Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The New Statesmen Moustache the question.
December 3, 2013 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Why Movember isn't all it's cracked up to be "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, gender normative, racist and ineffective against some very real health issues."

Response from GQ: Why you're not a cultural imperialist for taking part in Movember

Feminists Unknown's Blog asks: why are people so angry about the New Stateman's article?

"I’ve read plenty of pieces in which someone critiques a well-meaning project from an intersectional perspective. Usually I find, as is the case here, that some points ring true, others don’t. It doesn’t make me furious (and I’m not a particularly patient person). It’s just someone exploring an issue from the side of people who may or may not be marginalised by it. It’s no big deal, right? Oh, but this time it is. "
posted by MisantropicPainforest (410 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Honestly I didn't even know it was supposed to have something to do with men's health and am still hazy on that, I thought it was a bunch of dudes deciding to grow ugly mustaches because reasons.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


Ugh. I didn't know they used the term, "real men." That's lameass lame.
posted by agregoli at 9:12 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I had planned on using Movember as the excuse to regrow a beardy thing. I forgot the plan one morning and shaved that horrible, half-grown, patchy thing from my face before work. And there was much rejoicing (mostly as I'm not longer living in cold and rainy Vancouver but mild and overcast DC). I definitely never grew anything expecting it to contribute to men's health issues. Sentient body parts not welcome.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2013


Honestly I didn't even know it was supposed to have something to do with men's health and am still hazy on that, I thought it was a bunch of dudes deciding to grow ugly mustaches because reasons.

I first heard of it as just a dumb thing to do for fun. I was under the impression that the men's health angle was tacked on after the fact, but maybe I'm wrong.

I think that article is REALLY reaching by comparing mustaches to dreadlocks, and saying it's cultural appropriation for a white American to have a mustache. That just seems nuts to me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2013 [43 favorites]


The whole thing's always seemed sorta dumb. But maybe I'm just jealous because my facial hair grows slower than a very slow thing.
posted by kmz at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2013


Maybe it would be more effective to have No-seriouslygotothedoctorandgetacheckuporIwillsmackyouupsidetheheadwithmySusanGKomenfortheCurepinkimmersionblender-vember.
posted by phunniemee at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I like the idea of raising awareness of a serious disease among men (who are often conditioned by society to hide things like illness or pain, to appear "strong"), I've always thought Movember is kind of bullshit. Especially given the backlash against female-bodied people who also decide to do 'No Shave November'. Glad to see I'm not alone.

I go to a genderqueer-friendly barber (everyone, regardless of gender, pays the same prices for a buzzcut and a wet shave, it's fucking amazing) and they've been running a "Movember special", where on request they will use little offcuts from your hair and some glue to "create a moustache" for you. We need more of that sort of thing, I think.
posted by fight or flight at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have to say, the "racist" angle is reaching because this:
Across nine cities in the UK, participants dress up in costumes that mock and trivialise racial minorities (“turbanator” Indians, fez-topped Arabs with day-hire camels, Mexicans in sombreros and bandoliers) and the LGBT community (parodies of the Village People), celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats), and emulate racist fictional characters and sexist stereotypes (such as 'Dictator' Aladeen with a harem of female bodyguards, Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders).
Has nothing to do with facial hair and everything to do with a shitty culture of racism. You can run an almost identical criticism against a hypothetical Hat-vember.
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


I grow my beard and mustache out most every November because it's freaking cold here and it keeps my face warm. I didn't realize it was a thing.
posted by octothorpe at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Also is Hulk Hogan a racist fictional character or a sexist stereotype?)
posted by griphus at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Eh, seems like a another internet "fight" about small issues, to keep people busy doing something, that really means nothing, but at least it keeps everyone from overworking at their shitty job with no and crappy health benefits.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [39 favorites]


Had no idea my moustache was imperialist; will have to start waxing it.
posted by selfnoise at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Jesus Christ.
posted by downing street memo at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


Tom Selleck was light years ahead of his time in reminding men to finger their buttholes.
posted by dr_dank at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


For people interested in this sort of thing:

Review of Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Most things are sorta dumb.

My uncle recently died from prostate cancer. He didn't have to, but he was reluctant to go to the doctor when problems arose because of the usual reasons men don't go to the doctor when problems arise.

And, when he finally went to the doctor, 7 years later.... well, it was too late then and he died because of it.

So, yeah, no shave November is stupid. But if it is stupid and it works at getting some men to take care of themselves better.... then it isn't stupid.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah there are a lot of valid criticisms of Movember but every piece I've seen which argues that it's racist, at least for the duration of the part in which that argument is made, has read like satire.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Tom Selleck was light years ahead of his time in reminding men to finger their buttholes.


Okay, I know I've never told anybody that.

Oh wait, we're talking about Movember here.

Um, never mind.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Thank God its December, and my moustache is no longer racist.
posted by eisenkrote at 9:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


I was under the impression that the men's health angle was tacked on after the fact, but maybe I'm wrong

You're wrong. Completely.

All the fighting gender normativity in the world isn't going to fund prostate cancer research.

My moustache made $1120 for Movember and it didn't make fun of any ethnicities. I shaved my beard off and grew the moustache. It looks great. It made money for a charity.

People saying they never understood this was about promoting men's health- god, that's pathetic. If you grew a moustache without getting sponsors. that's slacktivism and it's like entering a walkathon without sponsors.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


For every trend, fad, movement, event, art project, charitable drive, or philosophical experiment, there will be an amateur semiotician waiting to tell you that you've done it all wrong.
posted by sonascope at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [58 favorites]


...wearing the skin of a cause, looking for some bones to throw it over, the writer ended up just draping it over the living room chair.

Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke.

Tom Sellect: world-class stash, one of my favorite people.
posted by mule98J at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


why are people so angry about the New Stateman's article?

I would guess because it waded through a bunch of unnecessary tangents of dubious association and quality before finally get around to the actually solid point that Movember is pretty shitty at doing what it claims to do: raise awareness of Men's health issues.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


(parodies of the Village People)

But ... weren't the Village People parodies of ... I'm so confused.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


why are people so angry about the New Stateman's article?

Because it's terrible and bad and stupid.
posted by elizardbits at 9:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [32 favorites]


I'm no mathematician, but I never bought into the word math of Moustache + November = Movember.
posted by mullacc at 9:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues' faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money.

Could you not ask them?

I feel like moustaches on dudes are a feature of such a wide variety of cultures, subcultures and eras that it's hard to see them as appropriative. More like a month of women wearing skirts in general than saris in particular.
posted by Diablevert at 9:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're wrong. Completely. People saying they never understood this was about promoting men's health- god, that's pathetic.

I mean, it was in high school in 2004 when I first heard of it. Some guys in my grade were doing it. At no point did the word 'prostate cancer' pass anyone's lips. Sorry I'm pathetic.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


why are people so angry about the New Stateman's article?

Because it's the internet and the holiday season?
posted by jessamyn at 9:26 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


But ... weren't the Village People parodies of ... I'm so confused.

They weren't parodies; they were camp. How you parody camp without making something that has no reason to exist is beyond me. But I think that's the criticism?
posted by griphus at 9:26 AM on December 3, 2013


This month, someone approached me asking to join their Movember team. This was a person who was constantly spamming everyone with emails about how "real men have mustaches". I work in a lot of LGBT advocacy/activism, and I've been pretty well aware of these issues for a while - so I told them that I wasn't going to take part especially since I work with a lot of trans*/genderqueer people. He accused me of being PC and not caring about prostate cancer.

In any circumstance, even if it weren't for the tricky gender stuff, I still wouldn't take part in it because of all of the culture that has built around it especially at undergraduate institutions and noticeably, my university. For instance, the month SAYS it's inclusive of women through their "Mo Sistas" shtick, but what that means is that women are constantly harassed the entire month through constant mentions of "mustache rides" and the like, and encouraged to sexualize themselves in order to "rope men into the movement."

Basically: the whole movement grosses me out and I will have no part in it.
posted by Conspire at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


why are people so angry about the New Stateman's article?

I don't know about you guys, but since the energy companies have started price gouging our fucking eyeballs out I have to get angry about one or two things a day at least in order to stay warm.
posted by fight or flight at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


oh for fucks sake internet
posted by nathancaswell at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Anyway, you can take my copy of Can't Stop the Music when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What? You mean a social movement that tries to inspire change by telling people they barely have to change at all isn't as impactful as we thought? That's never happened before.
posted by dry white toast at 9:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The New Statesman article is the finest example of over-reaching manufactured offense-taking I've ever read. An absolute load of crap.
Growing a moustache is racist because some non-white cultures also grow moustaches? I wonder if that logic also applies to every white person who ever got a tattoo or a piercing?
And it's no less successful at raising awareness for men's health issues as the pinkification of the NFL is at raising awareness of women's health issues.
posted by rocket88 at 9:31 AM on December 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


Guide to Trolling:

1) Say something calculated to anger a large number of people. Bonus points if those people are engaged in an activity they perceive to be noble or high-minded.

2) Stand back and watch people get angry.

3) Tell the people you just upset that their anger is invalid.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:31 AM on December 3, 2013 [33 favorites]


Speaking of trolling, will pay $5 to the first person to post this on Hacker News.
posted by Leon at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, PC is prostate cancer now?

Dammit, you can't just bait and switch people like that!

I joined a movement because it promised a better world. And now I find out I'm supporting cancer!

How am I supposed to explain that to my mom? You tell me that!

God damn it.
posted by Naberius at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And it's no less successful at raising awareness for men's health issues as the pinkification of the NFL is at raising awareness of women's health issues.

Talk about damning with faint praise...
posted by kmz at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2013


I can understand the defensive reactions to this article. It is certainly a carefully (and cynically) crafted piece of clickbait, but beyond the opening paragraphs it does detail one specific problem with the Movember campaign: it does not encourage men to be more open with their health. In fact, it cloaks the issues that it seeks to address, and misdirects the attention of charitable givers.

On the one hand, I don't think the men who have grown Mos are racist, however I think that there are legitimate concerns raised by the New Statesman piece (and other pieces critiquing the cult of awareness and associated campaigns, previously) that deserve consideration. Also anything that reminds people that awareness of a cause is not the same as donating to that cause is a good thing.

My boyfriend, like most males of my acquaintance, has taken part in Movember twice. The reason why he stopped doing it is because it was woefully ineffective in actually garnering donations because all his friends were doing it too. Also, I think he decided he'd rather donate directly to men's health charities that he himself supports and vets, rather than the charities that the Movember funds go to.

For those asking, Movember Europe is a registered charity with charitable aims: here's its GuideStar UK listing, and here's its research page.
posted by dumdidumdum at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just let me have Rocktober
posted by thelonius at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Growing a moustache is racist because some non-white cultures also grow moustaches?

I don't think this is the problem, I think it's that people are growing mustaches under the banner of Movember and then using that as a reason to dress up as racist caricatures. You don't need a mustache to dress up as a racist caricature, but some people will use any excuse.
posted by troika at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


My moustache made $1120 for Movember and it didn't make fun of any ethnicities. I shaved my beard off and grew the moustache. It looks great. It made money for a charity.

People saying they never understood this was about promoting men's health- god, that's pathetic.


Like people wearing pink or the cavalcade of ribbons we see at awards shows, Movember really does attract people who say that they're doing it to "raise awareness" or, as you say, "promote men's health" without doing the charity work. Don't pretend they aren't out there or attack people who aren't as up on the movement as you are.
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


That is, I don't think these guys are like, "Yes, finally, I can be openly racist!" but it's a lack of awareness of the fact that it is racist behavior.
posted by troika at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2013


Because it's the internet and the holiday season?
posted by edgeways at 9:40 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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);

This is a pretty bad piece written by someone who should go back to journalism school or school in general.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


People saying they never understood this was about promoting men's health- god, that's pathetic.

Really? The wikipedia article points to the creation of the Movember organization and charity in 2004, following an unrelated group getting a lot of press in 1999 for their support of charity. Not specifically men's health.

It's not going out on a limb to guess that in the five years between that widely-publicized article and the creation of a structured organization that a number of individuals adopted the mustache/November thing for other charities, causes, or just because they liked the association. The idea that mustache/November and men's health are intrinsically linked because you really like one organization stinks.
posted by mikeh at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read ethnomethodologist's comment as pretty clear satire but I guess ymmv?
posted by elizardbits at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'm an idiot, please continue onward
posted by mikeh at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2013


This is a pretty bad piece written by someone who should go back to journalism school or school in general.

FWIW, she as a Master's in astrophysics from Cambridge and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The idea that mustache/November and men's health are intrinsically linked because you really like one organization stinks.


It's been doing it since 2003. Wake the hell up.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2013


Has that Feminist Unknown never been on the internet before? Any time someone writes a piece where something that is, for its faults, perceived as an overall good thing gets attacked for being A Bad Thing, people get upset. Especially when the attack seems heavily weighed on the parts that are wrong versus the parts that might have a point. Men's reactions to this article are not in any way different to millions of similar responses to thousands upon thousands of similar articles saying the exact same things about anything you'd care to say was worthwhile.

That response is worth exactly as little as the original article.

(And the only reason I don't take part in Movember is because I'd have to shave to do so. I encourage the fuzzification of male faces with great fervour.)
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with troika on the racism point. I want to add that it's not necessarily being called racist either because it's overtly racist like hurling pejoratives, but you can easily see how it can contribute to our current cultural atmosphere of racism:

If you're wearing a mustache for religious or cultural reasons, because the culture around Movember is intended to be kind of self-conscious and humorous to a degree (i.e. "Look at how ridiculous and funny all of us look with mustaches"), you might constantly get patted on the back for "supporting Movember" with the same implication and tone ("Man, you look hilarious with that mustache!") without any thought of religious/cultural implications.

If you come from certain races that have difficulty growing facial hair, on the other hand - for instance, East Asians - you get prodded at for not being a "real man" and that exacerbates cultural stereotypes built around these men for being weak, asexual and not masculine. (Major hand up here: I see a bunch of Facebook posts going around during Movember about how Asians have "Dirty Asian 'Staches", and that really makes me feel weird.)

I would argue that if you're looking at racism as only an overt, conscious and personal gesture, yeah, sure, the accusations of racism are unfounded. But if you consider that racism can be covert and systematic without anyone intending to be racist, I think there's things we can learn from it?
posted by Conspire at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Moustaches are now racist. Got it. I'll add that to the list. Thanks.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


I read ethnomethodologist's comment as pretty clear satire but I guess ymmv

Not even a tiny bit of satire.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2013


People saying they never understood this was about promoting men's health- god, that's pathetic.

I'd say the failure lies not with the people who haven't heard the message but the people who are apparently really bad at getting the message out.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


So.... Why do people care what the Statesman, GQ, whothefuckever rolls out about this or any given social thing?

Think it's stupid, fine, at least it causes no harm, direct the passion against something that matters.
Think it's hip? Cool, just don't act self righeious about it and you're aces.
Actually raise money for the cause with it? You're a rock star.

Everyone else... Don't forget THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS is in full swing. Grab your candy cane shivs and the egg nogg chemical warfare flasks and have at it.
posted by edgeways at 9:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I mean, I vaguely knew that the facial hair thing was related to men's health, but I still have no idea why. And yeah, also it's definitely not trans inclusive.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:49 AM on December 3, 2013


I remember back when I was in college (2004ish) people called it NoShaveNovember and (at least in the circles I experienced) it had nothing to do with cancer awareness and everything to do with wanting a socially-sanctioned excuse not to shave.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Those gala parties where men with mustaches dress up in racist costumes are a worldwide thing, not only the UK as the article seems to imply.
posted by Thing at 9:50 AM on December 3, 2013


I remember back when I was in college (2004ish) people called it NoShaveNovember and (at least in the circles I experienced) it had nothing to do with cancer awareness and everything to do with wanting a socially-sanctioned excuse not to shave.

Yes! That's what they called it, I remember now. I knew a ton of guys who did it, and I'm almost certain it was just for kicks and they were unaware of any fundraising or awareness angle.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who has sported a chin strap + moustache combination (unconnected beard) since college, I feel left out of Movember.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2013


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. What is the difference here? We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers' generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups. Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism. We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues' faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money. No doubt they draw the obvious conclusion, that dovetails with many other experiences of life as an immigrant: there are different rules for white faces.

This is the racism bit - I think it's pretty interesting and not, on the face of it, untrue.

I think there's always going to be a problem with "everybody let's [adopt this practice that many people don't generally do but that some people take very seriously] for fun!" Partly because every cultural practice has a history and it's generally not an unequivocally nice one, and partly because "everybody let's!" is always an attempt to strip the practice of its entire previous history and render it anodyne and unquestioned so that it can become something purely fun.

(Also, facial hair practices in the US and the UK have undergone some incredibly rapid shifts - during the nineteenth century, for example, there was a several year stretch when it went from all men who could grow them wearing beards (except some servants - being cleanshaven was for valets and footmen) to beards being seen as this risible and comic thing and then there was a switch back again. There's an anecdote that I unfortunately don't have to hand about a guy actually being arrested when traveling through a small town because he had a beard and people found it so offensive. Even if we bracket race, facial hair has always been a huge class and cultural -capital signifier. )
posted by Frowner at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those gala parties where men with mustaches dress up in racist costumes are a worldwide thing, not only the UK as the article seems to imply

Then it's the parties that are racist, not the Movember movement in general.
posted by rocket88 at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's cute that, like most so-called "intersectional" analyses, hers entirely ignores the class system, probably because if she were to acknowledge the longstanding and continuing use of bans on facial hair by the employing class as a means of asserting power over the bodies of their workers she might have to introduce some subtlety into her "carnival of normativity" thesis. Indeed, while I can't prove it, I get the sense that many men are able to use the organized "Movember" phenomenon as an excuse to grow facial hair that their employers would otherwise prohibit in much the same way that workers have always used collective action to fight back against employers' attempts to unilaterally control working conditions.
posted by enn at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


I love the look of mustaches and beards. I love when men choose to exercise variety in their facial hair choices. I look forward to Movember just for all the handsome pictures. And I ABSOLUTELY LOVE anything that gets more men into the doctor's office for routine care and prevention.

I detest the slogan about "real men" with the taste of vomit in my mouth. Like men who can't or don't grow facial hair are carved out of wood like Pinocchio or something? What is this, Bizarro Ron Swanson World?

The person who says I'm not a real woman because I can't bear children is going to get a pie in the face, and any non-mustachioed man who cares to join me can place the banana peel on the floor.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


FWIW, she as a Master's in astrophysics from Cambridge and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford.

'e should've gone to Hull.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


(though there's no obvious relationship between moustaches and cancers)

There is, though. There's a relationship between the ability to grow a mustache and the ability to grow a cancer of the types spotlighted by Movember, e.g. And while trans-men may legitimately feel excluded from the masculinity-fest:

... 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.

... frankly, Movember is about body chemistry rather than gender identity. It's about health. When becoming a trans-man, a trans-man doesn't suddenly take on men's health issues, any more than a trans-woman acquires a risk for ovarian cancer.

Movember is at least as problematic as Braless Tuesdays or whatever everyone's doing for breast cancer these days, but the article gets a bit absurd in conflating sex with gender identity when discussing physical health issues related to sex.
posted by gurple at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


In Movember you grow a Novemstache.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had a moustache since 1968. This is the first time I've heard that I was doing something racist by having it. I'm not going to shave it because of somebody's twisted outlook.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:58 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


This article wants me to be angry, but I don't think I'm gonna give in on this one. Facial hair growth is a natural body function for ALL men. Letting nature take its course on my body does not support systemic racism and if you want to make that claim then I think you're being kind of silly.
posted by staticscreen at 9:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Huh. This is the first year I've heard of Movember having anything to do with men's health. In previous years I thought it was just a fun thing to do for no good reason other than it being a certain month. Sorry it took 10 years of this group raising awareness to wake pathetic people like me the hell up, I guess.
posted by zsazsa at 9:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


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.

This is perhaps one of the stupidest things I've ever read.
posted by zarq at 9:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [38 favorites]


This is perhaps one of the stupidest things I've ever read.

Yep.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:00 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is why my idea for Armpithairuary will be way more inclusive.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:00 AM on December 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Facial hair growth is a natural body function for ALL men.

All cisgendered men with certain hormones. Not all men.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:01 AM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Then it's the parties that are racist, not the Movember movement in general.

They're still linked to Movember, but they're not just UK. That's my point. I was ashamed enough to find out more, and a little relieved by this fact.
posted by Thing at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2013


Not even a tiny bit of satire.

Ah! Double secret satire, then.
posted by disconnect at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is why my idea for Armpithairuary will be way more inclusive.

Won't you join me in celebrating Pube June?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I suspect that this article is a false flag operation perpetrated by right wingers to convince the world that "libtards" are nothing but a bunch of irrational crybabies.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:05 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: " All cisgendered men with certain hormones. Not all men."

98% of men? 95%? The vast majority, at the very least.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


So, yeah, no shave November is stupid. But if it is stupid and it works at getting some men to take care of themselves better.... then it isn't stupid.

Weird. Come to think of it, all the guys I know who participate in this are individuals who also refuse to go to the doctor--the friend whose pupils started dilating at different rates but didn't go because it was "no big deal;" the brother-in-law who showed up at Thanksgiving wearing a wrist brace because of some garbled reason related to tendons "breaking" but who likewise thought there was no reason to "bug the doctor about it."

Paradigms of manliness, I swear.

hamburger
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:06 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, Ron Swanson is filled with a rage that not even three steaks can quell.

(But I admit that I've only ever known it as a charity stunt done by nice teachers at a school, who really have raised thousands of dollars in cash and are allowed to wear facial hair at any point if they wanted to; I didn't realize it was so divisive.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:06 AM on December 3, 2013


I mean, I swear I'm not trying to be a dick here, but the article tries to define mustache and beard growing as something that White People Shouldn't Do for [Idiotic Reasons]. For most men it takes a voluntary act to make sure that doesn't happen. And if they don't shave, that doesn't make them racists. The idea is complete idiocy.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on December 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


Facial hair growth is a natural body function for ALL men.

