08 January 2010

Pointless Feckless Aimless and Graceless

Yesterday, I got a Facebook message from someone, which read follows:

Some fun is going on.... just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. And send this on to ONLY girls no men .... It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status.. Haha

It pissed me off, for a number of reasons - the silliness, the sexism, the trivialization of cancer. It’s like junior high school or something. First of all, how the hell is this supposed to "spread the wings of cancer awareness"? If you see a status update that says "black", are you going to make the cognitive leap to cancer? I don't think so. Second, I'm irked by the men vs. girls thing in the text. The opposite of girl is boy. The opposite of men is women. Grown-ups are men and women (unless they’re ballet dancers, in which case they’re girls and boys – but that’s another day). Third, is this supposed to be about breast cancer? What about lung and prostate and pancreatic cancer? What about lymphoma and melanoma? Not sexy enough because lungs don't wear undergarments?

Susan (Why Mommy) weighed in with a post today – reminding us that women who’ve had double mastectomies don’t wear bras. In her post, she linked to a Newsweek blog post about this whole Facebook meme, in which the author points out "This isn't awareness or education; it's titillation". And Barbara Card Atkinson got all hot and bothered on Facebook – privately, to me, and publicly, where she said: "Instead of listing your bra color, why not send a donation to the cancer fighting foundation of your choice? Everyone *is* aware - so go make an actual difference!"

That’s it, people – we’re aware of cancer, we need ACTION, we don't need to know what color bra you are or aren't wearing.

Argh.

40 comments:

flyingtomato said...

Thank you thank you.

I was also going to blog on this, but then I simply posted a link on FB to an article summarizing the research that wearing bras has been linked to higher incidences of breast cancer. And THEN someone sent me that dumb e-mail.

Spread the wings of cancer awareness? But, don't tell the men? Dumb.

de said...

Brava!

Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

Thank you, Maggie, for summing up how I felt about this too.

The STUPIDEST way to raise awareness about breast cancer is to chit chat about bras.

Insensitive much?

I didn't speak up because so many of my friends participated, but it really irked me too.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh, good god, I was going to just say thank you, but if we're going to start passing around that spurious study purporting to find a link between bras and breast cancer, then I'll froth at the mouth instead. That's been going around for years. There's a great discussion thread on Ravelry right now in which a bunch of scientists thoroughly explained the numerous problems with it. Anyone who's now looking at their bras fearfully should email me, and I'll talk you down off the ledge.

Life As I Know It said...

Wonderfully said! I was thinking many of the same things, but you expressed them here beautifully.

I Am Very Mary said...

I'd wondered what that whole thing was about. Isn't it interesting that, as a breast cancer once-had-that-er, no one sent it on to me? hmmm. Perhaps back in the back of their brains, some folks knew I wouldn't be too excited about it. Or maybe they knew it didn't have a damn thing to do with awareness. Maybe I will just post a link to your post.

FreshHell said...

Yes. Thank you. I didn't received the original message but I have seen all the stupid color posts.

Becky said...

Thank you!

Gwen said...

The only people i've seen posting information about their bras are men. Maybe sweetsalty kate was wrong to think that boys grew out of the titties!! obsession in high school.

Anjali said...

I could not figure out what the hell this thing was on FB. Thank you for explaining it. And WOW, let me go get all appalled by it me.

This is the part I detest of FB most -- this jr.highish ridiculousness pretending to be a worthy cause.

WhyMommy (Susan) said...

Go, Maggie!

And for anyone wondering what you can you do to fight cancer -- consider joining the ACS Cancer Action Network: http://www.acscan.org/

Jozet at Halushki said...

I had no illusions that anyone posting a bra color was going to raise any awareness about anything. I suppose some people might have been thinking along the lines of - right or wrong - "use their own weapons against them", as in "if you're only going to pay attention to me if I'm standing in stilettos and a push-up, I'm going to use it to my advantage." But, you know, that's a topic for Camille Paglia to tackle...I'm too tired.

My thought? If you're going to use sex as a weapon, finish the deed and ask for money to see your bra. Or something. Then donate it. Instead, people were all coy and Donna Reed about it.

My other thought is that this is all the doing of some old pervert exploiting wide-definition feminism in order to get a lot of ladies to talk about their bras.

Jozet at Halushki said...

btw, I felt the same way about the Twitter For Iran, thing. People like to sit in their comfy chairs and feel like they are Doing Something. Most times, causes need more boots on the ground than butts in front of the screens. Still. Even in the age of plugged in-ness.

