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The frustrating thing about the "Save the Boobies" campaign and similar things (like the "Booberday" meme going around G+) is that they get it exactly backward. Often, the point of breast cancer treatment is to destroy some or all of the boobies in order to save the woman.

Saying that we should work to cure this disease because it threatens breasts is really upsetting. For starters, it suggests that women are worth saving because they're attached to breasts, rather than the other way around. But worse, it tells any woman who's had a mastectomy to try to save her life that she's lost the thing that made people care about her survival. What a punch in the stomach.
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173 comments
 
You, good sir, are an exemplary counter example of stereotypical male sexism.
 
and I thought it was a typo and you meant the english police "bobbies"
 
For some reason, this makes me think of Marla Singer.
 
I know this is an issue that affects you deeply and personally, and I respect that.

However, I also know breast cancer survivors who endorse these sorts of marketing efforts as a way to lighten up to the degree they can for something so serious and somber. Most forms of cancer don't attack organs which people find so fascinating for other reasons, as important as they might be (lungs, prostate, etc.)

I certainly don't think that the folks who are serious about breast cancer issues think that a woman's value as a human derives from her secondary sexual characteristics.
 
The idea (edit: or as I imagine it to be) is to get through to the unenlightened who can't think past "boobies" (or "ta-tas", which I've also seen). The non-shallow folk are already supporting the idea of finding a cure for the sake of people. This is an attempt to reach the brain-dead strip-club crowd.
 
Fair point. But if the money the campaign's name brings in outweighs the bad message they put out, maybe it's worth it? Kinda hard to compare those things and make a judgment, I guess.
 
Doesn't the campaign promote testing so people don't end up LOSING their breasts?
 
I thought campaigns like "Save the Boobies" were more to get women into the habit of remembering to do their monthly breast exams so that they can catch any potential problems before they (theoretically) become life threatening.
C Weeks
 
It should be "save yourself" or something along those lines, imo
 
+C Weeks, perfect, but I'm sure some religious cult out there pick that catch phrase up already. lol
 
Of course, and I'd never want to suggest that their opinions should be marginalized. Merely that it's a complex issue with diverse but sincere opinions held by people of good will.
 
Lighten up, Francis. It's a great way to raise awareness and money for more research. Plus, if we ever defeat this cancer, women will be able to keep their breasts.

Frankly, there are other far worse kinds of cancer which do not receive the attention they deserve. Look into funding for pancreatic cancer and prepare to be depressed.
 
I think the goal was to try to dull the sting of talking about something considered taboo (breasts), which, like chemo-therapy, is intended to do more good than harm.
 
Organic food & healthy lifestyle is the real & effective solution. ;) IMHO
 
You might also liken it to when Tom Green got testicular cancer and then made a song about it. "Hey kids, play with your balls, so you don't get cancer." (it saved at least one boy's life)
 
I always felt uncomfortable with the campaign but could never put a finger on the WHY. You pretty much voiced that in this post. Thanks for having the courage to post it.
 
Would I be out of line if I was to voice support for saving both?
 
+Randall Munroe , my mother underwent treatment for breast cancer two years ago and i couldn't agree more. it makes me really happy to hear someone voicing the same discomfort that i've felt for a long time.
it's dehumanizing and sexist to a very uncomfortable degree.
Ward A
 
It's a good way to get kids involved to support too. Women are lucky, there isn't a campaign like this for prostate or testicular cancer. Pink is synonymous with breast cancer. Boobies and all that, brings that to mind. Where's this type of support for men? I'd be all for "Save the balls" or "Keep the dick", etc etc. 
 
Save the prostates just doesn't have the same ring to it.
 
+Muhammad Nur Arifin The causes of cancer aren't just diet and environment, so just because you eat organic food and live a healthy lifestyle doesn't mean you're cancer free. Neither are those two things a substitute for cancer-killing drugs like chemotherapy.
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Rofl Mark, nope. Save the dicks? 
 
I think this speaks a little to the stark futility of it all and the loss of control. I've been through a couple of such things and even surrender to the truth and reality you eventually come to seems so cliche as to make it all just that much worse. Analysis fails us. I wish we all had more moments to simply listen to each other. Thank you for posting this.
 
Holy shit, more than 30 comments in just a minute?
 
Right. All the ads that show beautiful women using discomforting slang to talk about breasts with the intent of raising awareness of cancer...made me more aware of their chest. I do think it brings improper focus and more giggles than serious sentiment.

Also, every single time I hear or read the phrase "Breast Awareness," I facepalm. I don't think there's any problem with breast awareness.

"...oh, you meant the CANCER! You want us to be aware of the CANCER!"

...
 
I agree with your general position, but I'd like to think that the purpose of such slogans is mostly to raise awareness... not necessarily be taken literally. Not that there aren't shallow people out there who will just giggle at "boobies", but at least if they're parroting a phrase they think is funny, it spreads the word.
 
What about the campaigns for "Save the Boobies!" that are referring to small birds?
 
Hey, if "Save The Ta-Tas" and "I Heart Boobies" wristband sales put more money into oncology research, it's hard to really paint that as a bad thing. Your point is well taken, and I can see why someone who had to undergo a radical mastectomy could feel marginalized.

But it generates awareness and money. I'm not saying people should just "deal with it" - I think you know what I'm getting at here.

I'm also wondering why there isn't an equally large "Save The Peckers" movement for prostate cancer awareness.
 
+Ward Anderson there's no "save the _____" campaigns for a lot of different cancers that affect one or all genders. I wouldn't say women are lucky, just some women are 'lucky' if that happens to be their cancer. And prostate cancer is making some inroads on awareness campaigns.
 
