While at a “pizza restaurant” with my significant other and his friend, our discussion about our fellow side-job of substituting teaching moved from complaining about our inabilities to actually teach students about curriculum or about proper respect toward elders to me arguing over if and how “boobies” should be saved.
Today was actually a day filled with talk of (wretch) “boobies.” I can’t stand the words boobs, boobies, tits, ta-tas, or any other slang word used to define breasts.
A co-worker was discussing with me the joys of breast-feeeding and how phenomenal and powerful it is for women’s bodies to naturally provide for their child. It is amazing, our bodies are amazing, complicated structures. So are our breasts. They receive a lot of attention, a lot of flack and a lot of disrespect.
From being the unwanted focal point of a conversation, the point(s) of unsolicited compliments and criticisms, to being the target of a surgeon’s knife and squeezed in the waffle-press of a mammogram -our breasts suffer a lot of trauma. Even more so when they are the site where cancer cells attack.
Cancer is a subject that is very close to my heart, many people in my family have been diagnosed with the disease and a couple family members have passed away. It is a subject that I take very seriously and anyone who has been diagnosed with the disease (of any type) deserves our support, prayers and respect.
With that,( and back to the table conversation), my friend discussed how he had just been made aware of the “I heart boobies” rubber bracelets that have been selling like hotcakes and adorned by students. These and other “Save the ta-tas” merchandise are marketed to bring awareness and to generate funds for breast cancer research. Awareness and funds for breast cancer research=good; cheap, sophomoric merchandise that trivializes cancer and sexualizes breasts=not good.
The guys were indifferent to the fad and said while a little tacky, they were for a good cause and didn’t take offense to them. I’ve been walking past these displays and shaking my head at this merchandise for the past two years. Just a good promotion with a catchy, cute saying? Or just another way to dumb down a serious cause that affects women? I can’t say for sure but I do know that something is wrong about it.
I had a college professor lightly tread upon the politics of breast cancer research once. Politics? Here we go again, we always have to look for the oppression and patriarchy everywhere, I thought. But over the last few years I have always thought it strange this “cult of pink kitsch.” It’s trendy to buy and have something with a pink ribbon on it-it’s even profitable. None of these things are bad, people should support the cause. But does the cause need to be cute? Hmm.
Breast cancer affects millions of women, and sadly it kills many women. It’s a serious issue, it’s not a joke. It shouldn’t be trendy, it’s not able to be summed up in a juvenile phrase that teenagers will gravitate to (not because they necessarily care, but because it’s an excuse for them to have the word “boob” written on a bracelet!).
If there weren’t pink mugs and pink necklaces and pink tennis shoes that promoted breast cancer research would women still buy it? Come on people, the disease, the fear, the concern should be enough to drive people to pay attention, to donate, to take preventative measures. “Save the boobies” Really? That’s all we get?
Why can’t a woman’s issue (and this is a son’s issue, a boyfriend’s issue, an everyone issue) be legitimized or given some attention without having to adhere to methods of socialization or promoting gender codes (the use of pink to appeal to women) or funny jokes with women’s breasts as the butt? (ahem.) What’s next, “Save the asses” for colorectal cancer?
And speaking of other types of cancer, another issue I had and spoke about loudly over our calzones was the lack of marketing and awareness towards other types of cancer. Why aren’t there any “Save the bile ducts” or “I love livers” or “Save the pancreas” or “I love lungs” or “Save the ovaries” or…the list of cancers that are affecting and ending lives is overwhelming and they deserve just as much attention as do breasts.
Should people stop buying merchandise that has the aforementioned saying on them, yeah, maybe. What do they cost, $5? That money can still be given to the foundation receiving funds from the sale of the bracelets. The issue is not that people should/not buy boobalicious merch or pink merch or any merch but let’s think about what we’re buying. Just because you’re a philanthropic consumer doesn’t mean that you’re automatically being a conscious one. Let’s change the ways in which we support things, let’s not just accept what’s being marketed to us.Let’s have our say and have things said the right way.
And for goodness sake-they are breasts, not boobs, breasts.