Sexual Health » Women's Health; Society » Culture, Body & Body Image: "Breast Cancer: It's not *just* about the breasts!"
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Breast Cancer: It's not *just* about the breasts!

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Breast cancer awareness is all well and good, but in order to do the most for awareness, the focus needs to be more on the women affected by it, and not just the isolated body parts associated with it.

  Cancer is not sexy.

Look. Here's the upshot of the whole deal, for me. I don't have breast cancer (thank whatever deities there may be.) And maybe it's presumptuous of me to express this opinion, but seriously, do people not realize that breast cancer is more commercialized – not to mention more sexualized – than any other disease? Yes, I understand that it is one of the major causes of death in women worldwide, and the most common form of cancer in women. But – not to put a fine a point on it – so what? Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, but you don't see people running around wearing shirts that proclaim “SAVE THE NADS” or other equally asinine bullshit. There are countless kinds of cancer. For virtually every body part, there is a cancer that can attack it. Yet, no other type of cancer gets the attention – and more importantly, the money – that breast cancer gets.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, back up here,” you might say. “It's a good thing that breast cancer gets all of this attention! It's great that so much money is raised through these products and through these campaigns! Women's health issues get so little attention, it's about time that our health concerns were in the spotlight!”

To that, I offer you this statement: The only reason that there are so many campaigns, and so many different companies that “support” breast cancer awareness, is because breasts are so very easily sexualized. Breasts are, after all, right there. They're used in advertising all the damn time. We women can go on and on until we're blue in the face about how breasts are for so much more than sexual gratification, but the fact remains that – well, to be perfectly blunt?

Tits sell.

More than any other body part of either sex, breasts are easy to commercialize. They're so easy to sexualize. Hell, you don't even have to work at that, do you? All you have to do is turn on the TV. They're right there. Victoria's Secret. Sports Illustrated. All the major forms of media. That's without even venturing into the area of pornography. You see what I'm getting at, right? Campaigns like “Save the Tatas” and “Boobies Rule” work because infantile slang terms for breasts are still so pervasive in our society. And therein lies the irony – the terms that so many feminists fight to destroy are the very terms that are being used to bring this devastating disease to the forefront. Why is that okay? Why aren't more women standing up and saying, “Wait a minute! I'm more than my breasts!” It boggles my mind. We wouldn't want to be objectified in any other area of life, so why is it okay to objectify us when it comes to breast cancer?

I have an uncle who is currently battling prostate cancer. Within the past month (in other words, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month) we had a conversation during which he mentioned that, despite having the disease, he has no idea what the “awareness colour” is for prostate cancer. And he expressed disgust (yes, disgust) over the fact that, while everyone and their dog knows not only the colour of the breast cancer awareness ribbon but the month dedicated to its awareness, no one knows a damn thing about prostate cancer; not to mention other, less common forms. There are certainly no international fundraising campaigns for prostate cancer (or, indeed, any other kind of cancer, as far as I know.) And if there are, well, they're certainly not as widely recognized or promoted the way the Run for the Cure is.

Because, you see, you can't make a prostate cute. You can't market a uterus. You can't put a kidney on a mug, or give it an infantile, palatable nickname. No one seems to give much of a shit about brain cancer, or lung cancer, or bone cancer. People usually aren't reduced to those body parts in the same way that women are so often reduced to nothing more than a pair of walking breasts. Which, I think, is what really, really bothers me about this whole breast cancer “awareness” thing.

I don't know about anyone else, but I am more than just my “tatas”, dammit. I resent, to an insane degree, the idea that it's the “tatas” that need to be saved. What about the woman attached to the damn tatas? Don't they deserve to be the focus of the saving? Fuck the tatas – save the damn women! What is the problem here? I ask again: Women, WHY IS THIS OKAY?! Why are we not fighting this the way we fight every other form of misogyny?!

And no, I'm not overreacting, either. This is misogyny, like anything else. We fight against being called “bitches” and “hos” and all that, but we as a sex seem to be perfectly okay with the reduction of ourselves to our breasts – but only when it comes to breast cancer, because THAT'S IMPORTANT. God knows we have to get the word out there! The tatas must be saved at all costs, because we all know that, holy shit, without tits you're not really a woman!

A friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer three years ago, at the age of 27. She went in to see her doctor and discuss treatment options, and the first thing the doctor said was, “We'll do everything we can to save your breasts.” She told me afterwards that she was shocked to the point of speechlessness at first; then, when she had regained her composure, she looked straight at the doctor and said, “Doctor, I can live without my breasts. You better do everything you can to save my life.”

But there's this idea that women, for some reason, aren't “real” women without their breasts. There are other distinctively female organs, of course – the ovaries and the uterus, among others – but because the breasts are an immediately visible feature of femaleness, they're automatically associated with “being a woman”.

That's not fucking okay. It is not okay for a doctor to tell a 27-year-old woman who is facing a potentially fatal disease that everything will be done to save a couple of sacks of mostly useless fat. It isn't. It's completely ridiculous and should never, ever happen.

Goddammit. Breast cancer is not cute. It is not sexy. It is NOT FUCKING PINK. It affects more than just the tatas, the cans, the funbags, the boobies. It affects WOMEN. But the thing is, you see, talking about tits is more fun, isn't it? It's more palatable to society as a whole. And that's what makes these campaigns so fucking offensive and unnecessary.

Look, I'm all for breast cancer awareness (although to be honest, I think everyone on the planet is “aware” of breast cancer, so I don't know what the point of the name is). I just don't think that women have to be reduced - to their breasts - for awareness to happen. I really don't. Breast cancer doesn't just affect the young; it doesn't just affect the pretty ones, the ones who look good in bikinis or Victoria's Secret lingerie. It affects saggy ones. Wrinkly ones. OLD ones. But they're not the ones on which everyone focuses, because hey, who has to look at those, right?

Maybe this is the main idea to grasp, when it comes to this topic:

Breasts don't suffer from breast cancer. Women do. And it's time we directed our attention to them.


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Contributor: molli316




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