Breast Cancer is an epidemic sweeping the nation. According to breastcancer.org 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during her life. Think about that. Take eight people you know, and chances are, at least one of them is going to end up with breast cancer. In 2011, about 400,000 women were expected to die from breast cancer and 2.6 million survivors were alive and well in the U.S. It is the most diagnosed form of cancer in women, especially Caucasian women, and the cancer that kills the most African-American women under the age of 45. So it can be agreed upon the breast cancer is a terrible thing and that breast cancer research is very, very necessary.
So, kudos to all of the breast cancer awareness campaigns and fundraisers. They are much needed and can only help in this fight. However, there are some campaigns that although their intentions are good, may need new...advertising? I'm not sure if that's the word I'm looking for, but we'll run with it.
Anyways, there a couple of campaigns, such as the "Save the Ta-Tas" and the "I ♥ Boobies" (run by the Keep a Breast Foundation) campaigns are actually quite offensive.
At this point, reader, I expect that you're shaking your head and thinking to yourself, "really, Alexis? Now you're going to attack Breast Cancer campaigns? Does your shaming know no bounds?" And to you, my answer is yes.
While important to spreading awareness about Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Research, these campaigns are offensive because they are completely sexualizing breast cancer. The campaigns are basically saying "save the boobs because they're sexy!" Not, "save the boobs because women usually feel like they've lost a large part of their person and gender identity after they have a mastectomy." In fact, one of my biggest problems with the whole "Save the Ta-Tas" thing is that more often than not, the only way to actually beat the cancer is to LOSE the "Ta-Tas". Also, if there any women out there who actually refer to their boobs as "Ta-Tas" I would like to know, because seriously. Who, over the age of two actually says that?
Also, women's bodies are being exploited under this guise of larger corporations donating to charity. Think about it. Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So everyone dons their pink clothes and their "I Love Boobies" bracelets and shop at stores and buy products that have a little pink ribbon located somewhere on or within them. That's right, while companies are saying that they are going to donate part of the profits to Breast Cancer Research they are still making a ton of money, at the expense of millions of women's boobs. And chances are, once those customers who originally bought the product to help a good cause, will get hooked on the product and come back for more, regardless of whether or not the money is going to charity. It's legitimately a marketing ploy for corporate America. To date, only $427,000 dollars has actually been raised. Why? Because only 5% of the gross sales ACTUALLY goes towards research.
Then of course there is the whole objectification thing. One of the worst parts of "Save the Ta-Tas" and "I Love Boobies" is that the campaign is reducing women down to their most recognizable feature, their boobs. This campaign is OBVIOUSLY used to attract men to the whole idea that Breast Cancer needs curing, not because of the millions of women whose lives would be saved, but because without that cure, there will be less boobs on the planet, and thus, less boobs for men to stare at. And on that same but different note, why the heck did the color for the whole thing have to be PINK? Yes, I'm aware that breast cancer is a predominately female disease. But why does that mean that it is completely necessary to have the symbol be such a quintessentially "feminine" color?
And as long as I'm being honest here, I feel like these campaigns make the whole idea of breast cancer almost trivial. The logos and the pink shirts and everything make breast cancer seem cutesy and fun. I mean, obviously there is NOTHING as enjoyable as having part of your anatomy removed. Also, yeah, it's cool that big sports teams are on board with the whole awareness thing, you may in fact see them wearing pink shoes, or tape, or pink something in order to raise awareness, but have you ever seen them fighting to end gender parity in sports reporting? Nope. I feel that this campaign is almost oppressive because the majority of men think that by raising awareness "for the cure" they are preaching gender equality, and that's just not true. In fact, because they are drawn to the more fashionable campaigns, they are actually regressing in terms of gender equality and going back to seeing women as boobs and skirts and pink, rather than as human beings who just want support while they are going through this life changing cancer.
So no, I will not advocate for saving ta-tas, saving second base, or your love of boobies. I will, however, let you know what you can do with that propoganda.
I also feel that in order to stop this sexualization and give men a taste of their own medicine we should think of an equally demeaning and objectifying campaign for Prostate Cancer Awareness. I mean, COULD YOU IMAGINE?
Disclaimer: Cancer is not something to joke about, I think that all forms of cancer are serious, and every campaign is helpful is spreading awareness. That does not mean, however, that I have to agree with them.