When I first set out to write this piece, I didn't know a thing about Movember aside from hearing people say it. I didn't have a clue what it was or why it was even a thing. I just chalked it up as another passing buzzword and relegated it to the trash pile of things like No Nut November, The Tide Pod Challenge and other bizarre cultural fads I couldn't care less about. I didn't even realize it was a fundraising organization. I thought it was just a thing people said.
Once I found out it was a charity fundraising thing, I got really suspicious. Large, popular charities are often just a way for unscrupulous people to dodge taxes and look like humanitarians in the process. Some are even blatant cash grabs masquerading as humanitarian enterprises- I was ready to really hate Movember. So, I did some digging.
Turns Out, I'm Just A Cynical Asshole
As soon as I got to their website, I noticed they were focused on issues I think are extremely important and under-scrutinized. Still, that's sort of the point of a good front- It's a lure to entrap the well-intentioned but misguided. My first question was, "How Much do they actually spend on useful shit before they dole out paychecks to themselves?"
It just so happens that they are an extremely transparent organization and offer all of their financials, project-spending breakdowns, and accounts of which projects and organizations received donations from funds raised.
They raised $74.2 million globally in 2018 and 72.6% of that went to funding projects that advance their goals to improve men's physical and mental well-being, with the rest going toward moderate administration costs, fundraising projects, and retained funds.
I compared those numbers with some of the bigger-name charities out there and came to the conclusion that these guys are actually pretty fuckin' legit. I couldn't find a thing to hate about this organization, no matter how hard I tried. It's nice to be wrong sometimes!
Why Their Work Is Important
Men's health is in the shitter all around the globe right now and a lot of the problems are super-preventable. Suicide statistics for men are appalling, testicular cancer has been seriously on the rise and its rival, prostate cancer, is doing its best to bridge the gap.
There's a full-blown men's health crisis in effect and most people don't even realize it. Movember works to raise funds for research and practical projects, but their most important work is raising awareness of the fact that there is even a problem to begin with.
Here's a closer look at the issues we are facing as men.
Mental Health And Suicide
This is an issue that is extremely important to me. I have lost friends to suicide and have grappled with suicidal urges and thoughts myself on more occasions than I care to remember. I would be dead right now if it wasn't for a brief moment of clarity on my way to the bridge and the help of an old friend who got me through the night. Sadly, my lost friends and I are just a small sampling of some pretty staggering statistics.
Suicide is a problem that affects everyone, no matter what their position on the gender spectrum, but the numbers tell a chilling tale when you examine the disparity between male suicide deaths and female ones.
While women are statistically more likely to attempt suicide, men are statistically more likely to die as a result of a suicide attempt. This phenomenon even has a name, "The Gender Paradox".
Men are 1.8 times more likely to die as the result of a suicide attempt as women and male deaths by suicide make up 75% of suicide deaths in the United States. It is estimated that a man dies of suicide somewhere on Earth at an estimated rate of one per minute.
Stop and think about those stats for a minute. It's all the more appalling because suicide is a largely preventable problem. These people don't have to die if they are shown a new way to live and are given the resources and support required to live it.
One of the nastiest tricks that depression and suicidal ideation pulls is to make you feel like a burden to your friends. If you don't feel like you can reach out to your loved ones when you start to hit suicidal rock-bottom, you could always call a helpline where you can talk with someone who is waiting by the phone specifically to help you. They are volunteers, so they welcome the call.
- Lifeline Crisis Chat- A place where you can chat online with counselors who will help you find resources to begin the work of recovery or just talk you through a tough moment.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)- This is a number you can call any time, day or night, to talk with counselors to help you through a rough patch and provide you with resources for moving ahead.
If you are experiencing intrusive and powerful urges to commit suicide, for whatever reason, please seek help. I know it can be hard to break free of that cloud of crushing gloom to reach out for help, but there are hands waiting just beyond it to pull you out- You just have to reach.
Testicular cancer is one of those bad news/ slightly-better news types of situation. The bad news is that testicular cancer rates have dramatically increased, doubling over the last 50 years, but the good news is that it is an extremely treatable form of cancer if caught early.
Self-examination is the most common way that testicular cancer is discovered, so awareness of the issue is paramount. While most guys don't need to be told to fondle their balls, most of us don't realize that we should occasionally be aware of what we're actually feeling down there.
So, what should you be looking for? Keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Swelling Or Lumps On Your Testicles
- Breast Soreness Or Swelling
- Early Puberty
- Some of the advanced symptoms include:
- Headache And/Or Confusion
- Lower Back Pain
- Chest Pain (Occasionally Shortness Of Breath)
- Stomach Pain
I should also note that one of the biggest risk factors for testicular cancer is having an undescended testicle. This is something that only occurs in about 3% of the male population, but it's a big indicator that you should be extra careful about inspecting your testicles.
It's also important to know that many men with testicular cancer don't show any obvious symptoms. Testicular cancer is mainly a problem for men over 33. So, if you are over 33, check your damn balls and make sure to get the occasional checkup from a doctor when you can. Early detection could be the difference between life and death.
Much like testicular cancer, prostate cancer is extremely treatable when caught early. Unlike testicular cancer, however, it is harder to catch early on because the signs of prostate cancer are more subtle and difficult to detect.
The main issue is that symptoms don't appear as early on as they do with testicular cancer, so it's harder to catch it early. Most prostate cancer is discovered during routine medical checkups. Further complicating the issue is the fact that prostate cancer's advanced symptoms are very similar to other conditions.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should immediately schedule a prostate cancer screening:
- Weak Or Interrupted Urine Flow
- Frequent Urination (Particularly At Night)
- Difficulty Starting Or Stopping Urination
- Pain Or Burning While Urinating
- Difficulty Achieving Or Maintaining Erections
- Blood In Urine Or Semen
- Chronic Stiffness Or Pain In The Lower Back, Hips, Or Upper Thighs
Remember, these are signs of prostate cancer that is a bit further along, but they are also signs of non-cancerous ailments. So, don't freak out until you see a doctor. Just make sure you actually do see that doctor, though! Again, your life could depend on it.
What You Can Do To Help
Now that you know what the problems are, you are probably wondering what you can do to help. Obviously, donating to Movember is a great start, but there is so much more you can do to advance the cause of men's health. The Movember website alone has a number of fun and creative ways to join in the fight:
- Grow A Moustache: Some organizations use ribbons of a specific color to show support and spark conversations about the issue that the ribbon represents. Movember does just that, but with moustaches instead of ribbons.
- Start Fundraising- This link leads to Movember's fundraising resources page that has all sorts of resources to help you start raising money for the cause where you live. You can also find information and resources about hosting your own fundraising events in your community here and even further resources for workplace fundraising.
- Move For Movember- Promoting men's health starts with men taking the initiative to get healthy themselves. Move for Movember is a challenge to run or walk sixty miles in a month- one mile for every man lost to suicide in an hour. You can go it alone or you can rally the troops and have a mass challenge.
However you do it, you'll feel better for it and you'll be doing your part to help others feel better, too!