Saturday, October 12, 2013

Breast Slang- It's October!

It is October. The color pink is everywhere announcing that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here.  In many cities across this country, organizations are finding creative ways to raise money for research to help individuals get screenings, help those already diagnosed, and to increase knowledge about breast cancer. I said creative ways, but the adjective I really meant to use is…VULGAR.

A few days ago, a man’s voice came from my car radio telling the listeners that it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He explained that we all needed to remind the women in our lives that it was time to “touch your titties”.  It wasn’t the message of touching breasts that bothered me. It was the use of the word “titties”. Why did the people responsible for this advertisement think this was appropriate? The fact that the word “breast” defines the type of cancer getting attention this month causes some well-meaning individuals to trivialize the seriousness of this disease. In their desire to be creative, slang words are chosen for the word breasts. Of course woman and men need to feel their breasts in an effort to save their own lives, but to call this vital step “touch your titties” is unforgivable.

In my experience, these slang terms were often uttered by men using them to describe breasts as sexual objects. Often these slang terms have been used to embarrass or demean a woman. I remember in school hearing a small breasted woman teased by an immature boy with his rant of “over the shoulder BB holder”. Large breasted woman I am sure have experienced the occasional, “My God, look at those knockers”. These terms give the impression that a woman’s breasts are separate from her actual body and perhaps not her breasts at all. It is just nauseating. 

Slang terms such as titties, boobs, jugs, and puppies have made their way into these campaigns with hardly a protest from anyone otherwise I believe a different name would have been chosen. I suppose people think this language is playful though I find it highly offensive. Perhaps the titles are allowed to remain because of the attitude that if it is for a good cause then it must be okay.

My breasts, or rather their cells, have been trying to kill me for years. So when I hear “Save the Tatas", "Touch the Titties” or "Save Second Base" for the promotion of breast cancer awareness, I cringe. Who cares about saving the “tatas”?  Women can live without their breasts. Why don’t these titles suggest saving the person? The person is in jeopardy not her breasts!

Despite their names, the campaigns do collect money for uninsured or under-insured women, help women get mammograms who cannot afford them, and help educate people about this disease. Of course this is wonderful, but I feel offended with their slogans:  BBQ for Boobies, Mugs for Jugs 5 K run, Carolina Tatas Rugby Tournament, Run for the Tatas 5 K/walk, Boot up for Boobs, Barbells for Boobs from CrossFit, Bowling for Boobs, Check Your Puppies, Tweets for Boobs on Twitter, and a charity called CoppaFeel.

Race for the Cure, Breast Cancer Coalition, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and the Pink Ribbon Project have more respectable sounding names. A campaign urging you to “Check Your Puppies”…What self-respecting woman would think that was cute?

Campaigns with breast slang are not the only reasons to be alarmed. The Rethink Breast Cancer Charity helps young people affected by breast cancer, and in their effort to find a different approach to education, this organization created an app for their early detection campaign for the iPhone and the Android.The app reminds a person to check their “boobs” weekly, monthly or it can be set to give a person a surprise reminder. It is entitled “Your Man Reminder”. A man of your choice, a boy next door type or business man perhaps, will pop up and remind you to “provide your boobs with some TLC” not tender loving care, but touch, look and check. And for those of you wondering, you can also choose a woman to remind you if a man is not suitable.

This app can also be shared on Facebook. Users can announce to everyone that they have “taken their breasts into their own hands” and reveal to all which sexy man caused them to check their breasts. This is supposed to encourage other woman to check their breasts.  This approach seems to take such a nonchalant attitude about this disease. Where is the message that breast cancer can KILL you?

"Young women are busy and often need a reminder to show their breasts some TLC," said MJ DeCoteau, Executive Director, Rethink Breast Cancer. "Being aware of what your breasts regularly look and feel like is the key to early detection and what better way to remind you to check yourself than a friendly nudge from a hot guy."

Truly amazing, isn’t it?

Then, in our overly sexualized society, there is this one for men.

A Polish marketing agency called Change Integrated created a digital woman that is touched by men through the use of their mouse. At the end, all the touchers get the result of how well they performed the touching which is based on the correct techniques necessary to detect lumps. This interactive video game called “Magic Boobs” had 175,000 participants in one week. The agency targeted men through a porn website.  Each participant didn’t know they were being trained in breast cancer detection until the end of the game.

Facebook is asking women to show their support for breast cancer awareness by “Setting the Tatas Free” on Oct. 13.  How in any way is this helping the cause for early detection at all.  And sad too, because Oct 13 is the one day set aside for metastatic breast cancer awareness. At Stage IV, most people like me wish we could have had our breasts taken from us many years earlier.  Setting them free is just insulting.

Breast cancer is incredibly serious. I hope that the reality of breast cancer is not lost in the excitement of silly phrases and fundraising events. I hope people truly understand how terrifying one cancer cell can be. Cancer is not exciting, no one is left smiling, and no one chuckles when the doctor says you have breast cancer. It KILLS!

I know my grumbling here won’t change anything immediately, but maybe the people that read this blog will begin thinking how insensitive these titles are to the people that think about breast cancer every single minute of their lives. Maybe the discussion will begin. And maybe, people will agree to stop this nonsense because there is nothing funny or cute about any of it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and let people know that it's not enough to say you support the cause, you need to do so in a way that is supportive, not vulgar or demeaning.

    Well thought out, and well written.