Tuesday, October 22, 2013

boobs in the news

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It's October, the month when things get cold and scary. Who knew boobs would fall into that category.

I'm not talking about the Federal Government. I'm talking about breasts.

I like my breasts. Getting them was part of how I became a woman. They make my blouses hang nicely. They are part of my sexuality. They provide a soft place to lay a head when someone I love needs a hug or consoling or a place to cry. One of the greatest pleasures of my life was using my breasts to feed my child for the first few years of her life. I like my breasts because they are part of me.

October has become Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'd say we're all pretty aware of breast cancer these days. There has been breast cancer in my family. I have friends and acquaintances who have confronted the terror and trauma of breast cancer, who have lost their breasts but who have survived. Breast cancer is an awful thing, just like any other kind of cancer. I assume all this pink floating around in October is about empowering women, right?

Maybe not. The closer I look at all this pinkwashing, the more it seems to be about scare tactics and money. I always thought breasts were about warmth and beauty, comfort and sustenance.

Silly woman - breasts are for men.

At least that's the message I'm getting from media, advertisers, and the breast cancer industry. My breasts aren't really for me. Breasts are for Money, Pleasure and Advertising. And most definitely not for Food.

Here's just a sampling of what I've read in the past few days:

Susan G. Komen - This time of year is all about the pink. SGK has splashed it everywhere, from yogurt containers and the socks worn by football players to the City Wall of Old Jerusalem. You can't go anywhere in October without having pink guilt shoved in your face. If you don't join "____ For the Cure", you're shunned and shamed. Never mind that SGK spends a few million of those donated dollars suing other charities who use pink or the phrase "for the cure" to raise money for breast cancer research. Never mind that SGK has been criticized for giving only a small percentage of their proceeds to actual research to identify causes and cures for breast cancer. Never mind that they own stock in companies that would lose billions if their mammography equipment and chemotherapy drugs were no longer needed. Quit thinking for yourself, and go get that radioactive mammogram with the GE equipment that is partially owned by SGK. But if you get diagnosed...well, we're not giving your money back. 

Save the Ta-Tas - Way back before Al Gore invented the Internet, X-rated movies were shown only in X rated theaters, which were allowed to run ads in the local papers. When I was in college, my cousin Dawn and I saw an advertisement in the Charleston Evening Post for a movie titled "Bodacious Ta-Tas." The term "ta-tas" became a running joke between us and still makes us guffaw because of that ad. Apparently this particular foundation has a sense of humor and spends a higher percentage of their take on breast cancer research, but the name still makes me think of pornography. Which leads to the next story....

HealthFirst - Apparently this ad campaign was based on an organization, Save2ndBase, founded by a woman who lost her life due to breast cancer. While I applaud her sense of humor and feel for those she left behind, I'm not sure I appreciate that concept that my breasts should be saved solely for someone else's enjoyment. Shouldn't it be about "Save the Women"? And selfishly, I really don't want to have to explain the concept of "second base" to my daughter.

Breastfeeding in the News - A mom has been held in contempt in Missouri because she brought her seven-month old son, who breastfeeds exclusively, to her jury summons. The child does not take a bottle and she is his primary caregiver, yet she was required to report and fined $500. Numerous other breastfeeding moms have been kicked out of churches and malls for having the indecency to use their breasts to feed their children. Ironically a mom was kicked out of that bastion of taste and decorum, Hollister. (Apparently it's ok to use breasts to sell clothes, but not to feed babies around those same clothes.) And even Facebook has banned pictures depicting breastfeeding. But fear not - decapitations and deep flesh wounds are A-OK.

Glad to know we all have our priorities straight.

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