I Don’t Love Boobies And Here’s Why

*** WARNING!  If you like my squeaky clean and apolitical persona, you may just want to skip this one.****

My husband thinks I’m ridiculous for getting so upset over this, but I remind him that he has a penis and this skews his vision of the world.  I can also remind him that he is a white male and that group really hasn’t had to fight to be taken seriously in the workplace or demand equal pay or has ever been told to “not worry their pretty little head” over what were considered “men’s” issues.  I can also remind him of the many campaigns out there targeting women’s self-image. Women have to deal with unrealistic body images, and whether we buy  into those images or not, we have to make the conscious decision to not compare ourselves to those images.  I work with high school students and know first-hand how images of women in the media affect their self-esteem.  Hence, the Keep A Breast “I love boobies” campaign targeted at kids irks me to no end.  (Please note that I am all FOR breast cancer research and all cancer research in general.  My beef is with this campaign only, and it’s unclear where their money is going.)

I’m confused.  Is this supposed to empower me or make me feel like a piece of meat?
via zazzle.com

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m jealous because I lack boobies of my own to love.  Yes, I know a ruler is more curvacious and that if I ever had a baby, it would starve, but hey, when (if) I run, nothing hits my chin.  It’s not a personal vendetta against women with actual boobs.  It deals more with other issues.  Take, for instance, cancer cells that might actually find room to grow on my chest, is it just my boobies that are worth saving or am I included in that package?  I know that I’m included in that package, but the whole phrase “I love boobies” states one (in this case, two) body part. It focuses on an object of our bodies, and the phrase disregards the rest.  In a time where we are trying to move away from objectification, we are taking a serious women’s issue and using it to objectify ourselves.  Is it worth it?  What message is being sent?  Why can’t we have pink wristbands that say “I love my mom, sister, aunt, grandma, cousin, best friend, etc.”?

Over a hundred years of fighting for respect boiled down to this.
via myspace.com

My students all wear the “I love boobies” wristbands, and I’m sure they all wear them because they care about breast cancer, just like they all care about their grades.  Since a lot of them don’t even know where Nevada is, I’m going to hazard a guess that many don’t realize the purpose behind the bands.  They wear them because it’s edgy and they can have easy license to say “boobies” at school with no real meaningful context.  The bands are especially popular among the boys, and from witnessing the probing of tonsils and other body parts in the corners of the school, they really don’t need another reminder of boobies.  I’ve never asked a boy to put their band away because I can only imagine the fall-out: “What?!  You don’t support breast cancer  research, Ms. L?   What if you get it and die because you didn’t do your part to support it?” I was really thrilled the day I asked a boy to put away his “I love pussy” wristband– that at least had no ambiguity.  He smiled sheepishly and put it away.  I also made him turn his “Hello Titty” shirt inside out.  Oddly enough, he, too, had an “I love boobies” wristband.  I wonder if he ever associated breasts with cancer.

Breast cancer fundraising asks, “How about those melons?”

All of the students of both genders wear them, and no one blinks an eye.  The bands are made specifically for teens to build awareness for breast cancer, but it shines a light on another issue, too.  It’s okay for boys to state that they love boobies– hey, they are boys after all.  Duh.  Imagine though if the shoe was on the other foot.  Imagine that somehow a wristband was created to focus on men’s genital cancers and to rival Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong version (I do not have a problem with this one and embrace it’s message).  This new wristband would be dark blue with white letters and declare, “I love cock.” (It has to be this because “I love penis” is giggle-worthy and “I love dick” is too confusing.  Who’s Dick? Or better yet, whose dick?  Hubby says that “cock” is not analogous to “boobies”; it’s too visceral and “boobies” is tame.  But really, are we going to have wristbands that say “I love pee-pees”?  “I love wee-wees”?  Maybe it could be “I love the dick-meister.”)  What boy who does not want to get beat up is going to wear that to school?  What are the repercussions for the girl who wears it?  I can tell you: she’ll be called a slut, groped, and recieve suggestive comments from boys about what she can do with theirs.  Hubby says that guys would love it if women wore bands that said “I love cock.”  I’m sure they would, but he hasn’t been a teenager for a long time and he’s mature (mostly).  High school girls?  High school boys? Frat boys?  Not so much.   It just wouldn’t fly.   But why are women’s breasts public domain when men’s pee-pees aren’t?  What is the message we’re sending?

If this were for men’s cancer awareness, would the image be <====?
via shop.cafepress.com

I realize that this is a highly successful campaign to get kids talking about breast cancer. I’m sure it’s raising oodles of money for awareness, and my irreverent sense of humor is failing me here.  But that’s the campaign’s point: to raise awareness (and money).  I also know that there are more pressing issues afoot with many states trying to gain control of women’s reproductive rights and shut down or limit the services of Planned Parenthood. But still, I take offense to a controversial campaign that derives its focus from one body part; women have worked too hard to be seen as just a pair of boobies.

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23 thoughts on “I Don’t Love Boobies And Here’s Why

  1. I couldn’t agree more. And it takes a teacher in the midst of a perpetual game of hormonal pinball to know this. This signals a new low-level of immaturity (or cynicism). So how do we counter this “fad” with our young people? How can we turn this into a teachable moment?

