As a feminist and as a woman who’s dealt with a great many feelings in the wake of the “me too” campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, men’s issues may not seem like my forte.
But, just as women’s rights are human rights, so are men’s. I believe that true gender equality frees and helps all of us, not just women. With recent “me too” posts, I’ve had to deal with a backlash of men responding with “not all men” or “men too.”
I’ve seen this happen repeatedly for things normally classified as “women’s issues.” So when I thought about November and the campaign to raise awareness for men’s health issues, I didn’t want to be that woman saying “women too” and trying to shift the attention off the issues facing men. But I did want to educate myself about the campaign and see if there are ways I can support it.
The Movember Movement began in Australia in 2003 to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. It’s become a worldwide movement held in the month of November, and it has raised $710,000 since its inception. The primary focus is on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention, and mental health issues.
I first heard about Movember when I noticed many of my male friends and colleagues who were normally clean-shaven growing facial hair in November. I live in Georgia, so I immediately ruled out cooler weather as a reason. In the month of November, men are growing facial hair (or, at the very least, a mustache) in order to raise awareness for men’s health issues.
And for many people, that’s as far as it goes. But the purpose of Movember goes so far beyond simply raising awareness. The purpose is also to raise money for men’s health issues. Participants can host events and fundraisers to help support the cause.
The Movember Foundation also takes direct donations. Charity Navigator rated the Movember Foundation with a score of 84.78 out of 100, with 77.3 percent of all funds raised going directly to programs and services for men’s health, rather than to administrative or other expenses.
For men who want to participate and raise awareness, there are 13 official mustache types to choose from (but feel free to rock your own unique style):
- English: long mustaches pulled straight out to the side.
- Chevron: wide and thick, most popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Pencil: tiny mustache that hugs the upper lip.
- Handlebar: exactly what it sounds like.
- Horseshoe: straight out and then straight down around the man’s mouth—like a horseshoe hanging above the mouth.
- Painter’s brush: rounded but extending the width of the mouth.
- Dali: narrow with pointy, long ends.
- Pyramid: a base that runs the length of the lips but is more narrow beneath the nose.
- Fu Manchu: mustache that goes straight down and hangs below the chin.
- Lampshade: directly above and even with lips.
- Imperial: I have no words for this one and suggest only that you Google it.
- Walrus: bushy, thick, and very circa1960s.
- Toothbrush: just think Hitler or Charlie Chaplin.
Here are some beauties from Imgur:
These ideas are just a start, but they are great ways to begin a conversation about the health issues facing men. Full beards or simply neglecting to shave are also ways to participate and bring awareness to the issues. But raising awareness and funds for men’s health isn’t limited to men. Women can participate too.
How can women participate?
By all means, grow a mustache if you so choose. But it’s also perfectly acceptable to host fundraisers, share men’s health information on social media, and even drink from mustache straws (many companies offer eco-friendly straw options), or from mustache mugs to spread the word. We can get creative with how we participate, but the point is to raise awareness and to also raise funds for programs that support the health of men.
We can look at some issues being about men and some being about women, and I guess that’s okay. But sometimes, I think about how much more we could do if we were to support each other in the specific issues we’re facing simply because we are all human—regardless of gender or gender identity.
I think we can be more compassionate in our support of each other’s causes even if it doesn’t seem personal for us. That shouldn’t matter as much. What should matter is helping out our neighbors, our fellow beings inhabiting this earth.
There’s no reason that we all can’t support breast cancer awareness efforts in October and then turn our attention in November to men’s health issues. We might find that sharing really does equal caring, and we can work together to better address all of the challenges that we face in this thing called life.