FYI, cisgendered women can also grow facial hair. I know a couple of ladies with excellent beards.
posted by fight or flight at 10:07 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding shaving practices in the US, some have speculated that we will never again have a bearded President. Because of television, beards can be a disadvantage, as they can minimize facial expressions.

I don't know if I believe that, but it could be a thing. Who knows.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:07 AM on December 3, 2013


There's Nothing Unmanly Or In Any Way Gender-Role-Dissatisfying Of Dying Of A Potentially Preventable Cause Because You Didn't Want To Go To The Doctor (Although If You Can't Afford To Go To The Doctor That's A Different Story)

vember
posted by griphus at 10:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


(OTOH, "steely resolve" and "manly manliness" could be seen as desirable, in which case a beard could work. Then again, beards are often associated with hipsters, so, who knows. Life is complicated, beards triply so.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 AM on December 3, 2013


I'm just pissed because here in the provinces us peasants just heard about Movember and already it's been dragged in the culture wars. Like we couldn't even take in the damn thing before we found out that what we've been smelling is shit.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:08 AM on December 3, 2013


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. What is the difference here?

The difference is that beards and mustaches are not at all tied to specific cultures or customs the way dreadlocks are. That comparison is ridiculous. I haven't seen the stats that the writer apparently has to confidently say the "clean-shaven, white majority", but huge numbers of white men have facial hair.

I have a beard maybe 25% of the time. And I always had a beard from ages of 17-24. Mustaches are not quite in fashion right now (though they are coming back), but they are not the "other" to white men.

The funny element is seeing someone who never wears a mustache suddenly grow one.
posted by spaltavian at 10:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know if I believe that, but it could be a thing. Who knows.

I think there's a myth out there that facial hair is often unclean? I dunno. There aren't too many politicians, let alone presidential candidates, with facial hair.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:09 AM on December 3, 2013


I think there's a myth out there that facial hair is often unclean? I dunno. There aren't too many politicians, let alone presidential candidates, with facial hair.

Right. Who was the last serious candidate with a beard? Charles Evans Hughes?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2013


So is this done in the US too or just the UK? This is seriously the first time I've heard of it.
posted by octothorpe at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2013


[We don't do that jokey "I am going to make an asshole comment that is so over the top people will KNOW I am joking" thing here. Make an effort. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:11 AM on December 3, 2013


> I think there's a myth out there that facial hair is often unclean?

Well, you have beardist terms like "clean shaven" to imply that freshly-bladed skin is somehow more sanctified.
posted by planetesimal at 10:11 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah US too. And people are taking it way too seriously apparently.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2013


In a world of self-righteous claptrap spouted by people apparently dedicated to putting themselves into increasingly high dudgeons over the absolutely ridiculous shit they can be offended by, the notion that mustaches are racist, misogynistic, and anti-trans/gay might be the stupidest fucking thing I have seen in a long time. I'm sure another nadir will follow, but Damn. Stupid stupid stupid. Firemen, police, and gay men are the only mustaches I know.
posted by umberto at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Movember gives men a chance to experiment with vanity. Many men are too shy to grow facial hair without an excuse like this - it might fail or make them appear overly concerned with how they look or whatever. This is why it's so popular (and I've met several men who didn't even know about the men's health connection).
posted by colie at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I always think it sort of boils down to--if your "raising awareness" gesture turns out to be something people already wanted to do anyway, it's probably not going to raise much awareness. Lots of people like the excuse to grow a mustache, and it's about what now?

On the up side I guess that means it really has become equivalent to October, which is an international excuse to purchase pink kitchen appliances and handbags.
posted by Sequence at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2013


To be fair, I don't think the article is saying that growing a moustache is a racist act; it is saying that the framing of growing a moustache as something that is exceptional, funny, noteworthy and temporary serves to further other and isolate those cultures that have traditionally worn them, thereby tacitly supporting systemic racism (whether it means to do so or not).

In other words, the article is not saying moustaches are racist, it's arguing that the Movember campaign is racist. You can still grow a moustache, but do it because you want a moustache, not because you want to join in with a campaign that might be more problematic than it seems.

FWIW, I don't agree with this part of the article, and I agree that comparing a moustache with dreadlocks is not comparing like for like. However, I don't think the article is as completely off-base and ridiculous as others are saying.
posted by dumdidumdum at 10:14 AM on December 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


I find the bulk of the complaints about this effort to bring awareness to men's health to be nitpicky to a degree that we do not subject most charitable efforts, because if we did none would be found to be entirely inclusive and without problematic elements.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:15 AM on December 3, 2013


Many men are too shy to grow facial hair without an excuse like this...

IF ANY MAN HERETOFORE HAS REQUIRED PERMISSION FROM AUTHORITY TO GROW THEIR FACIAL HAIR:

LET IT BE GRANTED

-griphus, Beardsman 5th Rank, Twice Confirmed
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Man, hardly any word about cops!
posted by josher71 at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2013


Many men are too shy to grow facial hair without an excuse like this…

Not REAL MEN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think its interesting the reaction some guys are having to this. It makes me wonder what its like to never feel like people are making a judgement call about your character based on your appearance. How terrifying it must be when it happens out of nowhere.
posted by fight or flight at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Facial hair growth is a natural body function for ALL men mammals.

It's just that a certain group of mammals has politicized it.
posted by macadamiaranch at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2013




I mean, I swear I'm not trying to be a dick here, but the article tries to define mustache and beard growing as something that White People Shouldn't Do for [Idiotic Reasons].


No, it's saying that white men who grow a mustache only ever as a silly thing that they do once a year are doing so in a racist way, especially if they dress up as Mexicans or Turks or whatever for Movember events (which is a thing I guess?). I think this bit is a bit over-the-top, but it is not saying that any white guy who has a mustache they wear all the time is a racist.

As far as the part of the campaign that insinuates "you're not a man if you can't grow a 'stache" goes, I think that's a thing that should be examined critically.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apart from the experiment with vanity, there is also some rare tenderness and solidarity among men - if you're having trouble getting yours to grow or it's itching like mad etc, then other guys will be unusually sensitive. You're suddenly having a genuine conversation about grooming that is otherwise taboo for many men.
posted by colie at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think its interesting the reaction some guys are having to this. It makes me wonder what its like to never feel like people are making a judgement call about your character based on your appearance. How terrifying it must be when it happens out of nowhere.

Most men are pretty used to that in the context of facial hair.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier

What? I'm half-Mexican, and I have only one male in my family with a mustache -- an uncle who has a mole a bit above his lip, so he CAN'T shave. (Interesting note: I have a flat birthmark in the same spot, so I *can* shave. Okay, maybe not so interesting.)

The original article annoyed me, but elizardbit's comment let the air out of my anger balloon.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, in a society which is substantially patriarchal and misogynist, any kind of "let's assert these practices about masculinity - which is very, very different from femininity!!! - and let's dehistoricize them so that we can all bond around masculinity in sort of a jokey way" is going to reinforce crappy gender norms, precisely because it pretends that gender norms are natural and uncomplicated.

As far as the whole race/mustaches thing being "the stupidest thing you've ever read" - you might want to hang around in places where white folks talk about immigrants and signifiers of foreignness. Beards and mustaches are often described as signifiers of foreignness or exoticism, or as shorthand for being from the Middle East in particular, even when people are not being negative or hateful.

In fact, since "Movemeber" has this sort of nineties-style mass-market transgressiveness about it, we might ask ourselves just what it's transgressing - reminding ourselves all the while that it's probably not just one thing, and that something can have positive, neutral and problematic aspects at the same time.

I add that if you're looking for my opinion on mustaches, I think anyone who can grow one and who wants to do so should be able to go right ahead. This is not an anti-mustache argument.

I think the class and employment angle is an interesting one, and certainly it's born out by history. At the same time, I suspect that men who are required to be cleanshaven at work are likely to be in the same kind of shitty, super-policed jobs where you can't just say "oh, it's Movember, I'm not shaving!" to your boss - your boss won't think it's funny and you don't have that kind of standing. Maybe in some class-mixed jobs like being barristas or something you could.

I've always felt that the whole macho "lol I'm growing a mustache" thing was a lot about "transgressing" against "the Man" in a way that obscures white and male privilege. There's a whole set of cultural beliefs about how "women" or "society" force men to practice neatness, shaving*, politeness, "dressing up", not being smelly, etc, and how it's so great for men to get away from all those awful social constraints that those awful women/society create. (Witness the "man cave".) Women, of course, aren't being natural if they're hairy/smelly/noisy/lazy.....they're just gross.

And of course, on a white dude a mustache is for fashion or transgression - it's not read as an ethnic thing, you don't have to decide if you're going to follow your family or religious tradition about mustaches, you don't have to worry about being on a plane and having someone complain about how "there's a bearded [brown] guy and he looks like a terrorist", or associate your style of mustache with stereotypes of "lazy" Mexicans. (Which I add is a piece of racist nonsense I have actually heard come out of someone's mouth on the bus.)

I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence. (See below about women and facial hair - Movember is gross to me in part because I have heard so many put-downs of women for having the littlest bit of fuzz on their lips.)


*Women have to fucking shave most of our bodies all year, and gawdferbid that you naturally grow facial hair. No matter how much "no shave November" women may participate in, I bet everyone plucks any chin-hairs or 'staches that may happen to grow. And you want to see employer control over facial hair? Just imagine trying to get any kind of job if you are a woman who grows facial hair and does not shave or pluck it. Obviously this is an issue for women who are transitioning; less obviously, it's an issue for a lot of cis women. Speaking as a gender-non-conforming person, heck, I could have a teenage-boy-beard if I wanted to and didn't pluck and shave, and I'd also be so fired (although weirdly I do not grow any mustache hairs). My point being that "mustaches are for men" is cultural - part of the "men are hairy [in appropriate places] and women are hairless" myth. I mean, shave anything you want to shave, of course, but don't pretend that it proves something about the naturalness of gender.
posted by Frowner at 10:19 AM on December 3, 2013 [39 favorites]


My own personal data set is that during November I am sometimes in the elevator or in line at the coffee place near my office and men with new mustaches talk about why and men's health. So there's some awareness. The first person I knew who practiced (celebrated? ) was from Sri Lanka.

Don't really get what TNS is going on about.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


In many restaurants you cannot get a job, male or female, with facial hair. If you work for Disney, it needs to be basically non-existent.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2013


Facial hair growth is a natural body function for ALL men.

Actually everyone grows hair on their face, all genders, absent some kind of abnormal medical condition or, I guess, laser hair removal. And yes, there is a sexual dimorphism in how dark and wiry some of that facial hair is due to various hormone levels but, like all sexual dimorphism, this is a spectrum rather than a strict binary and there are plenty of women with dark hair and men with lighter or thinner hair. The idea that 'only real men grow facial hair' included in the motto for this movement is both gross and biologically wrong.
posted by shelleycat at 10:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


(To clarify - I don't mean that all men of color have "family or religious traditions about facial hair", which would be absurd....just that in general white dudes don't. (Although what about the Amish and Mennonites? I suppose that's the nearest majority-white related experience.)
posted by Frowner at 10:21 AM on December 3, 2013


colie: "Movember gives men a chance to experiment with vanity. Many men are too shy to grow facial hair without an excuse like this - it might fail or make them appear overly concerned with how they look or whatever. "

I generally think they do fail, and they look hideous. But that's because I have a well manicured Van Dyke that I've worked on for decades. One does not simply finish facial hair in a month. Go the distance gentlemen. Get some clippers or something and train that bad boy. Otherwise you just look lazy and you're part of some fad that apparently gets some people outraged.
posted by Big_B at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2013


Also, when my beard was scraggly, long, and wiry, people would often tell me that I looked like a terrorist. So there's that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think its interesting the reaction some guys are having to this. It makes me wonder what its like to never feel like people are making a judgement call about your character based on your appearance. How terrifying it must be when it happens out of nowhere.

It's like it's a script almost.

1) post an article calling a completely harmless thing racist/sexist/whatever

2) article quickly debunked

3) "Bet you don't like people making judgments about you, huh??"
posted by downing street memo at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [22 favorites]


I grew mine for my brother-in-law who died of liver cancer, my sister-in-law's dad who died of pancreatic cancer and my dad, who didn't die but ended up in the hospital for a month from an infection he put off getting treated. All three of them delayed going to the doctor and all three of them suffered for it. Maybe I'm kidding myself this will help, but if even one guy becomes convinced they should go to the doctor I see Movember as a positive.
posted by tommasz at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2013


I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence.

Step one: Depose Peter the Great.
posted by griphus at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Around here growing a beard in the Fall usually means that you're getting ready for deer hunting season (which started yesterday).
posted by octothorpe at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Real men, growing real moustaches, talking about real issues”

You know, this particular expression of the motto does not suggest only real men can grow mustaches any more than it suggests only they can talk about real issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a few adult male friends who can't really grow a passable mustache, but I don't let that color my view of them as men.
posted by mikeh at 10:25 AM on December 3, 2013


so I want to make sure I get this right - is Race for the Cure racist against handicapped people or against marathoners?
posted by badstone at 10:26 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Step one: Depose Peter the Great.

That's totally fascinating, the way that being cleanshaven got made part of this narrative of modernity. ("The beard is a superfluous burden".) I know Peter the Great was a big modernizer/Europeanizer, but was this tax targeted at any particular social class or ethnic group?
posted by Frowner at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2013


I think its interesting the reaction some guys are having to this. It makes me wonder what its like to never feel like people are making a judgement call about your character based on your appearance. How terrifying it must be when it happens out of nowhere.

You... can't... Do you actually think men never feel like people are making a judgement call about their character based on their appearance? Ask a man why he bought his pants. Or why he shaves his neck. Or why he wears a tie to work. You will quickly be disabused of this illusion.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Real men, growing real moustaches, talking about real issues”

You know, this particular expression of the motto does not suggest only real men can grow mustaches any more than it suggests only they can talk about real issues.


It suggests that anyone who isn't growing a real mustache isn't a real man, for whatever reason. It may not intend to, but that interpretation is certainly visible.
posted by Etrigan at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2013


is Race for the Cure racist against handicapped people or against marathoners

Yes.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2013


"Real men, growing real moustaches, talking about real issues”

You know, this particular expression of the motto does not suggest only real men can grow mustaches any more than it suggests only they can talk about real issues.


Nuance: it's a thing. Yet many people in this thread read the paragraph about cultural appropriation, imperialism, and symbolism as saying ALL WHITE MEN WITH MUSTACHES ARE RACISTS.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence.

Okay. But on the list of worlds I'm working to bring about, it's pretty far down.
posted by Diablevert at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know trans men with magnificent beards but that isn't what makes them real men, and while trans health certainly isn't as simple as "suddenly taking on men's health issues," it's also not as simple as the implied "retaining all women's health issues." (But of course trans people can't be mentioned in a thread without such reductionist claptrap.)

It seems to me like this thing is trying to tie into the beards&whiskey&straightrazor&craftbeeretc zeitgeist of revivalist "real man" culture, which absolutely can be bad and damaging to men who don't subscribe to it - as can all ready-made cultural identities that people are pressured into.

And I'll just stop here because Frowner did it better.
posted by Corinth at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember doing Movember at work in 2005 or so, and everyone was wearing ray ban aviators cause we thought we looked like cops. We'd done no shave november the year before, but Movember seemed like something exciting, dangerous, and potentially for a good cause. Dangerous? The thought of people seeing us with mustaches made our hearts race. A lot people are self conscious enough about their appearance that they wouldn't have the guts to grow a mustache without some solidarity. I feel like this article is a mean spirited jab at a complicated expression of identity.
posted by ethansr at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have never seen my father without a mustache except in pictures of him from childhood until the time he got married ('69). The year I was born ('70)he grew a mustache and when I was 5 he started growing a beard and HAS NEVER SHAVED that thing off. My dad is either totally racist or a pioneer or something.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:31 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW, she as a Master's in astrophysics from Cambridge and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford.

I don't understand the point you're making.
posted by sutt at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2013


I would just like to say to all capably-faced politicians of America who may be reading this thread: YES, PLEASE GROW A BEARD. Also maybe ditch that boring ass suit and put on a flannel shirt and jeans or something. I will seriously consider voting for you. ♥ ♥ ♥
posted by phunniemee at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


so I want to make sure I get this right - is Race for the Cure racist against handicapped people or against marathoners?

Well, considering most of these charity races tend to openly state "it's fine if you walk or run or etc" and in a large majority of the ones I've encountered, have some kind of statement covering wheelchairs or other forms of mobility aids, or even an separate wheelchair race to themselves... That's not the point though, the point is as a disabled person, can you please stop co-opting me to make ignorant points?

But okay, let's stretch your analogy. So maybe the Race for the Cure was ableist towards people with mobility-related disabilities in the past (please don't say handicapped, by the way, and also, disability isn't exactly a race), and then someone brought it to light. So they change their publication materials to include statements accommodating people of all ability, contact healthcare providers to provide free wheelchairs at the event, and even develop unique wheelchair races - which are things that have really happened before.

Which is why I don't get why everyone is getting defensive about these criticisms. The whole point of these criticisms is to improve and learn from understanding where movements and causes aren't inclusive - I mean, you can choose to take it as a personal attack, but maybe it's more productive to take what you can from it as a learning tool instead of trying to attack it on the one point where it seems weaker?
posted by Conspire at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know, this particular expression of the motto does not suggest only real men can grow mustaches any more than it suggests only they can talk about real issues.

It suggests that anyone who isn't growing a real mustache isn't a real man, for whatever reason. It may not intend to, but that interpretation is certainly visible.


Does it suggest anyone not talking about real issues but who has a full and glorious beard is not a real man?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the point you're making.

The point I made was that she went to school, hence she doesn't need to go to school.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2013


The article's author forgot to mention that Movember also alienates Brigham Young University students.
posted by jessssse at 10:34 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


...but was this tax targeted at any particular social class or ethnic group?

Much like basically every law passed Russia, it was at the very least Anti-Semitic. I don't really have anything to back that up but I'd bet my beard Jews required to keep their beards by their religion weren't graciously exempt.
posted by griphus at 10:35 AM on December 3, 2013


I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence.

Doesn't this apply to just about everything? None of us can have any fun unhampered by all the icky stuff in history until the revolution comes.

On a different note, my dad has had a mustache since I was little. My wife's dad has also had a mustache for decades. Both are successful white dudes in the U.S. I just don't buy that mustaches have anything to do with cultural appropriation. They become more or less popular in different eras, but they've always been a part of mainstream culture in the U.S. This isn't like ear guages or dreds.
posted by Area Man at 10:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, now I have read stupider things. Thank you commenters.

If you are wrapped up in the political ramifications of mustaches, or the oppressive white guys appropriation of same, you are stretching your offended bone near the limit. This is one of the most ridiculous discussions I've seen here. Enough. Y'all enjoy your thin-skinned easy-pop offended buttons. Good lord.
posted by umberto at 10:36 AM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


you are stretching your offended bone near the limit

*snap*
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cautionary tale for all you Movemberists now that December has come.
posted by Flunkie at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2013


At the same time, I suspect that men who are required to be cleanshaven at work are likely to be in the same kind of shitty, super-policed jobs where you can't just say "oh, it's Movember, I'm not shaving!" to your boss - your boss won't think it's funny and you don't have that kind of standing. Maybe in some class-mixed jobs like being barristas or something you could.

I don't really understand the weird dig about baristas being "class-mixed" and I certainly am not going to get into one of those arguments about who is a "real worker" but I promise you that beard prohibitions are common in 2013 in many jobs at many levels of shittiness and overall workplace-policing, including white-collar office jobs in certain industries.
posted by enn at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, this particular expression of the motto does not suggest only real men can grow mustaches any more than it suggests only they can talk about real issues.

It suggests that anyone who isn't growing a real mustache isn't a real man, for whatever reason. It may not intend to, but that interpretation is certainly visible.

Does it suggest anyone not talking about real issues but who has a full and glorious beard is not a real man?


Not as much, no, but it can certainly also be read that way without a lot of effort. Just like any "Real X do Y" statement, it sets out a very clear definition of what Real X means and pretty obviously sets out any X who is not doing Y as not (and therefore less than) Real.
posted by Etrigan at 10:38 AM on December 3, 2013


probably because if she were to acknowledge the longstanding and continuing use of bans on facial hair by the employing class as a means of asserting power over the bodies of their workers she might have to introduce some subtlety into her "carnival of normativity" thesis.

NO WAR BUT THE 'STACHE WAR
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've been thinking about something for a long time.

I think it's fair to say that the fundamental psychological impulse behind conservatism is defensiveness. By this I'm not talking about the soundness of conservative arguments necessarily. Rather, I'm saying, logically and empirically correct positions are to a fair degree arbitrary, so there has to be a more fundamental impulse that causes people to embrace one set of positions over another, and the common thread in American conservatism is defense - defense of the country and of traditions on the good side of the ledger, and defense of odious social relations on the bad side.

If that's the psychological impulse behind conservatism, you couldn't do much better than this article to show that the impulse behind leftism is superiority. Again, there are good and bad sides to this; liberals and leftists have a fundamental impulse towards improvement, to making things superior to their previous incarnations. But there's a bad side to the ledger too - this impulse is often turned inward, away from structures and institutions and towards other people.

Here's what happened - I'll bet you all the money in my pockets. The writer ignored movember for a long time, but in the last few years, it's become a much more mainstream thing. That, plus the general return to "manliness" movement (entirely harmless by itself) activated a neuron that's inside every left-leaning person's head, mine included. "I'm better than these people. I have the good opinions, and I can teach them."

