Where's the #feminism in #breastcancer awareness campaigns? #BCAM

Has Feminism Dropped the Ball In Breast Cancer Awareness?

“Sexy” sells. Sadly, it is even selling breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer has been trivialized. It has also been sexualized. Both are wrong. The end does not justify the means.

Other bloggers have written about this subject, and I included a few links to some great posts at the end of this one. Read and decide for yourself if you agree with me or not.

If you need a couple visual examples depicting the sexualization of breast cancer, here are a couple pretty tame ones, for starters.

Has Feminism Dropped the Ball During BCAM?

 Has feminism dropped the ball in breast cancer awareness?


I’d like to approach this topic of the sexualization of breast cancer from a different angle, an angle I have not heard discussed all that much, and this surprises me.

I’d like to ask, has feminism dropped the ball?

Have we become complacent? 

Let’s not forget how hard others have worked to achieve women’s rights.

Let’s not forget that women were clamoring for equality and demanding to be taken seriously not all that long ago; that in fact, we still are.

Let’s not forget it’s only been one hundred years since women earned the right to cast a vote. Unbelievable, but true.

Yes, we have come a long way. Let’s not start taking too many steps backward. Some awareness campaigns are just that, steps in the wrong direction.    

Has feminism dropped the ball in breast cancer awareness?

Has feminism dropped the ball?

Has feminism dropped the ball in breast cancer awareness?

Breast cancer awareness reaped the rewards of the feminist movement by helping to bring breast cancer out of the closet. The stigma of breast cancer was diminished, but somewhere along the line something else started happening.

That something was the emergence of what has come to be known today as Pink Ribbon Culture.

This Pink Ribbon Culture started off slowly, gained momentum and morphed into something so huge, it almost seems unstoppable.

Not just in October but all year long now, there is pink stuff being marketed and sold in the name of breast cancer awareness. There are pink lights, pink toys, pink newspaper ads, pink candies and pink potato chip bags (are pink potato chips next?) just to name a few.

If you can eat it, drink it, play with it, make something with it, drive it, wear it or even put your trash in it, you can probably find a pink version of it.

Has feminism dropped the ball in BCAM?

People can’t seem to get enough pink.

I can deal with the pink. I actually like pink. And ribbons aren’t so bad either.

But seriously, what happened here?

When did a cause that’s supposed to help women get so off track?

Has feminism dropped the ball in breast cancer awareness campaigns?

And when did it become alright to wear sassy t-shirts depicting demeaning images or comments about breasts? What other disease has the afflicted body part(s) displayed on articles of clothing with silly, even degrading commentary?


Why is this OK?

Has feminism dropped the ball during BCAM?

Or this?

Has feminism dropped the ball during BCAM?


Really, it’s all about the boobs?

When did it become more about saving breasts than saving lives?

Have we lost sight of what the original intent of all this awareness was?

Has breast cancer awareness merely morphed into a big business?

Is breast cancer being used? Are women being used? It feels wrong to trivialize a deadly disease. It feels wrong to trivialize women by marketing silly t-shirts depicting demeaning images or comments about breasts under the guise of awareness.

Feminism is not a word or cause to shy away from. Feminism is not something we only needed when we wanted the right to vote. Feminism is not something we only needed in order to gain equal opportunity in the work force. No, we need feminism today as well, maybe more.

This October let’s remember that feminism is not a dirty word. Let’s put the feminism back in the awareness. 

Let’s start expecting; no, let’s start demanding more. 

Check out these terrific articles on this topic:

Oh, That Crazy, Sexy Breast Cancer by the Accidental Amazon

What’s In A Name? by the Accidental Amazon

Think About Pink by Peggy Orenstein

Do you think breast cancer has been sexualized?

Do you think feminism has “dropped the ball” here?

Do you care?

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Image via Breast Cancer Consortium

64 thoughts to “Has Feminism Dropped the Ball In Breast Cancer Awareness?”

