The Los Angeles Beard and Moustache competition embraced the female participants, who did not let their chin's natural underperformance hold them back. The Whiskerinas used all sorts of products, human hair, rope, astroturf and feathers all featured in their beards in the competition. If you don't want to know the results look away now. Or scroll down a bit.
1. Killo Kitty
2. Emily Abravaya
3. Lindsay Stinner
Ok you can look now. The Whiskerinas were admired for their inventiveness, humour and bearded beauty. The comments concerning inequality and unfairness over the women's artificially lush jawlines when men had to compete using what nature gave them were ignored. Because it is a beard competition. La Barbe were not to come out of their whiskered ways so unscathed.
While the Whiskerinas celebrate being "beardiful", La Barbe use beards as a nod to the facial hair worn by the male leaders (or rather, leaders) of the Third Republic. They claim not much, or not enough has changed since then.
Taking a leaf out of the Guerilla Girls book and using an amusing visual gimmick, in this case beards instead of identity concealing gorilla masks La Barbe are overturning feminism's unfair reputation for being humourless.
It is a long established truth, proven by old political cartoons, shows such as That Was The Week That Was and Private Eye that comedy can be the most powerful weapon of the disenfranchised against the political class.
La Barbe was formed 4 years ago in protest to the first female presidential candidate's reception from the press and politicians. Segolene Royal who made it clear that she believed widespread sexism within the Socialist Party compromised the support the party should have provided Royal with.
In May la Barbe had Cannes film festival in their sights. Cannes was indeed rather odd this year, choosing to feature Marilyn Monroe, who never attended Cannes, nor did any of her films play there (All About Eve is very much a Bette Davis vehicle), as their mascot. The festival managed more or less to keep the Cannes women down to one. Marilyn.
Of the 22 officially selected films none were directed by women. Le Monde published an open letter from La Barbe to Cannes Film Festival bravo-ing this omission, "Only once did the Cannes film festival lose heart. In 1993, the Palme d'Or was indeed awarded to Jane Campion. And last year, doubtless due to a lack of vigilance, four women somehow sneaked in among the 20 people nominated in the official competition."
OK so they're not up for the Orange Prize yet. But it is a case of if you don't laugh, you cry. La Barbe attended Cannes in their uniform beards, holding placards that said "Merci" and "incroyable!" Colette Coffin of La Barbe told the BBC their objective is to simply "create a mirror effect to show a male-dominated situation which highlights the invisibility of women." Feminist? Yes. Attention seeking? Of course. Dangerous? Non.
So why then at a lecture held in the Freemason's temple discussing What sort of secular morality for what kind of Republic? did Coffin's calm insistence on 'congratulating' the masons on their tireless effort to exclude women provoke the mason's security so much? Did La Barbe's interruption warrant the reaction from security it got?
Unlike the streaker at a football match it seems no one has any concerns about catching and restraining a bearded lady. A BBC journalist who questioned the roughness used to restrain La Barbe members had her mobile phone confiscated, as did all La Barbe members. Coffin, who led the rather passive protest, left with broken glasses and a large bruise on her shoulder. Other members showed cuts and bruises.
All in reaction to an organisation of women who don fake beards and sign off an open letter about a film festival with the warning:"Women, mind your spools of thread! And men, as the Lumière Brothers did before you, mind your film reels! And let the Cannes film festival competition forever be a man's world!" The same man's world Marilyn asked permission only to be a woman in.