+Ward Anderson - Safeway (local grocery chain) regularly features blue ribbons and asks for donations for prostate cancer awareness, although they don't use any special catch-phrase.
 
I would never dream of telling you how you should be feeling about something,.but I've known breast cancer patients - including women - who have approved of, enjoyed, and even participated in such campaigns.

Different people are going to respond to different stimuli; what offends one will enlighten another. The really important thing is that there be all sorts of campaigns out there, including ones that piss you personally off, because while you're grumbling at one someone else's eyes are being opened by it; someone else is donating or volunteering because of it.
 
Also, not only women get breast cancer.
 
Apparently, the action of my putting "99 words for boobs" at YouTube on my post made me lose so many friends yesterday. ;D -- Even though I put this line "R18 / Please DON'T watch this movie, ladies".....
 
Why should we care what the intent is? Why would that possibly excuse negative, sexist side-effects?
 
Eww....ew ew ew ew EWWW ew ew ew...
 
+Dan Scannell I haven't ever seen or heard a Breast Cancer Awareness add that simply said "Breast Awareness."

This is a thing that exists?
Ward A
 
I'm too lazy to type out a response. Pink = breast cancer because of campaigns like that. Should they write "Save the breasts" instead? 
 
As successful as the breast cancer awareness campaigns are, I think there are struggles to reach multiple audiences (young adults to seniors, men and women alike) and I do see how that one can feel sexist or marginalizing to survivors. Maybe there should be a followup of "losing your breasts doesn't mean you lose yourself" or something similar?
 
+A. Miles Davis Yeah I've seen them, a few times, but they're usually things thrown together (like written on printer paper in pen or marker or something). But not always.
 
I agree with this post!
I also don't see how posting coded messages on facebook and other social networks should help promote breast cancer awareness. I mean - if people do not know what the message means, how can the message then make them aware of breast cancer? And why is it that nobody ever talks about the fact that males can get breast cancer too?
 
One can also remember that women are affected by other types of cancer. I know from the experience of someone very close to me who has ovarian cancer and has been fighting it for eleven years on an off, that sometimes it may appear that breast cancer awareness and fund-raising are overdone, relative to the other deadly cancers out there, even if one were to limit attention to the ones affecting women.
 
I'm sorry, but I'm still not getting the "sexist" angle here. Men are attracted to breasts. Women are attracted to breasts. We live in a society where they've become part of the "image" so to speak, and it's not that difficult to think of evolutionary/psychological reasons why.

Are there specific instances of women who've undergone mastectomies not getting support and comfort from these groups?
 
I'm more of a "Save the huge ass cheeks" type of guy, but I hear you loud and clear, Randall.
 
+Cecilie Nygaard I hear you on the codeword facebook thing. I think the first one was creative, but I think I'm starting to tune those out too
 
If that loud objectification advanced research and got us closer to understanding the mechanism behind oncogenes, I think I'd feel more comfortable with it.

+Randall Munroe , I'm getting the sense this is someone you know. I'm sorry to hear of it, but I feel I should ask was it an official lack of support or a perceived attitude?
 
Also, at least these somewhat ridiculous Boobie campaigns actually raise money. What really gets my goat are those stupid "post this as your status if you hate cancer and want to beat it, yay" type memes that go around Facebook (I am yet to see this on G+ haha). I lost a family member to cancer and I find these so offensive and trite. If I thought that posting a stupid status update was all it took to 'cure' cancer then boy, my entire research project working on cell signalling pathways in cancers is such a waste of time...
 
I think part of the point of the "Save the Boobies" (or Ta-tas, or whatever) campaigns is to emphasize that we need to recognize that often a woman feels as though she's cut herself off from her sexuality in having a mastectomy to arrest breast cancer, and that we need to keep working to find cures that don't require cutting off a large part of a woman's body.

A few years ago, there was some media attention for the idea that women with the BRCA gene should just get a double mastectomy as soon as possible, before ever developing cancer. I suspect that the "Save the Boobies" folk are hoping to improve the medical options a woman with breast cancer has to the point where that idea would seem ludicrous.
 
Awareness is not action.

Thanks for posting about this. The fact is that many 'awareness' campaigns ARE offensive and marginalising to some people at risk of breast cancer, as well as patients and survivors, and we are often told to shut up when we express our feelings on the topic. The strident defenses of such campaigns, some of which can be seen above, just drive that knife deeper.

No campaign that hurts the very people it claims to help is a good one. There are lots of approaches to improving diagnosis and treatment, as well as supporting patients who need assistance, that do not require objectification and rampant sexism.
 
Well, if nothing else, it's given me a new angle to consider. Things like prostate cancer don't really seem analagous to what a post-mastectomy patient feels because even if a man has to have a TURP where a part of it is excised...your penis is still there, though nobody really knows. A bit harder to cover the signs of a double breast amputation.

I'm in the pipeline to become a Paramedic, so I'm trying to absorb as much as I can about the people I'm likely to encounter, and getting an idea about their concerns can only make me a better and more empathetic medic.
 
+Randall Munroe there has been a misunderstanding. I believe that +John Fanavans started booberday and it had nothing to do with breast cancer at all. His meme has likely been perverted, twisted, or trolled.
 
And yes, Eric, the pinkwashing that results in huge corporate profits from the 'awareness' industry is appalling. 
 
yeah, i hate how the silly breast cancer awareness memes are all framed in a way that tends to alienate those who no longer have (some or all of) their breasts because of breast cancer. perhaps we need a "care for the boobs, but know when to let them go" campaign.
 
