Breast Cancer Awareness

So, for a few days now I’ve had people on facebook posting status updates along the lines of “I like it on the floor”, “I like it on my kitchen table”, etc. And I figured it was some sort of super-secret funtimes game where actually you were talking about where you keep your stack of unpaid phone bills or something. And then today I got this message on facebook

Remember the game last year on FB about what color bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news.
This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example “I like it on the couch”, “I like it on the kitchen counter”, “I like it on the dresser” well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let’s see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER – DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!!! PASS THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW

Oops, spoiler alert, y’all. Except I don’t really care that I might have spoilt it, because I think the whole thing is ridonkulous.

First of all, October is actually Breast Cancer Action Month (or at least it is here in NZ; possibly this is different in other place).

Secondly, why the fuck aren’t we raising awareness by actually talking about it? I don’t want to keep men guessing for days, I want to be spreading awareness of the issues. I don’t want a girls club of  ‘let’s do this fun thing but not tell the men what it’s about’, because by the time people find out the either wont care or will think it didn’t achieve anything. I don’t want a silly facebook game to make the news, I want Breast Cancer awareness month to make the news on it’s own merit.

Additionally, I dislike that a huge element of this relies on the ineveitable innuendo of the status updates: liking it on the floor, on the bed, on the table, etc. There are tons of things you could ask people to put as a status that would also be based on a secret question but wouldn’t allude to something sexual, thus relying on the titillation factor to get attention. I don’t really care about whipping my male facebook friends into a frenzy wondering if all these women they know are secretly kinky sexual dynamos; if the allure of this was really about the mystery and the curiosity and wonder, then the sexual element isn’t necessary. I have no problem with something being sexual, but it isn’t necessary when the point is apparently to raise awareness of breast cancer.

And also; “Let’s see how powerful we women really are!”. For reals? Because I honestly don’t see how this is indicative of the power of women. It shows that people are interested in the cause, and like to have a bit of fun, but I think touting this as powerful women-driven action is just appropriation. What would be showing how powerful we women really are? Speaking out about the fucking issue! Spreading the word, talking about how breast cancer has affected us or people we know, educating ourselves and others about how to be breast aware. Donating money, taking part in actions, volunteering to collect for the Breast Cancer Foundation or give your time in another way. This Facebook status thing? It’s an empty gesture. It doesn’t even mention the real issue until well after the excitement of the game has passed. I understand that many people don’t feel as motivated to volunteer or give money, and a Facebook status is an easy way to feel as if you are contributing. But if a Facebook status is the way you want to go (and in no way am I criticising people who don’t go out and do something “big”, because little things matter too), then make your status something about Breast Cancer Action month. Link to the site, link to information about how to give self breast checks, let people know what events are  happening this month and how they can help. Please, make the issue the real focus

 

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17 Comments

  1. jen says:

    Chill out dude.

    • steph says:

      Why? This is my personal blog that I’m not forcing anyone to read, nor am I making anyone comply with anything I say. I’m expressing my own view on activism, which I am entitled to hold.

  2. Amanda says:

    Here here! I was talking about just this on FB. Found some articles from last year:

    http://jezebel.com/5380683/breast-cancer-is-a-disease-not-a-marketing-opportunity

    and

    http://jezebel.com/5444444/thanks-for-sharing-but-your-bra-color-isnt-going-to-cure-cancer

    Ohh, “chill out” *places a bingo square*

    • steph says:

      Hi Amanda, thanks for those links!

      And yes, “chill out” checks off a square! I’ve also been told (by other people, on other posts, to calm down, and been told I’m “stirring”. I generally view this as an indicator of being on the right track!

  3. Ladybroseph says:

    Totally agree. These status updates make me cringe. I respect the Telus approach more: http://facebook.com/telus

    Apparently for each pink profile photo $1 goes to breast cancer research (one can only hope) and at least they’re upfront about the cause, right?

    • steph says:

      Ladybroseph!

      Yeah, if you want to do something quick and easy, it should at least have the bonus of 1. being very clear about the cause it is supporting, and 2. actually having an effect (financially)

  4. Megan says:

    I changed my fb status to “is not going to make a stupid innuendo about where she puts her handbag, but instead direct your attention here.”

    I was surprised by a couple of messages I got telling me to lighten up. Oh, wait, no I wasn’t.

