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Women raising breast-cancer awareness: good; men raising prostate-cancer awareness: sexist

November 25, 2013

Men grow moustaches to raise prostate-cancer awareness–but we can’t have that, because it discriminates against women who think they’re men and want to grow moustaches but can’t. McGill University resident weenie Ralph Haddad writes:

Pinktober – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – ends only to be replaced by Movember – an awareness campaign for men’s health that takes place throughout November. It’s characterized by too many moustaches, overarching shows of masculinity, and a general overload of testosterone. The pure and charitable sentiment is there – raising money for prostate and testicular cancer research, and fighting mental health problems among men – but what once started out as a harmless campaign has become sexist, racist, transphobic, and misinformed.

***

Despite Movember claiming to be a global movement, it assumes privilege and a certain relation to class on behalf of the participant, which is only found in certain parts of the world. It is also wrong that Movember aims to link masculinity and being a man to secondary male characteristics, including having a prostate and being able to grow a moustache. To be completely clear, you don’t have to be a man to have a prostate, and you don’t have to have a prostate to be a man. Being a man, according to Movember, implies an archaic view of gender that implies that only a male/female gender binary exists, and that you aren’t really a man if you don’t necessarily identify with that binary. The idea of suggesting that men show solidarity with each other by growing moustaches is completely absurd.

The facts concerning prostate cancer are clear. According to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER), the survival rate for prostate cancer is 99.2 per cent. Black males are also twice as likely to develop, and die with or from, prostate cancer than white males. This begs the question: who are all these white cisgender men fundraising and growing moustaches for? This is not to say that SEER statistics are without fault, as they fail to show any facts outside of the established and outdated gender binary. No wonder Movember is exclusionary to trans* people: how are people who do not identify with that binary and have a prostate supposed to partake in this cause? This is also because there are no facts concerning their demographic, and the campaign in question specifically targets cisgender men.

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Movember is also sexist. Cisgender women, called “Mo Sistas,” are encouraged to help their “Mo Bros” raise money during November, but god forbid these women try to let their own body or facial hair grow in support of this campaign. Quiteirregular.com, a blog run by blogger Jem Bloomfield, compiled a few polite tweets written during/about Movember, aimed at their female counterparts. The tweets range from, “Just a heads up, No Shave November is not for women. Don’t be disgusting, ladies,” to, “I know it’s no shave November but please ladies know this month is not made for you to take part of. #Gross,” and, “Ladies, if you’re participating in No-Shave November, we cannot be friends. I’m gonna ask nicely that you continue your routine maintenance.” (It is important to note that people often mix up Movember and No-Shave November, although they both support prostate cancer awareness.)

Bloomfield then remarks that, “This campaign, intended as a project by men for men, has immediately been turned into a pretext for demanding that women submit themselves and their bodies to male approval,” going on to add that, “I don’t want to be told that a moustache makes me a man, or that my identity depends upon shaming women into being presentable to the male gaze.” No- Shave November’s website asserts, “guys and girls alike unite in the height of laziness agreeing to not shave their beards or legs (respectively) for the entire month of November.” But Bloomfield is right in saying that the campaign has been twisted into a misogynistic tool by its own users.

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Yes, Movember might raise awareness, and a good deal of money ($146.6 million just last November, according to their website) for a good cause, but that isn’t an excuse to ignore its major flaws. The point of articles like this is also to raise awareness to inherent micro-aggressions (interactions between people of different races, genders, sexualities, and cultures that represent small acts of non-physical violence) and discrimination that campaigns like Movember help perpetuate, whether directly or indirectly. This awareness is raised in order to take something, like Movember, help fix it up and make it more accessible and less misogynistic, and turn it into something better. Do some basic research, educate yourself on the issue, and think twice before growing a moustache this, or any other, November.

Now, I want to go on record as saying that I don’t like the idea of men growing moustaches, either, during November or any other month of the year. But not because my PC brain gets tied up in “cisgender” knots over the issue. Some men–the ones who look like this–look handsome and suave with neatly cut upper-lip hair. But most men look like shaggy Seventies leftovers. I’d had my fill of aggressively moustachioed men at around the time that Nixon was impeached. Also, I hate the name “Movember.” It looks like a typo.

But “misogynistic”? “Archaic gender stereotypes”? An “overload of testosterone”? There’s no such thing as too much testosterone.

And don’t get me onto the subject of women who refuse to shave their legs.

H/t: Ann Althouse

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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