things are the women’s department that may not be mainstream America’s view of “women’s department.”  I’ve long observed that chauvinistic men are the first to fall into the trap of trying to demean the matriarchal family.

The heart of the matriarchal family rests on the basic concept that women are the ones who bear and care for the children, and because of this…they are the ones who teach basic morals, social skills, and the foundation of everything else they will need to become productive adults.  Historically, it also was connected to the idea that no one can question who the mother was, while the father is occasionally open to debate and speculation, and by attaching bloodlines and property to the female line, there were no doubts.

There was also the issue in days gone by of the father’s need to be a soldier or trader, or to travel great distances to find food  or work.  That could be risky, and many a man went off to war or a distant trading location never to be heard of in days gone by.  The woman was the one who held home and hearth together, fed and cared for the children, and ensured that if he did get home, he had something to return to.  If he didn’t return, she would still have to provide for the children and ensure they grew to adulthood.  In today’s society, it’s much more likely to be that there is a divorce rather than a war, trading, hunting, etc. that takes the man from the home.

The woman ensures that the culture remains intact and is passed on to the next generation.  It does not take away from the man being a man, nor of his role as a father.  Men and women, within this context, are merely different, but equal.  Mutual respect are required in order to preserve this kind of balance within a relationship, the family, and the “culture.”  It has nothing to do with one being better or more important.

I honestly find men who think women’s opinions and knowledge is unimportant or irrelevant amusing, even if they are irritating on occasion.  It’s even sadder when they are the fathers of daughters.  Do they want their daughters to be treated that way by the world at large?  If they think their wives are “stupid”, why on earth did they marry them and then dare to procreate?  After all, the woman does contribute half the DNA and is usually the primary caregiver the first few years of life to their children.  Stupidity just MIGHT be “catching” you know!

Then again, that might be part of the insidious plot of Theirs too.

Conspiracy theory alertThey want men to marry stupid women to dumb down the world!  

Maybe that’s what is wrong with society today…decades of encouraging mainstream America to regard women as stupid, shallow and lesser within society to create a society of stupid people!

All of that, just because we decided to have a “hippy” wedding on the beach in the name of Universal Love and Peace in the year 2011…in Hancock County, Mississippi, which caused me to ask Greg to grow out his hair and beard…and made me read that article about the Great Hair Caper in Amish Country, Ohio, and then write this.

That and pumpkins, but that’s a story for another night.





2 Responses to “Weddings, beards, and the Amish”

  1. Mack Maloney November 2, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Hi Gia: Can you send me your contact info? I have a book coming out titled “UFOs in Wartime — What They Didn’t Want You To Know.” (Penguin Berkely)

    I’d like to send you an advance copy.

    Thanks — Mack Maloney

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