    I’ve known two women who died from breast cancer this year. It’s more serious than making silly jokes.

    Also, you can’t make something “go viral” by asking, that’s not really how it works.

    • steph says:

      A friend of mine put a reminder of what month it was and a link to the foundation as her status, and we had a status comment convo about awareness, including links to how to check your breasts, and who is eligible for mammograms, and so forth. And naturally this drew a comment saying “I wont say anything….”; my friend asked him what it was he wouldn’t say, and he said “Need a hand?”. It was pretty disheartening.

      If people wanted a mystery status game, maybe we should all put as our statuses the people we know who have been affected by breast cancer, and then do a big reveal: surprise! breast cancer is a serious thing, yo!

      Ha, yeah, you don’t get to request for something to go viral! That kind of goes against the definition.

  5. Katherine says:

    My aunt died of breast cancer some years back. Oh wait, I mean “Where I like it and where it ends up are usually not the same place.” Did I do this right?

    • steph says:

      I was going to put “I don’t own a handbag” as mine. One of the commenters on Jezebel said she put “I like it in my mother’s house, except she died of breast cancer in 2007” (or something along those lines) as her status.

      I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. The thing about this stupid meme/whatever is that is doesn’t acknowledge that breast cancer is serious, and affects real people in our lives. I watched a program on the doco channel called ‘Busting Out’ the other night, and cried so much during the bits when the filmmaker talked about her mother dying of breast cancer, because it made me think about the real people who are affected.

      • Katherine says:

        Heh, that status from a Jezebel commenter is good. What I actually put on my facebook was “I like to talk seriously about breast cancer. Oh wait, I think I did it wrong…” and one of my (male) friends who was getting really into the “I like it…” statuses (posting lots of his own, guess it isn’t a secret) laughed (with me, hopefully).

  6. steph says:

    Oh man, stuff.co.nz didn’t keep it a secret that their going pink was for breast cancer action month!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/blogs/from-the-newsroom/4211021/Stuff-has-gone-pink-for-Pink-Ribbon-Day

    Spoilsports; don’t they know you can’t tell people what the cause you’re raising awareness of is?

  7. Boganette says:

    I put this in a comment in reply to people claiming it raises awareness (despite not talking about breast cancer at all).

    “I’m sorry but it doesn’t raise awareness. If your status update was “This month is breast cancer month. Call 0900 PinkRibbon to make an instant $20 donation. Or visit http://www.nzbcf.org.nz/ to learn how you can hold a fundraising event in… support of The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation” that would be doing something. “I like it on the floor” does not raise any awareness at all. And we are ALL aware of breast cancer. I’m yet to meet one person who has been like “What? What is this breast cancer you speak of?”. Want to raise awareness? Take part in the annual appeal. Donate money. Donate time. Encourage your family and friends over 40 to have a regular screening mammogram. Encourage your family and friends to “know their breasts” and talk to their GP if they want more information about breast cancer. THAT will do something. “I like it on the kitchen table” does nothing.”

    My beloved aunty is dying of breast cancer right now. I would “like it” if she wasn’t dying. And if breast cancer wasn’t a joke put on status updates. And just try and tell me to chill out.

    • steph says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. It’s stories like yours that added to my anger at this stupid facebook game, because it is completely removed from the reality of breast cancer, and chances are most people wont even know it is meant to be about breast cancer. So how is that helping anyone? I think that sharing stories, and sharing information is a way better way to show how powerful we can be. Much better than silly innuendo-laden statements that don’t even mention the issue.

  8. Katherine says:

    It’s things like this that really make me wonder about society. Seeing what the most ridiculous thing you can get someone to do in the name of “fitting in” was old back in primary school (or it was for me).

    Ok, now we all have to [insert silly behaviour that makes things more difficult here]! To any objecters: it’s just a joke, jeez (but if you don’t do it we will seriously shun you, so I’m not sure which bit of it is a joke).

    • steph says:

      Yeah, it definitely has an element of fitting in, and if you dare to be the person who criticizes the “I like it…” statuses or posts a status actually talking about breast cancer you’re a spoilsport or should lighten up or whatever. Very primary school!

      And yeah, it’s just a joke/bit of fun/for a laugh, unless you dare to go against it or not participate, and then it’s somehow a huge deal that you don’t want to be part of something that apparently isn’t even serious. Silly.