Movember Aims to Eradicate Prostate Cancer, Male Sexuality


What's good for the goose may be lame for the gander.


Movember is a global initiative in which men grow moustaches during November. The goal is to raise awareness of men’s health issues—specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and male depression.

As a man, I’m fully aware of the precarious nature of my prostate and testicles. As a writer, I’m fully aware of my ability to talk myself into depression. So why does Movember, a cause that brings attention to my problems, feel lame? A passage from their website clues me in:

Big steps have been taken towards changing attitudes and habits relating to men’s health around the world, but there is still much to be done to catch up with the women’s health movement.

Oh right. The comparison to women reminds me that joining together to fight a disease is a woman thing to do. The “strength in numbers,” “togetherness,” and “becoming a part of something bigger than yourself” genes are only located on the X chromosome—the one responsible for making boobs. By Movember’s logic, men should wear makeup and skinny jeans to catch up to women’s fashion.

When men have cancer, they go to a doctor. When men are depressed, they go to a therapist. Other than this, you fight your battles in beautiful solitude. Joining a global initiative dedicated to your struggle turns your struggle into your identity. Then your struggle becomes your life.

My friend’s great-grandfather came home from WWII and never discussed being by his best friend’s side as he lay dying. His wife only found out through army records. He understood that crap happens, it’s just a part of life, so the last thing you would want to do is spread the burden around—it doesn’t make you feel better anyway. And Movember is a burden, believe that, especially on wives and girlfriends of the guys who are out wearing ask me about my moustache t-shirts. The triviality of it grinds on girls, and not in the good way. Plus, no one wants to be around guys who see it as their duty to turn every discussion into a prostate checkup reminder.

If you want to do something about prostate cancer, then go to school, put your face in a book, get a degree, and run lab tests until every prostate in the world is healthy and complete. But if you’re the kind of guy who prances a moustache around as a cure for cancer, prancing is more fun.

Men don’t have time to deal with the Movember frivolity, anyway. Movember’s website wants you to sign up (to get your email), register your moustache, buy a t-shirt, and record your progress on the Movember forum. Of course, this involves downloading another app on your smartphone. Sure, putting more apps on your iPhone is a great way to desexualize yourself, but it doesn’t cure cancer.

Maybe Movember wouldn’t offend my sensibilities if it didn’t try to intimidate me into growing a moustache. In true passive-aggressive---ie woman---form, Movember tells men to just donate money to the movement if they don’t have the “cajones” to actually grow a moustache. Because courage is not shaving for a month? And you know half these Movember guys are growing moustaches because now their friends can’t make fun of them for growing moustaches.

The only thing worse than growing crappy facial hair—and there’s a 99 percent chance your facial hair looks crappy—is pretending that growing crappy facial hair is taking a stand. Taking a stand requires courage, it means doing what you’re afraid to do. It’s acting in the face of social pressure (which cripples more men’s lives than cancer). Growing a moustache is something college kids do after they get dumped. Even implying that lack of proper grooming is taking a stand belittles what taking a stand truly is. It belittles courage in our society, courage that’s necessary for integrity, and so it belittles the foundation of masculinity.

I can deal with breast cancer awareness. Women draw power from togetherness. Hence the nail salon. And when your life revolves around gossiping about female co-workers, walking in a pink shirt-covered 5K is a good use of your time. But men don’t have the time or energy for that. If you do, don’t take it as a sign that you need to get involved in a movement. Take it as a sign that you need to get involved in your life. At least then, even if you do get prostate cancer, your life won’t be malignant.

CultureMark Derian