One of the often misperceived "perils" of being an active member of today's online social media is that we're letting loose to the world our personal details and in turn may be subjected to their emotional feelings about a wide range of topics <GASP>. I actually find this interaction a good thing and yes, I'm talking about facebook. The true reality? We often find ourselves perusing the pictures of a high school friend's new baby, or maybe learning too much about why your friend's nostril whistles when asked to answer questions in front of large groups of people or simply to witness the fun that can be had by adding your own clever way of saying "Happy Birthday", for the 200th entry that day, on someone else's wall.
As you may already know, comments on facebook, forums or social media sites that boast an active community of people might occasionally get a little absurd, but in reality it's often the converse (i.e. the banal "I'm brushing my teeth" updates) that happens most. Yet I was hoping that it could be here where I'd find a unique story, one that would pertain to "men's health", a topic I felt to be an apt perspective to share via Ethecofem and one that is generally underrepresented in the media today. Certainly the attention paid to breast cancer and all other women's cancer issues are justified, all I'm stating is that not nearly the same effort has historically been put into fundraising for the men's cancer concerns. Just this week, The Washington Post put it rather starkly:
About 32,000 men will die of prostate cancer in 2010, according to estimates by the American Cancer Society. That's not far behind the nearly 40,000 women who will die of breast cancer this year.
This is where the month of Movember has changed things.
Over the past month I've watched as two fraternity (a historically literary fraternity) brothers of mine have taken on the Movember challenge: to grow, groom and photograph your mustache (examples of a "mo") for the entire month of November, all the while raising money for men's health concerns, including prostate and testicular cancer. The idea was started in Melbourne Australia 7 years ago and has since grown into a world wide phenomenon. Just this weekend the results of 2010's Movember campaign are being updated and world wide, this year's mo-vement saw over 500,000 participants (nearly double the 255 thousand in 2009) with over 60 million dollars raised (and counting) or $18 million more than in 2009. The direct benefactors for the American arm of the Movember Foundation are the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which portions it's funds out to Fertile Hope, My Planet, in addition to creating an educational video series with the Nurse Oncology Education Program. And as any legitimate non-profit should, you can peep where their money goes via their annual reports page.
Also of note, since this phenomenon began in Australia, it's primary sources of fundraising have come almost exclusively from British Empire countries, with Canada ($20m), Australia ($19m) and England ($12m) leading the way. So while the US has contributed nearly 7 million dollars this year, Movember's merits are only just beginning to dawn on the world's economic leader, which we can only hope to be an even larger contributor in years to come. It only appears to be the natural course of events that such a continuation of growth, of both facial hair and interest, will continue on our shores because seriously, in time you will get bored of all those adorable baby pictures, extraordinary human foibles and random blog posts about facial hair, right? For our sake, I hope that especially the latter isn't true...