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  • Matthew Alexander

Movember and masculinity: why I’m growing a moustache

Masculinity has been a key topic of recent years whether talking about the rise of populism, the #metoo movement or gang culture, it seems men and society’s view of masculinity is one cause. Movember, of course, recognises the truth in this - the concept of masculinity which pushes forward violent, sexually aggressive and unemotional men causes harm for others, but what is often misunderstood is the harm it does for men themselves. Movember is a male-led movement trying to address the issues caused by certain traits associated with masculinity, in particular the requirement to be unemotional and independent has led to many unnecessary deaths in men due to mental health issues, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

Mental health issues and suicide is a particularly gendered issue: men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women. A primary cause for this is that men are taught from a young age to be independent and unemotional, this leads to men avoiding the doctor and self-medicating often turning to alcohol or substance abuse further harming their mental health. This is borne out in the data, men went for a consultation with depressive symptoms 8% less than women did in 2010 despite being 300% more men killing themselves. The belief that men should be the ‘man of the house’ and provide for their family means they are more likely to be severely affected if they lose their job. Movember tries to address this cultural issues, by growing a moustache you start a conversation and genuinely raise awareness and show solidarity with any man struggling with mental health alongside raising money to tackle the issues through awareness campaigns and counselling.

Prostate and testicular cancer are the two most common types of cancer in men. Testicular cancer is the most common found in young men while prostate cancer will affect 1 in 8 men over their lifetime. Again, a key barrier to improving the survival rate of these cancers is the reluctance of men to visit the doctors, especially regarding such personal areas as the testicles and prostate. If these cancers are found early the survival rate is very high, by raising awareness of early symptoms Movember saves lives. Not only do they help to tackle the symptoms but also aim to give emotional support during what is a tumultuous time in the lives of those living with cancer.

Movember is a truly great movement, tackling men’s issues not by throwing money at the issues when they arise as this is often too late, but by addressing the underlying cultural issues that lead to the three main reasons men die young. Please donate below and help us stop men dying too young.

Image: Movember

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