Boobs: Breast cancer’s most tragic victims

A press release for Boobiethon ’06 made its way into Feministing mailboxes this week. Wait, you ask, didn’t we already participate in Boobiethon ’06? But no, this is an annual event that “features bloggers showing their (covered and uncovered) breasts in order to raise money for charity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

There will be a separate, passworded “pay-per-boobie” page for bare-breasted photos, which will be available to donors of $50.00 or more.

At the risk of being labeled “anti-boobie” (which I’m definitely not), I say: Ugh. I’m no fan of breast cancer, and I’m certainly not ashamed of my body, but I won’t be participating. Is this really the best way to raise money and awareness?
Broadsheet called it “objectification for a good cause.” Then Boobiethon founder Robyn Pollman writes in comments, “I happen to think sending a message that “if our breasts are worth looking at, they’re worth saving” is very empowering.
And I think that gets to the heart of what’s unsettling to me about this campaign. I don’t like the implication that certain parts of women’s bodies are “worth saving” because they’re sexy. Boobiethon is sending a message that breast cancer should be stopped because it claims beautiful breasts as its victims– not because it’s a horrible disease that’s killing women. I’d almost prefer a website that featured women naked from the belly button up, and showed their faces. Because at least then you can see that this disease affects real women, not just disembodied breasts.
Then take a look at where the Boobiethon proceeds are directed. You’ll note that the effort benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which lends its pink ribbon logo to help sell M&Ms, Kitchen Aid mixers, Yoplait, Lean Cuisine frozen meals, Avon products, on and on and on. The foundation also focuses its efforts on finding a cure rather than searching for and exposing causes of the disease.
This is a perfect opportunity to plug what looks like an amazing new book, Pink Ribbons, Inc., about the market-driven industry for breast-cancer survivorship. (Twisty is a fan. And you can check out an excerpt here.)

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