Despite my annoyance with lots of online leftism (and this is an excellent example of it), I genuinely think that most of it is expressed in broad good faith. But occasionally you get shit like this.
posted by downing street memo at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


We are gonna have to agree to disagree on that Etrigan because I can only see it as an intentional, nitpicky misreading.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not as much, no, but it can certainly also be read that way without a lot of effort. Just like any "Real X do Y" statement, it sets out a very clear definition of what Real X means and pretty obviously sets out any X who is not doing Y as not (and therefore less than) Real.

Indeed, and it is 100% sincere, much like the slogan "real men eat quiche" was in 1980s, which we know now to be a vile oppression of the lactose-intolerant by the lacto-normative.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the Feminists Unknown piece nails it.

If white middle-class cis men...are outraged by one lone critique of Movember, this suggests they have no idea what it’s like to question their own privilege...

...You could say “yeah, but that piece was just silly!” So what? If a silly piece causes such anger, what does this say about the level of unquestioning acceptance every male-led project expects?


Honestly, I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as silly until I saw so many GRAR HOW CAN MUSTACHE BE RACIST THIS ARGUMENT IS STUPID comments. Then it started reminding me of every other discussion about privilege I've seen on the intarwebs, which I shall summarize thusly:

A Woman With An Opinion: "I think this thing is another expression of [race/sex/gender/whatever] privilege."

Privileged People On The Intarwebs: "GRARR SHE IS STUPID AND HER OPINION IS STUPID I AM NOT A SEXIST RACIST BECAUSE I DO THAT THING AND THAT THING IS A HARMLESS THING"
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


Indeed, and it is 100% sincere, much like the slogan "real men eat quiche" was in 1980s, which we know now to be a vile oppression of the lactose-intolerant by the lacto-normative.

Pithy sayings cannot possibly offend?

And I believe you mean Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, which was a parody of this exact thing -- the dividing line of what Real Men do and the sorts of ridiculousness that lesser non-real males get themselves up to.
posted by Etrigan at 10:45 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


...but was this tax targeted at any particular social class or ethnic group?

Much like basically every law passed Russia, it was at the very least Anti-Semitic. I don't really have anything to back that up but I'd bet my beard Jews required to keep their beards by their religion weren't graciously exempt.


I have been privately informed by knowledgeable sources that I am talking out of my ass: the Jewish population in Russia at the time was negligible and the tax only applied to merchants, nobles, and townsmen.

That is all.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on December 3, 2013


Nuance: it's a thing.

Indeed. A thing the original author seems unfamiliar with.

If that's the psychological impulse behind conservatism, you couldn't do much better than this article to show that the impulse behind leftism is superiority.

I'd offer Offendedness.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence.

You are *definitely* invited to my next party!
posted by crayz at 10:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]



I don't really understand the weird dig about baristas being "class-mixed" and I certainly am not going to get into one of those arguments about who is a "real worker" but I promise you that beard prohibitions are common in 2013 in many jobs at many levels of shittiness and overall workplace-policing, including white-collar office jobs in certain industries.


Oh, no, what I was trying to convey is that there are some jobs (like being a barrista, pizza delivery for posh places, etc) where because the workers are a mix of middle or upper-middle-class college kids and working class people of a variety of ages, the workers get certain privileges of dress and affect. Like, you can often dress much more individually as a barrista in a fashionable coffee shop or as a bike messenger (even if you are working class) than you can as a mailroom worker, even though the pay may be about the same, and many people who work as barristas or bike messengers do so on their way to fancier careers while many people who do mailroom work do it as their career. (I say this advisedly, since I went out with a career mailroom dude for a few years - and he was glad as hell to be a career mailroom dude and no longer a career lifting-heavy-boxes-all-day dude.)

The point isn't about who is a "real worker" - the point is that many people who are downtrodden enough to be forbidden to grow a mustache at work are also going to be so downtrodden that Movember isn't going to do much for them. My union brethren, for instance, could participate in Movember, but could also grow mustaches any time the mood struck them, because they have some rights as workers. Being downtrodden is not the definition of being a worker.
posted by Frowner at 10:49 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just like any "Real X do Y" statement
-
And I believe you mean Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, which was a parody of this exact thing -- the dividing line of what Real Men do and the sorts of ridiculousness that lesser non-real males get themselves up to.


Yes, I agree when you add a word that isn't actually there in the statement in question (the do/don't) then the sentence becomes offensive. I disagree that we should see it there when it isn't present.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:49 AM on December 3, 2013


We are gonna have to agree to disagree on that Etrigan because I can only see it as an intentional, nitpicky misreading.

"You're just looking to be offended" has been deployed as a defense far more than it's ever been true. I will also agree to disagree with you as to which side this falls on.
posted by Etrigan at 10:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then it started reminding me of every other discussion about privilege I've seen on the intarwebs

If a part of my own body can't be allowed to grow naturally without it being a form of "asserting privilege", count me out of your universe.
posted by crayz at 10:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


Yes, I agree when you add a word that isn't actually there in the statement in question (the do/don't) then the sentence becomes offensive.

As oneirodynia points out, there's a sliver of nuance there that one can easily hide behind. The slogan isn't patently exclusionary and hyper-masculinist, but it definitely draws a line of what "Real Men" are and do.
posted by Etrigan at 10:52 AM on December 3, 2013


Despite my annoyance with lots of online leftism (and this is an excellent example of it), I genuinely think that most of it is expressed in broad good faith. But occasionally you get shit like this.

I think it's interesting that most of the focus here is on the first piece, which this thread seems to be largely rolling their eyes at regardless of leftist leanings. Not that that's stopped the usual "MetaFilter/Internet feminists, Y U SO CRAZY" nonsense. Meanwhile, the Feminists Unknown piece (which, like this thread, is largely dismissive of the article) does a good bit on that reactionary weirdness. Maybe that should have been the focus of the OP.

If a part of my own body can't be allowed to grow naturally without it being a form of "asserting privilege", count me out of your universe.

Not even remotely close to what Cookiebastard is saying.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


crayz: "If a part of my own body can't be allowed to grow naturally without it being a form of "asserting privilege", count me out of your universe."

Ding ding ding winner. Thread over.
posted by Big_B at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah dude, no one has come to confiscate your mustache as racist.
posted by Ouisch at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"When someone writes a stupid, nonsensical, incendiary piece, people get so upset about it! Surely that is because of their privilege."
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:56 AM on December 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Pithy sayings cannot possibly offend?

Shouldn't offend, unless you enjoy spending 99% of your life being offended, which might be a real condition that maybe we should start building awareness of.

And I believe you mean Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, which was a parody of this exact thing -- the dividing line of what Real Men do and the sorts of ridiculousness that lesser non-real males get themselves up to.

I guess I had it jumbled. Ah well, serves me right for getting my most of my 80s pop culture from Bloom County strips. Please let me know how boycotting NBC until they send Ron Swanson to some sensitivity classes works out.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:56 AM on December 3, 2013


[This is the point in the thread where we tell you to cool down, don't start long-ranging multi-thread arguments, and do not turn this thread into an extension of the RARARAR happening elsewhere.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as silly until I saw so many GRAR HOW CAN MUSTACHE BE RACIST THIS ARGUMENT IS STUPID comments. Then it started reminding me of every other discussion about privilege I've seen on the intarwebs, which I shall summarize thusly:

I love this (this is the third standard 'nonsense social justice article' line of defense, after defense on the merits and defense on affect). As if metafilter has never dogpiled on poorly-reasoned nonsense from white men.
posted by downing street memo at 10:58 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


first they came for the a la souvarovs...
posted by nathancaswell at 10:59 AM on December 3, 2013


what if I'm just trying to disguise the fact that I have a week jaw line?
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 AM on December 3, 2013


I have a week jaw line?

It goes on for days?
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:04 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's amazing how beards are hegemonic now.

When I was starting in advertising in the UK, I remember a pitch for Gilette razors that was based on the line 'nice people don't have beards' - with a photo of someone like Jeremy Beadle or Noel Edmonds.
posted by colie at 11:07 AM on December 3, 2013


It goes on for days?

Like this thread.
posted by device55 at 11:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with troika on the racism point. I want to add that it's not necessarily being called racist either because it's overtly racist like hurling pejoratives, but you can easily see how it can contribute to our current cultural atmosphere of racism:

So does oxygen.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I get a lot of non-solicited complements on my full, thick, well defined beard.

Instead of saying thank you, I respond "It was my privilege"
posted by wcfields at 11:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


crayz: "If a part of my own body can't be allowed to grow naturally without it being a form of "asserting privilege", count me out of your universe."

Ding ding ding winner. Thread over.


What thread are you talking about? Because no one is saying that in this thread. You don't win anything fighting men made of straw.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:14 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


SOME MEN CAN'T GROW STRAW MKAY
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:16 AM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


If I've learned anything from this thread, it's that I should go into the world of Internet social justice. You can basically just write any nonsense and get clicks. Then when you say something stupid and make privileged people justifiably angry, you write a second thing pointing out how all the privileged people are angry. And get more clicks.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:16 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


But you need like 500 clicks just to get one of those stupid rubber pencil toppers. A stuffed animal is like 10,000 clicks. They have a Playstation up there too but it's 500,000 clicks and I'm not even sure there's anything in that box because how are you supposed to get that many clicks anyway?

Anyway, the skee-ball machine is a lot easier; just throw the ball up the left side and it ricochets right into the middle.
posted by griphus at 11:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


I suggest that the only way one can really enjoy growing a mustache purely for fun, unhampered by the real of history, is to work to bring about a world where anyone can grow a mustache without consequence.

I love this sentence. I honestly love it. It's like an entire Wes Anderson movie in 38 words.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


If I've learned anything from this thread, it's that I should go into the world of Internet social justice. You can basically just write any nonsense and get clicks. Then when you say something stupid and make privileged people justifiably angry, you write a second thing pointing out how all the privileged people are angry. And get more clicks.

More importantly, you don't even have to write anything, because no one actually reads or responds to what you actually wrote.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Pithy sayings cannot possibly offend?

Shouldn't offend, unless you enjoy spending 99% of your life being offended, which might be a real condition that maybe we should start building awareness of.


"Being offended is your problem!" is the knee-jerk excuse of hack comedians, professional provocateurs and spin-control weasels. People who actually care about other human beings don't generally resort to it.
posted by Etrigan at 11:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Etrigan, that's *really* offensive.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:24 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


After dozens and dozens of comments, no one has voiced the one thing that really bothers me about this matter.

Shouldn't it be MUVEMBER?! Who's pronouncing Mustache with an 'o'? WHO?!

I mean, c'mon, if we're just swapping out the N with an M, then we can use Movember to mean Meat Month or Milk Month or Moth Month (or the less popular, Mothman Month)...this bothers me.
posted by Atreides at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Huh. Turns out this whole thing was viral marketing for the new Schick razor. (Still has 5 blades, only now they're arranged vertically instead of horizontally.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


But okay, let's stretch your analogy ... contact healthcare providers to provide free wheelchairs at the event, and even develop unique wheelchair races - which are things that have really happened before ... The whole point of these criticisms is to improve and learn from understanding where movements and causes aren't inclusive...

Was being dumb and jokey, but as long as we are taking this this seriously. What is the equivalent response here? Get Hair Club for Men to provide free lip treatment so that people that otherwise can't grow beards can participate? Or to stretch the analogy another way - doesn't Race for the Cure co-opt running culture and make a mockery of all the intense training serious runners go through in order to participate in marathons and other races?
posted by badstone at 11:26 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mo'vember Mo'problems
posted by BobbyVan at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I've learned anything from this thread, it's that I should go into the world of Internet social justice. You can basically just write any nonsense and get clicks. Then when you say something stupid and make privileged people justifiably angry, you write a second thing pointing out how all the privileged people are angry. And get more clicks.

Meanwhile, here you guys are, arguing that a single article probably seen by people numbering in the thousands is outrageous, making this out to be Dem Crazy Leftists, and accusing people of coming to steal your fucking beards. Meanwhile there's a multi-billion industry doing a mirror image of this and it ain't no thang.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Myself, looking at the end of my 40s, I've never grown a beard or a mustache. Despite thinking that they can look hot sometimes, I've never been fond of facial hair on me. I get this patchy neckbeardy thing. Also, I never wear hats.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2013


And to be perfectly clear, I love Wes Anderson movies,
posted by octobersurprise at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why are people getting so mad about this piece?

Because it's really, really, really stupid. And because anger is the right response to stupidity.

This sort of writing--I'm not going to dignify it by calling it "reasoning"--has taken over a huge segment of the lefter-than-liberal left. Instead of serious thinking--about this frivolous issue--we get a series of laughably terrible arguments. The general recipe for this, used over and over again on the postmodern left, is: offer any lame, strained, ridiculous, obviously wrong interpretation you like, so long as the conclusion is: someone (preferably a white male) is sexist and/or racist.

Now, stupid arguments are bad in and of themselves. But this kind of stupid argument also has the side effect of making people take charges of sexism and racism less seriously. And they not only make the left seem stupid, they actually make the left stupid. The more the left gets sucked into the black hole of postmodernism (and related nuttiness) the more it becomes infected by irrationality and downright misology. It makes the right look almost good by comparison...

One source of the problem seems to be the strong literary bent of the intellectual heroes of the po-mo left, and especially the inclination to hold that no interpretation is better or worse than any other. So much the better if it confirms your political prejudices (e.g. all and only whites are racist, all and only men are sexist). The goal, of course, is to maximize charges of prejudice; get to that point however you like....

Then start layering the confusions--e.g. add in the radically nonsensical notion of "cultural appropriation" and so forth...and, well, what you end up with is a fetid swamp of nonsense. Again, that's bad in itself...but you're also providing evidence in favor of the claim that leftish folks just like to throw around poorly-substantiated charges of bias...because, well, that's what you're doing. And, furthermore, you're contributing to the growth, acceptance, and prevalence of this kind of gobbledygook on the leftier parts of the political spectrum.

Of course your commitment to this general orientation then permits you to pretend that anger directed at the stupid thing you wrote is just more sexism and racism... And now your position is tightly self-sealed...

(Let me add that I think that Movember is kinda dopey. But not for any of the ridiculous reasons proffered by the authors in the OP.)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


"what if I'm just trying to disguise the fact that I have a week jaw line?"

Just be glad it's not the whole month.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Left hardly has a monopoly on hyperbole, axe-grinding, and paranoia. Both sides, any side, has it's members that just want to point out the devil they see always lurking in everyday, otherwise non-controversial things. The devils may vary, but the approach (and the reaction to the approach) is the same.
posted by badstone at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


My point being that "mustaches are for men" is cultural - part of the "men are hairy [in appropriate places] and women are hairless" myth.

It's not a myth, it's an average.

Frowner, I am honestly, un-ironically, impressed by your ability to pile beans on that plate. You should be writing essays, not commenting on them. I'd read.

It seems to me like this thing is trying to tie into the beards&whiskey&straightrazor&craftbeeretc zeitgeist of revivalist "real man" culture, which absolutely can be bad and damaging to men who don't subscribe to it - as can all ready-made cultural identities that people are pressured into.

I'm quite enjoying it (Except the whiskey. Foul liquid.) Are you suggesting I shouldn't be allowed to enjoy it? Or that it should be suppressed? Or... what?

Beards and straight razors?
posted by Leon at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The average woman is hairless!?
posted by agregoli at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


It seems to me like this thing is trying to tie into the beards&whiskey&straightrazor&craftbeeretc zeitgeist of revivalist "real man" culture, which absolutely can be bad and damaging to men who don't subscribe to it - as can all ready-made cultural identities that people are pressured into.

I'm quite enjoying it (Except the whiskey. Foul liquid.) Are you suggesting I shouldn't be allowed to enjoy it? Or that it should be suppressed? Or... what?


I think the suggestion there is that they shouldn't be held up as things "real men" do, because it excludes people who simply don't want to do those things and aren't hurting anyone by not doing them from that club.
posted by Etrigan at 11:37 AM on December 3, 2013


agregoli: good point. you have me. I was thinking of beards exclusively. And the fact that I can make that mistake underlines Frowner's point, I think.
posted by Leon at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2013


(Except the whiskey. Foul liquid.)

Sir, you may keep your beard and I will keep the whiskey.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course *isms don't have to be overt and conscious. That isn't news. If I were to try to persuade someone of this fact, I would not use this article, because it makes a series of poor, silly arguments. If you're interested in getting the word out there, then you should appreciate the fact that a poor, silly article which represents some ideals you believe in is often even worse than a clear, cogent essay about ideals you strongly oppose.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


After dozens and dozens of comments, no one has voiced the one thing that really bothers me about this matter.

Shouldn't it be MUVEMBER?! Who's pronouncing Mustache with an 'o'? WHO?!


"Mo" is pretty common slang for "moustache" (note British English spelling) in Australia where Movember started.
posted by Chipeaux at 11:42 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This sort of writing--I'm not going to dignify it by calling it "reasoning"--has taken over a huge segment of the lefter-than-liberal left.

Y'all keep on making this assertion without ever backing it up, implying that there's some huge percentage of people out there making these craaaaaazy statements. I don't see a large number of MeFites agreeing with this, and this place is pretty far to the left.

Now, stupid arguments are bad in and of themselves. But this kind of stupid argument also has the side effect of making people take charges of sexism and racism less seriously.

Why is it that racists and sexists get a free pass for something just because some infinitesimal portion of the internet that most people don't really agree with? Large percentages on the right, often pluralities and majorities, support pretty racist and sexist shit, and yet the people who say it are constantly minimized as "the fringe."

And they not only make the left seem stupid, they actually make the left stupid. The more the left gets sucked into the black hole of postmodernism (and related nuttiness) the more it becomes infected by irrationality and downright misology. It makes the right look almost good by comparison...

Same goes for this tripe. Give one firm example where "the left" has gone down the rabbit hole on sexism/racism/homophobia to an extent anywhere near the right. Point out all the politicians who parrot stuff like this article like the right does with Limbaugh, or the AFA and NOM, or Todd Akin. Because this seems more like the hobbyhorse of the oh-so-brave Metafilter Contrarian Chorus rather than an actual provable fact, let alone a working hypothesis.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


But what about the whole premise of Movember? Encouraging men to go to a doctor is a fine goal - with caveats. Raising money for research - great.

However, isn't the biggest part of Movember specifically raising awareness of prostate cancer? There are of course other cancers that are specific to men - such as testicular cancer - or that occur in men in greater frequency, but prostate cancer is the main one.

And that's problematic for the simple reason that there's really no consensus about the main recommendation here: men should get checked for prostate cancer. In fact, there is very, very little consensus about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment - even at the extremes. The lack of consensus is so great, that you can't even refer to specific studies without having them contradicted by seemingly equally authoritative studies. It's easy to locate papers that show unequivocally that treating aggressive PC results in lower mortality - but then there are the ones that claim otherwise, even in such cases. And those are the easy ones.

It gets much harder and worse when we come to more ambiguous cases. If you have a family history of PC, should you monitor your PSA and possibly get biopsied? It's not clear at all. What if you don't have a family history of PC, but are symptomatic? If you think yes, of course, you might want to think again.

And what if you are simply a male over 50 with no family history of PC and no symptoms - should you get tested anyway, or at least have a PSA reading taken? The latest recommendation by a dedicated task force of researchers and medical policy makers is - NO! After some years of controversy and disagreement with this recommendation, U.S. urologists have finally also agreed, under the overwhelming amount of evidence that has come to light.

Getting tested for PSA is not harmless, and biopsies carry with them very real, and often very severe risks. This is why the task force recommends against routine PSA testing.

1)There is no clear-cut evidence that prostate cancer treatments prolong or save lives - there are studies on both sides of this issue.

2)There is at present no way to tell if the prostate cancer you have will result in your dying any sooner than if you didn't have cancer. Although there is great hope we will be able to soon distinguish between aggressive and slow-growing cancer.

3)There is a lot of evidence that prostate cancer is being overtreated - cancer that would have done you no harm at all. It may even be that the vast majority of PC treatments are unnecessary.

4)PC treatment makes the quality of life worse for patients. And if the vast majority didn't need the treatment in the first place, it also means that vast numbers of people have their QOL compromised unnecessarily.

5)Even testing for PSA is bad, because a high score says little about actual PC danger (or even whether you have PC, as it could be a million things, including BPH), and a low score does not guarantee that you don't have aggressive PC. Meanwhile, a high PSA can lead to biopsies that can be quite harmful (including incontinence, and even death). And furthermore, it can lead to unneeded cancer treatments - see point 3 above.

For these and other reasons, in 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended AGAINST PSA-based screening for prostate cancer.

If you go to a physician as an asymptomatic man, and want to get tested for PC, the test you will get is the PSA. Which is recommended against.

What then is the purpose of Movember when it comes to "raising awareness of PC" and "getting men to test for PC"?

Some tests are obviously extremely valuable and they unquestionably save lives - such as colon screenings, so guy and gals, yeah, you should do it. Same for other cancers where early diagnosis and treatment have been proven to be beneficial. Prostate cancer is not one of them - at least so far.

Other goals of Movember may be fine and laudable - but the primary goal of getting the average man to screen for PC is harmful, a net negative.
posted by VikingSword at 11:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [45 favorites]



I think the suggestion there is that they shouldn't be held up as things "real men" do, because it excludes people who simply don't want to do those things and aren't hurting anyone by not doing them from that club.


Also, some people do these things because they like them, and do not like the gender normativity of it. I like wearing a beard but I do not like, at all, the fact that some people may mistake it for manliness.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I rest easy knowing that back hair is the one hair that will forever resist appropriation and corporate co-option. Then again, I also though Rush would never be cool.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would not have read VikingSword's comment but for this Movember thread. Credit to all involved!
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As oneirodynia points out, there's a sliver of nuance there that one can easily hide behind. The slogan isn't patently exclusionary and hyper-masculinist, but it definitely draws a line of what "Real Men" are and do.

