The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Monday Evening Linkage: moustaches and Michelle Obama

December 2, 2013

Well it is officially December- and you know what that means…all the hipsters and single dudes can finally shave off their Movember moustaches (those are the only men who participate, right?). Movember is a fundraiser for testicular cancer that has gained traction (in 2012 the campaign raised 29 million in Australia, where the idea originated) to the point where the moustache has become a symbol for cancer awareness.
But is Movember racist and sexist?
According to Arianne Shahvis at the New Statesmen, Movember is not all it is cracked up to be. She notes that the campaign’s call for “real men” to grow “real moustaches” is “divisive, gender normative, racist and ineffective against some very real health issues.” Read more on the debate here and here.

There has been a heated debate on whether Michelle Obama should be seen as a feminist. A recent Politico article called ‘Leaning out: how Michelle Obama became a feminist nightmare‘ (pretty clear title) calls feminists to ‘get over’ the idea that the First Lady will, or has done much for women. Author Michelle Cottle says “enough already with the pining for a Michelle Obama who simply doesn’t exist” and laments her focus on children, dancing, and fitness rather than women’s rights. Brittney Cooper at the Salon responded with ‘Lay off Michelle Obama: Why white feminists need to lean back.’ Here she argues “Black women have never been the model for mainstream American womanhood, and to act as though she takes something away from the (white) feminist movement is intellectually disingenuous and historically dishonest.” She goes on to note the value in the First Lady’s role as a mother and wife, and agrees with Kirsten West Savali’s statement that, “In my feminism, we understand that raising intelligent, confident Black children in a loving family is one of the most revolutionary acts a Black woman can commit in America.”
Finally, the University of Vermont is leading the way in efforts to allow students to choose their preferred gender prounoun. University forms allow students to choose from ‘she’, ‘he’ and ‘ze’ as well as the option to be referred to only by their name.

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Megan MacKenzie is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in Australia. Her main research interests include feminist international relations, gender and the military, the combat exclusion for women, the aftermaths of war and post-conflict resolution, and transitional justice. Her book Beyond the Band of Brothers: the US Military and the Myth that Women Can't Fight comes out with Cambridge University Press in July 2015.