October is breast cancer awareness month. Just in case you didn't notice. This is a very important month to shed light on the struggles, hardships and stories of triumph caused by a deadly form of cancer. It is a time to reflect upon the importance of the women and men (yes, men too) in our lives. We need breast cancer awareness because there are so many people that still don't understand the impact it has on women or even themselves.
You know the message is being spread and heard when kids become aware of it.
Two weeks ago (on Sunday) while watching a football game at a friend's house, we as a family saw a "show your support" commercial by the Breast Cancer Society. It was a funny commercial, but a little uncomfortable for my kids, as my children generally watch more family friendly TV content (thank you Netflix!). This commercial was kind of in your face, because it had shirtless men wearing pink bras. We all laughed it off, cause that's just how life is sometimes. I explained to my kids, that this commercial was trying to address a very important and good cause.
And that was the end of that. Or so I thought.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Yesterday, my 10-year-old son came up to me and asked: "Mommy, do you remember that commercial we saw about those pink things?" He made his hands in a cup formation and covered his chest like a bra. I told him "Yes," and we both chuckled a little. Then he continued, "One of my friends at school was wearing one of those bracelets for good causes, and it said on the bracelet: "I love boobies." We both chuckled a bit more, cause what else are you supposed to do as a parent. My son continued, "Mommy, if it's for a good cause, why do they have to say it like that?" I didn't have an answer for him and thought to myself yeah, why do they?
Kids in their innocence sometimes say what adults are too afraid to say. In that instant, I became very aware of the fact that a lot of breast cancer awareness material is quite sexualized. Like a puzzle coming together, all the images I had seen over the past month started gushing forth. One that really struck a chord with me was an event called Booby Ball, brought to you by Rethink Breast Cancer. Which by the way is an amazing organization.
Booby Ball, which was a gala to raise awareness (obviously), had this on their site, "hike up your shorts, squeeze into your halter tops and get your cocktail on for the hottest glam fest of the year." Ok fine, glam up for a ball, no prob. But if you watch the ad for Booby Ball, as a woman, you can't help but to feel a little objectified, because the video unapologetically used words and innuendos like rack, knockers, headlights, just to name a few.
Now I know what some people might be thinking: "Stop being such a prude, Amber. It's for a good cause. Learn to loosen up and laugh a little." To that I would reply, that I have a great sense of humour. I can make stomach jokes that most girls can't, as I have been raised around boys, and had mostly male friends while I was growing up. And to top that off, I'm a proud Quebecer, who grew up watching Just for Laughs on CBC. So if I can't take a joke, I wonder who else can't. Is there anyone else out there that has some feminism kicking around to feel objectified by overly sexualization of breast cancer? Are breasts selling cancer awareness just like they sell cars, beer, music, cigarette, shoes, and pretty much everything else.
This article highlights some of the ways women are objectified in the name of cancer awareness. But there are countless corporations that are raising money and awareness for breast cancer by just using the colour pink. I will be changing my Facebook profile picture pink to help TELUS donate $2 dollars to Rethink Breast Cancer. I will be buying cashmere bathroom tissue so that a part of my purchase will go to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I will be voting for a Cashmere Bathroom Tissue Designer Dress contest on Facebook, so that my vote will give $1 to CBCF. And I will be wearing a pink scarf for International Pink Hijab Day, so I can donate to the CBCF.
Just in case you think I am a prude, I ask you this: Are men asked to wear Speedos to raise awareness for prostate cancer? Isn't the famous Movember symbol a mustache? And last I checked, colon cancer didn't raise any money with thongs.