Robustly bearded myself, I have always felt a powerful sense of manly superiority to those men (for example almost every male member of the Liberal Party and of course absolutely every male Young Liberal) who seem incapable of growing facial hair.
Now the cultural-historical basis for my hitherto inexplicable beard beliefs is explained by a new piece, Eleanor Rycroft's The Beard Maketh the Man, in the latest History Today.
And in a poignant coincidence, as I read Rycroft's piece on my e-reading device while seated in my wild, wild garden, a tiny Eastern Spinebill Acanthorynchus tenuirostris visited my luxuriant beard so as to take wisps of hair from it with which to help build its exquisite nest.
It is poetic experiences like these, happening all the time in true, wildlife-friendly gardens, that make me so critical of Floriade, an immaculately artificial "garden" where nothing natural happens, where birds, bees, butterflies and bugs are forbidden, lest their nibbling, gnawing and nectar-seeking leave some petals dishevelled.
But I digress, for I want to pass on Dr Rycroft's advice that "The 16th and early 17th centuries saw a remarkable and ubiquitous fashion for facial hair among men".
"Physicians wrote about [beards], Protestant reformers grew them, poets satirised them and playwrights, from Shakespeare ... and beyond, repeatedly used them to demonstrate masculinity to their audiences ... Shakespeare was heavily invested in the language of beards when he imagined his male characters."
Yes, that's it, a lifelong Shakespeare enthusiast I have absorbed Shakespeare's (correct) diagnosis that beards and manliness go together like a horse and carriage. No wonder, among Young Liberals (as I sometimes was as a reporter) I was so unimpressed by the typical male Young Liberal face, a pale, scrubbed, groomed, hairless, moon-like object. Moments ago, Googling today's Young Liberals, I see from the photos taken at gatherings of their dull cult that all the boyish males are moon-faces.
"Why did beards suddenly become important?" Rycroft asks.
Why did beards suddenly become important?Eleanor Rycroft
"The historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore identifies 'four great beard movements' that punctuate the history of masculinity - the second century, the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the latter half of the 19th century. Arguably we are currently at the beginning of a fifth age ... Certainly beards have been current and widespread for the last 20 years and the term 'hipster beard' is idiomatic."
"Here [in the history of beardedness] the one-sex model of gender is important - an inheritance of classical antiquity enshrined in the works of Aristotle and Galen, which saw women as simply 'imperfect' men who lacked the requisite humoural heat to eject their inverted penises from their bodies.
"Facial hair functioned as evidence of the male capacity to produce semen, puberty providing the necessary testicular heat for a boy to become a man, but also for 'smoke' to rise in the body and push out hair in the face. As much as menstruation signalled a girl's capacity to reproduce, the beard did the same for a boy."
From her tone Dr Rycroft is dismissive of these beliefs, and so am I, mostly. And yet my personal experience of the "testicular heat" of puberty and the resulting smoke are still vivid memories, 60 years after those flames engulfed my young loins.
But as a feminist I do struggle a bit with the idea that women are imperfect men, failed men, really, who haven't been able to eject their inverted penises from their bodies.
By and large this sounds implausible to me, but perhaps for strong misogynists (like broadcaster Alan Jones and those Liberal men who fight not to pre-select Liberal women for winnable seats) it is a secret article of faith, one they know is so controversial today they can only ever discuss it among themselves, in whispers.
If Winston Churchill was right (and of course he was) when he said "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter," then the second best may be an afternoon spent among the crowd at a football match.
There is an amusing, muddle-headed, partisan irrationality about passionate football fans and I never study them (for, football-mad all my life I've spent a lot of time in football crowds) without occasionally gasping to myself "And just think - these people have votes!"
Local football competitions are in the earnest twilights of their seasons. Last Sunday I sallied forth to what sports journos would call the "clash" (even though they didn't clash at all, one team in black-and-white vertical stripes and the other in crimson) between Gungahlin FC and Canberra FC on the greensward at the Australian Institute of Sport. It was a ripper match, festooned with seven goals.
And as usual, mingling with one-eyed fans, I saw and heard the same sorts of irrationalities that artful politicians play to when they tickle and bamboozle the masses at election times.
So for example a ball can plainly ricochet off a defender's head but opposition fans will sincerely see him criminally handle it (deserving a penalty kick), actually seeing this with the same certainty with which a deluded dill will "see" fairies at the bottom of his garden and with which a deluded voter will be sure that it is Labor policy to bring in a ruthless death tax, to abolish religion and to restart the people-smugglers' vile armadas. Then the thwarted fans will then batter the unimpeachable referee with f-bombs, accusing him of Machiavellian bias. And these people (the f-bombers) with their fanciful, reason-resistant minds, are allowed to vote!