Do I talk about chemobrain? Do I rant about some social injustice? Do I bitchblog about the pink ribbon? Choices choices choices. What's a woman to do?? To the person who commented on my April 1 blog entry, The Fools Day Post, I'm pissed off again.
Go ahead and lecture me about how I shouldn't be pissed off. Go ahead and tell me I should just accept it because after all, isn't all awareness good and isn't anything that draws attention to "our cause" worthwhile? I called bullshit on that one. And nothing will ever change my mind. All awareness is NOT created equal and to be perfectly honest, there is NO NEED to raise awareness unless we are talking about doing so in an impoverished third world country where, yes, there is much work to do.
In this country, in Canada, in much of Western Europe, in Australia..... we are in great shape on the awareness front. We know what pink means. We know we need to get mammograms. We are aware of the DISEASE that is Breast Cancer. Wait! Apparently, there are still people who don't realize that every woman, by virtue of the the fact that she IS A WOMAN, is at risk of developing breast cancer??!? Well halle-friggen-lullia and thankfully we have some young enterprising French-men, self-annointed, self-appointed knights in shining armor who have swooped in on our behalf. The've come to rescue us. We are damsels in distress.
There's nothing sexier than a chivalrous man. (Is that even grammatically correct? Do I even care?) If that's at the core of a man and it's sincere, chivalry is okay by me. There are plenty of times I am beaten up by life and I'll gladly slip into the "weaker sex" role. Being weak makes me stronger. A man sees a problem and he might be inclined to feel the need to fix things. Including sometimes, things that are not broken.. or sometimes, they may intentionally break something so they have a reason to fix it.... or sometimes, there is just another motivation. Mostly, men want to fix things out of genuine concern. Most men. Not all, but definitely most. Some would rather leave us to our own resourcefulness and those guys are great, too. Some however, back me into a corner, take advantage of me or someone I care about and I can't help myself. Those people, not exclusive to men FOR SURE, but those blood suckers, male or female, just force me to summon my inner bra burning bitch, my rebellious raucous rowdy razor rip you to shreds tongue bitch.
Enter Boobstagram. An ingenious website (I really really REALLY wish there was a "universal sarcasm font") wherein women are instructed that "Showing your boobs on the web is good, showing them to your doctor is better." The website is filled with photographs of beautiful "boobs" in some exquisite lingerie. They have a Facebook page and a twitter feed. Breasts breasts everywhere. All beautiful breasts. The Facebook page looks a bit pornographic and I am FAR from a prude. Why, whatever do you mean Miss? I mean...... I'd like to morph into Diane Lane. I mean, this is a French website and I'm sayin' my mind is on that young, adorable, hot French guy in the movie Unfaithful..... I'm so there. In a New York minute. I'm not a prude. Yes, in that public restroom. Like I said, I'm NOT a prude. And, I'm a sucker for a man with a killer accent.
Ok.... So I'm not a prude. In my mind, I'm not a prude. In the real world, well, I'm not a kiss and tell kinda gal. Well then, Miss, Who Are You? I'm a woman who pulled the short straw by developing a disease. THAT disease. There is a line in the sand on Booby Beach. On one side are the women with breast cancer flanked by their fierce supporters and on the other side? Well, there are a mess of people capitalizing on the disease by turning everything into some sort of comic event. Who can come up with the most outrageous concept? Who can exploit women (many of whom are struggling already) in what may be the most egregious awareness campaign I've seen thus far?
I know many women whose bodies have been surgically altered, mutilated when you come right down to it, and despite the most masterful plastic surgeons, nothing is more perfect than having the parts we were born with. In tact. With real sensation, nerve endings sending signals to our brains. Not pulling. Not itching. I know those women. I am that woman. And, seeing my scars and dealing with the emotional fallout that can linger for years, the last thing I want to do is look at young, perfect, perky, scantily clad, suggestively posed "boob" shots.
Hell. I don't even think women with their own perfect body parts want to really scroll through pages and pages of that shit. Unless they are looking at the lingerie...... perhaps in search of the perfect undergarment...... perhaps in anticipation of running into some hot guy with an accent.... and they want to be perfectly accessorized should they find themselves in a situation where said hot guy is tugging at their blouse..... Obviously, since none of the lingerie is for sale, these photos are not for women. It's another one of those, slap a pink ribbon on it and call it awareness. Someone on twitter had some harsh things to say. I would have asked that particular twitter person to speak for herself but she is @SusanKomenGhost and she only speaks when she feels like making an appearance from the other side. I can't summon her at my will. This was her suggestion to her sister: Team up with these guys and call this campaign "Jack Off For The Cure." And yes, if you wondered, the title of this entry is a play on those words. I didn't want to be THAT crude right out of the gate.
