“Save the Tatas” “I Love Boobies” “Feel Her Up” “No Bra Day” – all slogans for fundraisers or awareness campaigns for breast cancer. Designed to be cute and make us giggle like 12 year olds, they seem harmless enough on the surface. However a lot of breast cancer survivors find them very offensive. They see them as sexualizing breast cancer and objectifying women. For me personally, these slogans took on a whole different meaning after my double mastectomy. My breasts were amputated to save the rest of me, so campaigns like this kind of fall flat. (yes, pun intended)
Supporters say things like “it is just a joke”, “we just want a cute slogan to draw attention to the cause”, or “we are raising awareness and making people laugh”. “What is wrong with that?” “You are taking this way too seriously! Lighten up!”
I’ve seen several well written articles online on this subject. So rather than rehash all of the reasons why I don’t like this trivialization of a deadly disease, I propose a tit for tat. If “save the tatas”, “feel her up” and “I love boobies” are acceptable ways to refer to breast cancer, we should have similar campaigns for other cancers. I have a few ideas:
- For testicular cancer:
- Spare A Pair
- Save The Nuts
- Jump for Family Jewels
- Free The Boys (commando day for awareness)
- The Brass Ball (I’m picturing tuxes, floor length gowns, champagne)
- Make Him Cough (self exams/early detection)
- For prostate and/or penile cancer:
- Spread ‘Em (early detection)
- Save Woody
- I Love Dick
- Boner Bowlathon
- Big or Small We Love Them All
- Free Willy
- The Weiner Walk-a-thon
Giggling yet? I had a jr. high boy help me with some of the slang terms and he is still laughing.
- For colon and rectal cancer:
- Don’t be a butt
- Back Door Ball
- Take a Seat
- Party for Poppers
Still funny? Because every body poops and the jokes about it started in preschool, but we still laugh.
- For oral/throat/tongue
- Do the Tongue Tango (for early detection)
- Chug for Cheeks (pub fundraiser)
- For Lung Cancer
- Take a Breather (yoga or meditation maybe)
- Get Some Air (Xtreme sports)
- For Skin Cancer
- Get Naked (early detection)
- Pale is Pretty (prevention)
- Mole Mambo
Not as funny right? It is getting harder for me to come up with cutesy sayings, and what I can come up with is getting more uncomfortable. Why because as I go down the list of body parts I’m getting to those that aren’t taboo. In our culture body parts associated with sex top the list of things we aren’t supposed to talk about. We hear them a lot more than we used to and we are all getting more comfortable in our own skins, but we all get at least a little embarrassed or giggly sometimes talking about sex. Breasts top the list, especially in the U.S. where we have this weird fascination with them paired with the social norm of keeping them covered. Men’s sexual organs also invoke giggles, though maybe not as much ogling. And then comes the digestive tract which we all started joking about sometime not too long after potty training and admit it – we all still laugh at poop jokes. But once you get to things like mouths and lungs it isn’t so funny because those parts aren’t associated with giggly jokes.
I don’t have a problem with sex jokes or poop jokes or body part jokes in general. But when we take that type of humor and apply it to cancer we are trivializing a deadly disease and often hurting the very people we are trying to help, however unintentionally. I’m sure breast cancer survivors’ feelings on this topic run the gamut from “no big deal” to “makes me rage or cry every time I see it”. After all just because we have the same type of cancer doesn’t mean we are alike in every other way. I fall somewhere in the middle but lean towards “do we really need to do this?” because I know how much pain these silly slogans can cause. For me, joking around with fellow survivors is one thing. Seeing a bunch of people using the disease that has flipped my life upside down as an excuse to drink beer and wear “I Love Boobies” or “I’m A Breast Man” t-shirts is another thing entirely. Seeing campaigns that emphasize things like “Save the Tatas” when I had to lose my breasts to save my life and almost every breast cancer survivor I know had some kind of surgery makes me cringe. Knowing that we are losing 110 people a day to this disease, a fact that never seems to be a part of these type of campaigns makes me furious. We need to save the people, not their body parts.
People have been raising money for breast cancer for years under various slogans around the word “cure”, probably not realizing how little money was actually going towards research. Now that people are more aware and often understandably angry at being deceived, there seems to be a new movement towards these cutesy sayings. If we can’t use “the cure” anymore, let’s use giggly jr. high jokes. It’s smoke and mirrors hiding the same issues with all of the so called “cure” campaigns. I’ve heard the argument that fundraisers need to be light hearted and fun to get people to participate or that these slogans promote “awareness”. I don’t have a problem with participants having a blast while raising money for a good cause. However the “fun” in fundraising shouldn’t be at the expense of the people we are trying to help, and I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t “aware” of breasts and breast cancer.. The message needs to be clear. We need to know exactly why the event is being held and where the money is going. Research? Treatment? Support? Prevention? If we are promoting “awareness” the focus should be on telling the whole story. The lack of knowledge about metastatic breast cancer is staggering, especially considering how much money is spent every year on “awareness” and “education”. We need to stop treating this disease like a marketing opportunity. Breast cancer isn’t pretty. It isn’t cute. It isn’t funny. We need to stop giggling and find a cure.