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Why can’t women get a cheap cut at the barber?

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As Silvio Dante says in The Sopranos, two industries have always been recession-proof: show business and the mob. To which I will add a third: haircuts. They’re a racket. Hair will always grow, and it will always need to be cut.

I know hairdressing is competitive, hairdressers are skilled professionals and running a salon is expensive. To which I would reply, fine – but then how are barbers making money?

The Metro reports that Cloe Freeman, a 29-year-old civil servant, was turned away from a barber in Jersey because her presence would “put men off”. Freeman has close-cropped hair, and often visits barbers. “Women sometimes come in here looking for a haircut because it is cheaper than in salons,” said an employee of the barber in question who did not wish to be named.

The vast gulf between haircut pricing for men and women is unjust. I live on a London street with a number of hairdressers and barbers. My boyfriend can get a haircut at the Turkish barber for £12. The cheapest option for a woman’s haircut is £53, and they won’t even wash your hair for that. (Charging extra for a wash is an unforgivable hairdressing scam, as if dunking your hair in a basin of tepid water is worth £30.)

I will not pay more than £35 for a haircut. I simply refuse. Which means I tend to get my hair cut on holiday, where it’s cheaper. This has always worked out fine, although if you have a more complicated hairstyle I’d recommend bringing a phrase book. (I only ever get it cut in a straight line, no layers, so it’s nearly impossible to mess that up.)

As someone who sits behind a keyboard in my underwear and has “thoughts” for a living, I am loth to tell someone who does a job that is of use to society how to price their work. But charging women triple or even quadruple for a service that is basically the same as the one men get doesn’t sit right. A fairer system would be for hairdressers to price haircuts based on the length of time they take, regardless of gender. (This is the approach used by the hairdressing chain Chop Chop, which I have visited in the past, and I can confirm: the haircut was fine.) Also, barbers should have to accept women.

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