  1. I agree 100% Nancy. I participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk in San Diego yesterday. It almost seemed like a celebration, rather than an event to focus on fighting a serious disease. They were chanting, “early detection,” which is fine. But then they started talking about self exams and finding someone else to “help” you with your BSE. Really?! There were lots of signs like you list on your blog. Teams named “the rack pack” and stuff like that. I don’t like that part of it. I agree that it trivializes this disease and turns it into something to protect sex rather than a woman’s life. Just my opinion.

    1. Tonya, Thank you so much for sharing about your recent experience with the walk. I understand that some of these groups want to lighten things up and they say they are reaching a younger crowd. I still say such tactics trivializes a deadly disease and trivializes women as well, hence my dismay at feminism “turning the other way.” Good for you for participating in the walk.

  2. Thank you, Nancy! I realize that these sassy campaigns are generally aimed at a younger audience. That’s a good thing – breast cancer is not just a disease that belongs to our mothers. I know! So I always try to remember that if it gets younger women to think about it, that’s good….but still!

    We, and generations of women before us, have worked so hard to be considered for our merits, not just for our bodies. I hate to give any ground on that!

    I like to feel sexy & sassy as much as anyone. But these campaigns have always made me uneasy. Cancer is not sexy. Cancer is not sassy. I may be, but cancer is not.

    Why should my body be used like this? To sell a product, to sell an idea? And what do these messages mean for those of us whose “ta-tas” couldn’t be saved? If boobs are sexy, what am I if I have only one? Half cute, half sexy?

    Sorry, I’ve kind of gone on a rant here, but you definitely got me going.

    1. Julie, I’m glad you are with me here. You said it perfectly, “We and generations of women before us have worked really hard to be considered for our merits, not just our bodies.” That’s the thing, I just don’t understand how anyone can think these trivializing tactics are alright because of exactly that. Why do we want to go backward? I do think breast cancer is being used and therefore, so are women. Thanks for sharing your opinions. Rant away anytime!

  3. I’m not a prude but I am also offended by direction the advertising had taken. I’ve written an open letter to Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan Komen Foundation, asking her to work to redirect the Foundation’s money to research on metastases. 65% of women diagnosed with breast cancer die of it because of metastases. Susan Komen died of metastatic breast cancer.

    1. Kathleen, Good for you for writing that letter to Komen. We certainly need more research on mets and a lot of other areas as well. Actually, I believe the number of women who go on to develop mets after a bc diagnosis is closer to 30%. Still way too high a number. Thank you for commenting.

  4. Yes, it has been grossly sexualized. There is something seriously wrong when a race team names themselves “Dr. xyz’s hotties for the cure”. Especially when that team represent’s a doctor who specializes in breast reconstruction.

    “We named our team “Hotties” because it best describes our patients! Dr (who I wont name) gives them fabulous cleavage and they give us a lifetime of inspiration. I run like a hottie…”

    There seems to be more focus and concern about the loss of breasts than the loss of one’s life.

  5. Nancy, you have compiled an extraordinary list of pink offenders (all pink is offensive to me these days).

    The feminist BC ball has not only been dropped, it’s been dragged, deflated and is DOA. But the solution is right at our fingertips.

    The BC blogging community has started a seismic shift in the perception of pink. We have to keep on keystroking — all of us — about our opinions and points of view. Only then can we, en mass, turn this pink stink on its head. It’s happening.

    Thanks for another stunning recap of the issues at hand. Write on!


    1. Renn, Thank you very much for your comments. I love the way you describe the feminist ball dropping. Sadly, I fear you are exactly right, but how did we let it happen? Thanks for the encouragement, I think we all need some about now. I know I do.

  6. Nancy, once again you have stated perfectly well the situation existing today. For the ‘uninitiated’ it appears to be almost ‘innocent.’
    I feel that I may be totally distracted by my own health issues so it is lovely to see you writing so succinctly on the subject.
    Love and gratitude

  7. Nancy, I so agree with your sentiments here. I wrote a similar post last year. Each year my sentiments on this sexualization of cancer issue peak when I see all the events in which sexy models model sexy bras in honor of or supposedly to raise money for breast cancer awareness/research/something. How are breast cancer survivors honored by healthy breasted women wearing sexy bras?

