Shut up, Torie Bosch.

In a piece about the Decembeaver (I’ll let you read about it on Slate if you’d like), Slate’s Torie Bosch writes:

So we’ve made it through Movember, that silly month in which men on your Facebook wall grow out their mustaches “for cancer.” (Because one cannot simply donate to groups like the American Cancer Society—a stunt must be involved.)

If you’ve never heard of it, Movember is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancer and their associated charities. In its eight years of existence, the organization has raised hundred of millions of dollars for these charities and is the leading contributor to prostate cancer research in many countries around the world.

This is why Bosch’s comments annoyed the hell out of me.

First, she states that men grow mustaches for cancer, placing the two words in quotation marks presumably to express doubt as to these men’s intentions. But the organization has already raised hundred of millions of dollars “for cancer” already. Why does Bosch question the motives of these participants?

Why would anyone question the motives of people who are raising enormous sums of money in the interests of medical research?

Then she adds this parenthetical sentence:

(Because one cannot simply donate to groups like the American Cancer Society—a stunt must be involved.)

The stupidity of this statement astounds me.

First, part of the purpose of Movember is to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancers, and in doing so, encourage men to get an annual check-up, become more aware of any family history of cancer, and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

It seems to me that an army of men sporting newly grown mustaches around the world is a perfect way to garner attention for a good cause and raise awareness of a serious, often ignored medical issue. This is not a stunt. It’s a means of channeling the energy of millions of people into a single cause for a single month in the year, and in doing so, create a distinct, daily visual reminder about the cause.   

Second, does Bosch also think that every Breast Cancer Walk, Walk For Diabetes, Race for The Cure and the like should also be eliminated? Can’t these walkers and runners simply donate money without some stunt being involved? Why must thousands of people spend countless weekends walking and running around this country in order to raise money and awareness for worthy charities? Just hand over the damn money and be done with it.


This is what Bosch seems to be implying.

I would also point out that Movember is a sponsored event. Participants get sponsors for their mustaches, allowing them to contribute more money to the cause than they could ever contribute on their own and involving people who might not want not be able to grow a mustache but are more than willing to help. 

To imply that these men should just fork over some money and forget the “silly month” suggests absolute ignorance in regards to the purpose and ways in which these charitable foundations work.

Shut up, Torie Bosch. 

I have never participated in Movember, but I think the story behind the origins of the organization is fascinating, and I see nothing but goodness coming from the organization. I suggest you watch Movember’s founder Adam Garone’s TED Talk below. It’s remarkable how this organization has grown in just eight short years. The story is inspiring and amusing and a great reminder about the power of people pulling together.  

Does Wikipedia have a a woman problem or do women have a Wikipedia problem?

Torie Bosch of Slate wrote a piece about a recent debate on Wikipedia over the validity of an entry on Kate Middleton’s bridal gown as a means of illustrating the gender gap that exists amongst Wikipedia’s citizen editors. Only 9 percent of Wiki editors are female, which is actually an improvement over recent years but still exceptionally disproportionate.


Serious efforts have been made to mitigate this gender gap. Wikipedia’s cofounder, Jimmy Wales, recently addressed the problem and has taken action, as have female editors already working on the site. Despite these efforts, female editors, on average, “make fewer changes to articles than male editors” and frequently don’t continue to be active online.”

All of this brings me to Bosch’s title for the piece:

How Kate Middleton’s Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia’s Woman Problem

I can’t help but wonder if Wikipedia has a woman problem or if women have a Wikipedia problem. While the editorial pages are currently dominated by male editors, anyone is free to make additions, deletions and revisions to the encyclopedia, meaning that women have just as much access to Wikipedia as men. They may have to fight for turf and battle a horde of male editors in order to be heard, but nothing is preventing them from doing so.

Furthermore, the efforts made thus far to involve more female editors have not yielded meaningful results.

I would also argue that the inclusion of Kate Middleton’s wedding gown into the pages of Wikipedia was by no means a slam dunk and not representative of any gender gap. I am glad that there was debate about its inclusion. I’m still not so sure that it belongs in the encyclopedia, but I am confident that if a discussion took place, it’s inclusion is probably justified. This is what makes Wikipedia great. I would also argue that the debate over the dress’s inclusion would have taken place even if female editors outnumbered male editors by a large number.

Like I said, the dress was hardly a slam dunk, regardless of who is editing the site.  

I think it’s great that Wikipedia is making efforts to be more inviting and inclusive to women, but at some point, when a subset of people is not taking advantage of an opportunity that is readily available to them, we might need to shift our gaze away from  the missed opportunity to the people failing to take advantage of it.

Wikipedia may have a woman problem, but I suspect that the problem is the result of women having a Wikipedia problem.

I’m not sure what the problem might be, but knowing the source of the problem is often the first step in finding a solution.