Movember Is Gingerist, Teenist And Racist But Makes Everyone Laugh At The New Statesman
IT took two people – Arianne Shahvisi and Neil Singh – to crete The New Statesman’s beyond parody troll-baiting article:
Why Movember isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
One of the Movember mantras is: “Real men, growing real moustaches, talking about real issues”. The slogan is as misguided as its campaign: Movember is divisive, gender normative, racist and ineffective against some very real health issues.
I’ve always though so what for the grandstanding if it helps. But it turn out it’s all massive cone. This from the apparently serious political magazine that asked Russell Brand to edit it.
Here are a few of the best lines about Movember:
…virtually none recognise the pernicious gendered and racial connotations carried by the practice.
Or making men think about their health?
…what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features?
More or less?
With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority.
As one reader offers: “This is why people don’t take lefties seriously. And I am a lefty.”
Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds…
Well, Movember one is about the male body, so growing a ‘tache seems pretty apt. But is that beardist?
—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist.
Got that? Imagine something that has not happened and then call it racist.
Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism. We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues’ faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money.
Do they feel that they’re cheating?
No doubt they draw the obvious conclusion, that dovetails with many other experiences of life as an immigrant: there are different rules for white faces.
Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache.
Not true. Some men can’t. Some women can. Some children can. And on its goes, reading like a rant by a couple of teens who bought a dictionary and read a pamphlet (that’s teenist – ed):
The decision to focus on the moustache to raise awareness of men’s health issues might seem like an apposite one (though there’s no obvious relationship between moustaches and cancers), but it reinforces the regressive idea that masculinity is about body chemistry rather than gender identity, and marginalises groups of men who may struggle to grow facial hair, such as trans-men….
As the month of sacrificial hirsutism draws to a close, mo-bros may convene at their nearest “gala party”. These events showcase the worst of what the Movember “movement” is really about: white young men ridiculing minorities, and playing up to the lad culture within which the charitable practice has become embedded.
Minorities like wrestlers:
…participants dress up in costumes that mock and trivialise racial minorities (“turbanator” Indians, fez-topped Arabs with day-hire camels, Mexicans in sombreros and bandoliers) and the LGBT community (parodies of the Village People), celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats), and emulate racist fictional characters and sexist stereotypes (such as ‘Dictator’ Aladeen with a harem of female bodyguards, Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders).
…it is racist, inasmuch as it steamrollers over the cultural significance of the moustache (and thereby ignores what the campaign means for the men who really have moustaches); and it is non-optimal, because it does not tackle—in fact it only compounds—the very real health issues that hurt the men we love.
PS – if all else fails, if you’re really right-one you can wear a Guido mask with a moustache on it. A white mask? Well, yeah. They only come in white. That’s racist, too!