I've gone and taken my ultra-bitch, ultra-tired, ultra-hungry self to the doghouse by replying to a group spam email that presented yet another one of those stupid breast cancer awareness games. I don't regret the thinking behind my reply, but, I didn't realize that I had replied to the whole group. Then again, I bet someone else on that mailing list had a second thought about the dumb idea and maybe another women realized how demeaning it was to women with cancer.
Because it was associated with a part of a woman's body that was sexual and therefore was shameful, breast cancer was not checked for, not researched, not treated. Because of that it was deadly. With a lifetime occurence rate of about 1 in 8 women that was a lot of women who died needlessly. A wonderful campaign created an awareness that made it ok for women to check their breasts for lumps, made it acceptable for men to talk about lumps they might have felt in their partner's breasts and gave rise to fundraising opportunities that have led to research and treatments so that 80-90% of women survive a breast cancer diagnosis.
So, why are we re-sexualizing it? Breast cancer treatment is not about saving breasts, it's about saving women. It's about saving mothers, wives, sisters, friends, triathletes, runners, cyclists, your co-worker.
Somehow we women have gotten caught up in this sisterhood so much so that if someone suggests we post the colour of our bra, the place where we put our purse (and therefore, "where we like it") and whatever the newest thing is, well, we just go ahead and mindlessly do that. We don't question what any of that has to do with breast cancer awareness (which is pretty freaking high in the developed world), and we don't question why we want, yet again, to associate breast cancer with sex.
I think about women who come from cultures that are more modest about the body and sexuality and I wonder how a "save the titties campaign", or an aweness campaign that is sexually related is going to help those women, and men touched by breast cancer. How are those women going to be conscious of changes in her breasts if she feels being caught up in some movement that offends her.
I don't have a teenage daughter but if I did I would be horrified if she was posting "where she liked it" as part of some bogus awareness campaign. I would however make her aware that breast cancer can be a lifestyle disease and her best defence, other than good genes, was to stay at a healthy weight through proper nutrition and lots of fun physical exercise. And if she wants to tell some boy where she likes it, well, don't do that in front of me 'cause that would freak me out. And use a condom. Actually, teenage boys should wear two. You know what I mean.
Hey, just a thought, why not start a testicular cancer awareness campaign that has boys and men posting "left" or "right" - you know, what side they shoot on. Would that be offensive or would it be ok because cancer awareness is so important we should all demean ourselves.
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