“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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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