To lend a bit of credibility, there is a "Why" page on this website. The "founders" introduce themselves and include the credentials that make them qualified to launch such a site and further explain how this site is the greatest way to raise awareness through fun rather than fear. Really? Has France ceded from this planet and moved to a new galaxy? OK... that's not fair either.....it's not France. Allow me to rephrase.... Have these two guys gone from human to alien and departed Planet Earth? What the HELL does that even mean? Fear to fun. There's nothing fun about breast cancer or screening for it either. I was at the screening game for 20 years and being told, "Don't get changed yet, there is dust on the film, we need more images" .... nothing but terror. Sheer terror. Most times it IS nothing but dust. Until one time, it's something like cancer.
On that same "why" page (which, by the way had me screaming, "yes, WHY?????") where we learn about their impeccable street cred, there are quite a few mentions of one of my other favorite words in the breast cancer arena. Sir, must you ask which word? Prevention. Not only does the word appear, there are explanations about primary prevention and secondary prevention. Seriously? Let me shout in my sternest voice. NOTHING can be done to prevent breast cancer a.n.d. no matter HOW EARLY the disease is caught, there is NO way to prevent a local, or for that matter, a distant recurrence. We can only employ risk reducing behaviors and then ..... roll those dice. The rest is a crap shoot. Or pulling the short straw. Or being in the ranks of The Lucky Ones. I "crapped out" primarily. I'm hoping secondarily that the next time I'm the shooter, I have better luck with the dice. Better still, maybe some hot guy with an accent can be the shooter and I'll just stand there and blow on the dice......(And yes, I know it's two dice and grammatically, I should say with the die..... but I have an issue with the letters d.i.e. For me, they are a bit, ummmm, dicey?)
How about getting the facts straight if the goal is awareness? Let's start by dispelling this great big myth. Let's banish the word "prevent" from the breast cancer vocabulary. Let's stop making breast cancer some sort of "sexy" disease. If you can't grasp those concepts, you are on the other side of the sand line on Booby Beach. You want to do something for awareness by throwing lots and lots of boobs on a Facebook page for awareness, CHANGE the conversation. Do something that may actually HELP one of us. Make people aware that women are dying and the numbers remain unchanged for decades. Make people aware that early detection is not a magic bullet for all. Make people aware we didn't cause our disease, we can't be cured and we can't do a damn thing to control what the disease may decide to do in the future. Reality doesn't sell. Sex sells. Scantily clad females with a shadow of a nipple peeking out of a lacy black bra sells. Scars scare. Scars are the reality. Scars definitely do NOT sell.
No one said it better than Osocio, a website that contains "the best non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes." Read the whole piece. It's written by a man. One of the fixers. The real fixers. I love how he notes this may be the ultimate example of an awareness effort using sex for attention. Then, read the two articles in Huffington Post. One is in the US edition. The other is in the UK edition. Read the comments. There is one by someone called Blond Ambition that sums things up pretty nicely. Her comment is in the US edition. The other comments are equally strong in their opinions. Lots of men. All disgusted. The good guys. The guys on our side of the beach. The ones who are genuine and real and who want to fix this.
And while I'm at it.... someone has to tell me WHY this boob stuff is okay for Facebook. Women without breast cancer flaunting their bodies for "the cause" in what amounts to soft porn stays up while something done by women with breast cancer is too risqué? This is a story for another day, but these are Survivors. Survivors who chose a method of healing through artistic impression. Having their bodies painted. Not to cover their scars but to feel better abut their bodies. To reclaim a sense of spirit and hope. The paintings tell their unique story. Their bodies are fully covered. They are cancer patients. No one... NO ONE.. made a dime from the venture.... and this is violates the terms and conditions of Facebook? The scantily clad suggestive pose with real breasts is okay. The beautifully painted body of a woman who suffered the physical and emotional pain of a mastectomy, who "parts" are the handiwork of a surgeon.... HER awareness, too suggestive?? Another story, another day.....