No, it doesn't. It could have easily, if they had used different words.

With a good faith, nuanced, benefit of the doubt reading of the actual slogan we can interpret their choice of words to be a sign that they are trying to be inclusive. Real men is the first statement, it's a given. Now it discusses what these real men are doing. They are growing mustaches, a traditionally masculine activity. They are also going to be talking openly about serious, sensitive issues regarding men's health. This is less traditionally masculine, but has no impact on their status as real men. I think that is the literal reading, and a reasonable reading. The real men could also be watching real football, or knitting real sweaters. I don't think it's hiding to go with this reading because it seems to make the most sense for what they are trying to accomplish with this campaign, to destigmatize something seen as unmasculine rather than to enforce traditional masculine roles.

Now, on the other hand we can read it as. "Real men. Real men are people who grow real mustaches and talk openly about real, sensitive issues regarding men's health." Either through an intent to appear more PC or just poor word choice, the true meaning of the statement was obscured and in need of interpretation. They are trying to alter traditional masculinity so that talking about sensitive issues is part of it while still intending to stigmatize people without mustaches as being less real men.

This potential real meaning is offensive and misguided on many levels. It excludes out of real manhood 90% of American men who for whatever reason don't grow facial hair. So it is nakedly insulting to the people it seeks to target, to say nothing of potential cultural appropriation and transphobia and other issues that have been brought up. Why the heck would they do this? That's why I think this has to be a misreading.

I've been holding off this comment to look at Movember sites to see what they are all about. I hadn't heard about them before this year so I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing a major undercurrent with the campaign itself here that led you to reject the more literal reading. Enforcing gender norms and excluding men who do not measure up just does not appear to be what this campaign is about, from what I saw in a brief look, so I don't see a solid reason to interpret a potentially unclear slogan to suggest such a meaning.

Now yeah, there are videos like the Nick Offerman one where he scoffs at tofu and "manscaping" (as if a mustache isn't just scaping in a different spot) but the dude is a comedian and I don't know how seriously we can take that as an expression of the campaign as a whole. But yeah that stuff is undeniably there so I can definitely see where you are coming from now even though I do still disagree with your reading. Maybe there is more down that rabbit hole with this campaign but at this point I've expended as much energy as I'm willing on a slogan. :P

That said, if people are reading the slogan wrong, get rid of it or change it to be wordier so the meaning is even more clear. It's not exactly vital to the effort either way.

Anyway, that's my last post on slogans I swear this time.
-
Viking Sword, the goals seem pretty appropriately broad, at least according to this site.


Campaign Strategy & Goals:
We will get men to grow moustaches and the community to support them by creating an innovative, fun and engaging annual Movember campaign that results in:
• Funds for men's health program investment
• Conversations about men's health that lead to:
- Greater awareness and understanding of the health risks men face
- Men taking action to remain well
- When men are sick they know what to do and take action

Program Goals:
Living with and Beyond Cancer
Men living with prostate or testicular cancer have the care needed to be physically and mentally well.

Staying Mentally Healthy, Living with and Beyond Mental Illness
• Men are mentally healthy and take action to remain well
• When men experience mental illness they take action early
• Men are not treated differently when they experience a mental illness

Men's Health Research
We will fund innovative research that builds powerful, collaborative teams that accelerate:
• Improved clinical tests and treatments for prostate and testicular cancer
• Improved physical and mental health outcomes for men

posted by Drinky Die at 11:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank God its December, and my moustache is no longer racist.

Unfortunately I suspect my mustache is sort of racist all the time. Nothing obvious, he knows that I wouldn’t stand for that, but it’s just the little things that come out every once in a while. Honestly, it’s been rocky between us at times, but at this point we’ve been together a long time, and it’s sort of like a comfortable old pair of shoes. People always comment that how good we look together and are negative when I’ve talked about going on without him, and I have to admit he does make me feel manly.

Should I just ignore my mustache’s subtle racism and try to make this work or DTMA? Please don’t recommend therapy.
posted by bongo_x at 11:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Other goals of Movember may be fine and laudable - but the primary goal of getting the average man to screen for PC is harmful, a net negative.

This is so like a man - to try to turn a thread about the sexism, racism, cultural appropriation and privilege inherent in male facial hair into a positive spin about how men can stay healthy! We can hear about men's health issues anywhere in mainstream culture bro; let's keep this thread on topic!
posted by crayz at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Drinky Die, I hope that comes through for most participants, because the three guys who did mention Movember to me (latest one - at Thanksgiving!), talked about getting tested for PC and how there should be no stigma attached. I don't know how representative those are, but maybe the troops need better training.
posted by VikingSword at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2013


My friend says he doesn't know if he'd call my moustache racist, but he has seen it lock the car doors as it drove through certain parts of town.
posted by staticscreen at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


VikingSword: "Other goals of Movember may be fine and laudable - but the primary goal of getting the average man to screen for PC is harmful, a net negative."

Your comment as a whole is fantastic, but even looking at Movember United States' goals I'm not seeing "get screened for PC" listed, but rather (among other things):

• Conversations about men's health that lead to:
- Greater awareness and understanding of the health risks men face
- Men taking action to remain well
- When men are sick they know what to do and take action


Which is what is occurring here, and what your comment did exceedingly well.

I personally haven't followed PC issues close enough and I need to - my dad, uncle, and grandfather all had agressive forms. Dad and uncle are around, perhaps because they had surgery. Granddad refused surgery and it ended up in his colon. His last years were very ugly.

So from me personally, thank you.
posted by Big_B at 12:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


With a good faith, nuanced, benefit of the doubt reading of the actual slogan we can interpret their choice of words to be a sign that they are trying to be inclusive.

I agree that they were not trying to give offense, nor to be exclusionary or othering. But that does not mean that they succeeded in not giving offense, nor in not being exclusionary or othering. That is my point here: that assuming good faith is fine, but it doesn't mean you should never point out, "Hey, this thing that you're doing in good faith is still a little troubling, and here's why."

Like when people donate clothes to orphans in disadvantaged countries -- they certainly mean well and should be appreciated for doing what they think is right, but the damage done to local industry often outweighs the benefit of a kid in sub-Saharan Africa getting a San Francisco 49ers 2013 Super Bowl Champions t-shirt. It's not in bad faith or un-nuanced to point that out to them; it is in bad faith to tell the donor "You are a racist imperialist for doing this!" or for the donor to respond with "I'm just trying to do some good -- why do you insist on being offended?!?"
posted by Etrigan at 12:06 PM on December 3, 2013


VS, honestly I did not at all know about the prostate screening info you brought up, so hopefully widespread awareness and education there can really happen, from this campaign or from another source.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found the article thought-provoking but flawed, and I wish it had been written better.

As an Asian man who can't grow much facial hair (and having moved from a country where most men are similarly DNAed), I am uneasy about the Movember association between masculinity and facial hair, especially the bit about real men and real hair. It doesn't affect me personally (too much) but I know it helps to reinforce a particular stereotype of masculinity that can make some people feel segregated.
posted by kyp at 12:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've had a beard and mustache for years. Didn't realize I was an imperialist, misogynistic pig. Damn it all.
posted by damnitkage at 12:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is so like a man - to try to turn a thread about the sexism, racism, cultural appropriation and privilege inherent in male facial hair into a positive spin about how men can stay healthy! We can hear about men's health issues anywhere in mainstream culture bro; let's keep this thread on topic!

The irony here being that it wasn't the people who were concerned about cultural appropriation and privilege that began entering the Excessively Vibratory Freakout stage of the outrage cycle in this thread.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've had a beard and mustache for years. Didn't realize I was an imperialist, misogynistic pig. Damn it all.

Is it to much to ask to read the article?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:13 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


The thing is, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that the Movember people thought "aha, let's reinforce traditional masculinity and racism under the guise of working on men's health."

What they almost certainly thought was "we have to appeal to the center-right* using language that will resonate with them, and anything is justified [short of, like, kicking puppies] if it is in a good cause, and really "norms" around race and masculinity don't actually hurt anything - after all, they don't bother me!"

This is why discourse in the Anglophone world is so stupid - it starts from the standpoint that the only important audience is actually ignorant, center-right and selfish. After all, it would be totally impossible to do an ad campaign around mustaches that was purposely inclusive and anti-racist, right? You could never ever create satiric, transgressive ads which interrogated, like, the "colonialist" mustache while still supporting mustache-growing, for instance. You could never ever assume that even most of your white middle class straight cis-dude readers actually know women, or the gays, or people of color, or trans folks and so would be receptive to a campaign that isn't racist and misogynist.

*Just as politicians always talk about average US citizens as if they hate Medicaid and Social Security and are really far right, when in actuality most people moderately-to-strongly support standard liberal policies - the default assumption is that the "average" "normal" person is center right. When I was doing some more mainstream political writing, it was a big achievement not to get in a headspace of "try to convince an imaginary 'average' mainstream slightly conservative unimaginative straight white cis middle class dude who doesn't have any gay friends, women friends or friends of color'.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


my dad, uncle, and grandfather all had agressive forms. Dad and uncle are around, perhaps because they had surgery. Granddad refused surgery and it ended up in his colon. His last years were very ugly.

Yep, which is why the whole thing is so complicated and controversial. One way to look at this is - at what age did your Graddad die? Have your Dad and uncle reached that age? At what age did Grandad first have symptoms? At what age did Dad and uncle? And so forth.

The pessimistic scenario - which many researchers lean to - is that earlier treatment means just that, earlier treatment, not with the result of "longer life", and as a result, a net lowering of QOL if measured by years (because of side effects of treatment).

The good news is that there are good chances that better tests are coming to tell us which are the aggressive PC cancers, so we don't treat the slow-growing ones. What we still need desperately is better treatment of aggressive PC, so that at least we can be 100% that the treatment is in fact prolonging decent quality life.
posted by VikingSword at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2013


Is it to much to ask to read the article?

Is it too much to ask to post a well written article?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


How will someone know if it's well written if they haven't read it?
posted by troika at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they someone it, they would get to the part where mustaches on white men are racist and imperialist in the second paragraph.
posted by badstone at 12:20 PM on December 3, 2013


Is it too much to ask to post a well written article?

If it's so poorly written, then is it too much to ask the usual suspects to just ignore it instead of frothing at the mouth about Internet Feminists, or The Left Is Crazier Than the Right, or MetaFilter: Look At These Kooks With Their "Intersectionality" Bullshit?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Its not like the article is unclear because it is poorly written. Its simply that people *aren't* reading it, and wrestling with strawmen. For example, no one said having a mustache is racist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know 2 guys who survived prostate cancer in their 50s and survived because they got treatment, and one who died in his 50s because he didn't want anyone sticking anything in his butt.

FWIW a bunch of us at the office do Movember, and whether you are exceptionally hirsute or have the wispiest of moustaches you are welcome on the team. Worth noting, we do have a couple of Pakistani guys, an Algerian, and a Chinese guy on our team. It's not just for whitey contrary to what the article implies, and women can and do join the team too to help raise funds, no moustaches required (though to be fair none of them have offered to grow one).

Men are often weird about their health, and often have issues around perceived weaknesses, especially ones around their masculinity. Movember raises significant funds to support a wide variety of really good programs. It is totally meant in good faith.

I haven't seen anyone dressing up like "silly foreigners", though, at least not here in Montreal. I didn't realize that was a "thing". I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that it's nowhere near as common as this article implies. In any case, the whole question of cultural appropriation seems weird to me - most of my older male relatives had moustaches in the 70s and many still do.
posted by metameat at 12:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Its not like the article is unclear because it is poorly written. Its simply that people *aren't* reading it, and wrestling with strawmen. For example, no one said having a mustache is racist."

No, they said growing one for Movember reinforces the "othering of foreigners” ["minority-ethnic men — for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans"] "by the generally clean-shaven, white majority." So... racism.

Which again, is complete bullshit. The act of growing a mustache -- even for a cause -- is not automatically racist.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


If it's so poorly written, then is it too much to ask the usual suspects to just ignore it instead of frothing at the mouth about Internet Feminists, or The Left Is Crazier Than the Right, or MetaFilter: Look At These Kooks With Their "Intersectionality" Bullshit?

I'd be fascinated to read some examples of any of these things in this thread.
posted by downing street memo at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Frowner:
What they almost certainly thought was "we have to appeal to the center-right* using language that will resonate with them, and anything is justified [short of, like, kicking puppies] if it is in a good cause, and really "norms" around race and masculinity don't actually hurt anything - after all, they don't bother me!"
My impression was the need to appeal to the center-right was the result of the center-right being the most likely to be too "manly" to actually do things like get a necessary exam. Like all those sitcoms where the episode is spent trying to get the dad to go to the doctor. That kind of makes Movember a difficult thing to expand without it getting problematic by its nature.
posted by charred husk at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be fascinated to read some examples of any of these things in this thread.

I would not be.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013


And as long as I'm apparently derailing the thread (apologies!), may I again pimp colon cancer screenings. Please, please, please get tested - it really does save lives. I know it can be unpleasant and people try to avoid it for that reason, but do yourself a favor and get tested, even if you don't have any symptoms, but are above the age of 50 and especially if there is some family history of colon cancer. Some more info: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Screening for Colorectal Cancer.
posted by VikingSword at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


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.

Sidebar, but I'd love a socially-acceptable excuse to wear Indian clothes - their fabrics are gorgeous. Racist? Doesn't feel like it...
posted by Leon at 12:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's so poorly written, then is it too much to ask the usual suspects to just ignore it instead of frothing at the mouth about Internet Feminists, or The Left Is Crazier Than the Right, or MetaFilter: Look At These Kooks With Their "Intersectionality" Bullshit?

I'd be fascinated to read some examples of any of these things in this thread.


I’ve learned that apparently these things are in every thread, no matter how innocent seeming. You just have to know how to look.
posted by bongo_x at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]



Sidebar, but I'd love a socially-acceptable excuse to wear Indian clothes - their fabrics are gorgeous. Racist? Doesn't feel like it..


LL Bean sells Madras.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know 2 guys who survived prostate cancer in their 50s and survived because they got treatment, and one who died in his 50s because he didn't want anyone sticking anything in his butt.

Not to discount your experience, but how many guys do you know who had a harmless form of prostate cancer that went undetected and never caused problems? Or who had a potentially harmful form, but who died of other natural causes before the prostate cancer became a problem?

If everyone screened and used aggressive treatment on anything that was found, lots of people would have a worse quality of life and very few people would live any longer than if they hadn't had treatment. Until the tests or the treatments get a lot better, there's no benefit overall. It's weird to think that you might be healthier by not screening for a disease, but it seems to be the case in this and other areas. I understand some similar thinking is happening with regard to breast cancer screenings.

Thanks for bringing it up, VikingSword!
posted by echo target at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


VikingSword, I read this thread from inside the hospital waiting room, as a relative gets a colonoscopy. My dad died too young from colon cancer. Get screened, everyone! You have nothing to lose, except the contents of your bowels.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: but I'd get weird looks. I need some kind of "happening" before I can shake off the dress rules I'm bound by. (Poorly worded, but I'm sure you get what I mean).

(Also: UK-based, so I'd just go to a specialist shop, to be honest).
posted by Leon at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2013


The reason people are up in arms about this article critiques a "men's project." People are up in arms because its critiques are designed to provoke that kind of response, and some of them are flat out wrong.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leon: "I'm quite enjoying it (Except the whiskey. Foul liquid.) Are you suggesting I shouldn't be allowed to enjoy it? Or that it should be suppressed? Or... what?

Beards and straight razors?
"

No, not at all! By all means enjoy what you enjoy! Also, though, be aware of the context in which you're enjoying it and try to consider people who enjoy different things. Ascendant is this kind of romantic/rustic image of the uber-masculine man's man, and while certainly this is a lot of people's jam, it's not the only jam available to the male-identified and I think it's beneficial to keep that in mind. Movember is going to speak to a segment of the population and not speak to others, and we simply need to be wary because these kinds of sanctioned ready-made roles that Movember is piggybacking have the historical potential to do more harm than good to people who are already marginalized.
posted by Corinth at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be fascinated to read some examples of any of these things in this thread.

Would you really be fascinated or just mildly interested? Because if you're actually fascinated by all this, then maybe you need a hobby. How about growing a mustache? Either way, here's a fine example.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2013


At the considerable risk of walking smack bang into a hornet's nest, the original Movember had nothing to do with "Mens Health". It was a few guys in Adelaide in 1999 having a bit of fun with some seventies/eighties nostalgia. You can see a television report about the real origins here, complete with a completely spoofed claim that a North American "Moustache Celebration Foundation" was looking to sue. The news service fell for that hook, line, and sinker...

As can happen with such untethered events, someone somewhere (in Melbourne it seems, which will come as no surprise to South Australians) hijacked the idea and added the prostate cancer testing/research nexus, and it's all been downhill since then.
posted by pjm at 12:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corinth: To put it very crudely, I'm a-ok with anyone who wants to chest-beat about how manly [traditionally (in this culture) non-manly thing] is. And I think they should be ok with the inverse. It's simple politeness, much the same as not questioning someone's gender identity.

So I'm not sure how "context" and "wary" and "keeping in mind" are supposed to come out as changes to my behaviour? If I do all those things, what's different?

(And for what it's worth, this wave of manliness is very different from the one a couple of generations back - I'm pretty sure the current generation are not afraid to cry. Or moisturize.)
posted by Leon at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2013


Won't you join me in celebrating Pube June?

"Febpubary" has a more relaxed ring to it.

If you work for Disney, it needs to be basically non-existent.

Starting in 2012, male Cast Members in the U.S. can wear a beard or goatee up to 1/4" long.

Sidebar, but I'd love a socially-acceptable excuse to wear Indian clothes - their fabrics are gorgeous. Racist? Doesn't feel like it..

That's one advantage American women do have: a little more freedom to experiment with clothing outside our own ethnic background. I mean, Jeremy Irons rocks the Asian clothing, but we can't all do as them in Hollywood does.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does Steven Seagal still count as Hollywood?
posted by nathancaswell at 12:50 PM on December 3, 2013


I'd be fascinated to read some examples of any of these things in this thread.

This rant about "the left" is a prime example, despite having no proof that the attitude being ascribed to them was even in evidence in this thread, let alone amongst the left or even the "far left" (for whatever value that is alleged to be). Considering that 90% of the non-angry comments in this thread, many written by commentors who I've seen espouse strong feelings about feminism and leftism in general, were basically either "meh" or "there's a point here, even if it's buried deep," it seems wildly overblown.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I admit I'm not entirely sure what you're asking me, Leon. The wariness is simply to make sure that the "go see a doctor when you're sick" part takes hold and the "this is how to be a real man (with beards and straight razors and whiskey etc.)" part doesn't. The keep in mind bit is just me asking people to be aware of the shortcomings of the campaign with regards to targeting and the dangers of the campaign with regards to packaging and selling identities.
posted by Corinth at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013


...you might want to hang around in places where white folks talk about immigrants and signifiers of foreignness.

If you seriously think I might want to do such a thing, you have misjudged me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based on a scan of the 200ish posts above, we all seem to agree that the New Statesman article was silly and there's not much going on with no-shave-novemeber or whatever they're calling it now. To me, the much more interesting point is in the Feminists Unknown Blog piece--why is there so much energy generated to respond to a puff piece like this?
posted by eggkeeper at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


why is there so much energy generated to respond to a puff piece like this?

the puff piece itself only has 84 comments on it. is that really *so much* energy? what's our metric for deciding when an article has more energy than... whatever is the OK amount of energy? can you list some equivalent articles that don't?
posted by badstone at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought that Movember existed because Jack Layton (famously) had a mustache, had had prostate cancer and later died of cancer.
posted by jb at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2013


"Being offended is your problem!" is the knee-jerk excuse of hack comedians, professional provocateurs and spin-control weasels. People who actually care about other human beings don't generally resort to it.

I see rather a lot of people saying, here and in other threads, "if your privileged feefees are hurt that means you're hearing something you need to hear and you should shut up and listen instead of getting defensive." Which is indeed saying that being offended is your problem.

If it's so poorly written, then is it too much to ask the usual suspects to just ignore it

Poorly written---or more to the point, poorly thought-out---pieces posted here will get torn apart. That's how thinking happens. You're asking for people to either say something nice or don't say anything at all, and that's not how it works around here.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Corinth: Ah, ok, I thought we were talking about a cultural phenomenon (the resurgence of revivalist "real man" culture) rather than Movember alone. I'm trying to figure out, if, hypothetically, I wanted to sign up to that worldview and tell the world about it, if I would be doing something wrong.
posted by Leon at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2013


People might be commenting about it because it is a poorly thought out, insulting attack against a broad group of people trying to fight cancer. Most people have relatives who have died from various forms of the disease so it tends to be an emotional issue.

Personally, I found the article frustrating because as someone who so aggressively dislikes the MRA types I think Movember appears to be an example of doing men's issues right instead of just using them as a thin excuse to attack feminism. We really desperately need more of that to help men and to push MRAs out of the discourse for good.

Fair criticism is fair and there is always room for improvement, but that article was not fair or insightful.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mmmmmmmm. Jeremy Irons. (He needs to keep to saying the words of writers and not open his mouth otherwise, though.)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


eggkeeper:
why is there so much energy generated to respond to a puff piece like this?
The Feminists Unknown blog takes the position of, "cis-gendered white guys can't take critique." I think a larger part of the issue is that the original article isn't so much, "your movement is problematic, here is how" as "your movement is so problematic as to be worthless". And while there is some valid critique, there is enough stupidly wrong as to make the heavy final verdict feel completely unjustified and thus more rage inducing. At least for people who get mad at things on the internet.
posted by charred husk at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: people who get mad at things on the internet.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Poorly written---or more to the point, poorly thought-out---pieces posted here will get torn apart. That's how thinking happens. You're asking for people to either say something nice or don't say anything at all, and that's not how it works around here.

