Save Me Not Second Base
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and a lot of waffling over whether I should get involved with a debatable issue. But one of the things you learn in the School of Humanities is that rhetoric is open for critique.
Go on. Save the boobies. Save the tatas. Save second base. Raise money. Sell wristbands. Base entire campaigns around a secondary, sexualized sex characteristic used pars pro toto for womanhood. You’ll get away with it.
But first save the people they’re attached to.
So, the Save Second Base/Save the Boobies thing INFURIATES me on a really personal level.
Breast cancer runs in my family really, really prevalently. My mom basically intimated recently, “Yeah, well, it’s probably an inevitability for women in the family at this point.”
One of the women in my family, who is INCREDIBLY important to me and whom I love very dearly, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the only option was a double mastectomy. So she did it. Only no one told her until after the surgery that because of her age and health factors, she wouldn’t ever be approved for reconstructive surgery.
Which was a pretty huge and traumatic blow to experience in the recovery room after massive surgery.
(And hugely irresponsible of the doctors involved, but that’s a whole other mess of feelings.)
And every time breast cancer awareness month rolls around, I just want to punch everything in sight, because this campaign that’s supposed to be about her, about women like her, keeps focusing on the thing that was taken away from her. Instead of celebrating her and how amazing and strong she is in the face of what she had to go through.
Fuck that fucking campaign, seriously.
Reducing breast cancer to breasts rather than people is a dehumanizing technique that also calls up a lot of problematic conceptions about breasts being somehow essential to womanhood (although breast cancer is gender neutral, aid campaigns are often framed as “women-only”).