    But alas, it’s just a small (though oh so significant) piece of a much larger issue, one that extends far beyond breast cancer – the constant sexualization and marketing of women’s bodies. I don’t know if we can change that piece of the puzzle without addressing the larger picture.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Susan, Thank you so much for adding to this discussion. You’re right, this is only a small piece of a much larger puzzle. I’m frankly amazed more women (and men) aren’t disturbed and more vocal about this particular angle or puzzle piece.

  8. I agree with you 100%. I look at it this way, you would never see “Save the Balls” for testicular cancer awareness or “save the Butt Glands!” for Prostate Cancer. Why do we marginalize Breast Cancer? Is it a problem with the word? I really would love to know why “Ta-ta’s” and “Boobies” are perfectly fine to use in reference to a life threatening cancer awareness campaign. It doesn’t sit well with me.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Jill, I love it when people agree with me! Ha. Seriously, you raise such an important point. Why is this particular disease marginalized in this manner? It doesn’t sit well with me either. Thanks so much for commenting.

  9. I’m wondering if breast cancer is as sexualized in other countries as it is in the United States. I feel like sex is a “taboo” topic to discuss in the U.S., so there is this obsession around it. And for whatever reason, it’s acceptable (comfortable) for our culture to obsess over breasts.

    I liked Susan’s comment (above) where she asked, “How are breast cancer survivors honored by healthy breasted women wearing sexy bras?”

    As far as feminism goes, I feel people in “my generation” (I’m 28) are afraid to be labeled as “feminists,” which is too bad. I’m not sure if you read “Manifesta” by Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, but that is mainly what her book is about and I found it really interesting.

    I would hope that every woman (and man) is a feminist, though, because being a feminist simply means believing in equality. It doesn’t have to mean “crazy lesbian gang member who hates men and burns bras and refuses to raise a child.”

    1. Lindsay, I don’t believe breast cancer is sexualized in other locales to the extent it is here, but that would be interesting to know. I suppose some younger women are afraid of the feminism label which is really too bad because as you said, being a feminist simply means believing in equality, at least that’s what it means to me. I have not read that book and I guess I should. Thanks for commenting. Are you offended by these silly campaigns, t-shirts etc?

  10. Yeah. I am offended.

    The worst one in the examples you gave is the T-shirt that says “It’s all about the boobs.” Wow. Really? It is?

    The “feel your boobies” campaign has never bothered me as much as it bothers others. But the “Save the ta-tas” is pretty bad as is “Save the hooters.”

    1. Lindsay, I agree with you about the phrase, “It’s all about the boobs.” That is one of the worst if not THE worst. I don’t understand how women of any age can be ok with this stuff, men either for that matter, but women, come on. Thanks for your perspective.

  11. Yes, where IS the feminist perspective in breast cancer awareness activities? It’s almost as if the choice to objectify oneself has been cast as empowering. I am branded. Therefore, I am. Is that what is really happening? I don’t know. Just thinking out loud. On screen.

    But I am concerned about this. Visibility for the sake of visibility. Spectacle for the sake of spectacle. Money for the sake of money. Where’s the advocacy? Where’s the activism? Where’s the feminism? Where’s the BEEF??

    And…where’s the cure? Where’s prevention? Where’s the money going? Why do we keep allowing others to profit from this disease? Do we even have a choice anymore?

    I’m starting to get depressed, Nancy. Thanks….

    1. PRB, There does seem to be an awful lot missing doesn’t there? I think you’re right, somehow much of this sexualization is being portrayed as empowering. I don’t have answers to any of your questions except your last one. We do have a choice and that gives me a glimmer of hope. Thanks for asking some important questions.

  12. This is why I’m basically sitting out this Pinktober, because I’m so burned out by all the folks who don’t get it, after all I and others have said on the subject. Thank you, Nancy, for taking up the mantle & for using two of my post links. I am so damn tired of saying it all over & over & over again. But I guess that’s what we have to do. I’m just so glad that you are one of the people who ‘get it.’