No, I'm saying that maybe the vitriol should be aimed at the right people, instead of straw versions of feminists and leftists. The article that got people wound up has fuck-all to do with being ascribed to feminists or the left at large, and yet that's exactly what happened. When someone posts something poorly-written and sexist and complains about the right, there's at least a large corpus of evidence pointing out that much of the people on the right are, in fact, sexist (and/or racist and/or homophobic). That article doesn't get unified nods from the allegedly rabid MetaFilter Social Justice Squad, let alone full-throated encouragement.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


My father had hi-tech robotic prostate removal at 59 for one of the small, very common, non-aggressive tumours that many doctors are saying now get 'over-diagnosed' due to PSA testing.

He wishes he hadn't panicked himself into the surgery that has left him impotent and incontinent - but I doubt the cheerful ritual of Movember would have had any bearing on his story one way or the other.

But I will add that robotically-assisted surgery of this kind for prostate cancer is very big business for companies like Intuitive Surgical, which sells the machines for upwards of 2m dollars, and each operation costs tens of thousands of pounds... possibly a typical tale of US healthcare-big business collusion in there I think...
posted by colie at 1:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"if your privileged feefees are hurt that means you're hearing something you need to hear and you should shut up and listen instead of getting defensive."

In some cases this may be true. In this particular case, if your privileged feefees are hurt by this absurdly OTT piece, then, well, you have some pretty tender feefees.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2013


On reflection, trolling for outrage (Not saying the article is doing that intentionally) is incredibly easy anywhere on the web or in real life even without going anywhere near hot button issues like cancer.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2013


On the racist thing (i.e. dressing up as an ethnicity you are not, to go with your one-month mustache) and the article-is-clickbait/trolling thing: this weekend I was in Ojai having dinner outside of a cafe, and a fire truck was making its way down the narrow street at high speed. Since it's California, people had pulled over -- most people have a brain in their head, after all -- but one of the obnoxious and probably-drunk guys hanging outside of the restaurant decided to show off to his friends by running out into the middle street just before the firetruck got there, and standing with his arms outstretched as the truck passed.

The point being: every time someone behaves like an asshat, you are being reminded that they are an asshat and you should not bother to engage with them, and that's a gift that keeps on giving.

meanwhile my year-round beard and mustache is trendy in November, so I suppose it's a bit like being a stopped clock
posted by davejay at 1:30 PM on December 3, 2013


eggkeeper: "why is there so much energy generated to respond to a puff piece like this?"

People don't like to be accused of shit they're not doing, either deliberately or inadvertently. I like Feminist Unknown, but as far as I'm concerned, my annoyance with the article isn't about male privilege. It's not about anyone's request that the project be above criticism.

It's about the NS article's author declaring that 'A+B' Must Always = D, when it pretty obviously does not.
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, really, it's a kind of lefty version of some HuffPo piece, even taking for granted that the whole idea of Movember is roughly on par with an ad for aftershave crossed with a PSA. Though, to be fair, if I hadn't read that article, then I would've missed this one: Debunking the myths: what is sex really like for ordinary people? And that, my friends, is a question I've always wondered about.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In some cases this may be true. In this particular case, if your privileged feefees are hurt by this absurdly OTT piece, then, well, you have some pretty tender feefees.

I think this is conflating "hurt fee fees" with legitimate criticism. Most people seem to be in agreement that the article is stupid. I'm only seeing a handful of posts claiming that it's personally offensive.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In some cases this may be true. In this particular case, if your privileged feefees are hurt by this absurdly OTT piece, then, well, you have some pretty tender feefees.

As I understand the theory, you don't get to tell people when their feelings of offense are legitimate or not.

See also: No True SJW would write an absurd and nonsensical article.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


eggkeeper:
why is there so much energy generated to respond to a puff piece like this?
On a bit further reflection there is also the nature of the blogosphere. If you write something kinda stupid in one of the larger blog outlets you will find fifty other bloggers tearing you down... because they need something to write about. I can tell when a major figure (or person on a larger blog) says something stupid because suddenly it will become the subject of about five different blogs I follow.
posted by charred husk at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I understand it you don't get to tell people when their feelings are legitimate.

Wrong. If those people are white men, many people feel perfectly entitled to tell them that their feelings are illegitimate.
posted by Dasein at 2:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


the word feefees makes me want to grow a giant mustache and chop down a bunch of really old trees for no reason
posted by nathancaswell at 2:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wrong. If those people are white men, many people feel perfectly entitled to tell them that their feelings are illegitimate.

You just unironically linked to a comment pointing out the frustration with white people feeling entitled to telling black people that their feelings of frustration with white people being all up in their business is illegitimate as evidence? Fucking brilliant.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


the word feefees

Yep, people using it non-ironically to talk to people who are actually talking about their real feelings is a low-level problem. However I do not think that was what was mostly happening here.
posted by jessamyn at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2013


When we agree that "feefees" can be overly tender, then the door is open for people to criticize others as being overly sensitive.

That privilege is also a crucial factor is also interesting, but it does not affect the truth-value of the proposition "I am offended", let alone of the proposition "this is offensive."

Privilege would instead go to questions of ethics and propriety: an Occupier holding a sign reading "EAT THE RICH" might offend the rich, but we would agree that this offense doesn't much matter as a slight against the rich. Contrariwise, a poor POC could tell a rich white person that all white people are ugly, and even though the power differential disfavors the poor POC, we would probably agree that that statement was needlessly offensive.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, boy! Feefees. Menz. GRAR! So fighty. Om nom nom, looksie! Meesa Jar Jar Binks and theesa how I talk.
posted by Nomyte at 2:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Y'all keep on making this assertion without ever backing it up, implying that there's some huge percentage of people out there making these craaaaaazy statements. I don't see a large number of MeFites agreeing with this, and this place is pretty far to the left.

It goes without saying that this is a legitimate question. I mean, there's no doubt that the lefty-left has far more tolerance for such "reasoning" than the right does...we can agree on that, yes? And I run into this sort of thing all the time (and on the left)...but I'm in academia, so: unrepresentative sample. I think it's *very* safe to say that such stuff is very fashionable on the lefty-left...but what does that mean? What percentage of folks there accept this orientation? I don't know, but I'd like to... As you point out, MeFi is pretty lefty, and lots of people are calling bullshit on this... Though lots of people are defending it... I mean, it's really, really stupid and wrong...so it's unsurprising that there's lots of criticism. One might argue that the surprising thing is that it's being defended at all...

Why is it that racists and sexists get a free pass for something just because some infinitesimal portion of the internet that most people don't really agree with? Large percentages on the right, often pluralities and majorities, support pretty racist and sexist shit, and yet the people who say it are constantly minimized as "the fringe."

I don't understand this at all. Who has said that racists and sexists should get a free pass? Fuck those people. The claim, rather, is that the arguments for the claim that "Movember" is racist and/or sexist are (laughably, nauseatingly, inexcusably) terrible. (Actual) racists and sexists deserve to be criticized mercilessly. But non-racist non-sexists deserve not to be called racist and sexist. Falsely accusing a non-racist of being racist is at least as wrong as not calling a racist a racist. Criticizing stupid lefty false accusations of racism and sexism is in no way inconsistent with criticizing stupid righty racism and sexism.

Same goes for this tripe. Give one firm example where "the left" has gone down the rabbit hole on sexism/racism/homophobia to an extent anywhere near the right. Point out all the politicians who parrot stuff like this article like the right does with Limbaugh, or the AFA and NOM, or Todd Akin. Because this seems more like the hobbyhorse of the oh-so-brave Metafilter Contrarian Chorus rather than an actual provable fact, let alone a working hypothesis.

Nobody anywhere said that the left was as bad as or worse than the right. Your error here is to think that this is a contest between the left and the right to see who is worst. But the right is irrelevant here. If I say something stupid, I can't defend myself by pointing out that you said something stupider. I'm afraid you've fallen into a tu quoque... I've got very little good to say about the contemporary American right. Which is one reason why I worry so much about stupidity on the left. I see--or thing I see--this kind of thing seeping into ordinary American liberalism...and since I think that ordinary American liberalism is pretty much our only hope, I'll admit I get pretty angry about anything that threatens it.

Peace, zombieflanders. For the record, I generally like your comments, FWIW. But I think you've gone wrong here.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


How will someone know if it's well written if they haven't read it?

They won't and doesn't matter, because the post follows a predictable format for stirring the pot (be it unintentional or not).

The starts off with inflammatory quotes from a poorly thought out article, then links an article with a flippant title in response to the inflammatory quotes of the poorly thought out article and ends with another link that has a fighty quote. It's a textbook case for getting people arguing, which isn't aways bad, but geese, over a mustache growing contest?

If it's so poorly written, then is it too much to ask the usual suspects to just ignore it instead of frothing at the mouth about Internet Feminists, or The Left Is Crazier Than the Right, or MetaFilter: Look At These Kooks With Their "Intersectionality" Bullshit?

Hey, enough with the othering!


Its not like the article is unclear because it is poorly written. Its simply that people *aren't* reading it, and wrestling with strawmen. For example, no one said having a mustache is racist.

If that's your take away after choosing to make this post with such an inflammatory pull quote as "Movember is divisive, gender normative, racist and ineffective against some very real health issues," then I'd suggest rethinking what you choose to post and how its framed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Marx had a rather lovely beard.
posted by Jimbob at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I understand it you don't get to tell people when their feelings are legitimate.

I wouldn't think of it. I wouldn't think of telling anyone that they couldn't wax indignant over anything they chose, either. If you're spittin' mad over a couple paragraphs by a third-string Zizek, that's your business.

the word feefees makes me want to grow a giant mustache and chop down a bunch of really old trees for no reason

What is it about the hoppitamoppita over feefees that makes you so fighty?
posted by octobersurprise at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's infantilizing. It's like telling someone to get over something by saying "put on your big boy pants."
posted by nathancaswell at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I just kind of dislike baby talk in general. Even when directed to babies.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pfft. Why should I shave on just one day a year?
posted by chillmost at 2:51 PM on December 3, 2013


Falsely accusing a non-racist of being racist is at least as wrong as not calling a racist a racist. Criticizing stupid lefty false accusations of racism and sexism is in no way inconsistent with criticizing stupid righty racism and sexism.

Again, this kind of misses the whole point of what racism and sexism actually are. They are systematic issues, not merely personal issues. Again, that they can be expressed personally (e.g. by saying racist/sexist things) does not necessarily mean that that's the end-all to all racism and sexism.

If we keep insisting that we stick to this weirdly binary and personal definition of racism/sexism, we end up never being able to talk or resolve any of the racist/sexist stuff that occurs through ignorance, systematic accumulation of biases, or institutionally engrained racism/sexism because we insist on there always being an active agent responsible for the racism/sexism out there for us to demonize. And it's weird that whenever we try to talk about systematic, cultural, or institutional racism/sexism, we always end up getting derailed by this complete straw-man. Especially since these concepts actually mean something instead of just an accusation/insult and can therefore be applied in a positive way of "how can we accept shared cultural responsibility for these issues and find solutions?"

I don't get why this idea won't sink in when people have explained this over and over again multiple times, both in the context of this thread and in the context of others.
posted by Conspire at 2:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


If this is all about systematic problems, why are they so often addressed on the internet with a "call out" that focuses on a specific individual or behavior? And once someone or some group has been called out, isn't is it perfectly predictable that those to whom a call out is addressed will focus on the specific behaviors discussed in the call out when they respond?
posted by Area Man at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It goes without saying that this is a legitimate question. I mean, there's no doubt that the lefty-left has far more tolerance for such "reasoning" than the right does...we can agree on that, yes?

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the definitions of "lefty left" and "the right" here, but then again they haven't actually been defined. You'll have to elaborate.

And I run into this sort of thing all the time (and on the left)...but I'm in academia, so: unrepresentative sample. I think it's *very* safe to say that such stuff is very fashionable on the lefty-left...but what does that mean? What percentage of folks there accept this orientation?

These are the questions I'd like answered.

I don't know, but I'd like to

Well, okay then.

As you point out, MeFi is pretty lefty, and lots of people are calling bullshit on this... Though lots of people are defending it...

"Lots" seems to be really fluid for you. The number calling bullshit far outweighs those defending the article as a whole. In fact, hardly anybody defended the article as a whole, just certain portions of it.

I mean, it's really, really stupid and wrong...so it's unsurprising that there's lots of criticism. One might argue that the surprising thing is that it's being defended at all...

Not really. Again, the article as a whole might not be quality, but IMO there are some kernels of good discussions in there.

I don't understand this at all. Who has said that racists and sexists should get a free pass? Fuck those people.

You stated that the left is "making people take charges of sexism and racism less seriously." I strenuously disagree. There are two reasons people don't take charges of sexism or racism seriously: they are actually sexist or racist, or they have people tell them that these are the people that represent feminists or the left when they know that's not true. If you don't think that this is representative of feminists, then just ignore it and move on. It's not going to get much attention. But if you point and shout "SEE, SEE, THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT" to those people, you're just fuelling the fire.

The claim, rather, is that the arguments for the claim that "Movember" is racist and/or sexist are (laughably, nauseatingly, inexcusably) terrible. (Actual) racists and sexists deserve to be criticized mercilessly. But non-racist non-sexists deserve not to be called racist and sexist. Falsely accusing a non-racist of being racist is at least as wrong as not calling a racist a racist. Criticizing stupid lefty false accusations of racism and sexism is in no way inconsistent with criticizing stupid righty racism and sexism.

If you actually believe this then criticize the people making the argument. The idea that this must incessantly be blamed on a nebulous "left" or "feminists" is absurd. It's not even shorthand for anything, it's just lazy rhetorical nonsense that serves no purpose other than to burnish one's credentials as being "edgy." I have no idea what motivates you guys to do so, but I'd like to believe it's not out of spite.

Nobody anywhere said that the left was as bad as or worse than the right.

From your post: "It makes the right look almost good by comparison..."

Your error here is to think that this is a contest between the left and the right to see who is worst. But the right is irrelevant here. If I say something stupid, I can't defend myself by pointing out that you said something stupider. I'm afraid you've fallen into a tu quoque...

The constant comparisons with the right seem to say otherwise, but whatever.

I've got very little good to say about the contemporary American right. Which is one reason why I worry so much about stupidity on the left. I see--or thing I see--this kind of thing seeping into ordinary American liberalism...and since I think that ordinary American liberalism is pretty much our only hope, I'll admit I get pretty angry about anything that threatens it.

Ah, finally, an area where I can see our divergence. You think you see this kind of thing seeping into ordinary American liberalism. But there's no proof. The contemporary American right is content to entertain fantasies like birtherism or legitimate rape or the New Black Panthers working with ACORN to steal the election, and do so from the average Joe and Jane all the way up to people running for the highest offices in the land. If I saw Rachel Maddow or Nancy Pelosi telling Wolf Blitzer for five years straight that she thought that men who don't wear condoms are sluts, or that women who don't beat up men on a regular basis aren't real feminists, and this was getting significant support in polling of Democrats, maybe I'd be worried too. But I don't, and so I'm not concerned that liberalism is being threatened by anything like that. What I am worried is that some on the left engage in what looks like concern trolling over something that would otherwise be invisible without them making a big deal, and that they're willing to denigrate others that don't strongly condemn it. It's a snake eating it's own tail thing, and perhaps backing off on it a little would be healthier for everybody concerned.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Again, this kind of misses the whole point of what racism and sexism actually are. They are systematic issues, not merely personal issues.

Well, it simply isn't true that racism and sexism are purely or fundamentally or essentially systematic issues. Racism and sexism are, fundamentally, issues about personal attitudes. If enough people hold those attitudes, then they can become institutionalized/systematic.

Again, that they can be expressed personally (e.g. by saying racist/sexist things) does not necessarily mean that that's the end-all to all racism and sexism.

Sorry, not sure what that means.

If we keep insisting that we stick to this weirdly binary and personal definition of racism/sexism, we end up never being able to talk or resolve any of the racist/sexist stuff that occurs through ignorance, systematic accumulation of biases, or institutionally engrained racism/sexism because we insist on there always being an active agent responsible for the racism/sexism out there for us to demonize. And it's weird that whenever we try to talk about systematic, cultural, or institutional racism/sexism, we always end up getting derailed by this complete straw-man. Especially since these concepts actually mean something instead of just an accusation/insult and can therefore be applied in a positive way of "how can we accept shared cultural responsibility for these issues and find solutions?"

Also not at all true. Racism and sexism simply are personal attitudes in their fundamental form--though, weirdly, some have begun pushing to deny this. But that's what the English terms mean. Recognizing this fact does nothing to in any way impede the recognition that new things happen when enough people are racist, and institutionalize those (personal) beliefs and values. Nobody's "derailing" anything. We can talk about the institutional manifestations of racism and sexism all day long if you like--those of us who recognize what the words mean can easily talk about how they manifest themselves when institutionalized. However, those of you who (if I'm reading you correctly) insist on incorrectly insisting that racism and sexism are inherently institutional/systematic can't talk about individual racism or sexism, since it makes no sense/doesn't exist according to your view.

I don't get why this idea won't sink in when people have explained this over and over again multiple times, both in the context of this thread and in the context of others.

Well, if by "it won't sink in" you mean that people won't accept it: it won't sink in because it's false. If by "it won't sink in" you mean: people don't understand it--well, no, people understand it fine, but recognize that it's false.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, if by "it won't sink in" you mean that people won't accept it: it won't sink in because it's false. If by "it won't sink in" you mean: people don't understand it--well, no, people understand it fine, but recognize that it's false.

"If you'd just agree with me and stop disagreeing with me we'd argue a lot less and we could get on with doing what I think we should do"
posted by Sebmojo at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's a fair summary.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


That sounds like a massively incorrect reading of what Conspire was saying, which reads to me as we can't just discuss them as personal issues.

FWIW, for me it may come across better as positing that racism and sexism can be both personal and institutional, but the effects are always based on the institutional. In other words, one person can think that minorities or women are inferior, but it isn't until there's a power imbalance and something actually ensures that minorities and woman don't have the same status or opportunities that it becomes a weapon. This can be personal, but in a society, this needs the structure of an group (institution) to have any force.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:23 PM on December 3, 2013


For some actual criticism of the piece itself, here are some places it founders:
Friends and family are, apparently, only willing to part with money to witness something odd, humorous or downright unpleasant.
This is the poisoned tree that the New Statesman is trying to make bear fruit. But this is absolutely and categorically not true. Just look at the success, as referenced above, of walkathons - not particularly odd, not particularly humorous, and not that unpleasant. It is simply an activity that can be visibly noted and tracked, that happens to be cause for sponsorships.

Likewise, the claims of imperialism are based on what seems only two actual factual points: that in WWI, British officers were ordered to grow moustaches, and that Victorian men often wore them. That says nothing about moustaches before or after. It is a thin, thin point that props up a thin, thin article.
posted by corb at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Next year I'm growing out my pubes for Novemerkin for genital cancer awareness
posted by Renoroc at 4:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


NEXT YEAR I'M GROWING OUT MY RAM'S HORNS, BUT JUST AS A SATYR
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm kind of running out of steam on this issue, but I'll hit some of the high points, because I know you care what I think...

"Lots" seems to be really fluid for you. The number calling bullshit far outweighs those defending the article as a whole. In fact, hardly anybody defended the article as a whole, just certain portions of it.

'Lots' is vague. That's why I used 'lots' and not, say, 57.4%. As for it being fluid...is that a problem?... I think 1% Scientologists in the population would be a lot of Scientologists... But a 1% survival rate for a disease is really low... As I said, given how awful the post is, I'd say that it's surprising how many people here are defending it. I'm not sure what the point of asking me to be more precise than that is. I'd just expect pretty much universal condemnation of such a crappy article.

...IMO there are some kernels of good discussions in there.

It's kind of hard to write something that's 100% false. Perhaps we're not disagreeing much. If you just mean that the author occasionally hit on something worth discussing, well, I'm not sure I meant that there's absolutely nothing even worthy of discussion there. But that's a pretty low bar.

You stated that the left is "making people take charges of sexism and racism less seriously." I strenuously disagree. There are two reasons people don't take charges of sexism or racism seriously: they are actually sexist or racist, or they have people tell them that these are the people that represent feminists or the left when they know that's not true. If you don't think that this is representative of feminists, then just ignore it and move on. It's not going to get much attention. But if you point and shout "SEE, SEE, THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT" to those people, you're just fuelling the fire.

No way. There's at least one other reason that people take accusations of racism and sexism less seriously, and it's the one I noted: that those accusations are thrown around fairly indiscriminately. And the people who do that are largely on the (fairly far) left. As we see in the very post in question.

Also, you don't get to insist that people ignore false accusations and move on. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that they are bogus and moving on.

If you actually believe this then criticize the people making the argument. The idea that this must incessantly be blamed on a nebulous "left" or "feminists" is absurd. It's not even shorthand for anything, it's just lazy rhetorical nonsense that serves no purpose other than to burnish one's credentials as being "edgy." I have no idea what motivates you guys to do so, but I'd like to believe it's not out of spite.

I did criticize the person making the argument--that was the point of the comment--but I also noted that this sort of approach had become common on the far-ish left. What motivates "guys like me" is calling bullshit bullshit. The same thing I do with the right. So perhaps we can at least agree that the author in question was wrong in the ways that I indicated. And surely we can agree that the same approach is far from unheard-of on the left. Then we'd only be disagreeing about how common it is. My view is: common enough to be notable. I'd be very, very happy to be proven wrong about that...though the burden of proof is clearly with me, not with you.

From your post: "It makes the right look almost good by comparison..."

Right. That does not mean, contrary to your suggestion, that the left is worse than the right.

Ah, finally, an area where I can see our divergence. You think you see this kind of thing seeping into ordinary American liberalism. But there's no proof.

