I have very mixed feelings about No Shave November. When I was in high school, it was a way for the guys with more active follicles to lord it over all of the beta males in a show of animalistic dominance. As I’ve grown older, I’ve also heard of some organizations that try to use No Shave November as a form of awareness for cancer, symbolically embracing the fact that we, as men, have hair, while those less fortunate, who suffer from cancer, may not.
I’d like to take this opportunity to plug a couple of those charity organizations for those who are considering taking part in No Shave November. The No-Shave organization allows anybody to sign up on their website and also donate to others who may be participating themselves, donating the funds to cancer research. Movember is another such organization that focuses on mustaches specifically, encouraging men to grow out their mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer. Organizations such as these are, in my opinion, worth checking out if you’re considering participating in No Shave November, or are just too lazy to shave and have no particular inclination toward the month of the year.
Having said all of that, No Shave November is not without its problems. Despite the fact that there are organizations that do encourage No Shave November as a form of charity, I fear that the movement has taken a bit of a turn toward the direction of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Now, as most people will probably remember, in 2014 the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral as a way to raise awareness for ALS, a debilitating disease that currently has no cure. And the challenge did succeed at raising awareness for ALS. That can’t be denied. But I’m sure that almost everybody also knows a number of people that participated just because they wanted to be a part of something. That kind of person does not donate to the cause, they just want to post their video of dumping ice on themselves, or, in this case, a photo of their likely patchy beard. In addition, the ALS Association attempted to trademark the term “Ice Bucket Challenge,” and, to me, that feels a bit too capitalist for something that is supposed to be charitable. In essence, I feel that while stunts like the Ice Bucket Challenge and No Shave November can be used for charitable purposes, there will also be a large contingent of people that ignore those parts and focus on their own personal gratification.
I now feel the need to rant a bit about my personal problems with No Shave November. I mentioned earlier my high school experience with the joke about animal mating rituals and facial hair, but I would like to elaborate a bit. To me, this entire enterprise has always seemed a bit chauvinistic. The charities have co-opted the idea of growing hair and facial hair as a means of appreciating the fact that we can and raising awareness for those that cannot. I understand this point of view, but I do have one question. Why is the focus on facial hair? Why is it not “No Haircut November” or something to that effect? Obviously we should let someone else do the naming, but I feel that for any actually good purposes that the event fulfills, it would serve the same role if we focused on our heads, rather than our faces.
As it stands right now, the entire event feels kind of masturbatory. Men around the country are patting themselves on the back for doing less than they would normally do, for submitting to the will of an effortless bodily function, and they’re calling this a movement. Congratulations, you made no effort this month! When does the medal come in the mail? And this completely disregards all of the men that choose to have beards regardless of the month, turning their look into a novelty fashion statement for a month of the year. Moreover, I guarantee that if women were to undertake the same kind of challenge for a month, the reaction would not be nearly as positive. Imagine if there were “No Makeup March,” where women around the country decided to stop wearing makeup for a month. It’s the exact same concept, in which women stop putting an effort into an aspect of their appearance. Why doesn’t this exist? The short answer is ingrained misogyny. The full answer would need another article entirely.
To sum it all up, my major problems with No Shave November stem from the vanity and misogyny born of it. Of course, I do support those noble souls who pledge their support and donate to charitable causes in the name of No Shave November. I do not support those who want an excuse to be lazy, or to reassure themselves that they are “real men” by letting their body function. If it was not already clear, I myself will not be participating in No Shave November. I personally like to celebrate “Shave Several Times A Week Because Otherwise I Look Like I Live In My Parents’ Basement November.” I encourage all who wish to join me in my crusade.