    1. Kathi, I uderstand your need to “sit out” this time round, a person can get burned out and just plain tired of beating the same old drum. I was delighted to share those two links. Those two posts are really something. Thanks for commenting and don’t “sit out” too long, although I’m pretty sure you won’t be.

  13. Nancy,

    Absolutely AWESOME & powerful post!

    Just love to look at my scars and THEN, look at those first two photos of FLAWLESS breasts. Makes me feel so great about the mess I had to make in order to rid my body of a DISEASE.

    We are making lots of noise and the noise is starting to ripple out. We WILL be the face of change. I can’t get my daughter’s voice out of my head…. “I should remove my OVARIES” (at 26????) to reduce my risk of breast cancer. Yes, sexualized, trivialized and now, an intelligent (graduated with an engineering degree intelligent so she gets the “statistics” stuff) young woman who happens to be at a very high risk for BC would rather remove her ovaries and alter her entire LIFE than face the possibility of having to do what I did. My heart is breaking and it does have to stop with me.

    I’m with you, Nancy. We keep making noise until the scarred and charred skin is exposed….

    Love ya,

    1. Ann Marie, Thanks for you comments, your passion always comes through! I understand your worries about your daughter – I have one too. Keep on making all the noise you can. We need it.

  14. Nancy, thank you for this article. I totally agree. I have felt uncomfortable with the “sexy” catch phrases about breast cancer awareness for some time, but could never articulate why. You did that for me so beautifully.
    When we look at how other diseases and disorders are represented, when we look at how other social ills are addressed – we’d be hard pressed to find this same frivolous approach to increasing awareness as we do with breast cancer. One can argue that everything increases awareness, but in using these “sexy” phrases, we run the risk of relegating breast cancer to just another female problem. And then the true impact of this disease is lost.
    I had this same uncomfortable feeling when there was a local “walk a mile in her shoes” march to increase awareness of the impact of rape. There was a party atmosphere and the guys wearing high heels sure looked like they were having fun, but despite the placards stating “real guys don’t rape” and “consent is sexy” the message of the terrible impact of rape was completely lost. It felt trivialized.
    You are so right – feminism isn’t a movement of the past that is no longer relevant. It is a way of life and a way of perceiving the world. And we need it now more than ever. As feminist.com wrote “feminism…requires a willingness to act on behalf of yourself, and to stand up for all women in the face of everything from misogyny to a social mandate that says ‘be nice.'”

    1. Kate, Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Frankly, I’m a bit tired of the argument “there can never be too much awareness.” This is true, but… I think that argument has become an excuse. I want a differenct sort of awareness, a better kind of awareness. Your experience in the local “walk a mile in her shoes” march is another example of how women’s issues are still trivialized and that’s really a sad commentary. We definitely need feminism/activism today, love the quote. Thanks for sharing it.

  15. Great post Nancy, and great conversation here. Yes, I often ask myself the same question – what did happen to feminism and breast cancer and sigh a very big sigh! Quote from Being Sarah:

    “So this is why I am enraged about pink. That’s how they control us is it? Quiet and smiling. And I wonder whether this is a failure of feminism? Why not just chain me back up to the kitchen sink? Then I won’t be able to get near the places I can have my say: speak on TV, or write a book.”

    1. Sarah, That is such a great quote from your book. I do think some of these campaigns are exactly that, a strange form of control. Women, men too actually, are supposed to accept, buy tons of pink stuff (even tacky sexist stuff) and then as you said, keep quiet and keep smiling. Then we can all feel good and even beat cancer, right? Wrong. I do think feminism has failed, but it’s never too late. Thanks for your comments and for your book too.

  16. Seeing all of these images, put together, turned my stomach. I felt particularly ill with “It’s all about the boobies.”


    It’s not about my life? It’s not about my children having a mother, even without breasts? It’s not about me getting to live more than 40 years on this earth?

    It’s really ALL about my boobies??

    Hell no.

    1. ChemoBabe, I know what you mean. What I find interesting is that all these images/tactics have become so common place, so acceptable. That’s kind of baffling to me and makes me ask over and over, where are the feminists/activists?

