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Women don’t need to be objectified to raise awareness

Hilary Legge, ‘Doah Managing Editor
November 6, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

‘Doah photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

As October comes to a close so does another pink-infused Breast Cancer Awareness month. While I doubt anyone would argue that raising money for breast cancer research is a bad thing, with each passing year the campaigns used to fundraise seem to become increasingly commercialized and objectifying. Slogans such as “save the tatas” and “I heart boobies” trivializes breast cancer and further underscore the idea that the most important thing about a woman is her body. The reality of breast cancer is that many women with the disease must undergo mastectomies in order to stay alive. Putting the focus on breasts discounts the human being.

This has been a growing trend for the past few years, but this year seemed to really push things over the top. Members of the website Simple Pickup approached random women and asked to “motorboat” their breasts. For every woman who allowed them to they stated they would donate $20 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The foundation ultimately rejected the donation when they learned the tactics used to raise the money.

This year, Nestle Fitness began promoting a new product known as the Tweeting Bra. Essentially, anytime one of these bras is unhooked it will send a tweet to the wearers followers that their bra is coming off. According to the press statement for the product: “Every time our bra is unhooked, it sends a signal to a cell phone, the cell phone notifies a server, and the server generates the tweet…as simple as that! It’s the first and only bra that tweets with a mission to remind you one thing you should never forget: your monthly breast self exam!”

Yes, the purpose of this is to remind women to do their monthly breast exams. Not only is the idea rather weird and intrusive, it is also another example of a campaign using titillation to promote awareness.

Many athletic teams, including the National Football League, don pink gear during the month of October to raise money and awareness. However, the actual impact of these “fundraisers” is often much less than it’s marketed to be. The NFL offers various pink items for people to purchase during the month of October through their program A Crucial Catch. Last year it was revealed that only five percent of each sale ends up going to the American Cancer Society. The other 95 percent of every purchase is used to “maintain” the Crucial Catch program — whatever that means.

Corporations have also caught onto the yearly pink-washing by offering limited-edition versions of their products in pink. Everything from cleaning products to alcoholic beverages have been washed in pink in order to “raise money” and make you needlessly buy more products. Some of these products have even been proven to contain harmful chemicals that can in fact cause cancer.

The excessive pink-washing and sexualization of Breast Cancer Awareness month is truly getting out of hand. We should never stop fighting or looking for a cure for cancer. But, highlighting breasts as the victims of the disease dehumanizes the women and men who fight and die from it. Fundraising will always be necessary, but it is safe to say that people are plenty aware of the issue. Maybe instead of pointlessly dressing all in pink people should simply donate directly to organizations working to find a cure. It’s not as flashy or sexy as some of the other campaigns out there, but it is much more effective.

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