Admittedly, I’m prone to the occasional rant. Anyone who has been around me for a while has seen me pick fights with the folks at Save the Tatas and Feel Your Boobies. I’ve done that because they are obscenely off-course in their advocacy, sexing up a hideous disease, and distracting the attention from the complicated truth of breast cancer. Of course, they say that the end justifies their means, but I say, What end? Given the limitations of the early detection mantra, it doesn’t fly. It’s all just legitimized soft-core porn like this incredibly stupid meme making its way around facebook.
Apologists will tell you that they need these tactics to reach young women. I don’t think we need to treat young women like they’re 5-year-old girls or like they’re 12-year-old boys. Let’s treat them like intelligent human beings, capable of understanding complicated facts and making their own minds up. Facts you say? How about this one. If you are 30 years old, you have a .44% chance of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years.
Wait! 44% you say? OMG!
No? 4.4%? Well still…
POINT FOUR FOUR PERCENT CHANCE.
However, I’ve sworn off rants, even if that means shrinking my readership exponentially. Apparently, people really like a good train-wreck and there’s a huge temptation to become a good little circus monkey for attention. But these rants exhaust me and end up leaving me hating humanity. I get accused of having no sense of humor which makes me want to scream, DAMMIT I’M FUNNY! I am often told to lighten up, which sends me into orbit and usually ends in me inviting strangers from across the globe over to my house to look at my scars.
Bottom line though — I don’t think all the ranting in the world changes a single mind. It only leads to heels being dug in further, in enshrining the “us vs. them” mindset.
Despite all my efforts to rise above, I get cranky about these cutesy campaigns. They don’t represent me and they distract from the reality of this disease. And people are getting rich off my story.
And, oh yeah, they enshrine the idea that women are little more than children with bigger boobies. Barbara Ehrenreich, in her seminal essay, “Welcome to Cancerland”, wondered why we give pink ribbon teddy bears to women with breast cancer, but not little matchbox cars to men with prostate cancer. Even the shade of pink we usually see is soft and pale. It’s the color you either you find it in a baby’s room or all over your toilet paper in October. This is no accident.
Before I go practice my deep-breathing, I’d like to make it clear that these campaigns are not harmless. Please share these ideas as often as you can.
1. Those of us who have actually had breast cancer often need disfiguring surgery to try to get rid of it. Images of perfect breasts that need saving are a slap in the face, reminding us that breasts are the supreme expressions of female attractiveness in our society. They are painful reminders of what we have lost.
2. “Early detection” cannot prevent breast cancer, only detect cancer that is already there. (Thus leading to #1.) Whether it saves lives is not a settled question, despite the overly simplistic messages to the contrary.
3. Breast cancer that stays in the breast won’t kill you. It has to spread beyond, take up residence in vital organs, then take them over to become deadly. THIS IS ABOUT SAVING WOMEN’S LIVES, NOT ABOUT SAVING THEIR BOOBIES, TATAS, OR SECOND BASE.