  17. I, as a recent member of the breast cancer tribe, am utterly appalled, disgusted & angered by the sexualization & trivilization of this disease and its consequences.
    When I was diagnosed, this summer, & chose mastectomy as opposed to lumpectomy, every doctor discouraged that choice (except, thankfully, my surgeon) saying I needed to “save my breast”.
    For who? For what??
    I see this as an huge marker of the transparent misogyny of our culture.
    I am fine with my appearance & don’t give a damn if others aren’t.

  18. Nancy,

    What an amazing post. This was so powerful and I love how you asked the hard questions. I am so disappointed — in the pinka-palooza commercialization and sexualization of breast cancer, in the women my age who hold disdain for the word, “feminist”, and in the fact that as a young woman with metastatic breast cancer, I cannot find anyone who wants me to join their “club”.

    I was just married when I was diagnosed and it was hard for me to lose my breast, and my hair and the feeling that I was sexy… but it was for sure damn harder (and still is) to think that I might have to leave my beautiful family behind someday. That’s the thing with awareness. People are not aware ENOUGH. They are only aware of awareness — not of the reality of breast cancer and what people living with cancer actually face on a day to day basis. Thank you so much for this post.

    1. Amanda, Thank you for your wonderful comments that so eloquently express your honest disappointment with the present state of awareness campaigns. You summed it all up in two paragraphs much better than I did in a whole post. I’m sorry about your diagnosis and disappointments too. I understand and so do many others, even though at times it certainly doesn’t seem like it does it? I so agree with you, there is awareness, but not the right kind. We need awareness about the realities of breast cancer and that also includes mets. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts to this discussion. I hope you are doing alright. My best.

  19. I agree with these problems of sexualization, the “fight like a girl” in a sexy bra, whatever!!! I am a woman, not a girl, I may refer to myself as a child, but I find this campaign offensive too. I don’t like any of the newer campaigns that say “save the tata’s” or, “I love boobies”, I don’t have boobies, I have foobies!! However; I won’t slam everything here, I don’t hate the “feel your boobies” campaign, because “FEEL” is the key word, I have that same bumper sticker you have posted above, I got it for free, & do get the free ones when offered, I don’t purchase them. But i do think it relates to younger persons, I had my friend hang one in the bar she worked in. What I don’t understand is why there needs to be so many of these campaigns, one is enough!!
    Feminism has changed over the decades, think about it, women are much more comfortable with thier bodies, this is because of feminism, all you have to do is look back at the history of fashion and see. Technology plays a huge factor as the media plays things up, women think they need to be perfect from all the magazine they see. I agree there are many facets to this topic. Still women are fighting for equality, unfortunately many women support these campaigns. Also, many women feel confident in making money from thier bodies, a concept I am not fond of, but will never disapear. I don’t see men wearing “save the tatas” shirts, I do see young men wearing those I love boobies bracelets.

    I have to also think of it in a different way; there are many projects people find offensive, but are truly artistic and beautiful, although some may be turned off..I was even skeptical at first, but only because I wanted to make sure all women were being exposed (like a mastectomy, etc.). Take the “Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project (BCABPP)” I have not been body painted and photographed, but I would be honored to do so! When I lost my breasts, it was more devestating then I could ever imagine, I thought my hair was more important to me. This project is not a “typical awareness” project, it empowers women, it heals them from the inside out, it allows women to grieve the loss of thier body they once knew as they transform to love the body they have now. These women are from all over the world, from a lumpectomy to a double mastectomy, and each tells a different story. Unfortunately, this type of project doesn’t get the attention of these “crap campaigns” do. It has been on some magazine covers, especially this month. Another magazine I was reading, showed me women that were completely naked from the waist up (harpers bazaar–some mainstream magazine) one with complete reconstruction, others with a lumpectomy, etc. Would you find those those women offensive? I find them inspiring & empowering, which inspires me. Fondly…

    1. Laura, Thank you for adding to this discussion with your comments. First of all I must say right away, I would not be offended by the magazine photo story you mention. To me that type of thing captures the reality of breast cancer. I absolutely agree such photos can be inspiring. You mention you feel these “crap campaigns” go after a younger crowd and I agree, that’s who they claim is their target. However, I don’t believe in “dumbing down” cancer for the younger crowd. Young people deserve truth and genuine awareness about what cancer is really like. And you’re right, there are so many of these campaigns, which points to the real reason behind many of them in my view, and that’s dollars. I also agree that feminism is an ever evolving force that ebbs and flows with societal needs. There are many facets of this discussion aren’t there? Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on a few of them.

