As you know, I’m no fan of the pink. Before I got cancer I never thought about it. Didn’t care. Pink ribbons. Whatever. Wanna buy a pink fanny pack and support breast cancer awareness? Mmmno. That all changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I now feel personally insulted that someone is exploiting my mortality for their personal and/or corporate gain. I am insulted that someone thinks that buying a $20 water bottle and contributing $.02 is doing something good for breast cancer. But some folks don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And it surely doesn’t mean the person who thinks that way is bad.
It depends on your perspective.
I know a lot of people don’t like the “c” word. You know . . . cunt. I’ve never understood why this is so viscerally repulsive to so many people, because when you take ownership of the word it’s not a big deal. It’s like dick. He’s a dick. She’s a cunt. It’s a gender-specific epithet. He’s a penis. She’s a vagina. Maybe it’s the harsh phonetic difference between the two words. Whatever.
Recently, in a Ravelry group of women who all share the reality of breast cancer, an add appeared on the discussions page:
It sparked instant outrage among many. I didn’t like it either (honestly, the inclusion of the effing apostrophe bothered me more). And “bits and pieces,” what the hell does that mean? Nips and nodes? Livers and lungs? But it was the intent of the pattern designer–a woman–to use humor to raise 25% of each sale of the $5-$8 patterns in the month of October to send to the Komen Foundation. In and of itself that is not a bad thing. Is it?
Is it not a good thing for a woman to take ownership of the epithet ta-tas? Could this not be seen as a feminist action? Similarly, women have reclaimed the word bitch and prefer to use in a context of power and strength as opposed to a negative (though women use it that way too). Within the context of the ad, would Save the Breasts be as effective? Is it necessary to dig so deep into the reality that the ad say Save Women’s Lives?
The breast cancer “movement,” if one can call it that, is as heterogeneous as the women who comprise it. Leaving corporatization aside, is claiming ownership of this disease (a decision in which we have no choice) the ticket that gives us the right to slam those who wish to do something good? Or should all individuals who wish to raise funds for a cause they wish to help, defer to those with breast cancer before they act and adapt accordingly?
What is acceptable and why? What crosses the line? Who determines where the line is drawn? Does there have to be a line at all? Why do those who have breast cancer viscerally hate the pink culture? Why do those who have been spared the misery find good in the pink? Why are we so divided?
And, most compellingly, do I have the exclusive right, just by virtue of the fact that I have breast cancer, to construct the public discourse of this disease?
I really want to hear what you think as I want to really dig deep and explore this topic. If you don’t want to comment publicly, please send me an email and let loose: email@example.com.