It’s about this time every year that we talk about the Movember initiative. For listeners who haven’t seen or heard of it before, the Movember initiative is the world’s leading charity focusing on men’s health. The original idea was simple. It raised funds in the same manner as sponsored charity walks, but with moustaches. It began as a few guys just having fun, but soon transformed into a fundraising effort for prostate and testicular cancer research, its reach growing over the years to become the world’s biggest initiative for this purpose. In the last few years, its focus has expanded to include mental health and suicide prevention, with methods for fundraising expanding to include charity walks and runs, social gatherings, and well… anything, as the Mo Your Own Way page describes. You can find out more by typing movember.com into your search bar. You’ll be directed to your country’s page for the initiative.
This initiative has historically been supported by the men’s rights movement, with reactions by feminists varying from outrage that men’s health has gotten any focus at all, to lukewarm approval with a caveat to the idea that women’s health is more important. In recent years, as awareness of the problem of male suicide has grown, feminists have taken another angle, and this year, we cannot talk about men’s health initiatives without talking about that.
This is what they always do. We’ve seen it with every other men’s issue, and it’s not surprising to find it happening with this one, as well. When a men’s issue is discussed from a perspective that focuses on men’s needs, without condemnation of men’s interests or masculinity, feminists initially throw a huge tantrum. They deny that the issue is real, or that it is a problem. They castigate us for bringing it up. They accuse us of derailing discussion on women’s issues. October is breast cancer awareness month, and you’d better not forget it, even after the month is over. If you move on to another topic at the end of the month, it’s not because it’s enough to have a full month of pink products, public reminders from every possible mouthpiece including national leaders, and widely promoted social media stunts to remind you that breast cancer still exists, still sucks, and still merits research for a cure. It’s not because there are other cancers that also suck, also still exist, and also merit research for a cure. It’s not because it’s important to support the health of both sexes.
It’s because you hate women, including those close to you, and you want us all to die of breast cancer… even if you donated, wore a save the ta-tas tee-shirt, supported and helped your wife or girlfriend in maintaining her breast health, and even took the feminist advice to talk to other guys about the topic because you think they should be doing all of these things as well. None of that matters now that you’ve shown your true colors, guys. Clearly, if you also support men’s health, you must just hate women. Also, you are probably gay because you hate boobies. And you beat women. And you have a small dick. Or something like that.
They did that for a few years before the feminist mainstream began realizing, as they always do, that rather than silencing public discussion of the issue, this tactic just made them look like horrible people. In the face of such information, what do feminists do next?
“Well, of course, this issue is a problem. We’ve always said it’s a problem. No feminist has ever denied that this is a problem… but women still have it worse.”
Cue the arguments over whether breast cancer or prostate cancer is more deadly, which cancer’s deadliness matters more, and who is the primary victim of a cancer patient’s death. During the last few years, I learned that if you really want to see a spectacular display of rage, ask a feminist just how effective her efforts really are if, after decades of public awareness initiatives, heavily-funded research, and advancements in medical treatment, breast cancer is still a major emergency that merits ignoring all other forms of cancer.
Of course, it was inevitable that feminists would eventually realize wimminworsting wasn’t going to eliminate discussion of prostate and testicular cancers, especially given that instead of becoming diminished, the discussion and the main fundraiser for research expanded to include other areas of men’s health. Last year, they showed signs of realizing this is yet another men’s issue they cannot quash or even minimize. What do feminists do when faced with a tide they cannot stem? They attempt to join, absorb, and control.
They’re doing that two ways with movember. The issue of male suicide has been targeted for years by the feminist “toxic masculinity” narrative. We’ve discussed that narrative quite a bit, pointing out in past HBR Talks that feminist use of the term began with an australian professor, Raewyn Connel, whose writing on the topic mainly took place before she transitioned from Robert to Raewyn. Connel’s view of men and masculinity is full of biases that likely originated not from careful study, but from her own experience of gender dysphoria. Feminists have been quick to pick up the term, run with it, and fling it at any discussion of men’s experiences as if it negates mens’ suffering and absolves feminists of responsibility for their hand in minimizing men’s value, rights, and overall humanity. When we bring up the issue of male suicide during November’s initiatives for men, feminists just ramp up that narrative. So we’ll have to be on the lookout for the Movember suicide awareness efforts to become a mouthpiece for the feminist “toxic masculinity” narrative.
The second thing they’re doing is newer. Despite female participation in the Movember initiative from its start, and despite the fact that you don’t even have to grow facial hair to participate in the Movember initiative, feminists have begun claiming women are excluded. Oh, the horror that women should be excluded from a men’s health initiative! How dare those hairy bastards think they can have a project of their own, for the benefit of their own gender, without female supervision! You can’t have men advocating for men though a male-centered initiative that uses masculine themes! How misogynistic, guys!
And the feminist grifters come marching in with arguments that actually, men’s health depends on feminism, and that it’s time to put a female twist on the Movember initiative: Women with moustaches! And oh, by the way, forget about that pesky prostate and testicular cancer fundraising. That’s so yesterday. So what’s it about now?
“I’m doing Movember to prove that women shouldn’t be ashamed of their facial hair,” writes Maria Mellor for the UK publication, Metro, written, according to its about page, for a young, mobile-savvy metropolitan audience. In an article in which the words “prostate” and “testicular” appear zero times, Mellor writes about her personal experience with having facial hair and demands that people stop judging hairy women.
While she did get roasted in the comments for co-opting a men’s initiative, she’s not alone in her solipsistic approach to Movember. Her article does nothing but jump on the bandwagon started last year by women’s razor company Billie. They’ve continued the campaign this year with a short video dedicated to changing the subject from men’s health to women’s experiences. Currently, this video links to the Movember initiative in the lowbar, as the brand has started a team initiative for Movember.
Is it bad that a women’s razor company or a bunch of feminists are raising money for a men’s initiative?
No, of course not. If the money goes toward the men’s health research the Movember project has always supported, there’s nothing wrong with it coming from these sources.
What’s bad is that they’re using doing so as an opportunity to try to redirect the topic back to women.
For that, they deserve to be criticized. Women and women’s organizations who do this need to hear from men that this is not a valid way for women to participate in men’s initiatives. It’s not that men’s initiatives don’t deserve women’s support. Women can be strong, formidable and highly effective supporters of men’s initiatives. Women’s social power can be a valuable tool for promoting men’s welfare and men’s interests, when we use it to expand public recognition of men’s circumstances and experiences. It’s that these initiatives are not about women. Men’s issues initiatives shouldn’t be about women, and redirecting to make them about women isn’t support. It’s exploitation, in the manner that feminists always exploit nonfeminist initiatives: Join, absorb, control. If unchecked, this will eventually result in a redirection of the entire initiative to female victimhood and funding feminist organizations.
Are we going to let them get away with that?