+Randall Munroe I'm a kidney transplant recipient. I've known people that have passed away waiting for organs. I waited six years on dialysis for my transplant (Someone had to pass away for me to receive this gift. A gift I am thankful for each and every day). Six years on dialysis. Each treatment (3 times a week) took time off my life. There is a severe lack of organ donation in the United States. The fact that there is a movement out there that was started to promote early detection of breast cancer, sexist or lewd or not, more than likely has led to the saving of lives. I wish there were huge nationwide campaigns to donate organs that garnered this much publicity. If there were, I might have a longer life expectancy than I do now. I'm pretty sure these breast awareness campaigns did not set out to make anyone feel "shitty."
 
I appreciate your viewpoint, but don't share it. I have friends who've gone through (and one who has died from) breast cancer, and pretty much however I can get people involved works for me. I have not yet met a person who was offended by it (at least one of my survivor friends has had reconstructive surgery and sometimes wears implants to feel "fancy"), but I think some women could be, in which case I would try my best not to annoy them with my point of view.

Stepping aside from those diagnosed with cancer, there's a huge problem in getting women to self exam. There isn't a huge problem in getting men to examine women's breasts. Thus, I think campaigns that spend time on boobs is the right tactic to take, or a woman (or her partner) may never notice a little bump before it becomes something really bad (TM). At least one of my friends was saved a massive masectomy (just a section had to be removed) because one of her partners found it early. Trust me, he wasn't interested in cancer as a cause, he was (and is) definitely into her boobies.
 
It also ignores the many men who are also diagnosed with breast cancer. It makes it a "women's disease" in ways that are unnecessary and unfair. And there are bigger, less well-funded diseases out there that are killing people minute by minute, but they don't have a snazzy colour assigned or a media outlet. They just have poor people dying by the millions.
 
Just wondering. How much actual money makes it into the hands of oncology research departments out of things like Relay For Life, Race for the Cure, wristbands, Pink-Packaged-Absolutely-Everything-Consumer Products, and what have you?
 
+Marty Fischlin I'll drink to that. The best I could come up with was "Save the Sphincters", and that would never fly.
 
Depends on how much you like sphincters...
 
Well, frankly, they do play a very important role. Without them, we'd be in deep shit.
 
I cringe a bit at the 'save the boobies" campaign but do support it if it is bringing awareness or attention that otherwise would not be garnered. I also think the commentary on why it may be insensitive to many is important to hear as well, because it is very important to maintain the sensitivities of victims of this horrible disease.
 
+Grant Whitesell Go to Guidestar (https://www2.guidestar.org/) and Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/), look up the breast cancer charities of your choice, and see what the percentage of receipts going to administrative costs is. In addition, some of these charities have publicly posted budgets in their annual reports, which would provide a more detailed breakdown than the Form 990s are going to get you. (The latter are, sadly, rather blunt instruments.)
 
Can I ask who lives under a rock and is NOT aware of breast cancer... we really don't need more awareness nor do we need to waste money on anything painted pink for profit we need a cure
 
There just isn't a clear cut answer here, I think; it is effective as a campaign in some ways, and affronting in others.
 
I've seen these campaigns and feel similarly, but an expression of support is often clouded in dark humor. I think that the campaigns that use this as its slogan are perhaps hitting at this darker tone of humor.
 
"For starters, it suggests that women are worth saving because they're attached to breasts, rather than the other way around."

No it doesn't. That breasts are worth saving 'cause they're attached to women is an equally valid inference.
 
I always figured that the "Save the Boobies" campaign was a lighthearted way to extract money for women's health from a market segment that otherwise wouldn't likely bother about women's health--and therefore an excellent marketing/fundraising strategy...
 
Maybe...if the disease comes from nature and not as a result of human manufacturing. Not that I'm saying cancer is just that (since I don't really know), but I'm just pointing that out. Nature can't do much for asbestos poisoning, for example.
 
+Muhammad Nur Arifin : Hi, buddy. Two things real quick.

The information cited on the cancer.gov site is a tad out of date. The newer research coming out is casting serious doubt on the role and efficacy of "antioxidants."

Also, Rense.com? Beating cancer by not drinking milk? That's an awfully big leap, and one that your site doesn't support all that well.

The horrible and simple fact is...cancer is genetic, aggravated by certain risk factors. No amount of goji berries or traditional Chinese medicine is going to cure that.

Edit: Holy...you really doubled down on the TCM there. Would I be out of line if I asked for a peer-reviewed study from a science or medicine journal or a medical case study showing that Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy caused a cancer to go into remission?
John Bump
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This may have already been posted, but a friend recently saw a woman wearing a shirt that read "Yes they're fake: my real ones tried to kill me." I found that more effective than a whole parking lot of cars with pink bumperstickers.
 
Going to inject my uninformed two cents here. It seems to me that removing the breast is a rather sure-fire way of getting rid of the cancer (assuming that it hasn't spread yet). The "Save the TaTas" campaigns, to me at least, seem to be supporting investment of resources into BETTER treatments. I don't think there is any kind of sexist or offensive intent that "breast > woman." I find it ridiculous to take that large of a leap.
 
I find it fascinating how many people are defending the campaign. I just don't understand why some people think that sexism doesn't matter if it's helping in some way. And I do find surprising that a majority of the comments do not understand the problem with objectifying women.

So, to make the point even clearer, even though this is just a comment that few people will read, I will try to make an analogy that maybe people are more comfortable with. Let's say that there exists a disease that mostly affects African descendants (and I'm sure there is and that it's just a Google away), would it be OK for me to start a campaign to 'Save the slaves'?

Even as a joke, and even if it helps tons of people, deepening a problem to find a solution for another problem is not socially stable nor morally acceptable.
 
+Muhammad Nur Arifin Actually, most of the chemotherapy drugs are made out of plants. So yeah, there is a (really nasty) cure from nature :)
 
Am I the only one who's noticed that the vast majority of people who've posted in disagreement with Randall's sentiments, and don't see a problem with the campaign, are male?
 
