About-Face BlogBody ImageGender InequalityHealth and BodyOn The Pulse

Should women participate in No-Shave November?

By November 19, 2012 5 Comments
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.