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Alex Manley #fundie thelinknewspaper.ca

The whole ‘Movember’ thing is cute and all, but can we stop and be real about it for a second? Movember is a movement to celebrate North American guys not practicing basic facial hygiene for a month in order to raise money towards saving a group of extremely privileged people—themselves.

Yes, if Movember was to raise money for people in third-world countries, for illiterate people, or homeless people, or for anything but what it is—which is privileged guys pretending they have it as hard as people with real problems—then it might come close to approaching something vaguely resembling worthwhile.

As far as I can tell though, the whole thing is just a really well-disguised tantrum that guys are content to throw to make it seem like prostate cancer research is as important as research towards curing women’s cancers, or, say, getting food and clean water to starving people.

Let me be clear—I don’t want anyone to get cancer. I don’t think a man getting cancer is less tragic than a woman getting cancer. I think it’s valid to want to raise money towards curing anything that’s killing human beings, and I appreciate the fact that the Movember movement is educating men with the intent to save lives.

But I’m realistic. Charity is often a bit of a zero sum game. People give a little money to one charity, and what’s the result? They have a bit less money left over to give to others, and, perhaps worse, they feel good about their good deed—good enough that they don’t have to feel guilty about not donating anywhere else.

The Movember people brag that their cause, fuelled by the Internet and well-meaning well-to-do people, has raised $176 million worldwide so far. Unfortunately, that’s $176 million taken away from more pressing issues in the world than prostate cancer, largely, I imagine, from individual donors, rather than governments or corporations.

It might not be much on the global charity scale, but ask yourself what that money could do to make a difference somewhere where people dying is a day-in, day-out matter of getting food and water or vaccines, rather than having a latex-gloved finger inserted gently into their rectum once a year.

Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that, as far as cancers go, prostate cancer is not much of a cancer.

It’s slow acting, and it has relatively low death rates. Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to die from something else than they are from prostate cancer.

It also affects North American men way more than anywhere else in the world, largely due to living and eating habits. Men in Detroit get prostate cancer at about 100 times the rate of men in Hanoi. One hundred times. That’s not even close. Prostate cancer is a first-world problem.

Instead of not shaving, these Mo-Bros, if they were really concerned about the actual prostate issue, should consider exercising more and eating less red meat.

Perhaps Movember has become so popular because of the way we’re treating it—like it’s a cute little initiative worth supporting, like a child with a lemonade stand. It doesn’t feel serious, because, let’s face it, it isn’t when compared to other problems.

Men, by and large, are doing okay for themselves. They’re still out-earning women by significant amounts. Cancer doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it affects the whole of a person’s life. Disease aside, the richer a person is, the better their chances are, especially in countries where your cash inflow influences the quality of your care.

Men—or any privileged group—will have an inherent advantage when it comes to beating cancer and landing on their feet than more disadvantaged people.

So this November, let’s not keep patting the Mo-Bros on the head and tolerating this childish self-involvement-fest disguised as selflessness and the propagation online and in the media of the inherent importance of North American men and their problems.

Guys—keep shaving. Educate yourselves. Get checked. Be a man about it—don’t act like you’re hard-done-by.

There are a lot of people in the world who would trade your slight risk of prostate cancer for their serious risk of being raped, being killed, starving to death, or dying of preventable diseases. Prostate cancer is a hallmark of privilege. Deal with it.

And for everyone, if you’re going to donate money somewhere this month—and I encourage you to—look around for a cause more worthy, that’ll help some group that needs it more. I assure you, you won’t have trouble finding one.