I think sexism in this case is a little subjective. You may find it to be sexist, but many women participating in it do not.

A woman with a full chest may accentuate and flaunt it, while another may cover it up or wear baggy clothing. Which one is "right?"
 
+Sebastián Ventura I've only just heard of the campaign, but can you provide an example of sexism in the campaign?
 
+Sebastián Ventura You analogy is fundamentally flawed. Sorry. Being black does not equate to being a slave. Being a woman (having XX chromosomes) does, more often than not, mean one has breasts. Hell, men have them too, just different. The question is whether people base a woman's value entirely on her breasts. And I think that most people are better than that.
 
Because I respect your opinion, +Randall Munroe, I have fallen into a far-too serious discussion about this with my wife (my local expert on all things). We do the Race for the Cure (most years I "sleep in for the cure" by going to church) and have a laugh at the great names women come up with for their teams.
We tend to see them as fun ways women raise awareness about a problem that mostly affects women directly, but also that they take derogatory terms and own them ("Joggers for Jugs") in a way that is kind of fun and lighthearted. It's similar to the way the LGBT communities have taken "queer" back and now they celebrate it.
But of course, every cancer survivor is different.
 
+Matthew Shea Although I get that most women do have breasts, they do make the assumption that all breasts look good and that they are worth saving (even though there shouldn't be a reason for them to be an important part of the woman's body). What the campaign is promoting is to focus on women for their breasts, which shouldn't and isn't an essential part of being a woman. Hell, even if they remove them, you are still a woman. Maybe if we didn't focus so much on "boobies", removing them would be the first option and would save much more lives.

+Mike Smith I also just heard of the campaign, and I'm not familiar with everything it did. I'm just pointing out that title in itself is objectifying women. As I pointed out in the last paragraph, if you separate women and breast many things can improve, including complications from mammaplasty and the obsessive fixation of men on breast.
And, by the way, by the title you can infer the rest of the campaign, but, doing the research I ought to do before replying, here's a link to information about the campaign: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/24/save-the-boobs-is-this-br_n_298349.html. In that ad you can clear see a woman being objectified by men and making it look like it's OK. It doesn't matter if that particular woman didn't have a problem with that video, but as the ad make it seem that it's good to look at women breasts and even staring without bothering if it's making her uncomfortable, it clearly sets the cultural mindset that intrinsically linking big breast and woman is a harmless mischief.
 
+Randall Munroe I'm so sorry to hear about your fiancee Randall. Seeing your comics of late, I had feared that someone close to you had been diagnosed with cancer. :( As you said recently, "Fuck cancer."

Also, I am in 100% agreement with you about this campaign. While the funds are welcome, the attitude about it is all wrong.
 
+Aaron Wood I just wanted to say, as the daughter of a heart-transplant recipient (12 year anniversary this December!), I wholeheartedly feel for your frustration in the lack of reporting of the longstanding & ongoing organ donation crisis in this country. My father was in and out of the hospital for five years, for up to six months at a time, until he got his heart. Trying to explain our family's struggle to anyone who hadn't gone through it was disheartening at best.

However, I also know many people who have felt marginalized or even shamed by the effect of these 'meme campaigns' (breast cancer and domestic abuse come to mind), so I don't know that this kind of attention is the most effective/useful for causes. As someone said above, awareness is not action.
 
" I'm just pointing out that title in itself is objectifying women."

But I've already pointed out that it's not (see my earlier comment).

Now that I've seen the commercial I see why people are upset, but they're using the fact that breasts get attention (which everyone knows, and isn't a problem) to raise awareness. Is it not obvious that they deliberately went over the top with the breast attraction? They're saying if you care so much about them, then do something.
 
+Christina Gleason, to me, awareness is something and a start. Nothing is just, well... nothing.

(Hope your Dad is doing well!) :D
 
I question the idea that "breasts get attention" is an unproblematic statement. Why? They're just another part of my body.
 
I appreciate the thoughtful comments here by such sophisticated and intelligent pluskins. 
 
+Mike Smith About the title, we can agree to disagree on there. But I do feel that the inference you did earlier is not equally valid because the title doesn't even mention women. It would seem that it's OK to keep the breast in a jar detached from women. Maybe I'm just exaggerating, but lately I find that there are so much sexist things (like cleaning product ads that only show women cleaning and men baffled by the notion of even using a broom) that I don't find it weird to see even the slightest sexist reference.

And I do understand that there exists a current fixation on women's breast, but as it's forbidden in many countries to stereotype and make racist comments on advertisement, there should also be laws that prevent that ads like this one from airing. Not because the objectification is morally wrong (which it's debatable), but because it worsens a problem we have in society by making it seem that breast staring is OK.
 
My wife and I were literally talking about less than 24 hours ago. It's pretty awful. I don't know what's worse, that people thought to use that as a marketing campaign, or that they think this generation needs that marketing campaign to become involved.
 
Thank you for being so thoughtful. This has always bothered me as well.
 
+Sebastián Ventura True. If a man has his testicles removed, is he still a man? Of course, but I would wager that that is the LAST option for men.

Ultimately, the decision on a procedure lies with the patient. If a woman says, "To hell with it, cut it off." Then that should be her choice, but I greatly disagree that it should be the FIRST choice.

I highly doubt that the campaign has much to do with the value society places on a woman's breasts. I think the campaign has MORE to do with letting men still feel "masculine" while supporting a "women's issue." So if anything, the campaign supports the male-stereotypes, not the female.
 
