This article was originally posted at the WAM! (Women, Action, & the Media) blog. Cross-posted with the permission of WAM! and author Jessica Critcher.
Now that October and breast cancer awareness month are over, gents are stepping up for some cancer awareness as well. Movember, aka No Shave November, is that special time of year when men band together to grow mustaches and beards to raise awareness and funds to stop prostate cancer. According to Movember.com:
[In November,] these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.
While the overlying theme of cancer awareness is wonderful, there are a few things about this mustache movement I find upsetting.
Firstly, as the Ms. Magazine blog points out, there is not an equal space for women to participate in the movement. According to some of the Twitter feedback, they shouldn’t even think about participating.
Maybe it’s because this is a men’s health issue, and they don’t want us femme-ing it up. As childish as that is, it would at least make a small bit of sense.
But no, the unprovoked hostility toward women, from men and women alike, stems from a bizarre repulsion for women’s body hair. Men’s health isn’t even a factor.
Their disgust at the thought of women not shaving often supersedes their concerns for spelling and grammar. Ms. Magazine prompts us all to ask the question: Why are women expected to shave while men are not?
This is clearly the work of our longtime foe, the double standard. Several people, catching sight of my underarm or leg hair, have asked me why I don’t shave or, condescendingly, when I’m going to get around to it. Women’s bodies produce hair just like men’s do. It starts with puberty as we begin to enter adulthood. I find it very frustrating that we are accused with allegations of manliness for displaying signs that we are mature, adult women. What (and at this point I am usually told to calm down) is so threatening about my acknowledgement of my own adulthood? Clearly, a great deal.
Apparently women are only allowed to raise awareness for cancer (or advertise the fact that they are adults) in terms of conventional attractiveness. I am referring of course to theconsumer-driven, cancer-sexualizing breast cancer awareness movements, which reduce women and their worth to a pair of breasts. In a weird cross-over between “going pink” and Movember, The Canadian Cancer Society even suggested women get bikini waxes to support cervical cancer awareness.
My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. I hate cancer. But I also cannot stand to see women objectified. Why must movements seeking to end cancer do so at the expense of reducing women to sex objects? Cancer is not sexy. Nothing about any type of cancer, regardless of the body part afflicted, should be erotic or risqué. Movember proves this, because the focus is on raising money and growing mustaches instead of any mention of the “male g-spot.”
While I support the spirit at the heart of Movember, I’m pretty miffed at the existence of another bro’s only club. As of now I’m starting my own movement to raise awareness about sexism called No Shaving Ever.