It seems to me that you are asking for a kind of proof normally not demanded in discussions like this one. I absolutely agree that, as stated, it's an unproved assertion. It does amaze me, however, that anyone could attend to the kind of things MeFi attends to without having noticed that the left tends toward certain styles of argumentation, and that the piece in the OP is far from unrepresentative of those styles... But all I do here is register my surprise. I'm not sure how I'd go about supporting the claim to your satisfaction.

The contemporary American right is content to entertain fantasies like birtherism or legitimate rape or the New Black Panthers working with ACORN to steal the election, and do so from the average Joe and Jane all the way up to people running for the highest offices in the land.

Did you get the impression that I would disagree with this in any way?

I'm not sure what the rest means, but I'd be really happy to find some common ground here, if possible.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


That sounds like a massively incorrect reading of what Conspire was saying, which reads to me as we can't just discuss them as personal issues.

That's very clearly not what Conspire said.

And nothing I said in any way entailed or suggested that they were personal issues and only personal issues.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Lots' is vague. That's why I used 'lots' and not, say, 57.4%. As for it being fluid...is that a problem?... I think 1% Scientologists in the population would be a lot of Scientologists... But a 1% survival rate for a disease is really low... As I said, given how awful the post is, I'd say that it's surprising how many people here are defending it. I'm not sure what the point of asking me to be more precise than that is. I'd just expect pretty much universal condemnation of such a crappy article.

Not asking for precision, just a little differentiation.

It's kind of hard to write something that's 100% false. Perhaps we're not disagreeing much. If you just mean that the author occasionally hit on something worth discussing, well, I'm not sure I meant that there's absolutely nothing even worthy of discussion there. But that's a pretty low bar.

Agreed.

No way. There's at least one other reason that people take accusations of racism and sexism less seriously, and it's the one I noted: that those accusations are thrown around fairly indiscriminately. And the people who do that are largely on the (fairly far) left. As we see in the very post in question.

Again, I disagree. Much of what is called racism and sexism is, in fact, racism and sexism. An article here and there and the occasional random Tumblr post doesn't change that.

Also, you don't get to insist that people ignore false accusations and move on. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that they are bogus and moving on.

This is more or less what I meant. But posting multi-paragraph polemics about it and linking it with leftists in general is not that (to me, at least).

I did criticize the person making the argument--that was the point of the comment--but I also noted that this sort of approach had become common on the far-ish left.

I can't see the basis for that, but it's clear we're not coming to an agreement on that, so I guess bygones.

What motivates "guys like me" is calling bullshit bullshit. The same thing I do with the right. So perhaps we can at least agree that the author in question was wrong in the ways that I indicated. And surely we can agree that the same approach is far from unheard-of on the left. Then we'd only be disagreeing about how common it is. My view is: common enough to be notable. I'd be very, very happy to be proven wrong about that...though the burden of proof is clearly with me, not with you.

Agreed on pretty much all of that, and you're right that I don't think it's common enough to be notable and you do, but as you point out that's a personal thing.

That does not mean, contrary to your suggestion, that the left is worse than the right.

This sounds like a misunderstanding, sorry.

It seems to me that you are asking for a kind of proof normally not demanded in discussions like this one.

More like I personally didn't see any proof, but since it's clear that we don't see eye-to-eye on this, so I don't feel like it's meant to be a demand.

I absolutely agree that, as stated, it's an unproved assertion. It does amaze me, however, that anyone could attend to the kind of things MeFi attends to without having noticed that the left tends toward certain styles of argumentation, and that the piece in the OP is far from unrepresentative of those styles... But all I do here is register my surprise. I'm not sure how I'd go about supporting the claim to your satisfaction.

No need, I think this is just another set of bygones territory for you and me.

Did you get the impression that I would disagree with this in any way?

No, I didn't think you'd disagree, it was more explanation of my point of view.

I'm not sure what the rest means, but I'd be really happy to find some common ground here, if possible.

After reading your points I think we have, actually! That's gotta be worth something, nu?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:42 PM on December 3, 2013


That's very clearly not what Conspire said.

Well, only they can say for sure, but that's best hashed out between you two.

And nothing I said in any way entailed or suggested that they were personal issues and only personal issues.

Sorry, I meant that it sounded like the point is that racism and sexism can be personal, but Conspire was dealing more with the operations of racism and sexism, rather than the motivations. Hopefully that comes across better.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:46 PM on December 3, 2013


If we keep insisting that we stick to this weirdly binary and personal definition of racism/sexism, we end up never being able to talk or resolve any of the racist/sexist stuff ...

The other side of this, is if you agree -isms/-archies pervade our culture after a while it just gets tiring being forced to play Where's Waldo with every single nook and cranny. We mostly all agree, but some of us also think sometimes a cigar is mostly just a cigar. Or at least need space to enjoy a cigar without being lectured about all the patriarchal symbolism, all the god damn time.

I think a lot of the answer to "why are people so angry" (and I'd say "fed up" is a better term) is this article is just sort of a helpful punching bag epitome of the kind of Buzz Killington who starts talking about the phallonormative imagery embedded in our industrioconsumerist artifacts every time you'd just like to sit down and enjoy a smoke and relax.

tl;dr. You're not wrong, Walter ...
posted by crayz at 4:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And that's problematic for the simple reason that there's really no consensus about the main recommendation here

I was hoping someone would bring that up, thanks VS. That - and general issues with the pink-ribbonification of stuff is enough to have an arguable objection to Movember.
posted by smoke at 4:56 PM on December 3, 2013


Does Steven Seagal still count as Hollywood?

Steven Seagal is, as he ever was and ever shall be, his own thing. One may as well compare apples and other things that are not apples.

Also, I just kind of dislike baby talk in general. Even when directed to babies.

OMG, yes. For example, when did it become OK for grown adults to use the word "yummy?" In public, no less? Sets my teeth right on edge.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG, yes. For example, when did it become OK for grown adults to use the word "yummy?" In public, no less? Sets my teeth right on edge.

Nigella Lawson.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Women have been using baby talk and otherwise creating child-like personas for a very long time. It's an example of systemic sexism that society forces women into these performances. It's an example of individual sexism when I deride women's use of baby talk and other means of infantilizing themselves.
posted by Nomyte at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG, yes. For example, when did it become OK for grown adults to use the word "yummy?" In public, no less? Sets my teeth right on edge.

Nigella Lawson.


Not really relevant, everything Nigella does is perfect. The same rules don’t apply to the rest of us.
(although I wouldn’t tolerate baby talk, even from her).
posted by bongo_x at 5:50 PM on December 3, 2013


the pinkification of the NFL

wut
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:05 PM on December 3, 2013


I thought the facial-hair-is-racist thing was a Cryptonomicon subplot.
posted by Evilspork at 6:57 PM on December 3, 2013


Shallow, dumb pseudo-cause vs. shallow, dumb pseudo-criticism

FIGHT!
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


when did it become OK for grown adults to use the word "yummy?"

What about "om nom nom"? In or out?

Nigella Lawson.

LEAVE NIGELLA ALONE!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leave Nigella alone with me and the Pacific Rim DVD.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:26 PM on December 3, 2013


And something to cut lines on.
posted by planetesimal at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2013


This was worth five bucks.
posted by Chitownfats at 8:07 PM on December 3, 2013


So what you guys are saying here is, the Feminists Unknown piece was right.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:50 PM on December 3, 2013


We mostly all agree, but some of us also think sometimes a cigar is mostly just a cigar. Or at least need space to enjoy a cigar without being lectured about all the patriarchal symbolism, all the god damn time.

I think a lot of the answer to "why are people so angry" (and I'd say "fed up" is a better term) is this article is just sort of a helpful punching bag epitome of the kind of Buzz Killington who starts talking about the phallonormative imagery embedded in our industrioconsumerist artifacts every time you'd just like to sit down and enjoy a smoke and relax.


Really though, I think that was the point of the Feminists Unknown piece, to some extent. Wanting to ignore questionable realities doesn't make them go away. You don't want to think about sweatshops, you don't have to, while you use your sweatshop-produced goods. But not thinking about it at all because you want to enjoy the new pair of pants you just bought without feeling guilty... ? The point is that people who deal with these issues a lot reach a degree of comfort in-between (they have to deal with the fact that not everything they do is 100% ideologically pure) and it seems like a lot of people are angry they even have to think about the possibility that there are racist overtones in this weird mustache growing holiday thing. Which does, imo, focus in a pretty obvious way on a predominantly white hipster (so usually middle-class) demo. Does that mean no one should do it? That no good has come of it? No, but it also doesn't meant that just goes away because you don't really want to bother with it. And the point isn't whether it bothers you (rhetorical "you") as a white hipster middle-class dude or whatever, it's whether it bothers someone else, and whether you think that's a serious or good enough reason to change strategies or not.

I don't know if there's anything "libtarded" about it, or why people get so angry that some people might want to interrogate this stuff, just because they don't really feel like it at the time. Do I totally agree with the original piece-- no, not at all, but my response to it also is not anger and I don't really get it. Why angry? Why not just listen. The people I really admire are the ones who can listen and both disagree and also address the substance of the matter at the same time, instead of taking the cowardly way out.

People just want to get SO MAD that someone called them racist. It's just as bad as any potential libtarded self-righteous posturing imo.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:00 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look how complicated the words you just typed are.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:29 AM on December 4, 2013


People want to get mad that someone called them a racist because being a racist is one of the worst things you can be without the possibility of jail time. It is not a big mystery why this is upsetting, or should not be.
posted by corb at 4:56 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


when did it become OK for grown adults to use the word "yummy?"

What about "om nom nom"? In or out?


Well, "om nom nom" is more of an obvious, fun parody of a specific character, innit? People are throwing around "yummy" unironically, like it's just a regular, everyday word full-grown people use with each other as a matter of course.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:05 AM on December 4, 2013


Good point, sebmojo - I think there's a big difference between examining one's own behavior and deciding, "I don't think this is racist/sexist," or even, "This is racist/sexist, but I don't care enough to stop;" and getting so mad at the mere suggestion that one refuses to even honestly examine the behavior in the first place.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:09 AM on December 4, 2013


Do I totally agree with the original piece-- no, not at all, but my response to it also is not anger and I don't really get it. Why angry? Why not just listen.

Why listen when the original piece dumps a lot of baggage on a certain group, the Feminists Unknown article infantilizes and condescends and now you're here to say people's reactions are all wrong about an article you don't even agree with?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 AM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


stoneandstar: and it seems like a lot of people are angry they even have to think about the possibility that there are racist overtones in this weird mustache growing holiday thing

I don't see anyone angry about that. I see some anger from people when, having rejected a fairly stupid argument, they are told they only think that way because of their privilege.
posted by spaltavian at 5:53 AM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I appreciate the people who calmly said, this sucks and here's why. It's a lot more tiring to hear just the first part over and over. Make your point, and if you hate the links so much, move on.
posted by agregoli at 5:58 AM on December 4, 2013


Which does, imo, focus in a pretty obvious way on a predominantly white hipster (so usually middle-class) demo.

So hipster is relative and contextual (In NYC or Portland I am not a hipster; put me in America and I'm an enormous hipster.) but I do not think Movember has the hipster nature in any way.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:00 AM on December 4, 2013


Why angry?

Presumably for the same reason a woman might take offense at someone's suggestion that not shaving her legs means she's a lesbian, or more to the point, that her wish to shave her legs makes her a tool of the patriarchy. In both cases a private matter of grooming gets turned into an implied index of personal virtue or vice.

There's nothing racist about merely growing facial hair; there's nothing that makes the facially hirsute even complicit in some kind of structural racism. Now if you're using your mustache as a prop in your Frito Bandito or Fu Manchu impressions, or if you believe that it marks you as some kind of soi-disant worker-in-the-soil, we can have a talk, but simply growing a mustache has no more political content than growing or cutting one's fingernails. Nor should it, because if it does, then every bodily function must have a similar content and that way lies madness.

Personally, I don't have a lot of interest in Movember, growing facial hair, or performing traditional roles of masculinity, so I'm not even offended, much less angry. But I'm not surprised that some dudes might be genuinely irked by the suggestion that simply letting their bodies do what bodies do makes them complicit in something very unpleasant (apart from whatever fraction just wants to seize on the outrage to say "SEE! FEMINISISM!")
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 AM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


People just want to get SO MAD that someone called them racist. It's just as bad as any potential libtarded self-righteous posturing imo.

Er, being mad that someone called you a racist for allowing body hair to grow is just as bad as calling someone a racist for letting their body hair grow? That seems like a false equivalence.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:51 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's nothing racist about merely growing facial hair; there's nothing that makes the facially hirsute even complicit in some kind of structural racism.

And as far as I can tell, everyone, including everyone commenting here and everyone linked to in the FPP, agrees with this.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Stop using the word libtard, please.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Part of what's so frustrating about the Feminists Unknown piece, and the comments here defending it, is that there's an underlying assumption that accusations of racism directed at someone or something (particularly something that people thing could do quite a bit of good) is a no-harm-done bit of beanplating. If you're called a racist, you should either change immediately as the call-out-er is demanding, or shrug and move on. That makes sense if you think of racism as just an interesting thing to talk about in seminar, or an ongoing structural condition like the weather. If you actually care about changing racist behavior, being accused of it is going to prompt some serious soul-searching and a fair amount of personal concern. And to be provoked into that anxiety and self-interrogation on specious grounds is angering.

It's like having someone run into your room and shot "FIRE!" and when you race outside and discover there was never a fire, they reply "If you had more personal experience with fire, you'd be more grateful that I'm helping you test your fire preparedness."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:00 AM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


[Stop using the word libtard, please.]

Liberally challenged?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 AM on December 4, 2013


everyone linked to in the FPP, agrees with this.

I think this is the passage referred to:
With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instanceKurds, 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. What is the difference here? We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers' generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:17 AM on December 4, 2013


And as that passage clearly states--the author believes there is something problematic with growing a mustache as part of a requirement for a charity event, not with growing or wearing a mustache qua wearing a mustache. Couldn't be clearer, really.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:33 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And as far as I can tell, everyone ... agrees with this.

That isn't as clearly evident to me, but let's say that it's so. What's the point of all this, then? That Movember is a wacky faux-holiday that is wildly overrated when it comes to providing actual, concrete benefits to men? Well, yeah, probably. That some dudes like to use it as an opportunity to play Manly MacManlypants for a month? Probably. Worth an eyeroll or two, but nothing wrong with it, necessarily. It certainly doesn't come as a surprise. The Feminists Unknown blog makes about the same point I made, that dudes don't like body-policing, just like women don't. And that's true, but also a pretty obvious observation to anyone who's given the topic much thought at all. So ... what?

I think the source of much of the sound and fury is that once we've agreed that no one's being called a racist here, then not much else is being said. I suppose a pretty good story could be written about why dudes like to participate in Movember and how it may or may not valorize particular models of masculinity and what said dudes think of all that, but none of the pieces linked are anything like that story.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: And as that passage clearly states--the author believes there is something problematic with growing a mustache as part of a requirement for a charity event,

But that in of itself is just as problematic. Unless there is some sort of specifically racist content to growing facial hair, (and I can't think of one except shaving a swastika into one's beard), warning us to examine our true reasons for growing it are insulting. Presumably, we're left with some okay reasons to grow facial hair (perhaps if it's our "culture"), but there are questionable ones now. Like for charity? Because not everyone grows facial hair? Are you serious?

It's the equivalent of throwing on "Just sayin'" after an inflammatory comment. No, they're not just " interrogating", they are making a point but they want the accusation to be nebulous. Because then everyone gets to play the "why so defensive?" game.

No one likes being given tests to have to pass from on high; this is something under- privileged groups have to deal with- why would you want to legitimize those modes of thinking by employing them?

If the point is to "start a conversation", the way to do it is not to start throwing innocent things into jeopardy and then haughtily suggest we think on our sins. The way to do it is to talk about the mountains of actual injustice and privilege in the world.
posted by spaltavian at 7:59 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


the author believes there is something problematic with growing a mustache as part of a requirement for a charity event

Is there something problematic with growing a mustache as part of a requirement for a charity event?

Because if there is, what about St Baldrick's? If mustaches are problematic for their "imperial connotations" and their "cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups," then how much more so are headshavings with their skinhead connotations and the cultural valence they had for members of the Manson family?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"And as that passage clearly states--the author believes there is something problematic with growing a mustache as part of a requirement for a charity event, not with growing or wearing a mustache qua wearing a mustache. Couldn't be clearer, really."

Right, and that's poorly supported there — the comparison to dreadlocks is particularly specious — and carries with it the implication that supporting Movember is implicitly racist.

So, yes, couldn't be clearer, but still dumb and insulting. It's like arguing that recommending Super Mario Brothers is racist. Or that white Americans dressing up as Sailor Moon is racist because it encourages a stereotype of Japanese women.

We can, as suggested upthread by the defenders of this bloviation, interrogate this criticism and yet find it wanting as an argument.

There are ways that Movember could be more inclusive of trans men, sure. But even that in the original argument isn't used as a "Hey, this is something to think about, let's make Movember better," it's used as evidence that Movember is irredeemably terrible.

I tend to think that Movember is kinda incoherent bullshit based in a weird reification of gender performance, but the New Statesmen article is an insultingly broad treatment made with perhaps one good point to every four weak arguments. And casting all pushback to it as "anger" and "privilege" instead of recognizing that in this case the piece is largely weak sauce is just as obnoxious as castigating feminist pushback as "angry" or "crazy."

That's the weakness of the FeministsUnknown piece — it cherry picks and hyperbolizes in a way that's unfair to the actual statements. Calling the New Statesman piece "stupid" isn't particularly angry, nor is the quote about being a lefty and realizing that things like that make lefties look ridiculous. You could argue that assertion, about whether it's legitimately representative of lefties, but it's not particularly angry. Instead, she's got one legit angered statement and a bunch of snarky dismissals and is coding it all as "angry." That's dumb or disingenuous.

She has more mixed feelings on Movember and the piece, but that doesn't mean that her central argument, that this is getting an angry reaction because it's interrogating a men's project while attacking feminism that way is fair game, is valid, nor is the broader framing of saying that because feminism (or whatever else) can legitimately be interrogated or criticized from an intersectionality perspective, that this must then be legitimate criticism worth taking seriously. Even she acknowledges that while there are a few interesting points, most of it's covered in dross. That there's corn in the shit doesn't mean it's out of line to complain about the shit more than praise the corn.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


"So, yes, couldn't be clearer, but still dumb and insulting. It's like arguing that recommending Super Mario Brothers is racist. Or that white Americans dressing up as Sailor Moon is racist because it encourages a stereotype of Japanese women."

To elaborate, those acts may be racist in the particulars, but they are not categorically racist, which is the implication of calling out Movember as racist.
posted by klangklangston at 8:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Part of what's so frustrating about the Feminists Unknown piece, and the comments here defending it, is that there's an underlying assumption that accusations of racism directed at someone or something (particularly something that people thing could do quite a bit of good) is a no-harm-done bit of beanplating. If you're called a racist, you should either change immediately as the call-out-er is demanding, or shrug and move on. That makes sense if you think of racism as just an interesting thing to talk about in seminar, or an ongoing structural condition like the weather. If you actually care about changing racist behavior, being accused of it is going to prompt some serious soul-searching and a fair amount of personal concern. And to be provoked into that anxiety and self-interrogation on specious grounds is angering.

Here's the thing that seems to be missed in these interactions between the social justice community and the mainstream: in SJ communities, conversations proceed from a place where it's assumed that most people, particularly those in positions of social power, hold offensive beliefs, either wittingly or unwittingly, and this often includes those who are participating in the discussion. Acknowledging the ways in which one benefits from privilege and the mistakes one has made is an important part of the conversation, and there are few people within the social justice community who belief that their behavior is completely unmarked never "--ist." Hell, I'm about as liberal feminist as they come and had a childhood where I voluntarily dressed up as an "Indian princess" for Halloween. You acknowledge these things so you can act with greater awareness in the future, but in a way you're never "safe" from being called out because we are all human and make mistakes.

And again, and I've said it before in these threads, it's a function of privilege to assume that the purpose of this conversation is primarily to change the behavior of people perceived as, say, racist, transphobic, or sexist--it assumes that the cornerstone of every conversation is the person at the pinnacle of privilege. Discussing these behaviors is just as often not about the people enacting these behaviors but rather acknowledging what one sees as injustice within one's world, community building among other minorities, and solidarity.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


And again, and I've said it before in these threads, it's a function of privilege to assume that the purpose of this conversation is primarily to change the behavior of people perceived as, say, racist, transphobic, or sexist--it assumes that the cornerstone of every conversation is the person at the pinnacle of privilege

No, it assumes the cornerstone is to improve lives. It's weird how dismissive modern social justice communities can be about first-wave feminism and the Civil Rights movement, (and the labor movement, for that matter) when the focus was to actually do stuff. This is part and parcel with social justice being hijacked by academia.
posted by spaltavian at 9:11 AM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, it assumes the cornerstone is to improve lives. It's weird how dismissive modern social justice communities can be about first-wave feminism and the Civil Rights movement, (and the labor movement, for that matter) when the focus was to actually do stuff. This is part and parcel with social justice being hijacked by academia.

For what it's worth, in my experience most of the young people who are very active in the modern social justice world are not part of academia (in fact, many are young women of color who have found themselves as odds with the academic community because of the inherent racism and classism of the Ivory Tower, which is part of why they take to online spaces to discuss media and the world at large.)

And community building and finding solidarity is a way to improve lives.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:16 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


And community building and finding solidarity is a way to improve lives.

Only when "community building" means organize.
posted by spaltavian at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only when "community building" means organize.