"I always figured that the "Save the Boobies" campaign was a lighthearted way to extract money for women's health from a market segment that otherwise wouldn't likely bother about women's health--and therefore an excellent marketing/fundraising strategy..."

Does it bother anyone else that we have actually somehow become so brainwashed that this statement seems normal? We have to shake our boobies (literally or figuratively) in a marketing/ fundraising strategy to a certain demographic of a "market segment" to find a cure or we'd be overlooked.

Er - let me be the first to use morality here and say - that's just wrong.

But it's wrong on levels way deeper than this - it's wrong that we have to think of something like this in this way. Have we honestly all lost sight of this basic fact?

Read about the history of healthcare and how VERY short of a time it has been about anything having to do with the "market".

Precisely because it now IS a part of the "market" we have to endure this silliness.

This isn't a feminism issue - this is a humanity issue. Women aren't the only ones who have to shake their metaphoric asses to get their issues noticed - now we all do. Used to be a gift - and healthy civilizations kinda just intuitively knew it. Why don't we?
 
+Sebastián Ventura It doesn't need to mention women to be equally valid. It's a matter of logic. It's not their fault that people reason incorrectly.
Fixation on breasts is hardly "current." It's bloody biological, and they're taking advantage of that to get attention. Even if it's controversial, it doesn't matter because it works. Controversy is often the most effective way to draw attention to something.

I don't see how such an ad should be illegal, it's harmlessly making a point. If you don't think it's harmless you probably think breasts should be concealed from view and it's wrong for people to check them out (which you've said), but doing so doesn't mean you're objectifying. Implying attraction is wrong sounds terribly repressive, like old Christian & current Islamic culture.

I recognize the problems with objectification, but over-reacting doesn't help the cause.
 
+Matthew Shea Of course the decision lies with the patient. But you have to take into account the socio-cultural aspects of the problem. Women's decision in keeping their breast are greatly influenced by the cultural context where breast are an object of worship, even if it's of course, finally her choice; but making her decide between cancer and being a social outcast doesn't leave too many options. Again, with my analogy with of slavery, it is the slave choice to stay (specially in many situations where there aren't any physical chains), but their other option is to risk being killed or living a miserable life of agony.

And I don't care about stereotyping man. Why? Because stereotyping is not morally wrong. What's wrong is keeping a problem and even worsening it via stereotypes and objectification. Would you teach your kids that it's OK to stare at women's breast without knowing if the woman in question feels comfortable with that? I hope not, and I hope this advertisement and the society doesn't teach them otherwise. But even if it's just one ad that says that staring is OK, or that breast cancer is worth fighting for because that way there are more "boobies" to watch, it can affect the society mindset and make it even worse for women in this world. (Just the other day, to point something out, I read about study that concluded that if we don't change society it would take 94 years, or something like that, for women to have equal salaries than men).
 
+Sebastián Ventura I think you are seriously exaggerating now. "Social outcast"? I don't know anyone who would deem a woman a social outcast for having had to remove a breast due to cancer. If people in your circle are like that, then you seriously need to find some new friends.
 
+Mike Smith I don't have a problem with breast and I do feel that if women want to show them, go ahead and make some men happy. Although I don't agree that it's biological (I should Google it, but I'm being lazy right now) because I have yet to see another species doing it, I do believe that it's cultural and that it isn't wrong per se. The problem is not breast or even liking them, the problem is staring, fixation and obsession. Men yelling and staring on the streets making women feel uncomfortable, women being classified by how well their breasts look (when it doesn't matter, like for being a secretary; if she's trying to get job as a stripper I feel that it's OK to consider if they look nice), and obsessive men who have sex or porn addiction to name a few of the problems.

Attraction is great and I'm all for it, but only if you are married... nah, just kidding. If anything what I'm fighting for is the right of women to go naked or barely clothed on the streets without fear of being raped, yelled at or even stared at; what I want is a world where people respect each other, do not make themselves feel uncomfortable and consider attraction when it's important. And again, objectification is not wrong in itself, what it's wrong is being disrespectful and making things worse. If you like to stare at breasts, please do it anywhere you like whenever you feel like it, but the only thing I'm asking for is that you do make sure that the person you are staring at is comfortable with what you are doing.
 
+Ellen McManis Biology. How old are you and you don't understand this? O_o

People are reading too much into this, and often incorrectly. So many seem to be missing the point.
 
Next time someone asks me what I mean when I say "mansplaining," I'm going to point them to a whole lot of the comments in this thread.

Wow, especially +Mike Smith's seriously condescending comment just above this one.
 
I always assumed it was alluding to an end of breast cancer as the sort of thing that often requires the removal of breasts at all, primarily through encouraging the funding of research. Oh well.
 
+Mike Smith While I do understand the fact that breasts are important to infant development, once someone is no longer an infant, the breasts cease to be inherently interesting. For evidence of this, see the vast quantities of other cultures which do not consider female toplessness to be at all odd, sexual, or worth commenting on. Those cultures are much less breast-obsessed than we are, and frankly, I think they have it right -- I'd love to be able to just take my shirt off on a hot day and not have everyone assume I want to fuck them.
 
+Sebastián Ventura OK, yes, culture is a large part of it too. And actually, find me a species that doesn't do it, in one form or another. Peacocks have their tails, birds have their colours, etc.
If people are staring then they're probably violating social norms. People give indications whether they're interested in being checked out or not, by their dress, body language, and y'know... words. Anyone forcing their attention on someone is being an asshole, regardless of the reason (barring certain exceptions).

There are many places women can go barely clothed without problems. And I think the risk of rape is not that large. Rape isn't about attraction, it's about power, and most people wouldn't rape someone. I totally agree with your last sentence.
 