  20. Nancy this such a great post, and I really can’t add much to the brilliant discussion here. I’ve been arguing this topic for so long now, I’m really feeling burned out. Plus it’s so much harder to type with one hand!

    But the question of where is the feminism really cuts to the heart of the matter. The rise of pink and its insidious effects, is not limited to the breast cancer movement; just read Peggy Orenstein’s blog, and her opinions on how little girls are growing up these days. My point being is that I think we have real cause for concern, that as a movement, feminism may be in its death throes. What a shame, because I think we need it.
    We’ll keep writing and shouting.

    1. Rachel, Thanks for adding your thoughts. You’re right about this whole issue not being limited to just breast cancer; I do read Peggy Orenstein’s blog on occasion and some of the things I read there about what very young girls are being exposed to these days are really quite disturbing. The feminist movement seems to have lost some of its steam, but I don’t think it’s dead, at least I sure hope it’s not. Women still need to keep working for equality, fairness and respect in all areas of life. Again, thanks for sharing, I appreciate it especially knowing you are doing so with one hand these days.

  21. We have let it become out of control because we allowed it from the start. Instead of being appalled, disgusted and down right angry at the circus like atmosphere towards Breast Cancer we allowed the crap into our homes into our month by turning everything pink.Yet it was done in such a subtle way it crept in until it became the Pink Monster we see today.I’m guilty you are guilty because to one extent or another we sat back never said a word except maybe to ourselves and now we complain. But as the saying goes “BETTER LATER THAN NEVER”!! So write to these companies. petition them to stop the party atmosphere surrounding cancer. As I stated many times in my blog Cancer is not pretty or is it fun or most of all can we describe it as PINK! Lets not throw the Feminists under the bus when we as women whether we maintain the traditional roles or feminism are capable of speaking up. If we the ones most affected by the Pinking of Breast Cancer keep allowing this multi billion dollar campaigns to continue by sitting back not saying a word, we deserve what we get!

    1. Alli, Thanks for your passionate response. You make good points. I’m not blaming feminists/activists for the state of affairs regarding pink ribbon culture, although I do think they have been too quiet of late regarding this stuff. Like you said, we are all responsible to some degree aren’t we? People now days seem confused by what that feminist label even means and I think that’s kind of sad. To me being a feminist means working for equality, fairness and respect for all people and believing it’s everyone’s duty to ask questions and speak up. Just like you do so well on your blog!

  22. I found your article while researching the Movember campaign for prostate cancer. Considering my own feminist philosophy, I have been uncomfortable with this campaign. It’s nice to see that there are still women and men who are uncomfortable with the sexualization of such things as terminal diseases. It seems like most of the planet has forgotten about the importance of what both sexes are capable of achieving on a level playing field.

    1. Chad I, Thanks so much for finding my blog, reading and commenting. You summed up my post pretty well in just a couple of sentences! I so agree with you. Hope you stop by again soon.

  23. Breast cancer isn’t sexy, nor should it be “sold” in that manner.

    We see pink ribbons on yogurt lids, diaper bags, tampon boxes, cereal, on the backs of cars, on the jerseys of football players, and many more places. The ribbons are everywhere. It’s marketing for the company selling products and cancer awareness. Yes, there are donations from corporations, but 1-5% of a sale is not a whole lot to get excited about and does not support the cause as much as we would like. Other times, corporate donation has a cap, or is a preset sum, independent of how many items are sold. Yes, a small donation is better than none, but cancer is being used as a marketing tool. Is that sick, or what?

    1. Claire, I’m so glad you found this post and decided to comment on it. It’s one of the topics I’m most passionate about. I agree with you that cancer is often being used as a marketing tool. Things are more than a little out of ‘whack’ in ‘pink ribbon land’ in my opinion. I appreciate your thoughts. You give me hope!

