[personal profile] womanwarrior
There's a new ad out by Canada's Rethink Breast Cancer charity. It's called "Save the Boobs", and I'm extremely disturbed by it. So are other people.

There are two things going on here. Breast cancer is not about sex, so it's not okay to call breasts "boobs", a highly sexualized term. Breast cancer is also not about breasts, so calling it "Save the Breasts" does not help. Breast cancer is about saving lives - mostly womens' lives, but also mens' lives too. (Because yes, men can get breast cancer though it's much less common.)

I'm disturbed by this conflation of breast cancer with breasts, and the presentation of breast cancer as a *sexual* issue. It reinforces the idea that womens' lives are less important than our sexuality and our breasts. Generally the very first step in treatment of breast cancer is to remove the breast. How do you think breast cancer survivors feel in a culture which conflates sexiness with breasts, and which sends the message that breasts are the reason we do breast cancer research? If we finally succeed and can cure 100% of all cases of breast cancer through a treatment that involves removing the breast, I would say we were wildly successful. Because even though we have not "saved the boobs", we have saved their lives, and that's by far more important.

I read about this yesterday, but didn't blog about it then because it seems well-covered by other blogs. Today I read about something much closer to home: it's a livejournal community started by people local to me called "treats for tits". I know that fundraising for breast cancer takes a lot of energy, and it's great that these people are putting themselves out there doing this. But do they have to conflate breast cancer with sex, or reduce womens' lives to womens' breasts, in order to do so? I'm divided about whether I want to write them a letter about this, because while I do support their intent and don't want to divert their energies from fundraising, I also think it's extremely important to stop conflating breast cancer with sex, and to stop contributing to the culture where womens' lives are less important than our breasts.

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womanwarrior

November 2009

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