Why? No, seriously. If the lives of these minorities is improved by open discussion of the issues they've faced and noticed in our society, I don't think it's right to dismiss that. And of course, their perspective on the likelihood of any real change occurring might be significantly different from a man's perspective, or a white woman's, or a cis woman's. First-wave feminist suffragettes in America were largely wealthy women who had both the time and the income to advocate for change--and often ignored the needs of poor populations and black women. "Organization" isn't always an option, or even a comfort, when you've been largely ignored even by activist populations.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the lives of these minorities is improved by open discussion of the issues they've faced and noticed in our society, I don't think it's right to dismiss that.

Only if it's improved. If the result of the discussion is to empower forces that enact change, it will improve lives. If the result of this discussion is a realization that life is shittier than previously realized, you will have actually made people's lives worse, not better.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:04 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "I tend to think that Movember is kinda incoherent bullshit based in a weird reification of gender performance"

This is the phrase I was grasping for when I was writing my comments yesterday.
posted by Corinth at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2013


If the result of the discussion is to empower forces that enact change, it will improve lives. If the result of this discussion is a realization that life is shittier than previously realized, you will have actually made people's lives worse, not better.

If people have found others with whom they can share their struggles, then it seems worth it to me. Again, "enacting change" ignores smaller, individual life improvements that may come about through non-organizational community building.

In other words, whose lives are we talking about, and who is to decide what's valuable? If the SJ community is valuable to those who are in it, then it seems weird for people who aren't even members of that community to criticize that. Unless they're nervous about relinquishing privilege, which was kind of the point of the whole Feminist Unknown blog.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:26 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Should we treat the New Statesman as some sort of private publication for the SJ movement? I don't know much about the publication, but the article seemed to be directed to a general audience.
posted by Area Man at 11:41 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the SJ community is valuable to those who are in it, then it seems weird for people who aren't even members of that community to criticize that. Unless they're nervous about relinquishing privilege, which was kind of the point of the whole Feminist Unknown blog.

Again, you're doing that "If you don't like this argument, the only explanation is that you're a greedy privliegehead." Which is a crappy way to argue.

I am saying that this approach is making people's lives worse, not better. Lots of people had previously seen Movember posts and thought "Hunh, that's cool, more men should get tested for prostate cancer." But anyone who takes this article seriously will henceforth look at Movember posts and think "Agh, racism!" even though the posts have not changed in any way. So you've encouraged people to be more angry, to feel more shitty, and to become offended where they hadn't been, without offering any constructive route towards improvement.

If your goal is the improving of people's lives, you should reconsider tactics that fail to accomplish that. If your goal is making people feel shitty with no hope of changing that, then your approach is doing that quite well. So maybe the refusal to reconsider these tactics is a sign that making people feel shitty is your real goal?

Do you not like it when that argument is made? Then perhaps you should consider extending to people the same good faith that you want extended to yourself.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:41 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I know you think you’re doing something good, but you’re not, and here’s why you’re still a bad person" is a very popular trick lately for fulfilling writing assignments. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.
posted by bongo_x at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Again, you're doing that "If you don't like this argument, the only explanation is that you're a greedy privliegehead." Which is a crappy way to argue.

No, actually, I'm not. Saying I am is pretty crappy, though.

I'm trying to explain the function of these conversations within the social justice community, which is not, actually, focused on the reaction of white cis men but often approaches even feminism from an intersectional stand-point. And again, within these intersectional conversations, calling out privilege, racism, sexism, and transphobia are a normal part of the dialogue--the community operates from the stand-point that all of us do shitty things sometimes, but that the way to move on through it is through acknowledgement and listening. Even for people within that community.

I'm saying that the goals of this community have little to do with the feelings of straight white cis guys, shitty or not. The goals are for people within these communities to connect by discussing their lives and the injustices they see in the world. Maybe these discussions will spur them to enact broader change; maybe it will just be a comfort for them to connect over these issues. I'm not going to police these conversations, though, whether or not they make me feel "shitty" (and, being a cis white woman in a heteronormative relationship, I sure as hell have made mistakes, said and done racist and transphobic things. And I benefit from my class and race and sexuality anyway--I'm participating in racist and transphobic institutions just by existing, so there's always room for listening to other people's experiences and feelings) I'm learning, but it's always a process. And my feelings about having made mistakes and missteps are far less important here.

Should we treat the New Statesman as some sort of private publication for the SJ movement? I don't know much about the publication, but the article seemed to be directed to a general audience.

I was quoting someone talking about the Feminist Unknown blog, which seems to be addressing a SJ-aware audience.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, actually, I'm not.

If the SJ community is valuable to those who are in it, then it seems weird for people who aren't even members of that community to criticize that. Unless they're nervous about relinquishing privilege, which was kind of the point of the whole Feminist Unknown blog.

Can you really come up with no other possibilities for why someone might offer a criticism?
posted by Drinky Die at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


First-wave feminist suffragettes in America were largely wealthy women who had both the time and the income to advocate for change--and often ignored the needs of poor populations and black women.

But they were ultimately successful, were they not? And that success moved attitudes forwards to the point that other marginalized groups achieved suffrage. You'd rather they just sat on their privilege and did nothing, leaving the struggle up to those with even less power to invoke change? Let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

I think it's undeniable that the first principles, basic principles, core principles of the progressive left have always been about common humanity, and a common struggle. I just don't see much of that at all in modern intersectionalist theory - the aim, instead, seems to be to break society down into little groups (based on who they happened to be born - a reactionary attitude if ever I've seen one), to say each group faces a completely unique struggle that no person outside this group can really do anything practical to help, can never show solidarity with. And then spend lots of time talking in circles on social media and throwing spitballs at each other. No wonder we're losing the culture wars.
posted by Jimbob at 12:08 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


You acknowledge these things so you can act with greater awareness in the future, but in a way you're never "safe" from being called out because we are all human and make mistakes.

Without taking a position on the correctness or the utility of the approach, I'm struck by how essentially religious in spirit this appears to be. I see a conception of human nature as fundamentally "sinful" (i.e. privileged)—irredeemably so, perhaps, in our present circumstances—accompanied by a desire to submit that nature to the perpetual guidance and oversight of a sort of congregation of like-minded friends. As it is engaged in, the activity appears to be pursued less in the manner of a dialectic and more in the manner of an askesis.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was quoting someone talking about the Feminist Unknown blog, which seems to be addressing a SJ-aware audience.

Ah, that makes more sense. Thanks for clarifying. However, the "you" to whom the final paragraph of that blog post is addressed seems to be cis White men from outside the SJ community. Given that, I don't think that particular post on the blog should be understood as purely an in-group communication to which outsiders should not react or respond.
posted by Area Man at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jimbob, you can see that easily in intersectional feminism by realizing that oppression comes in different flavors but often functions the same and comes from similar places. (For example, a lot of it comes from patriarchy, and a lot of GSM oppression is a function of sexism.) The aspect you see as "divisive" is simply recognizing that this oppression is going to affect people differently according to their situations, and that you can best understand that by listening to people's experiences of it and doing your best not to extrapolate your own context onto others. It doesn't divide, but rather provides a platform for unification.
posted by Corinth at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you really come up with no other possibilities for why someone might offer a criticism?

It seems to be at the route of the criticism, though--that being called racist/sexist/whateverist really sucks for the target of that, that it's a super bad thing to say about someone and it makes people feel bad and dislike SJ activists. But again, call-outs serve a different function within these communities, and those within the community are often operating from a position of acknowledging their privilege first and foremost, and so to have, say, racist behavior pointed out is not the worst thing that could happen to you because often people are kind of racist. Especially people from the dominant racial group who benefit from institutional racism. But if you're not used to acknowledging the privilege you hold, having it acknowledged for you is super scary and off-putting. You are not used to being questioned that way, which again is a function of privilege, to feel safe in the idea that you're not going to make these kinds of mistakes because you're not racist. Even if you probably are, sometimes. Because most of us are sometimes.

And yeah, it might seem like a bit of a religious principle, in a way, but I've found that it makes the listening part a lot easier and the core of these conversations is listening and acknowledging, as well as expressing emotion. I don't think that's necessarily losing the culture wars, but I don't see it really as a battle to be won. I think a lot of this is about groups connecting from within rather than fighting against those on the outside.

As for suffragettes, of course they accomplished good. That doesn't mean that we can't acknowledge that there were problematic aspects of their movement, like many other movements.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if you're not used to acknowledging the privilege you hold, having it acknowledged for you is super scary and off-putting.

This is true, but it unfortunately can sometimes lead to the problematic claim that any objection, argument, or even attempted clarification made in response to a accusation of racism or sexism is itself proof that the original accusation was correct.
posted by Area Man at 12:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That doesn't mean that we can't acknowledge that there were problematic aspects of their movement, like many other movements.

If the problem you're acknowledging is that they were wealthy and white, then it seems to me the solution to that problem would be that wealthy, white women shouldn't have been involved.
posted by Jimbob at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just went back and re-read over the New Statesmen/Feminist Unknown pieces, and as remembered they are both painfully, almost laughably weak. The amount of words and conviction being spilled on MeFi defending this absolute nonsense as part of some grand social justice movement is just making me despair ever further for the left.
posted by crayz at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It seems to be at the route of the criticism, though--that being called racist/sexist/whateverist really sucks for the target of that, that it's a super bad thing to say about someone and it makes people feel bad and dislike SJ activists.

I wouldn't say that, though it's a factor. I'm saying that the article calling Movember racist was making a total weaksauce argument, and doubling-down on it by saying "If you don't like the argument, it must be because you're afraid for your privilege" is a nasty bit of witch-hunting. "If you float, you're a witch! If you don't float, you're a witch in disguise!"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


But again, call-outs serve a different function within these communities, and those within the community are often operating from a position of acknowledging their privilege first and foremost, and so to have, say, racist behavior pointed out is not the worst thing that could happen to you because often people are kind of racist

I can point to half a dozen critiques about call outs from within the social justice (internet sj) community. Applying the "everybody's racists, sexist, etc" principle to people who don't subscribe to it, then getting surprised and upset because they don't react they way people in one specific corner of internet sj people do is really kind of...problematic. If your goal is to actually reach people that is. When has "You need to act they way I think you should act" ever worked?
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:33 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Technically, I'm a warlock, not a witch. Please keep your gender bias about evil to yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can you really come up with no other possibilities for why someone might offer a criticism?

It seems to be at the route of the criticism, though--that being called racist/sexist/whateverist really sucks for the target of that, that it's a super bad thing to say about someone and it makes people feel bad and dislike SJ activists.


The presumption you are making is that the criticism is rooted in a desire to see social justice fail. That 100% truly is a thing that often happens, things like concern trolling are rampant. However, the other possibility is that it is rooted in a desire to see social justice succeed. It really depends on venue how much benefit of the doubt should be handed out, but Mefi specifically is a place where sometimes I think people should err towards offering more. I also think that when the criticism regards discussions surrounding a seriously flawed article attacking an effort to fight cancer there is likely good reason to accept the possibility that criticism is genuinely offered without an effort to protect privilege.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is true, but it unfortunately can sometimes lead to the problematic claim that any objection, argument, or even attempted clarification made in response to a accusation of racism or sexism is itself proof that the original accusation was correct.

I guess that's where I feel like there's a gap--so what if the person is right in calling you racist, even if you find the particulars silly, or whatever? The whole conversation changes in tone and tenor when you move from a model where you're reacting defensively to one where you're acknowledging that you may even be unwittingly complicit in making someone feel bad, even when what they say is making you feel bad*, where you acknowledge that there might be something to that. I don't know. I get the emotional part, where it feels bad and weird to say, "Shit, did I screw up? I'm sorry," because I've been there before but I find those conversations are ones where . . . well, I've learned more. And grown more. And they're ultimately more productive.

If the problem you're acknowledging is that they were wealthy and white, then it seems to me the solution to that problem would be that wealthy, white women shouldn't have been involved.

The problems with racism and classism within historical suffrage are really more complex than that, but also more complex than can be reasonably discussed in a derail here.

*And honestly, the whole "but being called racist sucks!" thing . . . well, facing racism or whatever is way, way worse, isn't it? That's what I've told myself when I'm called out. Perspective is hard when you feel defensive, but I think it's important.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2013


"Shit, did I screw up? I'm sorry,"

My facial hair IS ... NOT ... SORRY!

Jesus Christ this has utterly nothing to do with social justice.
posted by crayz at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


*And honestly, the whole "but being called racist sucks!" thing . . . well, facing racism or whatever is way, way worse, isn't it?

The fact that one thing is worse than another does not make the first thing un-bad.

But in a way, this is all a derail because the original article was not calling a person racist, it was calling an action racist. And it was calling that action racist on terribly weak grounds. It's irrelevant, in this case, whether a person feels bad when an accusation is made against them. What's relevant is "Is there a good argument for regarding this action as racist?" If there isn't, then the accuser deserves derision, not the indulgence of "Well you may be making a bad argument but at least you're trying."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


If your goal is to actually reach people that is.

And that's what I keep trying to say. I don't think that's the goal of the Feminist Unknown blogger or many other SJ bloggers. I think they're actually talking to an in-group and could care less about "people" (here, middle-class white guys) outside that group. I think their goal is more, like, "Hey, do you guys see this, too?" and experiencing solidarity over that and so the attempts to police that conversation by people they are likely not even interested in "reaching" come across as exertions of privilege, because it's pretty rare for middle-class white guys to be excluded from a discourse or community (even as they're being discussed, sometimes in 2nd person)--the vast majority of stuff that is written and created is created for them.

I don't know if I'm making sense--I just think that all these conversations about the success of these communities in changing the minds of majority populations are kind of missing the point.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess that's where I feel like there's a gap--so what if the person is right in calling you racist, even if you find the particulars silly, or whatever? The whole conversation changes in tone and tenor when you move from a model where you're reacting defensively to one where you're acknowledging that you may even be unwittingly complicit in making someone feel bad, even when what they say is making you feel bad*, where you acknowledge that there might be something to that. I don't know. I get the emotional part, where it feels bad and weird to say, "Shit, did I screw up? I'm sorry," because I've been there before but I find those conversations are ones where . . . well, I've learned more. And grown more. And they're ultimately more productive.

Is the basic idea here that you probably are racist most or all of the time so you shouldn't quibble over some specific incident? This all sounds a lot like criticism sessions used during the Cultural Revolution.
posted by Area Man at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


But again, call-outs serve a different function within these communities

I think there's a kind of "hate the sin, love the sinner" in these so-called "call-outs," but to people outside these communities the "hate the sin" seems to come through more loudly than the "love the sinner."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there's a kind of "hate the sin, love the sinner" in these so-called "call-outs," but to people outside these communities the "hate the sin" seems to come through more loudly than the "love the sinner."

There's something to that. See: How to tell someone they sound racist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2013


This all sounds a lot like criticism sessions used during the Cultural Revolution.

That sounds like a pretty bad faith comparison, given that in one instance, people were physically abused by those in political power, and in another, people who feel generally powerless are talking about stuff on the internet.

Anyway, it's not that you are racist all or most of the time, it's that you have probably done racist things, and possibly benefit from institutional racism, and so there's value in not being defensive but just stopping and listening first. As the Feminist Unknown blog says, it's fine to say, "These claims are pretty silly and I don't agree with them," but it's another to say, "Feminists are the worst and this is why no one should listen to them ever" or whatever. The first shows some degree of self-reflection; the second suggests that there could never be anything in those claims because reasons of feminists being bad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:10 PM on December 4, 2013


I think they're actually talking to an in-group and could care less about "people" (here, middle-class white guys) outside that group.

I think you're probably not too wrong about that and I don't think it's a bad thing, necessarily. Not all speech and/or action needs to be directed towards the accomplishment of tangible or material ends to be valid or good or comforting or useful. Speech can be for purposes of solidarity or grooming or self-definition, etc. At some point, though, if no response is actually desired, then why should anyone not a member of that community care about it at all?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2013


Every thing has to have a context. We see it in the context we provide, but not necessarily in the context that causes it to take shape.

In the late 1960's beards and bushy hair was common among several demographics: yeah, it was mostly the men, but some women went for the natural aspect of femininity--tufted armpits and fuzzy legs--as a statement about the Max Factor clones their foremothers had been conditioned to adore. I was in the army in those days, an organization that frowned on long hair in general, facial hair in particular. Some branches allowed the well-trimmed mustache, but that soldier was always looked at askance by the general run of his professional brothers in arms. The lifers, I mean. Among the rank and file were those who liked to rankle the lifers, and of course their hair always pushed the boundary allowed, and they deemed it a point of pride to have a lifer on their case about their mustache. Not me, though. I had yet to discover the benefits of a mustache.

Anyhow we had a beard-month while was in Japan. Our post wanted to use it to gather donations for something or other. Enlisted men and officers alike were encouraged to grow beards, and a their efforts were judged at the end of the month. I don't remember what the prize was, probably an extra day off work. The idea behind this project of course was that it was a gimmick to get someone to donate money. The beard gets your foot in the door, so to speak. All in good humor, and it was well-supported by the troops. The day after the contest was over we all shaved off our beards and got normal again. A good time was had by all.

Our Japanese friends off post had an opaque and stand-offish view of beards. They seemed relieved when I shaved mine off. (This was, Chitose, a small town in a rural area.)
posted by mule98J at 1:14 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But again, call-outs serve a different function within these communities, and those within the community are often operating from a position of acknowledging their privilege first and foremost, and so to have, say, racist behavior pointed out is not the worst thing that could happen to you because often people are kind of racist. Especially people from the dominant racial group who benefit from institutional racism.

Okay, but when these rituals result in saying growing facial hair to promote men's health is racist, you're not doing social justice anymore. It's a club with ritual self-flagellation/hand wringing.

You keep saying that the point is not to be comfortable for white guys. I get that, but I don't get giving a pass on basically any fuzzy-headed idea that comes down the pike because what? It's intersectional? It bothers me when people on my "side" make stupid arguments or misapply concepts, doesn't this bother people in social justice communities?
posted by spaltavian at 1:16 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This all sounds a lot like criticism sessions used during the Cultural Revolution.

That sounds like a pretty bad faith comparison, given that in one instance, people were physically abused by those in political power, and in another, people who feel generally powerless are talking about stuff on the internet.


Sorry, I was just thinking about a very specific dynamic I've read about being used when people were criticized for supposedly having the wrong class background, not the broader violence, etc. I now realize I shouldn't have made the comparison. Its just too tragic an event to be referenced in that way.
posted by Area Man at 1:21 PM on December 4, 2013


I get that, but I don't get giving a pass on basically any fuzzy-headed idea that comes down the pike because what? It's intersectional? It bothers me when people on my "side" make stupid arguments or misapply concepts, doesn't this bother people in social justice communities?

Eh, I think there were some valid claims in the original New Statesman article ("For one, only men [and even then, only some men] can grow a moustache" is the biggest one), and some fairly silly sounding claims, though I think her context--that she's seen people use this as an excuse to dress as racist caricatures--is significant. Because that's pretty problematic, and deserves discussion beyond many of the defensive reactions that we've seen.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


As the Feminist Unknown blog says, it's fine to say, "These claims are pretty silly and I don't agree with them," but it's another to say, "Feminists are the worst and this is why no one should listen to them ever" or whatever.

I think people are saying "I care about the goals of feminism and these kind of stupid insider circle jerk arguments are why so many people get turned off to the whole issue and nothing ever happens". Some of us lived through the 80’s. And the 70’s, 60’s, etc.
posted by bongo_x at 1:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think there were some valid claims in the original New Statesman article ("For one, only men [and even then, only some men] can grow a moustache" is the biggest one)

Thank God for news magazines.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on December 4, 2013


PhoBWanKenobi: "and some fairly silly sounding claims, though I think her context--that she's seen people use this as an excuse to dress as racist caricatures--is significant."

Is it? Do examples of said racist caricatures even exist? Are they widespread? Is this an actual problem?

Once she made the ridiculous claim that we white men are othering ethnic male minorities by growing out mustaches and beards, her credibility went out the proverbial window as far as I'm concerned.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, I'm agreeing 100% with zarq, what is happening?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it? Do examples of said racist caricatures even exist? Are they widespread? Is this an actual problem?

Once she made the ridiculous claim that we white men are othering ethnic male minorities by growing out mustaches and beards, her credibility went out the proverbial window as far as I'm concerned.


She links to a video on the official Movember youtube account that shows dudes dressed up in sombreros etc etc. The claim of "othering" seemed weird to me, too, until she expanded on it:
Across nine cities in the UK, participants dress up in costumes that mock and trivialise racial minorities (“turbanator” Indians, fez-topped Arabs with day-hire camels, Mexicans in sombreros and bandoliers) and the LGBT community (parodies of the Village People), celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats), and emulate racist fictional characters and sexist stereotypes (such as 'Dictator' Aladeen with a harem of female bodyguards, Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders). Meanwhile, female attendees take on the uniforms that now seem fit for any occasion, yet really for none at all: Playboy bunnies, air-hostesses, nurses, cheerleaders. Unsurprisingly again, the woman deemed best-looking or best-dressed picks up the title of “Miss Movember”.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2013


Oh god, I'm agreeing 100% with zarq, what is happening?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 PM on December 4 [+] [!]


It's a Christmas miracle. Just early, that's all.
posted by Grangousier at 1:47 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


(parodies of the Village People)

This is where I came in. I'm still not clear on what is, exactly, a "parody" of the Village People.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:57 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watching the video after reading that description is pretty hilarious. I was expecting at least something cringeworthy. Now, I'm just wondering who the 6 Marios in a line is racist against.

There were people in lots of different costumes, people in no costumes at all. And what the hell is up with this part of the argument:

celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats)... Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders).


Man will only be free when the last cowboy is strangled with the entrails of the last Hulk Hogan.
posted by spaltavian at 2:02 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I just don't see much of that at all in modern intersectionalist theory - the aim, instead, seems to be to break society down into little groups (based on who they happened to be born - a reactionary attitude if ever I've seen one), to say each group faces a completely unique struggle that no person outside this group can really do anything practical to help, can never show solidarity with. And then spend lots of time talking in circles on social media and throwing spitballs at each other. No wonder we're losing the culture wars."