+Matthew Shea I do think then that you haven't met a lot of men, then. I'm not saying that not having a breast due to cancer make you a social outcast (most people knowing that situation would treat them with respect), I'm saying that they are being left out of many things because they are not pretty enough. If you'd like to know how a woman without breasts feel like you can search for testimonials of women fighting stereotypes and women having to wear prosthesis to appear as if they have them or even getting surgery, just because they don't feel good about themselves because they don't have two breasts. That feeling is not biological, is not because all women want to be pretty, it's because of the cultural context.
 
+Ellen McManis Excellent point. So arguably, it's mostly cultural, but I don't think entirely so. There needs to be something, and that's what our culture happens to be organized around.
 
Randall, you and your fiancée are full of awesomesauce. I wish you both the best. Sorry she has to deal with this kinda crap, though.
Toby K
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Gosh, these threads grow quickly. About 120 comments now and only +Quiara Hazlewood mentioned that MEN CAN GET BREAST CANCER TOO. I actually scanned all of them to try to not be the first one, or to act like I was. But I will mention that federally, Men cannot get Medicaid funding for breast cancer treatment.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/aug/08/treatment-denied/

Also, for prostate cancer: Save the Semen. (Doubt I'll see "Save the Manboobs" stickers anytime soon, but yeah, save the boobies is sexist because it seems to imply only one sex can get it.)
 
+Randall Munroe aside from the pinkwash issue, let me thank you for your comics. As a long time fan (who has http://xkcd.com/322 as a kickban message for special cases on IRC channels) reading your comics (and blogpost) about cancer gave me an added level of comfort when my mum passed away on 30th of June six months after first symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma. Best wishes and hang on there.
 
I had that train of thought running through my head on the trail today. Something awesome that's part of the most awesome thing about life can host trouble. I just really doesn't lend itself to any sort of simplistic slogan.
 
I'm ... bemused ... by the fact that, having been called out on the sexism inherent in the Booberday meme by people who think would be oppressive even if it were about breast cancer, the apparent originator of the thing pipes up to say "hey, it was never about breast cancer in the first place." And this is supposed to somehow make it better?
 
maybe i have the wrong people (or the right people) in my circles, but this is the first i've heard about "booberday"
 
My wife is apart of the 'Save the ta-tas' campaign. I think you are digging way to deeply into a light hearted way to show awareness make people look, ask questions, get involved, and donate. Quit reading into stuff too much it makes life easier. Face value if you don't agree don't participate if enough people think like you it goes away. Simple and harmless.
 
Mr. Munroe. You are awesome. That is all for now.
 
As many people have pointed out, it's not serious. If someone dies of breast cancer, men don't think "CRAP! LESS BOOBS! D:". But the meme is an incredible way of getting attention, it's actually somewhat funny, and it's only doing good for raising awareness etc etc etc.
chad o
 
The problem is it's that you're ignoring all other kinds of cancer, for whatever reason.
Xah Lee
 
some relevant interesting factoid.

Worldwide, breast cancer comprises 22.9% of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in women.[7] In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (13.7% of cancer deaths in women).[7]

now, the interesting question is how much all cancer kills. And more so, what kills the most. Here's a list from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_death

The number one is cardiovascular diseases, at ~29% of all deaths.

here's some interesting entries:

cardiovascular diseases = 29.34%
HIV/AIDS = 4.87%.
Intentional injuries (Suicide, Violence, War, etc.) = 2.84%
traffic accidents = 2.09%
Suicide = 1.53%
Violence = 0.98%
Breast cancer = 0.84%
Falls = 0.69%
Drowning = 0.67%
Prostate cancer = 0.47%
War = 0.30%
 
Let's stop paying for research and start paying for cures. People will not find cures if there is no profit in it.
 
I think you're looking too deep into something that's meant to interject humor into a horrible situation.

Buzzkill.
 
No, I agree with Randall. Money for research is good, but it isn't an excuse for engaging in questionable/sexist behavior. I know the intent is not necessarily harmful, but there are some questionable things about the breast cancer awareness that need to be addressed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_cancer_brand#Breast_cancer_as_a_brand
Remember, pointing out the problem in something is not the same as saying it should not exist. Don't fall into the same trap that US politics are falling into - no one is saying that people should not raise awareness of breast cancer, but simply that they should be sensitive to the people fighting the disease while they do so.
 
also what does this mean: "let's stop paying for research and stop paying for cures"?

How will we find cures without research? Magical tumor-shrinking unicorn farts? When it comes to cancer, science/research is the best hope we have. Beyond that, we do need to work to clean up carcinogens being dumped into our environment, but I'm not sure that is actually linked to breast cancer as opposed to other cancer types.
 
+Jason Dow I think he's looking at it just right. I have never had breast cancer, but I had to have a hysterectomy several years ago. All the logic, all my body positive feminist enlightenment, and all the reassurances from my beloved could not drown out that sad little voice in my head telling me I wasn't a 'real' woman anymore.

And ya know, my uterus was on the inside. I can well imagine how a campaign to "save the tatas" could make a woman who was already feeling very vulnerable feel that she was less important than her mammary glands.

It may not seem logical to you, but you're not the one sitting there with a knot of scar tissue in the place where guys used to stare a lot.
 
+Jason Dow Did you notice, in Randall's comment as well as those of others on this post, that people who are in this horrible situation find this genre of "advocacy" upsetting? Nice of you to tell them that they should just "get over it" because you think it's funny to talk about women's boobs.
 
+Jessica Polito First off I didn't tell them to "just get over it" so don't put words in my mouth.

And yes there are some who don't like it, and there are also others who do like it. I went to one of these rallies with an ex-gf and there were lots of survivors and in the middle of treatment types there who liked the advocacy.

