“Movember”: the face of men’s healthy laziness

Thursday, December 1, 2011

  • How much effort does it really take to participate in Movember?

    How much effort does it really take to participate in Movember?

            The tradition of growing out moustaches and beards is a sacred ritual amongst men. Consider the superstitious athletes and their fans, who bond over their playoff beards; or those students who show off their face-fuzz as a sign that they’re in full exam-mode. Now, for one month out of the year, men worldwide are styling their ‘staches in an effort to raise money and awareness towards prostate cancer.

            As of the last day of the 2011 “Movember” campaign, Canadians alone have raised an amazing $32.7 million (CBC), topping last year’s totals by more than $10 million. It is certainly quite an accomplishment, but being a “Mo Bro” and raising thousands of dollars doesn’t really compare to the literal blood sweat and tears that many people – mostly women – admirably pour into their “Run for the Cure” campaigns. Unless you are particularly bad at shaving, in which case, you should probably not admit to bleeding, sweating, or crying, at the risk of losing your man card privileges for a while.

            “Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November,” according to the Movember-Canada website. Being a “walking, talking billboard” is a part-time job you take when you’re down on your luck, not when you want to take initiative for a worthy cause like combating cancer.  For any amount of effort put into the “Movember” campaign, the payoff is exponential by comparison alone. A lot of men don’t even need an annual cue to not shave a part of their face; the philosopher Aristotle actually considered having a full beard as instrumental in being a truly virtuous man.

            In the spectrum of campaigns designed to raise awareness towards health issues, “Movember” falls short of being a demonstration of one’s will and determination in raising support for a serious cause. The campaign remains relatively young, however, and promises growth in becoming a more recognizable tradition throughout the globe.  Most importantly, though, the campaign is fun for those able to participate, which is probably why it continues to attract more Mo Bros every year. Just remember not to be too generous in congratulating ourselves and each other for our generosity; it was literally the least we could do.

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Mark Curran is just finishing his undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph and is a dedicated volunteer for thecannon.ca.

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  1. Posted by: Kevin K on Dec 2, 2011 @ 10:12am

    I'm sure all of those hard-working scientists out there, dedicated to combatting cancer, will feel a disturbing chill when they realize that the money funding their own research was born out of such sloth.

    Perhaps the donors should ask for their money back until those lazy "Mo Bros" offer to work harder for the money they raise. Maybe we can launch a better, more industrious November campaign next year. For example, we could distribute rocks to be rolled up large hills - Gordon Street would be a perfect venue! I'll leave you to come up with a snappy title.

    Otherwise, I dread to think of the rippling effect that could be had. What if those courageous women in pink discover that rather than walking and running they could have just foregone their razors for a month!

    Then again, maybe, just maybe, you could simply acknowledge that the whole point is to raise awareness and that HOW it is done is not so important as long as it is effective. I think you need to take a step back and look at what has been accomplished before you start telling your moustache-donning friends to work harder.

    And to those of you out there that donated this year, CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR GENEROSITY!!

  2. Posted by: Mark D on Dec 9, 2011 @ 4:58pm

    Awareness is not activism, and even in this case, I would not boast its efficacy. Less than 1% of Canada's total population has been counted as actually participating in the campaign. Cut out the female and child demographics - you still only have 250,000 guys growing mustaches who actually raised and donated money. Most others, I think it's safe to assume, only grew moustaches because of the trend.

    And from that staggering $30 million+ that was raised, only a fraction actually supports medical research, while the rest is funneled back into the campaign to try and make next year bigger and better... so that they can raise more money for another campaign etc etc.

    Rejoice in your slacktivism if you feel you need a pat on the back for not infringing on your natural bodily process to produce hair. Put some money in a box and you're done. It's the same with "Wear this colour for this cause" campaigns - are you really an engaged citizen because you wore red for Haiti?

  3. Posted by: Kevin K on Dec 12, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Of course awareness is not activism; awareness is the result, not the action. But if you don't believe that raising awareness qualifies as activism in the fight against cancer, then what does? How is running for the cure any different? I fully support the "Run for the Cure" and other similar campaigns, but runners and joggers and cyclists all produce the same end result as those offensively lazy stache-growers.

    This is why your comparison to social or political activism is unfair. If wearing red isn't enough for you then grab a shovel, you can do more. But if a yellow wrist band isn't enough for you, then what? I hope your parents are savers because medical school is expensive!

    The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to defeating cancer, early detection is still one of the greatest weapons in our arsenal. So if personal action (i.e. self-inspection, regular doctor visits, and a healthy lifestyle) is what is required, then building awareness is pretty important.

    If your ultimate argument is that Movember is not efficacious because participation is, by your standards, too low, then try looking at this year's numbers not as a snapshot, but as one point in a trend. Participation is increasing and rather dramatically. However, if your beef is that significant portions of the money raised are used to keep the campaign running, then you're dealing with a completely different argument that is in no way unique to Movember.

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