The shaving ritual, then, is much more than a simple mechanical act involving the removal of facial hair. It is also, and perhaps more so, a ritualized performance by which a human male creates one specific modern masculine gender value — clean-shavenness — through the appropriation of other masculine values from the objects used, as a means of integrating his imaged self with the ideal self as expressed through advertising. And when enough men perform this act of appropriation or integration often enough and long enough, every element of the ritual becomes increasingly embedded as a cultural norm, and in turn becomes a signifier of the thing once signified.Razors, Shaving and Gender Construction: An Inquiry into the Material Culture of Shaving, by G. Bruce Retallack from the University of Toronto
I was looking for a funny advertisement or something like that to snark on, as I often do. What I did find was an interesting paper exploring the processes and material components of the particular grooming practice we engage in that both reflects and reinforces traditional gender distinctions – namely shaving.
By extension, razors become themselves signifiers of gender, and can be used as such in other contexts. If a man finds a woman’s razor in his son’s dorm room, he will very likely assume that his progeny has had an overnight female guest. The same is true, although less so, if the genders are reversedRazors, Shaving and Gender Construction: An Inquiry into the Material Culture of Shaving, by G. Bruce Retallack from the University of Toronto
It is fairly long, but also fairly easy to read. If you got half an hour or so, and have an interest in both the history and practice of shaving with a razor, you can spend it worse ways than getting yourself a drink and read it.