The other day I read an article in New Statesman, which I found thanks to an outraged tweet by the comedian Adam Hills. And it made me laugh a lot. Not because it was intentionally funny – in fact I think it was written by two people with no sense of humour whatsoever – but because it was so ridiculous. I’m not going to link to it (because I suspect that’s what they want) but if you really want to read it, it’s easy enough to find on Google.
The subject of the article is that harmlessly ridiculous annual tradition of Movember, in which guys across the world grow moustaches to raise money and increase awareness of men’s health issues. I personally quite like Movember, although that may just be because I’ve never dated someone taking part, which I’m reliably informed is not so fun. And it is mildly disconcerting when you have a business meeting with someone and spend the whole time wondering if their facial hair is Movember-related or if they’re being serious.
But apparently I shouldn’t enjoy Movember; I should be furious at the way the event blatantly discriminates against me because, as a woman, I can’t grow a moustache. Not only that but I should also be outraged on behalf of both men who already have moustaches (especially those whose facial hair is associated with their culture or religion) and men who, for whatever reason, aren’t physically able to grow a moustache. So in other words, Movember discriminates against everyone.
Now I may be overreacting, but by the same logic I think I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself for walking 20 miles, as part of a team that collectively raised over £800 for the NSPCC (a children’s charity here in the UK), because there are some people who can’t walk. Or when my friend ran a singing class to raise sponsorship for her trip to China, she was mocking people who can’t sing. And I assume the authors of the article are also vehemently opposed to Race for Life, because it’s an all-female event.
I could go on, but you probably get the picture, and I did promise to only rant once a year.
The other argument in the article is that Movember doesn’t actually raise awareness of male health issues at all, and that the moustache-growing has become the main focus, rather than the cause behind it. In fact – brace yourselves – ‘only 43% of those who take part in the campaign reported increased awareness and education regarding the health risks they face’. Now call me crazy but I would have thought 43% is better than nothing. And as far as I’m aware, the other 57% weren’t hurting anyone. (Apart from all the people they’re discriminating against, obviously.)
I’m sure the authors of the article had very good intentions, and didn’t mean to come across as killjoys. In fact there were a couple of times I thought they were getting close to a good point, but then they ruined it by going too far. As far as I’m concerned, charity’s always a positive thing. Even if we donate because we want to see a friend do something ridiculous rather than because we care desperately about the cause they’re raising funds for, that still means there’s money being given to help someone less fortunate, or to research a disease and save lives. So I don’t think it’s fair to criticise any event that’s for a good cause, no matter how flawed and ridiculous. Something is surely better than nothing.
But, as I say, the article did make me giggle, even though that probably wasn’t the intended reaction. So it’s not all bad 🙂