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At the barbershop and the salon, area men and women share views on wave of sexual harassment cases
FARGO—A barber shop is the ultimate male domain, a place where men can relax and talk about subjects they might not speak about elsewhere, where sarcasm and off-color jokes are common, and where women are seldom seen.
Graver Barbers in downtown Fargo is typical. There’s a 1936 Harley Davidson motorcycle sitting on one side of the shop. A large metal grille from an old Chevrolet is mounted on a wall. The waiting chairs are leather and the magazines available for browsing are typical men’s fare: Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Bow Hunter, and Sports Illustrated. It’s a decidedly male space.
So what do men in such a barber shop think about the seemingly daily revelations about powerful and famous men accused of sexual harassment and misconduct?
“It’s long overdue because there are a lot of pigs out there,” said one man, a real estate appraiser. “I think it’s about time — for women’s sake.”
All of the half-dozen customers interviewed, along with the two brothers who run the barber shop, Joel and Ryan Brehmer, agreed that if the sudden flood of accusations, resignations and firings prompts men to treat women with greater respect, then that is a welcome change.
Everyone interviewed, including the barbers, were middle aged or older. They are old enough to remember how things used to be. Some found shocking what was tolerated in an earlier time and are glad male behavior has progressed.
“I can still vividly remember coming out of college, wearing a three-piece suit at the bank, and thinking, Jesus, this is just like the fraternity,” said a retired businessman. “Some of the stuff these guys were getting away with at the bar after work was like, ‘Wow.’ I remember guys (who were) married, many children, and they were out there with the younger girls my age and just literally grabbing ’em right here and then grabbing ’em there. There were no repercussions.”