These studies have sometimes been criticized for being dangerously essentialist and/or stereotypical (though both authors are quite careful in culturally situating their analyses), and, indeed, both genders in the barbershop community partake in characteristics from both gendered worlds: BABS subscribes to an ethic of harmony and goodwill that echoes the Gemeinschaft, community-centered terms of the feminine world, while LABBS places a supposedly more masculine, Gesellschaft, concern with competition at the center of its activities.(14) However, these theoretical delineations of gendered culture do help to account for some of the differences of emphasis between the two associations.
Similarly, while both LABBS and BABS both foster activities that emphasize both the whole group (chorus) and individuals within it (quartet), the relative priority of each type of activity varies between the two cultures.
LABBS medallists tend to spend much more time emphasizing their connections with the community at large--thanking friends, relatives, and (in the case of quartets) their choruses for support--and reaffirming the social value of the hobby than telling jokes or giving information about the songs they sing.
Notably, one of the few differences in contest structure between the men's and women's associations has been the criteria for qualification for convention at the preliminary round of contests: for LABBS, the top twenty choruses and top sixteen quartets qualify whatever their score, whereas for LABBS, all those achieving a score of six hundred (out of twelve hundred) qualify, whatever their number.(15) Again, this resonates with Gilligan's assertion that women experience success anxiety "only when achievement was directly competitive, that is, when one person's success was directly at the expense of another's failure" (15).
Compare the following extracts from the associations' newsletters, first from LABBS:
The first of these is the plan for BABS and LABBS tO hold a joint convention to mark the millennium.
The third is that no such outbursts appeared in LABBS publications.
For many years, LABBS has borrowed BABS judges, due to a perpetual shortage of judges and the desire not to prevent those judges actively involved with choruses from performing in the competitions, gags, on the other hand, have never used LABBS judges, and until May 1998 it was assumed that this was because their deficit of judges had not been quite so acute.
This episode took on the status of something of a diplomatic incident between the associations: a carefully-worded paragraph in the LABBS Council minutes suggests the depth to which the women's organization felt this as an insult.
In the November issue of Harmony Express, a front-page article announced the Guild of Judges' decision to accept judges accredited by other organizations--in the first instance SPEBSQSA and LABBS, but anticipating the inclusion of the Irish and Scandinavian associations in time--as equivalent to those of BABS.(25) No mention was made of the incident in May, but the conditions that provoked it--the general shortage of judges, particularly when many judges are also active performers--was given as the primary rationale.
(15.) Indeed, since 1999 LABBS has abolished the preliminary round altogether, allowing open entry to the convention proper without qualification criteria.