    1. I’ve been wondering the same thing. The best teachable moments are spontaneous and unplanned, but I thought about incorporating these bands and the messages they send into my media analysis unit. They would take a survey about their knowledge of who put them out, why, and where the profits are going. Then we could delve into the issues of objectification and why we don’t have such bands for men. BTW, I have a section of US History next term. : ) I could also connect this to the women’s rights movement using the central question of how far have we really come? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. If Robert Browning has anything to do with this, he’d write “How do I love thy boobies?/ Let me count the ways….” And there’s the rub. “Love”- a provocative term, especially for teenagers. Word choice and tone are everything… your media unit is perfect. ;o)

  2. Thank you, Amy for giving voice to my feelings on this matter. I have a friend who lost both her breasts to cancer; she completely supports this campaign. I on the other hand completely agree with your argument. I’ve never seen the value in sharing my thoughts with her b/c she associates breasts with her identity as a woman and mother…but the campaign is targeted a young people, and – as supported by common sense and your classroom anecdotes- it promotes objectification within this group.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I can see how having a discussion with your friend would be difficult. Unfortunately, I feel that the objectification of the body (both men and women) is getting worse. With stores like Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch who have bags that display a male torso (no face) to shows like the Kardashians and Jersey Shore, kids are really getting the wrong messages. In this case, the Keep A Breast foundation has earned a lot of money but has done very little with it. Most of their funds go into overhead costs and salaries, so this objectification of women’s breasts is practically being done for the profit of a few. It’s all very frustrating.

  3. I could be supportive of a “save a life” ad campaign but this “keep a breast” business is just too cutesy to be taken seriously. And, it does reduces women to little more than their breasts.

  4. I couldn’t agree more!! And not just because rulers are more curvaceous than myself (quick aside, amazingly my children didn’t starve), but because the message doesn’t do justice to the population it aims to serve. Does early screening, self examinations, really SAVE boobs? Not so much. It saves the person. And so many choose mastectomy once a diagnosis is made, So now a generation of boob lovers find cancer, have mastectomies, and feel worse because the object of their affection has been removed, and at best reconstructed. Don’t get me started on the money trail…

    1. I hadn’t even thought of the mastectomies! Excellent point! This whole campaign is so misguided in so many ways, and all of this energy and money could be put to better use. If we want to create awareness with kids it should be about living healthy lifestyles, the impact of cancer, and having self-examinations and screenings, instead of focusing on the boob.

      ps. I’m glad your kids didn’t starve! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. : )

  5. I could care less about the boobies, it’s a terrible campaign. But I miss my dear friend every day and love all my female (and male too) family and close friends. What a great article Amy. Perhaps check out Boarding for Breast Cancer. They are still “hip” for the young audience, but a much better message and slogan B4BC. They tour regularly and you might be able to get them to come to your school.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I will have to check them out and go from there. I’m thinking about adding this campaign to study in my media analysis unit, so if I can’t get B4BC out, at least my students can use it to compare and contrast against the other one. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    1. Thanks for the resource! I might use this or something similar as an opening exercise for my media unit. I agree that it is ridiculous that our kids can wear them to school. On one level they undermine the seriousness and academics of the classroom. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Another man who thoroughly agrees with you! We need to help boys with their self-esteem issues as well. Just this morning there was a reported case of a young boy who committed suicide because he’s small for his age and lost his father/role model at the age of four.

    1. Yes! It’s sad that instead of stopping objectification of women, we’re bringing in boys and men into the fray. It’s a constant battle to build up the value of people instead of bodies. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  7. This is well reasoned (and the “I love dick” part is funny, too). My 70-year-old mother-in-law likes this campaign but I thought it crass. You verbalized why — objectification. She’s got big boobies though –maybe women like that (I’m ruler-like, too) are used to being objectified. In any case, good post — a thinker.

    1. Big is beautiful? Or in this case, lovable? I don’t know their motivations, but the campaign is wrong on so many levels. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  8. Wonderful,wonderful post! I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about cultural double standards that are so ingrained we rarely notice them. We don’t have a TV, so when we visit relatives or go somewhere to watch a baseball, football, or soccer game on TV, it’s a real shock to watch the beer, car, food, etc. commercials featuring scantily clad, huge-breasted women with suggestive sexual overtones. The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are just as bad. If we stream games over the Internet, we can often avoid the commercials more easily, but it’s unreal how “wholesome” middle America tolerates (and is even blind to) the commonplace things their kids see on TV. Think reality shows…And YouTube videos featuring little girls lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Disco Stick” just kill me. But I digress.

  9. I wonder if this campaign (which I had never heard of before) is truly “successful” and is “raising tons of money.” I can’t imagine the kids are spending any of their money on cancer research: they just enjoy saying the words and wearing the clothing and wrist bands. No?

    1. The campaign is raising a lot of money, but little of it is going to research but “awareness” (a nebulous term). You’re right in the fact that kids aren’t cognitively supporting research, but just want to say the words and be “cool”. Thanks for stopping by!

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