Bright blue, lacy controversy

January 27, 2010

Sorry fot the lack of updating. The end of break involved a lot of visiting friends and the start of term involved a lot of trying to make sure that Goucher doesn’t take away my scholarship because they can’t figure out how to look at my transcript correctly. But I’m back, and when I have a spare hour or so, I’ll be in the library, keeping you all informed of my oh-so-exciting life and the thoughts that occure to me throughout the days.

Remember a few weeks ago when ladies all over facebook posted the color of their bras with no explanation to the men-folk of the interbutts? The point was to raise awareness of breast cancer, which is the second most common cancer among women (second only to lung cancer). Personally, I thought that this was a really cute idea. It’s a cheap (maybe even free) way to use the massive internet community that is Facebook to promote awareness for an issue that all women are at risk of facing (and some men, too).

So I was very surprised by the outcry of men (more so by the outcry of women, but I’ll focus on the men for now) against this status altering fad. I know that I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that when women act like a unit striving toward one goal that men feel hurt and confused and angry, but I always am, since I like the view us all as reasonable people. (Sidebar: I’m not going to turn this into an “all men hate women and all women want liberation,” because that’s very not true, but sometimes a lady’s gotta generalize for the sake of coherency) The most intelligible negative response I read to the bra color phenomenon came from an acquaintance of mine through a Facebook note. And to be honest, this fellow had at least one decent point. He was still very, very wrong and targeting the incorrect group of people, but he did have a point.

Basically the argument went like this: We all know about breast cancer, so we can stop raising awareness. It is not the most deadly or dangerous cancer out there, and so it should recieve less attention and other forms of cancer should receive more. For instance, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer found among men. It is more treatable when found early, but has a higher mortality rate than breast cancer. He attributes this in part to a lack of awareness about prostate cancer (something one of my Aussie friends also spoke to me about once). We should, thus, stop doing so much to raise awareness of breast cancer, and start raising awareness for other cancers (maybe put in place a smoking ban, since lung cancer is the most common cancer among all sexes).

The general point that other cancers deserve awareness is a good one, I feel. Prostate cancer is a serious concern for men, and if they could rally the sort of awareness and support that breast cancer has, fewer men would probably die from it. And the same can really be said for any cancer. I’m all for people being aware of how their bodies work and going to the doctor when the sense something is wrong so that they might catch a big issue early. However I fail to see why we need to decrease the awareness of breast cancer to increase the awareness of anything else. Awareness isn’t a singular thing for most people. For instance, I try and remain aware of gay rights, envirnmental concerns, the relief effort in Haiti, fat discrimination, and women’s rights daily. Some days I devote more attention to one thing than another, and some days I think about something out of the ordinary. But that doesn’t mean that I am any less concerned on the whole with the other issues that I feel strongly connected to. To be honest, I almost never think about breast cancer, because I’m young and don’t think about my health as much as I think about my coursework or most other things. So when I’m reminded about breast cancer and the fact that I am at risk for it, I’m pretty grateful. When I see a reminder in a college shower about how to give a self examine, it reminds me that I should probably give myself one soon. Breast cancer is something that we can detect on our own some of the time, and reminding women to keep on checking is just soemthing I cannot view as negative. I agree that men should be more aware of prostate cancer, but I just can’t understand why we should be less aware of breast cancer to accomplish this goal.

A lot of this seems to come down to a hostility I’ve noticed towards women whenever we feel the need to talk about our issues as a collective unit. Some men feel that it is sexist for us to focus on our probalems and shove theirs in the background. This is another thing that doens’t make sense to me. When I’m supporting a cure for breast cancer or working to raise awareness by posting a Facebook status, I am not telling everyone to ignore the concerns of males and prostate cancer. I don’t have a prostate, and so don’t feel the need to be as aware about it personally. I am not trying to turn the system of oppression upside down, so that men are suddenly the oppressed group when I wear a pink ribbon. I’m not telling men to rally behing woman kind and ignore their bodies because they aren’t as deserving of health as we are.

This Facebook status thing should have been a really positive effort. It was an exercize in uniting women under a common goal in a really cute, easily accessable way. But the male sense of entitlement and feeling of being bullied by woman’s rights movements stood in the way of the positive feelings that the act produced. Usually I try and sympathize with the arguements of both sides, but this is something that I feel shouldn’t even have sides.


One comment

  1. i thought it was funny when some guys posted random colors out of frustration.

    but i thought it was dumb when some chicks were all like “you for SERIOUS can’t let men know why we’re doing this!!!” because that kinda defeats the purpose. and it’s dumb.

    but, yeah, good post. agree :)

    i miss you being in columbus already again :(

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