Movember, a corporate prescription of gender | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified 2015-11-09T13:03:51-04:00
The month of November is increasingly associated with exaggerated moustaches thanks to the charitable campaign Movember. The charity was founded in 2004 by a group of men who sought to raise awareness of men’s health issues they thought were underfunded. Movember is promoted by men(“Mo-Bros”) who encourage the growth of moustaches to raise money for men’s health research and services with a specific emphasis on prostate cancer and mental health. The campaign also promotes the idea that“Mo-sistas” can be active in the campaign by remaining without facial and body hair, and supporting the Mo-bros in their moustache growing efforts through additional fund raising.

Unfortunately, Movember has gained popularity by exploiting the idea that a “real-man” is someone who can grow a moustache and has a prostate. By minimizing complex real-world gender experiences and identities, Movember reinforces sexism, transphobia, and gender stereotypes. Additionally, the campaign draws on stereotypes of class, ethnicity, gender and non-urban communities by hyping-up various style of moustaches as being comical. In these cases, many people in rural communities, many who are racialized, and many who are poor end up being targeted as having what the campaign would deem as undesirable and thus comical facial hair.

Too often, private fundraising reinforces negative social divisions and misinforms the public about issues related to their project in an attempt to drive an emotional response to get a donation. Movember’s private charity model not only fails to address the complexity underlying men’s health issues, but it also weakens social solidarity and inclusion.

The charity’s idea is that by donating money people are supporting actual societal change, the reality is that this campaign undermines real understanding of public health issues. Instead, Canadians should be demanding universal public health initiatives that are inclusive to all real-world experiences.

More: Growing Oppression on One’s Face: The Hegemonic Limitations of the Movember Iconic Moustache

More: Open Letter: Why I don’t participate in Movember

More: Movember as microaggression

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