I'm not sure if that's because you're not looking or don't want to listen or what. In this explicit statement of intersectionality within transgender advocacy, it's put as:
Because most people on the list lack basic economic security, it must be socialist; because the list is primarily made up of women, it must be feminist; because most of those women are people of color, it must be anti-racist. Because so many of these transgender women of color are sex workers, it must adopt a nuanced approach to sex work that respects its economic and personal necessity without ignoring its dangers. And because so many of these sex workers are in countries like Brazil and Mexico, it must be internationalist. If this politics seems impossible, consider that the safety of transgender people is impossible in its absence.
It's explicitly talking about making the movement as universal as possible by not alienating people with which there is common cause. Intersectionality is all about recognizing that the mechanisms of oppression work in really similar ways with different targets, even if the particularized effects can be different.

If the problem you're acknowledging is that they were wealthy and white, then it seems to me the solution to that problem would be that wealthy, white women shouldn't have been involved."

Really? Not that women who are wealthy and white should be sensitive to the concerns of women who are not wealthy and white? That's "take my ball and go home" reflexive privilege bullshit, formulated through a false dilemma. The only time it would be a problem is if there's a conflict that surrounds maintaining the power of being wealthy and white, in which case, it's not very connected to the overall goals of feminism, is it?

Our Japanese friends off post had an opaque and stand-offish view of beards. They seemed relieved when I shaved mine off. (This was, Chitose, a small town in a rural area.)"

In Korea, people thought I was younger than my little brother because I have a beard, and they were like, "Well, we thought it was because he doesn't have to carry on the family name."

I think there were some valid claims in the original New Statesman article ("For one, only men [and even then, only some men] can grow a moustache" is the biggest one)"

Meh. The "some men" part of that was the only real point made. That some women can grow mustaches is kinda beside the point. And the whole "real men" thing is always kinda bullshit. "'Real men' campaign turns something moderately worthwhile into something dumb and laddish" is an argument I'm sympathetic to and think is apt here. But that's a far cry from the kitchen-sink approach the author took.
posted by klangklangston at 2:03 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats)... Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders).

Man will only be free when the last cowboy is strangled with the entrails of the last Hulk Hogan.
"

Yeah, that was another moment of keep cake+eat cake. So, the depictions of minorities are parodic, but the war and imperialism are celebrations?
posted by klangklangston at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2013


I think people are saying "I care about the goals of feminism and these kind of stupid insider circle jerk arguments are why so many people get turned off to the whole issue and nothing ever happens". Some of us lived through the 80’s. And the 70’s, 60’s, etc.

So you're aware that it wasn't "stupid insider circle jerks" that were the problem then. You know, the successful attempts at linking social justice groups with a minority that engaged in violent rhetoric as fifth-columnists (usually communist). The COINTELPRO and other efforts to foment dissent within social justice to blunt their goals. The portrayal of "gay" or "black" or "Hispanic" problems as an existential threat to essential Americaness: AIDS as the gay plague, the young bucks buying Caddys and t-bones with welfare checks, the lazy Mexican stealing jobs, the sneaky Japanese destroying our glorious industrial sector, chicks burning bras and leaving their children to find their inner child. Now look at today and tell me you don't see the same. Sure, some words have changed, but many are the same: "traditional marriage," "religious liberty," "rioters and looters," "illegals," "men's rights activism," "voter fraud," "legitimate rape," etc. Look at how apostasy on fighting back against the gay/feminist/black/etc tide has a good chance of preventing one from grasping for the power to accelerate change.

I think we can all be aware that there are insider circle jerks and the like. But to posit that that they're the main reason, or even a significant reason, in holding back progress in social justice as opposed to massive institutional blocks in the social and political fabric is just ridiculous. For every person turned off by a New Statesman article or a rando on Tumblr, there's hundreds or thousands being fed a shitload of stuff by their racist/sexist/homophobic family members, or friends, or church members and leaders, or their elected representatives, or their news sources.

I can get that you're concerned about what it looks to people on the outside. But I can guarantee you the number of people paying attention to pratfalls is a drop in the bucket compared to the massive forces who are trying to stop that progress and strangle it off.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watching the video after reading that description is pretty hilarious. I was expecting at least something cringeworthy. Now, I'm just wondering who the 6 Marios in a line is racist against.

Really? You don't find the dudes dressed as Arabs and the women riding camels problematic (:21)? Or the dude dressed as a kung fu stereotype (:35)? Or the dudes in sombreros (there's a bunch but there's one around the minute mark). It's one thing to say, "Some of those costumes aren't racist" but some of those costumes are definitely racist and this is a video/party linked to the official organization behind the whole endeavor. It seems abundantly and clearly problematic to me, and more than just a little cringeworthy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:21 PM on December 4, 2013


You cannot make a movement as universal as possible by not alienating people who have common cause if and only if those people happen to agree with everything.

This turns people away from working with you even on those things which you agree on. To take the example, not every anti-racist sex worker is going to be or want to be a socialist. So they get kicked out of the club or made to read re-education pamphlets?

Followed further, a lot of the guys supporting November facial hair may in fact be anti-racists, who do not deserve to be titled racists and kicked out of the anti-racist club because some other fellows with facial hair happen to be wearing problematic costumes. (Which, no, do not include cowboys and pith helmets).
posted by corb at 2:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


a lot of the guys supporting November facial hair may in fact be anti-racists

Then it's on them (and us) to tell Movember that their video is racist and to help Movember do a better job with this sort of thing. Even though I thought the original FPP article was overwrought, Movember could certainly do better with their public promotional materials.
posted by jessamyn at 2:32 PM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: " She links to a video on the official Movember youtube account that shows dudes dressed up in sombreros etc etc. The claim of "othering" seemed weird to me, too, until she expanded on it:"

I watched it twice. Perhaps I missed 'em, but as far as I can tell there is only one person in a sombrero in that video. At 0:42. To the right of the guy in the cowboy hat. It appears that the same guy shows up at 1:27, but for the sake of argument let's say it's someone else.

That's two men in sombreros. There are no men in sombreros at the one minute mark. I also saw one guy in a Native American headdress. Probably one of the dreaded Village People.

There are more men dressed up like construction workers in those videos than are wearing sombreros or a headdress.

Now let's look at a slideshow from a recent Los Angeles Movember gala How many are racist? The only one that even comes close is #45. Maybe we could also say the guy dressed up as one of the Mario Bros., is engaging in an offensive Italian stereotype. Maybe. If we stretch.

So I ask again: is this a problem? It appears it might be one in the UK. But elsewhere?

I'm definitely not thrilled with the handful of racial stereotypes on display in the video. Mostly, I'm seeing fezzes. Nothing else in abundance. Perhaps if this is a UK problem, the UK chapters should simply ban the costume party.

Feel free to tell them so. I might do so myself. But once again, that doesn't automatically make people who grow mustaches and beards for a cause racists.

I have nothing to say about the "Miss Movember" beauty contest, or the women dressing up in costumes. I don't particularly like beauty contests, but no one is forcing those women to enter them and participate. No one is forcing them to dress up like flight attendants or as part of a harem.

The event is celebrating "real men" and a "manliness" stereotype. Hence the cops, and construction workers, and men who are dressed like they just stepped out of the late 1800's, early 1900's. Which (granted) is a weird thing to be promoting in the first place, but I'm not really sure how dressing up like "Hulk Hogan" is somehow sexist. I'm certainly not seeing people dressing up as *cowboys* as being imperialistic. I lived in a small Texas town where there were cattle and farms and yes, actual working cowboys. It's a profession. The idea that men dressing up as the Village People is somehow offensive to LGBT people is... stupid. Does she know if the people wearing those costumes are gay? Should that matter?

She's so over the top in her complaints that I don't trust her assessments.
posted by zarq at 2:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If that video is racist, I have never been to a Halloween party in my entire life that was not racist.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:37 PM on December 4, 2013


That's two men in sombreros. There are no men in sombreros at the one minute mark. I also saw one guy in a Native American headdress. Probably one of the dreaded Village People.

Sorry, the :59 second mark. There's also one at ~:34 or :35 (the images move pretty fast).

So I ask again: is this a problem? It appears it might be one in the UK. But elsewhere?

Racist costumes are a problem. See the "I Am Not a Halloween Costume" campaign. And yes, Drinky Die, you have probably been to some racist Halloween parties. I know I sure have. People tend to engage in ethnic and cultural stereotyping without really thinking about whether it hurts anyone, in the name of "good fun" for parties or Halloween.

It's still a racist practice, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Halloween can get pretty bad. I think of all the gypsy costumes I've seen over the years.
posted by Area Man at 3:00 PM on December 4, 2013


Yes, these costumes are almost universally present everywhere, which is what makes the article's use of them as evidence that an organization is racist an extremely weak position. Their universality is possibly evidence of greater cultural issues, not of any problem with the campaign specifically.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, these costumes are almost universally present everywhere, which is what makes the article's use of them as evidence that an organization is racist an extremely weak position. Their universality is possibly evidence of greater cultural issues, not of any problem with the campaign specifically.

Can't their use by the campaign be both evidence of a problematic aspect of the campaign and evidence of a greater cultural issue?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:28 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can think of hypothetical situations that would lend credence to the idea that this cancer fighting charity is involved in a pattern of racism, but not any that have actually been presented.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ever since I realised that 'problematic' means 'I don't like it' these discussions have been a lot clearer for me.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:28 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think, thinking about it, the religious nature of sin type talk is one of the things that bothers me the most about social justice conversations - the idea of "We're all sinners here" just seems like the entrance fee is confession, and if you don't have any sins, boy, you'd better make some up, because everyone has sin, and that sounds pretty sketchy. Unless you are a member of the holy orders, in which case you have no sin, because you have been only sinned against...

So even though this may make some people feel better in social justice conversations, it doesn't mean it meshes well with other people or should be used outside those circles.
posted by corb at 3:51 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wondered about that - in some ways discussions of privilege remind me of the notion of gnosis, for example, and others more resemble the doctrine of Original Sin.

If you accept the root of the word Religion as religare - to bind* - it's possible to see a group's religion as that which binds the community together; gives it a sense of unity, guiding principles and criteria for distinguishing between in-group and out-group. In that sense, it's possible to see all human activities that end in -ism as forms of religion. This isn't intended as perjorative, though the tendency to want to label religion as inherently bad mitigates against it. I don't believe that's the case (indeed, I think that in order for a group to cohere at all, it needs some kind of religion/relegare as I'm defining it, and a religion/relegare will emerge from any group with any sort of coherence).

Given that, it could be useful to consider various -isms that we don't consider religious in terms of what we understand about religious structures and social organisation. The resemblances shouldn't be any surprise us as we are comparing two things that are more alike than our usual taxonomies suggest.

On the other hand, I'm aware that since I'm the only person who believes this, I'm probably just a nutter.

*I realise that the etymology is more complicated than this, and it's a bit of a leap in order to get to a place I find interesting. Languagehat: stay your weaponry!
posted by Grangousier at 4:03 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grangrousier (and others), you might enjoy the book The Politics of Moralizing, edited by Bennett and Shapiro. It's one of the best books about politics and persuasion that I have ever read.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:55 AM on December 5, 2013


Thank you for the recommendation. It's certainly true that a few hundred years ago the author of the originally linked article would probably be trying to ascertain exactly how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
posted by Grangousier at 5:24 AM on December 5, 2013


Ha. Well, while I don't think much of the posted article, either, I think that's a little harsh, Grangrousier. A number of factors have intertwined to make it so that this kind of dialog is a thing we encounter more and more on the internet.

I would maybe take a step back and, without judging anyone, think about what parties get out of it when we talk about race like this, whether you're the person posting the original article, the person saying the article is bad, the person saying that the article isn't great but that the reaction to it is inappropriate, the person who thinks this article is driving people away, etc. etc. etc.

From each party's perspective, what is being attacked and defended?

What aspects of these dialogs are new? What aspects are not new?

There's a lot going on under the hood. The fact that this thread has been fairly contentious might be a sign of something.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:48 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have, like Atreau, obviously wondered into Things-Metafilter-Does-Not-Do-Well-Land.
I am just stunned that people didn't know what Movemver was.
Clearly, we should adopt a colour.

I suggest pink.
posted by Mezentian at 6:14 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to say that I didn't intend to be that snarky, but then I realised that in that case I'd have been better off not to quote something that was snarky in the first place. What I meant was that these discussions tend towards - to continue the comparision with religion - pure theology. I agree that it's a much better idea to address the practicalities of people's lives, and I'm not sure that the quickening pace of call-out culture (which I"m sorely tempted to spell Kall-out Kulture for some reason) is a good way to do it. If there is a highly morally divided culture in which people gain status by calling out reprehensible things, I'd suggest that it would tend to encourage self-righteousness and confirmation bias. Which isn't to say that all articles of this kind are those things, but that that is the kind of noise which I'd expect to arise.

For my own part:

I don't think much of Movember, actually, for none of the reasons mentioned here.

I'm very much out-group as far as social justice (is that really a term that people apply to themselves or one that is applied to them?) goes, which does inevitably colour my opinion.

I'm very grateful for the advantages my gender, sexual orientation and race are supposed to give me, because given my age, lamentable previous track record and negligable social skills I need all the help I can get.
posted by Grangousier at 7:12 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ever since I realised that 'problematic' means 'I don't like it' these discussions have been a lot clearer for me.

Except that's not really what it means.

Personally, I think Movember seems fine in the abstract (though I'm not sure about its efficacy) but the way they're advertising and promoting it seems pretty gross and racist and kind of fratty and sexist, too. If I were a dude, I wouldn't want to be associated with that, though I think most guys who are participating probably don't know about that so I wouldn't hold it against them.

So even though this may make some people feel better in social justice conversations, it doesn't mean it meshes well with other people or should be used outside those circles.

I still think the Feminist Unknown blog was doing just that--the focus is just largely on how odd it is that some men aren't used to admitting privilege or having their privilege dissected--something that, for those within the community, is perfectly normal and happens all the time. Again, nothing about that blog post suggests it was for a larger, general audience.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:41 AM on December 5, 2013


(See also, how to be a fan of problematic things for the issue of whether acknowledging problematic aspects of something is equivalent to "not liking" those things.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


he focus is just largely on how odd it is that some men aren't used to admitting privilege or having their privilege dissected

Any man who even occasionally reads The New Statesman is quite used to admitting privilege and having his privilege dissected. He nonetheless retains the right to suggest that sometimes an article is wrong.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:34 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any man who even occasionally reads The New Statesman is quite used to admitting privilege and having his privilege dissected. He nonetheless retains the right to suggest that sometimes an article is wrong.

Maybe, but as she said, that's not actually what happened--instead of people saying that the argument was wrong or silly people resorted to saying stuff like "This is why people don’t take lefties seriously. And I'm a lefty" and "I. WANT. TO. CRY." hyperbole. Even here, in what I presume is a good-faith discussion, we have people arguing that the maybe kind of racist promotional efforts on the part of the Movember organization don't count because they're not widespread enough or part of a broader cultural problem (why that excuses it, I don't know) rather than an examination or even acknowledgement of those actions or their effects. It certainly doesn't look to me, as someone pretty well-versed in SJ conversations, like an acknowledgment of privilege or even the problematic aspects of something otherwise awesome, but rather all reads as pretty defensive. Which was her point.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even here, in what I presume is a good-faith discussion, we have people arguing that the maybe kind of racist promotional efforts on the part of the Movember organization don't count because they're not widespread enough or part of a broader cultural problem

No, I'm saying that she is condemning an entire, global effort based on the actions of some idiots who I don't think represent that whole movement. At least one other major recent Los Angeles Movember event included a costume party with (it appears) no racist caricatures. So which is the norm?

If this is a problem with the entire movement, then let's address that. If this is a problem with a particular geographic section of the movement, then let's address that. But if this is a problem with one geographic section, then conflating it to include all participants everywhere and condemning the movement completely is rather unhelpful. And yes, it does appear to me that's what she's doing.

So yeah, based on her assessment, I question whether this is a serious problem with the entire movement. I also question her assessment of whether this is even a serious problem in the UK. The video you linked to did not show what she described. And I remain unconvinced that what it did show is the problem she's making it out to be. Because she seems so hell-bent on turning everything in it into something offensive (seriously, people dressed up as Hulk Hogan? Cowboys? Flight attendants? WTF?) that she hasn't convinced me.

Her hyperbolic accusations about the video don't match what I'm seeing in that same video. I am not excusing what those idiots have in fact actually done. But yeah, I would like to see more evidence before jumping on the pitchforks and torches bandwagon.
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, I'm saying that she is condemning an entire, global effort based on the actions of some idiots who I don't think represent that whole movement. At least one other major recent Los Angeles Movember event included a costume party with (it appears) no racist caricatures. So which is the norm?

It doesn't feel at all problematic to you that the official NGO behind the 'movement' uses a video which includes racist costuming to advertise their fundraising? This isn't just some random video uploaded to a users youtube--it can be found on the movember.com website. And while I don't really agree with all of her claims, either, I do think there's a problem with using racial stereotypes of Asians and Mexicans in such a cavalier way--it does that othering thing that the original New Statesman article talked about, treating the facial hair of these groups as a joke or caricature, something funny for white guys to try out. Is her broader claim that the mustaches themselves are problematic lame? Does she overreach in her arguments? Sure--but that doesn't really eliminate or solve the problems here. The Movember wikipedia puts campaign costs at 8-9%; I'd feel a little icky about my fundraising efforts going to support that, if I had a stache to grow.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2013


It feels as problematic as every costume party. Write an article about how costume parties are racist, don't single out one group. I have a feeling it would not take a ten comment back and forth for you to accept that it would be dumb to call the feminist movement racist on the basis of a few people at a costume party a feminist group hosted.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


rather all reads as pretty defensive. Which was her point.

There is nothing wrong with being defensive about things worth defending, like anti-cancer charities being attacked for weak reasons. I've had an infant niece die of a brain cancer nobody ever heard of. So maybe I'll get emotional when people attack people trying to fight cancer. Maybe I'll cry tears of frustration if they refuse to stop even when they are ten miles past the point of reasonable criticism. Maybe I'll say something hyperbolic and dumb. Maybe I will do this even though I would identify myself with the SJW type and work my ass off to find the right perspectives on issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:05 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, my mom's a ThyCa survivor. I still think there are problematic aspects of many cancer charities (don't even get me started on breast cancer pink stuff).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2013


Yes, there are, and it is worthwhile to publicize them. This article did not identify any such significant problems.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Agree to disagree time, probably, I'm out.)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:09 AM on December 5, 2013


It doesn't feel at all problematic to you that the official NGO behind the 'movement' uses a video which includes racist costuming to advertise their fundraising?

Sure. And I think it's tone deaf and shows poor judgment.

If I gave even the slightest damn about the movement, I'd write them a note to complain and suggest they be a hell of a lot more thoughtful about what they're putting out there.

I might do so anyway, because the racism on display bugs me.

But what is going on there is not what the author exaggeratedly described. I played it expecting hordes of people dressed up in highly offensive racial caricatures. Instead I see one guy in a sombrero (the guy you point out at :59 looks like the same exact one as in the other two time frames I mentioned,) some schmuck in a Native American headdress and a bunch of people in fezzes.

Oh, and a bunch of other people she complained about that are really not racist or sexist caricatures.

And when I went online looking for photos from other events, guess what I found? Conflicting evidence: people wearing costumes that aren't racist.

I do think there's a problem with using racial stereotypes of Asians and Mexicans in such a cavalier way--it does that othering thing that the original New Statesman article talked about, treating the facial hair of these groups as a joke or caricature,

We agree that wearing racist costumes as a joke is offensive. We agree that it is problematic that people who show up in that video wearing racist costumes might offend people. We disagree on the scope of the problem.

....something funny for white guys to try out.

In a similar vein to the question I asked you earlier, how many of those white people are actually Latino? How many of those straight people are actually gay?
posted by zarq at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except that's not really what it means.

'Problematic' means "a thing that people like us don't like".

It begs the question of who "people like us" are but suggests (delicately) that if you're not in that group then maybe you're part of the "problem".

It's a vehicle for faux-objective passive aggression.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:15 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except that's not really what [problematic] means.

To say that something is "problematic" is merely to say that something is a problem, or constitutes some unresolved difficulty or uncertainty worthy of further attention. It's a perfectly good word. But as the phrase comes to us through the academic jargon of the last part of the last century, it tends to be used, lazily, to identify things that are socially taboo, or which the speaker believes should be socially taboo, often without further identifying what exactly the problem is, or what a resolution might look like. It's precisely the word that's needed, sometimes, but it really does function as a linguistic tic in a lot of writing. "How to be a fan of problematic things" could just as well, and maybe more clearly, be called "How to be a fan of things with disagreeable content." English is a nice language and I really do wish that descriptions of things as simply "problematic" would just go the extra step and say what the problem is.

P.S. I STILL WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S UP WITH THE VILLAGE PEOPLE PARODIES.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:47 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure. And I think it's tone deaf and shows poor judgment.

I guess that's all I was looking for. Whether people dressed in these costumes are Latino or whatever and whether that makes it okay...meh. There's been a lot written about racist costuming online on places like racialicious and such, if people are interested in learning more. Mostly I just think it's ick to link that to the actual foundation, and reflects poorly on them (and don't feel like their participation in the wider social problem excuses it, much like PETA's participation in sexist advertising isn't excused by wider societal problems in advertising.)

It's a vehicle for faux-objective passive aggression

You've pretty much ignored everything I've said, including the article I linked to but I'm starting to get much too grar about this, so I'm out, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


« Older In the UK Guardian: Eight passages of raunchy pros...  |  The Picard Maneuver, in all it... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments