Long-time readers will remember my oft-repeated observation: "There is, perhaps, no more perfect example of the fucked-up ways in which women, womanhood, and female bodies are viewed than at the intersection of the realities of breast cancer and the tone of breast cancer awareness marketing."
I have written about my frustration with variations on "save the boobies" campaigns and other objectifying breast cancer campaigns on many occasions, and other contributors have written about garbage cross-promotions and pinkification—which, not incidentally, in combination with the increasing emphasis on "boobies" creates a "save the PINK boobies" narrative, despite the fact that breast cancer mortality rates for African American women are disproportionately high.
The disproportionate emphasis on "saving boobies" is problematic for a whole lot of reasons. Is what I'm saying.
Earlier this month, my friend and colleague Jessica Luther (aka scatx) wrote a great piece for Flyover Feminism, "No More 'Save the Ta-Tas' Please," which addressed some of those reasons. Like, for example, the fact that partially or wholly removing "the ta-tas" is often what saves the lives of people with breast cancer.
Focusing on breasts and breasts alone obscures the reality and the faces of the people who are at the center of the fight against breast cancer. It reminds the survivors who either don't have their breasts or have scars across the breasts they do have that they are now not as wholly feminine [by a kyriarchal definition] as they once were (and they never will be). They may have beaten the cancer but they lost their breasts, the things everyone seems to actually care about.That piece got a lot of attention (if you haven't read it, go read it!), and Jess was invited to participate on CBC's "The Current" in a discussion about whether we are "saving breasts or women's lives."
And now, if you are able, you can listen to it online here.
Jess did an excellent job of inserting women's full humanity into this important conversation. Sure, "save the boobies" gets attention, but at what cost?