'Movember' Is 'Divisive, Gender Normative, Racist'?

Poor Matt Lauer and Al Roker: they spent November growing out beards on NBC for “Movember,” to promote men's health, but the British magazine New Statesman has announced “Movember is divisive, gender normative, racist and ineffective against some very real health issues.”
                    
RedState’s Erick Erickson tweeted “You cannot parody the left. You just can't. You may think it is parody, but damned if they don't one up you.” Apparently moustaches are for minorities:

So what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features? 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. Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist.

Arianne Shahvisi writes it’s also unfair to “trans men” who can’t grow moustaches well:

Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache. 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.

She concludes:

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 and gender normative, not least because it centres on the notion that there is such a thing as a “real” man; 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.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis