Which Ear Should He Pierce? A Guide For Boys.
So you’re thinking about getting your earlobes pierced?
A few weeks ago, we posted an article about how old a person might want to be before getting their ears pierced for the first time. Today, we’re going to tackle the topic of boys and men getting their ears pierced.
Some people might be wondering, ‘how is this different in any way from a girl or woman getting her ears pierced?’ And it isn’t. (Or at least it shouldn’t be.)
Apparently the idea that boys and girls need to be treated differently and placed into little boxes of appropriate social expectation is alive and well. A simple search in Google for ‘school dress codes’ yielded nothing but articles addressing unfair, restrictive, and sexist policies. A story came to our attention recently about a mother who was shocked to learn that the school her three children attended allowed her daughter to wear earrings everyday, but did not afford her sons the same option. How small pieces of metal (or tank tops, or dresses) can affect learning is a discussion for another day, but it does beg the question; ‘Why do we still view ear piercing as feminine?’
Piercings have been used as symbols of status, to mark rites of passage, and as a form of adornment for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of humans piercing their ear lobes dates back 5000 years, and throughout history, piercing has belonged to men, women, and children alike. In the 1500’s, it was fashionable for upper class men to wear earrings made of gold and precious stones. Sailors wore gold earrings to help pay for a respectable burial in case they died at sea and their body was found by strangers.
It’s only in the last century that having ones ears pierced became an effeminate practice. Luckily, as piercing becomes more socially acceptable as a whole in our society, menfolk are reclaiming piercing as a masculine option. And as more men take to have piercings, more boys are following suit too. But we still talk to too many hesitant moms who aren’t sure if piercing their son’s ears is too ‘girly’, and a lot of men who want to know people will think they are gay.
So, to help everyone understand the origin of these concerns, and how they apply to today’s society, we’ve put together the following Q and A:
So, which ear is the ‘gay ear’?
Whichever of your ears prefers the company of other men.
But seriously, which ear should I/my son pierce?
Probably both. In our modern society, most men don’t really need a secret codes to find gay partners, they can just meet people at bars, in the park, on the internet, or anywhere else where hetero couples meet. The left ear/right ear decision is a thing of the past, and the only reason it even comes up, is because some people remember it. I have asked countless people under 25, and most of them have never heard of this single ear trend. I’ve heard parents explaining to their kids about the ‘gay ear’, only to have the kids respond with ‘oh, that’s weird’. Young people are commonly dismissive of the idea of ear piercing having any significance because it no longer has any.
So while it’s perfectly acceptable to accent one ear with an earring, it’s pleasingly symmetrical to simple pierce both ears, and that’s what most people do.
So where did this whole left ear/right ear thing start?
The exact history is a bit scattered, but the general consensus is that in the 70’s, when a majority of gay men were still closeted, it was popular to indicate your sexual preference by piercing one ear. However, there was no definitive rule book, and so the trend varied from place to place. In some areas the left ear meant you were straight and the right meant that you were gay. In other areas, the left meant that you were a top, and the right meant that you were a bottom. And so on.
What if people think I/my son is gay because I pierced both of my/their ears?
Most people won’t, and any that do are living in the past. Would you expect a woman to abstain from voting because her grandparents remember a time when that was the norm? Of course not. Things change and it’s those people who need to catch up.
In other words…
It’s 2015. If you want to pierce your ears, seek out a reputable shop, pick out earrings you love, and do it.