"Boobies" Breast Cancer Campaign: Not as Offensive as Pink

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I can’t take sides on this.

The I Love Boobies controversy is heating up again. I wrote about it last year when I heard about schools banning the bracelets. Now a video is making the rounds for the Keep-A-Breast Foundation/I Love Boobies campaign as part of the Zumiez Couch Tour. It generated a fair amount of discussion at Peggy Orenstein’s blog.

I watched the video and I just couldn’t get worked up about it. Yeah, they come off like Stoners for the Cure, and yeah, we see guys saying they like boobies, but I personally am more offended by the wall-to-wall pink at my grocery store every October. Pink Fritos? Pink Tic-Tacs? Seriously? How many shopping days until Breastmas again?

I wholeheartedly agree that we have more awareness of breast cancer than anyone could possibly want. I wholeheartedly agree that more money should be spent on research. But I think it’s a mistake to insist there’s only one way to support breast cancer. I’m not sure we can insist on the appropriate level of seriousness either. As I mentioned in my post last year, is it possible that death is too abstract for the young? Can we benefit by reaching them where they are, not where we think they should be?

We all bring our own filters to these things, so here’s mine. I have had a single mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on both breasts. I am a huge believer in humor, some of which is politically incorrect. I came of age in the ’70s. I still have a battered, marked-up copy of The Female Eunuch, and I’ve been to consciousness-raising groups. (See Feminist under Wikipedia.) I think the young women survivors photographed in the Scar Project are beautiful warriors. I see none of these things as mutually exclusive.

Your perceptions are obviously shaped by a different set of life experiences. But whether you agree with the Keep-A-Breast Foundation or not, and whether you think they’re putting their money or emphasis to the best use, at least they’re doing something. That’s a lot more than you can say for the ridiculous Facebook “campaigns” where women were supposed to say what color their bra is or, more recently, where they like it (that is, where they like to keep their purse).

The best slam I saw against the ridiculous “Where I like it” FB purse campaign, as well as the best argument on how breasts don’t need any more awareness, comes from Rainbow Rowell, a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald. She’s not angry or political; she just writes very powerfully about how she becomes uncomfortable every October.

I can’t take sides, but I am willing to keep an open mind, and her column really made me think. You might even say it raised my consciousness.