Fighting with the Sky

Objectify Women's Bodies Month

Posted on: October 2, 2009

So I’m all about curing breast cancer and raising awareness about the causes and effects of it (for more info, see my review of Manmade Breast Cancer).  But the methods used to raise awareness about breast cancer bother me.

tatasBreast Cancer Awareness month is supposed to be about women’s health, but it really just ends up being another way for society to focus on breasts.  In many instances, raising awareness about breast cancer involves separating the breasts from women’s bodies.  We love breasts, but not really the women attached to them.  The slogan “Save the Tatas,” while catchy, focuses on one part of a woman’s body instead of the affects of breast cancer on women or society.

In addition, Breast Cancer Awareness month has pretty much turned into a marketing tactic.  Marketers objectify women’s bodies and focus on one part of a woman’s body for the purpose of sales, not really for the purpose to raising awareness about breast cancer and women’s health.

I think Deeky summed it up great in a post on Shakesville:

Hey, boobies! Yay for boobies! Save the boobies! We love boobies! The women they’re attached to? Not so much.

This is not to say that Breast Cancer Awareness is altogether bad.  The Walk for a Cure raises a lot of money for research.  It does get people talking about women’s health, but not always in a positive way.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a guy say something along the lines of: “I’m aware of breasts all year long…hehehe.”  It has just kind of turned into a joke or a way to further objectify women’s breasts.

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4 Responses to "Objectify Women's Bodies Month"

A lot of breast cancer awareness ads also make specific reference to “fondling” or “groping.” Either in the context of “grope for the cause” (which is, uhm, not how you do a breast exam) or “you don’t be able to grope these if she gets cancer” (because she will…ew…get a mastectomy!).

I, too, am not a fan of breast cancer, and I support research efforts (in fact, I have a very good friend who is a breast cancer researcher). But breast cancer awareness month makes me sick, often literally so. It’s disgusting and exploitative and totally gross.

Furthermore, a lot of corps (like, say, Nestle) jump on the cause marketing bandwagon, slap some pink shit on their packaging, and don’t actually contribute anything. People are tricked into buying stuff (often more expensive stuff) because it’s pink, and a very small amount (in the pennies), if anything, goes to breast cancer research from their purchase.

If people are really concerned about breast cancer and really want to make a difference, they should donate directly to an organization which does research, or consider contributing to a group which pays for mammograms for low income women. And, guess what…you can do that all year!

My facebook status is currently along the lines of “there’s more to a woman than her ta-tas. We need a cure.”

[…] a Young Feminist and @meloukhia from this ain’t livin’ posted some interesting pieces here and here about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Seriously, go read them now.  Then come back; […]

Agreed. I used to think some of the slogans were funny (and since they were coming from women, they seemed innocent enough), but we should focus on the disease, not the body part.

I also agree that breast cancer and the pink ribbon have been exploited by companies to make money. I love pink, so I love the pink versions of products, but after a while it starts to feel… eh?

Take the NFL, for example. So the players are wearing pink accessories to “raise awareness.” I think we’re all aware of it. Are these players donating any money to research? To prevention? To organizations like Planned Parenthood, who offer mammograms to women who couldn’t otherwise afford them? Or is their wearing pink just a publicity stunt for the NFL? Because I don’t see women benefiting from this much.

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