  24. It certainly isn’t “all about the boobies” — it’s about a woman’s life, and how BC threatens and too often takes her life. Those over-sexualized BC messages make me sick. I saw a woman wearing a “Save the TaTas” shirt at the grocery store and was compelled to ask if she’d had BC. Guess what? She hadn’t. I couldn’t refrain from telling her that her shirt offended me and that there are many better ways to show support for those of us in the pink ribbon club. Then I rattled off a list. The look of shock on her face was priceless! We gotta keep hammering away at the message that sexualizing a devastating disease does nothing for those who suffer from it.

    1. Nancy, Good for you! I love that you spoke up and had a discussion with that woman. Guess you’re right, we have to just keep hammering away. Thanks so much for commenting on this old post. Sadly, it’s still all too relevant.

  25. It isn’t all about the boobs. It is about business. Breast cancer is a big business, for the radiologist, for surgeons, for plastic surgeons, for oncologists. It is also big business for the sellers of pink crap.

    A great post and discussion.

    1. Lisa, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is big business isn’t it? Still, I can’t help but wonder how so many women, or anyone for that matter, can feel okay about some of this stuff being marketed in the name of awareness.

  26. Great post; thank you so much for writing it. I was just searching the internet to make sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I have been disgusted and even enraged by the way breast cancer awareness has been handled, and not just in this past month. And it saddens me when I see that most women just don’t seem to get it. I think “What happened to feminism” is simply that most women do not identify as feminists–they don’t even see these issues as connected.

    1. Michelle, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Somehow the term feminism has taken on a negative connotation for many. To me feminism means fighting for equal rights, respect and dignity for women. Some of these campaigns exploit women and the disease of breast cancer. I feel saddened too, when it seems so many don’t see this, especially so many women. In my mind it’s all connected. Thanks again for commenting.

  27. The message I get EVERY time I see one of those save the ta-tas stickers, or other booby-centric ad, is that my breasts are to be saved but not me. Since my left breast is wrecked from my surgery last year, my impression is that if/when my cancer returns, I am no longer worth saving. When people point out to me I should be happy to be alive, I reply I am, but the ad says ta-tas, not lives. When people tell me I should not define myself by my breasts, I say I don’t have to, society does that for me.

    For the record I am a feminist and proud to say so. But the issue is so much simpler to me: booby ads sell early detection as the only answer, they do not sell cure or prevention. If one of those pretty boobies in these ads gets checked and gets cancer, it is likely subsequent surgery will wreck the booby, therefore making it not “ad-worthy”.

    1. Wendi, I know what you mean about those messages. It’s good to hear you proclaim to be a feminist. Some women shy away from this proclamation for reasons I don’t fully understand. To me a feminist is someone working for equal rights, respect and dignity. In my mind it’s really that simple. Thanks so much for commenting.

  28. Not only sexualised, but chauvinist. 1in 100 breast cancer sufferers are male and the stigma for them has increased a hundred fold. Everything to do with breast cancer is pink and aggressively feminine and the men have been marginalised as the women have been objectified. The end does not always justify the means.

    1. Tim, The stigma for male breast cancer patients is definitely there. Pink craziness, shopping, trivialization and yes, sexualization of breast cancer do indeed marginalize men. In the scheme of things, those things don’t help women either. We all deserve better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  29. yeah, we all deserve better, yet i never heard a feminist who is supposed to be for equality talking about breast cancer affecting both sexes. should i keep calling myself a feminist or stating the truth makes me a mysoginist?

    1. Jeanine, I consider myself a feminist and I talk about it. I’m sure there are many who talk about it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  30. The comments above span nine years, and the issues are largely the same. I think some progress has been made as I don’t see overtly sexualized ads anymore, but I could be very out of the loop as often is the case. I do see more attempts at humor (dogs with pink breast balloons) that aren’t cute or funny. I am also starting to see a shift to more realistic examples of scanners, treatment chairs, IV poles, scars, side effects, etc. that feature more gripping connections to the realities of breast cancer.

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