After my recent post on the “Feel Your Boobies” Foundation, I thought I was done. I didn’t think I had anything much more to say on this topic. It turns out; I’m not quite done. The discussion generated by that post and posts by many others, seems to be continuing.
Discussion, even heated discussion, is good, as long as the heat is paired with respect.
Two particular recent posts generating debate come to mind. One by author Peggy Orenstein in the LA Times Op page generated what, in my view, was a lack of respect by some. A few comments there crossed a line. Another example of an opinionated, heat generating post was once again at Uneasy Pink. My eyebrows were raised here a bit as well. Regardless, both of these posts are worth reading if you are so inclined.
This discussion was further fueled by the recent court ruling in Pennsylvania regarding students’ rights to wear various “boobies bracelets” (I think everyone knows by now exactly what these are) to school. The judge ruled students do have the right to wear them.
I am fine with this ruling. I would never stomp on anyone’s right for free speech or self-expression. I actually agree with the ruling.
In my mind, the “injustice” here is that parents, or perhaps all of us, have dropped the ball. We have not led by example, at least not a very good one. We have not modeled respect, dignity and compassion for women (and men) with a serious disease, a disease that kills.
Instead, we continue to perpetuate the idea that breasts are what define a woman. We continue to perpetuate the idea that breasts are what matter most.
Some organizations have chosen to get the most “bang for their buck” by using gimmicks, sex, catchy words, phrases and slogans. It’s easier to go this route. It gets people’s attention. I agree. It generates quick interest and dollars. I agree. It’s actually a pretty smart marketing strategy; I just don’t agree that it’s the right one.
Like I’ve said before young people, all people, deserve better.
As an educator, I have often struggled to get and then maintain the attention of my students. After all, if you don’t capture their attention, they won’t listen. They won’t learn anything. Teachers are always trying to come up with new techniques to light that spark of interest and then keep the fiery desire for learning going. It’s hard to compete with television, computer games, video games, movies, the internet and all the other alluring distractions that inundate young minds on a daily basis.
In our efforts to make education entertaining, we sometimes forget some of the stuff we are trying to teach is not frivolous, fun or the least bit entertaining. Some of the stuff is downright serious. Some of the stuff should never be “dumbed down.” Topics like war, the holocaust, human suffering, civil rights, assassinations, political upheaval, revolutions, genocides and women’s rights to name a few are serious topics.
Sometimes kids (and the rest of us) just need to pay attention, listen and learn. Everything doesn’t necessarily need to be fun and entertaining.
Cancer certainly isn’t.
Why is there this notion that we need to make light of breasts/cancer to grab the attention/dollars of the public?
In my opinion, when breast cancer fundraising organizations rely on the heavy use of sexy and light-hearted campaigns, the campaigns end up becoming a distraction. Like my very wise daughter said to me recently, “Most people don’t take these kind of campaigns seriously anyway.” Well, therein lies part of the problem! Another problem, unintentionally created, is when people buy these items, they often stop there, thinking they have done their part. Evidence shows further charitable contributions tend to stop. People choose not to give further to other organizations more heavily invested in worthy (worthier) causes, like research.
In addition, with heavy focus on breast self-exams and awareness such organizations again, perhaps unintentionally, mislead people into believing this is enough, when clearly it is not. These things are important and need to be addressed, but again, we need more. Worse, they desensitize people to the seriousness of this disease and contribute to sexualizing it. Breast cancer seems to be the disease society is allowing to be sexualized on a daily basis. For another superb post on this aspect, please read Beth’s (admittedly much less wordy than mine) commentary at Calling the Shots.
Last week I was contacted by the Save the Ta-Tas organization. The spokesperson was genuinely interested in my thoughts and respectfully pointed out to me they do funnel dollars to research. I want to thank her for taking time to read my blog and for asking for my thoughts. I appreciate that.
I applaud them for funneling dollars toward reseach, although I do not think they funnel nearly enough.
After that contact I visited their Facebook site, but was immediately bothered by the latest special of the week, a t-shirt that said, “big or small, save them all, save the tatas.” It made me
uncomfortable angry because reading this type of thing feels like a giant step backward for women, all women, not just women with cancer.
I know people who support these tactics and disagree with me will say things like, “to each their own, don’t buy it if you don’t like it, que sera sera, get a life, get a sense of humor, get over it,” and way worse.
Honestly, that’s OK, I can take it.
But what I can’t do is support or accept this type of slogan, name or title. This particular organization asked for my thoughts and feelings, so I’m offering them.
And I just have to keep asking, why is there this need to use words like boobies, hooters and tatas anyway in the serious realm of breast cancer fundraising?
Does that make me too sensitive?
Maybe. Probably. After all, I could not save my tatas, not if I wanted a better chance at a longer life. Ironically, my mother did save her tatas, but NOT her life.
Just because I don’t like the name, shouldn’t others be able to decide for themselves? Of course!!
But when will we move beyond this light-hearted approach? When will we achieve meaningful advancements in real prevention, detection, more humane treatments and ultimately a cure?
When will society
want demand more?
In the meantime, is it possible for fundraising organizations to consider making tiny adjustments in their campaign tactics?
Is it possible for them to consider channeling dollars, or more dollars, to research for an actual cure?
Is change possible?
At least the conversation is taking place. That’s how change starts.
I’m done again, at least for now. As always, I hope you will share your thoughts and comments.
How do you feel about this type of awareness campaign?