Why Did Benny Tai Shave His Hair?

For a guy who shaves his head readily and freely, I was curious (and a little confused) as to why and how this act of hairdressing could spur the spirits of the local population into action.

Who is Benny Tai?

Benny Y.T. Tai is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong. He has most recently been in the public limelight for his organisation of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protest. No, not that Occupy Central movement, the other one.

The protest is an effort to speak up against the Chinese Central Government’s plans to stimmy universal suffrage and democratic elections in Hong Kong SAR. You can read up more on it here. As part of this movement, Benny Tai and a bunch of other blokes and a couple of ladies decided to protest by way of shaving their heads.

Head Shaving in Ancient China

As it turns out, Hair has had a significant place in the Chinese psyche for a very long time.

According to Zhang Minglu’s article¬†‘The Psychology Behind Chinese People’s Hairstyles’, (published in Beijing Science and Technology Life magazine in 2005), the¬†head of hair was the ultimate declaration of political alignment in ancient China.

The hair was an extension of one’s soul, and to cut it off was one of the greatest insults.

Of Course! This reminded me of my favourite scene in Jacky Chan’s Shanghai Noon where his hair is lopped off and he goes postal and very emotional.

Jacky Chan


Seriously though…

I understand the purpose behind it now, but perhaps Benny is missing the point. The Chinese government does not care how serious you are about it personally. It seeks to control the territory and the subsequent wealth that comes with it.

Perhaps once you can shake the structures that maintain those elements of Hong Kong will you get a proper response – whatever that means.