I'll grant you they may have liked anything that got the message out, but "some people don't like it" is not a valid reason.

Now get off your high horse. I wasn't sitting there going "hehehe boobies". But I do not appreciate the fact that in your mind all males who went to that rally were silly little boys joking at the word boobie.
 
Yes! I've always been uncomfortable with the sexualization of breast cancer. (And the "everything must be pink!" thing, but that's a separate issue.) We don't do this with testicular cancer or other cancers that affect other reproductive-related organs on men or women. It has the added affect of completely glossing over the fact that men can, and do, get breast cancer, too. Thank you for pointing this out; maybe more people will get it and stop wearing their "save the tatas" shirts.
 
First off, I appreciate +Randall Munroe being willing to use his popularity to speak out about important causes.
Second, for everyone wondering if the campaign can be justified by how much money it raises for research, the answer is basically no. If you want to support biomedical research then contact your representatives in congress and tell them to fund the NIH, because that is where the majority of research funding comes from, and right now they all seem to think that it should be cut. Awareness is great for getting people to get testing, but it's an entirely different issue than research funding, and it isn't going to find a cure.
 
Knowing people who have had mysectomies, the lack of feeling feminine is definitely something these patients can deal with. Esp since they lost their hair and ovarian cancer can be related so sometimes those go too. I think all Randall is saying is that we should be careful not to worsen these feelings while raising awarness for the disease.
 
+Jason Dow You're perfectly comfortable calling women -- BC patients -- who do find it upsetting "buzzkill," because you think the humor that you see in "save the boobies" is more important than their feelings. And you're upset because you think I'm calling you immature. Sorry; I'm more concerned about the feelings of someone who's fighting cancer.
 
Thank you. I find it stupidly degrading when I see people attach fight against breast cancer with their (sexual) liking to breasts. Fight breast cancer because it's a horrible disease, not because it takes away your sexual desire.
 
+Jessica Polito Yes, I am upset because you did call me immature. First off the buzzkill was directed at Randall, not the women involved. As was the whole of my post. But you didn't bother trying to understand what I was saying.

If I saw a massive wave of people upset by the campaign I would agree with you. But at said rally I saw nothing of the sort. I saw people having a good time raising awareness of a horrible illness. I saw survivors and patients thanking people for coming to support them.

I'm sorry, if you're pissed about the word boobie you don't go around thanking people for showing up.

I had testicular cancer when I was 17. If someone put up a "I'm nuts for nuts" sign in support of testicular cancer you know what I would do? Thank them. For over a decade I didn't even like talking about it. Sex was almost non existent because I was horrified of being laughed at by women for only having one testicle. Is it a tad harsh..yeah.

But it interjects humor and lightheartedness into a situation that crippled me as a person for years. And I can tell you right now, humor would have been the very best thing that could have happened.
 
I think there's a historical component that we're missing here. For years, the oncologist's first reaction to a case of breast cancer was radical mastectomy. The perception among some women was that male doctors viewed the breast as "superfluous" and did not explore alternative therapies (like more limited surgery, combined with chemo). Thus, some of the early roots of the "find a cure" movements were specifically motivated by a desire to save the breast itself, i.e. to make doctors take a woman's organs seriously, and not to perform a disfiguring operation when it isn't necessary. From this perspective, the current Booberday-type celebrations make more sense.
 
+eric katz the same is to be said of uterus and ovarian cancers, especially amongst older women. Foucault was an avid writer on the decisions of doctors creating a hierarchy in the social value of specific body parts. Albeit, the focus has shifted from surgery to non-intrusive therapy in the past few decades.
 
"OMG your boobie joke fundraiser offends me/us/them" Seriously?

First-world problems are bitch, eh?
 
Agreed, i'm sick of seeing all the guys around my school wearing the "save the boobies" bands when i know damn well they could give less of a shit about, say, pancreatic cancer? When they dont even realize the breasts are usually removed anyways just pisses me off. Its why i wish i was in an AP or IB set of classes so i no longer have to deal with these morons.
 
I thought the Blue-Footed Booby was considered a species of Least Concern? Why are we saving them?
 
I just thought it was a clever marketing gimmick. If it gets money from people that saves lives, it's working.
 
Does it help to know that the general masses, outside the terrible situation these women are stuck in, think this is just a silly little slogan and nothing deeper? That the vast majority of people have incredible respect for any survivor, utterly regardless of a masectomy, and don't seriously equate a woman's beauty or worth with her breasts any more than they seriously buy into any other silly catch-phrase? I can understand how this could be a nightmare-inspiring phrase when you look at it in that light, but part of the nightmare is probably the idea that everyone else is staring at them and thinking along the same lines. So maybe we should all let them know that we're not?
 
+Christine Task Do you have to have thought about it for it to be sexist? Does someone have to intend for it to be sexist for it to still be so? If nobody ever says anything directly, do children still become indoctrinated in sexist iconography?
 
+Maggie Laigaie I think one image may have many interpretations. If a majority of people don't see the image as implying that women are any less capable, intelligent, worthy, or worthwhile than men, and in fact those people believe that men and women are equal both before seeing the image and after seeing it, then... the inherent sexism of the image becomes sort of a strange philosophical debate. By analogy, when I was a kid, I always thought michael jackson's ebony and ivory was about a piano. It did a very poor job of indoctrinating me in anti-racist iconography, because I didn't imagine it had anything whatsoever to do with racism.
 
Ebony and Ivory was written by Paul McCartney, and performed by him and Stevie Wonder, with no involvement from Michael Jackson, and I can't imagine any adult failing to understand the actual meaning of the song. Just so you know, "The Sneeches" was about that same subject.
 
