Alyssa Royse thanks you for loving breasts, but when it comes to breast cancer, she wants the attention where it’s really needed.
It’s breast cancer awareness month. Again. Yay. Big, strong, macho men are wearing pink. I kind of love seeing the NFL go “pink,” but mostly because I love seeing them step outside the gender binary in which color became an unwitting pawn. While I want to be grateful for the support and all, the truth is, it just makes me really mad. And then I feel bad for getting mad, because I want to give everyone a gold-star for trying. But I can’t. Because I’m really mad.
When I see an oh-so-adorable shirt that says “Save The Tatas,” I really want to scream “F*#k the tatas, save the WOMAN!” I think there are some things that many men just don’t understand about the whole “Wear Pink for Boobies” thing. Probably because you don’t have breasts (though you can get breast cancer) and don’t have this part of your body so objectified so constantly in the media. It’s one of those situations in which you’re doing all the wrong things for all the RIGHT reasons. So let’s fix that.
I have seen many friends through breast cancer, and not once did I think to myself, “I don’t care if I lose her, but those tatas, man that’s a shame.” When my friend Jessica died of lung cancer in her early 30’s – having never touched a cigarette – I didn’t think “save her lungs!” No, I thought “please, someone, somehow, save Jessica.” When my dog was limping through the house in pain from bone cancer, I didn’t think “I’m really going to miss her bones.” Nope, I thought, “I can’t bear how much I will miss my dog.”
This is about cancer. This is about people. This is not about body parts.
But with breast cancer, somehow, it’s become about the “tatas.” Not even the breasts, but the “boobies,” the “tatas” the “great rack.” Perhaps the one that pissed me off the most was the t-shirt I saw that said “Save Second Base.” Yup, protect the place I like to play, never mind the woman, or the cancer. This is about my fun.
And therein lies the rub. We have sexified and cutsiefied breasts because we like to play with them. We aren’t talking about the people who get breast cancer, or what cancer does to them and everyone who loves them. Nope. Just the boobs. Why? Because boobs are, like, super duper fun toys. Wanna know another problem with that? Men get breast cancer too, and no one talks about that. Why? Because, titties.
I really feel like we could change all of those campaigns to “Save The Sex Toys.” Which would be kind of awesome, and a campaign I could totally get behind.
I admit, when it first started, before the Pink Ribbon Industry was just that – a money-making venture out for its own survival, not anyone else’s – I thought it was cute too. The “in your face” nature of the campaigns were made possible because they were toned down and animated. It seemed brilliant; it was brilliant. But then it became a thing of its own, and not only did the attention become on boobies rather than cancer and women, it became on profit for the Pink Ribbon Industry.
Where is all the money really going when you buy a “pink” product to support Breast cancer?
Selling Science breaks down the Yoplait yogurt campaign:
“For every lid you save from a Yoplait yogurt (and mail in, using a $0.44 stamp, mind you!), they will donate 10 cents to breast cancer research. If you ate three yogurts per day for fourth months, you will have raised a grand total of $36 for breast cancer research, but spent more on stamps and in environmental shipping waste.”
Doing quick math, I would also add that you spent nearly $300 on yogurt. You could just donate $150 directly to someone who does cancer research, spend half as much donate 3 times as much, and do way more good for the cause. Assuming the cause is preventing cancer and not promoting Yoplait.
This is true for pink blenders, pink socks, pink coffee makers, pink buckets of chicken….. Selling the pink is about making cash.
The simple truth is, the pink ribbon products don’t do anything for breast cancer, they just make money for the corporation that is making the product. And make light of a deadly serious issue. The pink ribbon for breast cancer is a profitable sales tool just like a woman’s boobs in a pink bikini would be. It is no more altruistic than using Paris Hilton to sell a hamburger. It might be worse, because it pretends it’s not just another way to use a woman’s body as a sales hook.
What is being pink-washed behind all of this ostensibly well-intentioned race for a cure? Lots of things.
When we make the focus on the cure, we remove focus from things like preventing cancer in the first place. From the very non-sexy reality of tracking down causes, which is what needs to be happening. We remove focus from the aftermath, the often very stark reality of living life after cancer treatment.
When we make the focus on saving the breast and not the woman, what are we saying to women who can’t save their breasts? Or women who not only lose their breasts, but choose not to have implants? Did they lose the battle, even though they lived?
When we put the focus on breasts because we love breasts, we ignore cancers that exist in other, way less sexy, parts of the body. For example:
- Roughly 30,000 women will die this year because of cervical, endometrial and uterine cancer. Hard to make a cute t-shirt for those cancers, since most people aren’t even sure where in the body those things are, besides, you know, “in there somewhere.”
- Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in men, will kill about 30,000 men. But (no pun intended) about 239,000 men will get prostate cancer and have some sort of life-altering symptoms.
- We all have about at 5% chance of developing colorectal cancer – cancer in either the colon or the rectum. Somewhere around 51,000 people will die in 2013 from colorectal cancer. The death rate has dropped dramatically, thanks to early screening. This would be a great one for a brown-ribbon campaign, because it is so “easy” to recover from if caught early!
I love that everyone has gotten so impassioned about breast cancer. Especially men, since for the most part it is a disease that primarily (though not exclusively) kills women. I just want all that passion directed at the things that matter, and that can really make a difference.
No more focusing on just the breasts, but on the whole person, and the whole network of people that is impacted by the disease, regardless of the outcome. And we promise, we won’t start a “save the boners” campaign to support prostate cancer research. We want to save all of you men!
No more giving money to heartless branding campaigns, donate directly to research and prevention.
And guys, you can wear pink any time. It just plain looks hot on you.