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Should women participate in No-Shave November?

Date: November 19, 2012 | Posted By: Magdalena
Close up of the face of a man with a mustache.

A man shows off his Movember ‘stache.

We are currently deep in the throes of No-Shave November, also known as Movember, a combination of the word “November” with the word “mustache.” But we’re finding women are not invited. Movember is a movement for prostate cancer awareness, encouraging devotees to grow mustaches as a visible sign of support and donate money to the cause.

Although prostate cancer is an issue that affects only bodies with prostates, i.e. mainly those born male, there’s no law that says women can’t help raise awareness too. However, there is apparently a law that says that women can’t let icky hair appear on our bodies. At least according to the Twitter reaction of men horrified at the thought of women refusing to pick up a razor for the span of four long weeks.

The backlash started with Twitter user and leg-hair-hater @FillWerrell, who tweeted “Girls who participate in No Shave November will also participate in No D December.” Hilarious! As of right now, the tweet has over 18,000 retweets, and many more people have chimed in to add their unsolicited thoughts on women’s bodies.

One delightful example reads, “#NoShaveNovember does not apply to you, ladies. #KeepitClean.” Another pro-shaving warrior reminds women that “#NoShaveNovember is for boys not girls. Thats just gross.”

I think we all know by now that women can do whatever they like with their own body hair, so I’m not even going to comment on the inappropriateness of these comments. What I don’t understand is how this topic even came up. No-Shave November is a fun, silly way to raise awareness for a serious cause, and yet somehow it’s turned into an excuse to shame women for falling out of line with societal standards. 

A woman wearing a Movember t-shirt.

The Movember website suggests that women participate by supporting their male friends.

One Tumblr user protested the feminist backlash against this torrent of body-shaming, saying, “Feminism can’t have this one, not everything is about people with vaginas! [D]o not take this prostate cancer awareness month away from men and make it about feminism and your rights not to shave!”

Well, no one was doing that until people took prostate cancer awareness month and made it about how gross women’s bodies are. Sorry, but that’s not feminism’s fault.

Maybe if people are so concerned about keeping the focus on prostate cancer, they should limit their comments to the subject of prostate cancer, and rather than their revulsion at the thought of women’s bodies doing what bodies do: growing hair.

Magdalena Newhouse is a senior at Oberlin College, where she teaches a class on body positivity and fat acceptance.




What Do You Think?

5 Responses to Should women participate in No-Shave November?

  1. Alice on 11-23-2012

    I'm a girl, and I don't shave often anyway. Surely if the point of No-Shave November is to raise awareness for prostate cancer then the more people who participate the better, right?
  2. Grackle on 11-26-2012

    You would think so, Alice, but unfortunately we're women and so looking as attractive and sexually compliant as possible is more important than actually, y'know, DOING something. :/
  3. Monica on 11-26-2012

    Halleluiah! I bet most guys are just talk when they say they would participate in the no D December. Don't worry guys, women aren't trying to take away any of your manhood scruff and we still will kiss you. The feeling should be reciprocated.
  4. electrogeek77 on 11-27-2012

    Of course us womenfolk would ruin Movember! We should listen to these men! It's not like any of them have have taken Breast Cancer Awareness and hypersexualized it beyond recognition...*end sarcasm*
  5. Andrew on 11-07-2013

    Look, Movember is a charity event and it’s the ONE event we men have to show solidarity and raise money for prostate cancer. That’s it’s original purpose. Prostate cancer is largely underfunded compared to breast cancer (2009, breast cancer research received $872 million worth of federal funding, while prostate cancer received $390 million), yet it’s just as lethal as Breast cancer. In October, you’ll see everyone sporting pink, thousands upon thousands of charity events for breast cancer research many of which where women are only allowed to participate. Prostate cancer gets… Movember, that’s pretty much it. It receives little attention other than “look at those goofy men being lazy and not shaving” from the major media outlets.

    Prostate cancer kills 30-40,000 men every year, so when women like you turn Movember into “Yay! Shaving is annoying and I don’t have to do it anymore” super-feminist protest month, it’s more than a little upsetting to us men. If you want to help, awesome. Donate some money or sponsor the men you know. Otherwise, let us do our thing please.