The lighthearted approach that this campaign takes is a wonderful idea for garnering a proactive response and getting people to listen. "Save the Boobies" is the kind of slogan that seems great, maybe even positive, perhaps until you actually get breast cancer yourself. I'm convinced it could be done better, keeping a playful tone, and without the overtones of 'your boobs are your Sexy.'

The removal of breasts, testicles, ovaries - any body modification, really - can be hard to cope with, as we often tie our physical attributes to our self identity. Losing a breast or two is bound to make a woman worry if she has lost part of what made her feminine and beautiful - and if it didn't raise that question, this campaign slogan might.
 
this is rational, feminist win.

my mom was struggling with whether to have a mastectomy. she almost didn't go through with it - probably because of a pervasive societal message that as a woman, her worth is constituted by her sexual appeal. in the end, she did have the operation and it probably saved her life. brave. ...and then she got implants. you win some, you lose some, i guess.

in any case, thanks for the airtight feminist critique, randall.
 
"it suggests that women are worth saving because they're attached to breasts"

No it doesn't.

I'm not defending "Save the Boobies," but consrtuctive fun, which is what it is- however messy- is not to be made the devil.

"Often, the point of breast cancer treatment is to destroy some or all of the boobies in order to save the woman."

I would say always..... A campaign to save breasts is, i assume, all about a cure. There's no reason mascots for a happy future can't be whole breasts.

We need to not mix our crusades, or we alienate everyone eventually. There's misogyny in this dirty world but this ain't it.

I like breasts. I like the women attached to them. I like people to be healthy, happy. Where's the conflict?

My mom is a survivor-- she's still on the cusp of recurrence, years later. She likes Booberday.
 
Me and my remaining boob thank you for this.
 
It amazes me how frequently you either say something I'm already thinking, only you say it better, or you make me seriously question about something I hadn't considered yet.
 
To those whose argument is on the lines of "I went to a rally, there were many women there, including many breast cancer survivors, and none of them had a problem with the slogan": your sample is skewed, and cannot be used to extrapolate to the population. Please note that those who were not there may very well have had a problem with the slogan (and maybe that's why they weren't there), and, since they were not there, you didn't get to see them or hear their opinion.
 
Reading the comments, I'm struck by the fact that it's now been thoroughly explained that "Booberday" had no link to breast cancer awareness - it was a total retcon - and yet there doesn't seem to be any way to get a grip on having a conversation about the effect of mass-postings of pictures of women's breasts on women's participation in a very male-dominated network.
 
Wait... people were posting boobs on the internet?

... I think I need more friends on G+.
 
My thoughts exactly, Mr. James Hollingsworth ...
 
I'm curious about the distribution of people on here who identify as <insert gender> and are defending the "Save the Boobies" slogan v those who are not. If only I had free time...
 
Pretty much took the words out of my mouth/fingers. My mom didn't die so you could objectify her as nothing more than a pair of breasts that needed to be saved. Her life needed to be saved, and mastectomies are part of that process.
 
+Randall Munroe I'm acquainted with the author of the book "Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s." If you think putting the two of you in touch with each other would be helpful, I'd be happy to facilitate an introduction.
 
+Randall Munroe Sure, women shouldn't be considered simply an entity attached to a pair of boobies, but a good slogan should often be imbued with a sense of humor.
 
Very deep and well thought-out insights like this encourage us to take a constructively critical look at popular opinion on the internet. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with those willing to listen, agree, and even disagree.
 
While I agree with this semantic argument, I'm sure those campaigns would have grossed nowhere near as much if the merchandise reflected the stark nature of reality. In this rare instance, I'm prepared to accept the evil of advertising BS if it appeals to the wallets of the masses. Additionally, some of that money goes towards educational campaigns to promote regular screening which could, in fact, save some tits.
 
It's simply an example of doublespeak. It's an euphenism to attract more people. These organizations however should have taken into account that they're names are up for interpretation and thought more carefully about how they named themselves.
 
While I must acknowledge the validity of your position, Randall, I do not feel as though "Save the Boobies" and its associated memes are insinuating that breasts are the only reason people care about breast cancer. It strikes me as more of an entertaining tagline meant to get people's attention. In my mind, if it helps to give more people a positive awareness of the cause, it can't be that bad; provided of course that those individuals do their research and understand the purpose of the phrase.

You have a point, Randall, but I personally would disagree.
 
Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks Randy. (didn't have tome to read all the comments bit there are some real whopers)
 
What a punch in the stomach to the boob.

FTFY
 
I always interpreted this to be a metaphor for 'complete good health, a whole body.'
 
Having read, now, through all the comments, the thought I'm left with is: What if cancer of the arm was really, really, really common? What if the campaign slogan were, "Save the arms!" Or maybe something with a little more humor - "Arm yourself!" or "To arms!" or "Help fight for the right to bear arms!"

Because, hell, who wants to lose their arms? And to the point - who wants to lose any body part to cancer? Why is it bad for a campaign to state clearly part of what we're concerned about: that breast cancer often ends in the removal of whole breasts, which is a part of a woman's (or man's!) body, and that that's a horrible, terrible thing for a person to go through? Why is it sexist when it's breasts, and not arms? And why isn't it sexist that everyone seems to think that only women have breasts?

Save the arms!
Save the boobies!
Save the lungs!
Save the colon!
Save the cervix!
Save the throat!
Save the heart!
Save the pancreas!
Save the whatever!

I'm sorry people feel marginalized. Perhaps, instead of intellectually veiled accusations of sexism, those people should find ways to get past feeling marginalized. Because raising millions of dollars from people who don't have my disease, on behalf of researching a cure for my disease, is about the farthest thing I can imagine from being marginalized by another human being. Would that every survivor of every form of cancer were so marginalized.
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