Furrow said...

I guess I should be glad that none of my "friends" sent me the message. They know I wouldn't participate. Or maybe I should be insulted. Whatever. I saw the color thing, and thought it had to do with underwear because I saw men posting it, too. Weird.

wherewiller said...

For me, the funny thing is that the first message I got about the meme mentioned nothing about cancer awareness, just that it was a funny joke. So I sort of wonder if it's a case of Broken Telephone. I posted my colour because it was a silly thing to do - nothing to do with 'awareness' at all.

heidi said...

I'm with you, sistah.

Suburban Correspondent said...

At least the Twitter for Iran thing made some sense. It wasn't all "Sssh, put the word green in your Twitter but don't say why..."

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I didn't even read it that closely, but you all make some truly excellent points.

The man-girl thing is truly annoying.

Bibliomama said...

I was going to sneak away like a coward, but I decided not to. I agree with some of your points, but I think you're being a little overly harsh. I get fed up with all the pink nonsense too, but any 'awareness' isn't the opposite of action, it's just an adjunct. People doing it on Facebook were doing it with their friends, so I don't think the accusation of titillation is really fair. And as for 'what about all the other cancers', that sort of reminds me of the woman in my book club who hated Fugitive Pieces because 'what about all the other atrocities in the world?'. Well... see next campaign, or book, I guess. This one was (nominally) about breast cancer. I agree that it was kind of silly, but it was without the malice that some are ascribing to it.

There. Aren't you glad I respect you enough to disagree? (weak laughter). I feel a bit nauseous.

Rima said...

Amen, amen, amen.

Irish Goddess said...

Maggie, you articulate what I think. I love that. -Maggie :)

Kyddryn said...

I'll cop to participating....not because I really think it will make a difference, and not because I had some social agenda...but because I don't wear a bra and saw something farcical in the whole exercise.

I wonder if these things are written/started by tweens who have nothing better to do with their time...

Nicely said, Mizz Magpie...although, tweens or not, foolish use of time and energy or not...if it made anyone pause and think about Cancer of any sort, then I can't completely decry it.

Sigh.

Sucks being an Aquarius and seeing the good/bad sides in everything. So freakin' wishy-washy...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

alejna said...

Yay, Magpie! Thanks for this.

My own response was to put up a nonsensical status update. Because I like to spread the wings of confusion.

(Also, I love the Cold Comfort Farm reference of your post title.)

phd in yogurtry said...

Ah, the mystery is solved. I agree, it's a lame excuse and isn't likely to benefit cancer research.

Gotta Knit! said...

I had no idea what all those colors were about until someone finally told me. Seemed like a silly high school game. How is someone supposed to know this is for Breast Cancer from the Meme? Plus, how stupid does one have to be to believe putting the color of you bra up on Facebook does a dang thing to progress research or get medical attention to Cancer victims?

I'm personally more proactive than that by donating my money, my medical skills and having completed 2 3-day Breast Cancer Walks and 1 2-day Breast Cancer walk. I know I am making a difference and who gives a flip what color my bra is today!

Beck said...

YES.
People are such a pack of dolts. I mean, REALLY.

Kelly said...

Geez. I guess I'm just one in a large pack of dolts. Seriously, though, my mother's had both breast and colon cancer. The breast cancer was confined to a duct, and the colon cancer, well, that was a bit more diffuse. Stage 3b. She's still here, five years later, and I thank my lucky stars.

So yeah, I disclosed that I was wearing a black bra, but I didn't do it under any presumption that I was making a difference in cancer awareness. So I agree with you, but also feel a bit like defending myself as well.

Carol said...

I agree. I think the random Facebook thing was harmless and fun, but I don't think it promoted cancer awareness.

Mostly it amused me because my husband figured it out and then announced "BLACK!" in his facebook status just to make people think twice.

wheelsonthebus said...

plus, if you are laundry challenged like I am, all your bras have become an indefinable shade of watery gray.

Bwen said...

For the life of me, I cannot see how that weird, ineffective campaign is titillating. Even remotely. So every time a bra is mentioned, that's sexual? Acknowleging that most women have breasts = sex? I'm a stick in the mud then because I don't see it. And not sure how it's sexist either besides the boy/man, gir/woman thing which is annoying but low on the list, imho. There are far more sexist things on FB.

I didn't participate because I thought it was dumb but the outrage over this confuses me. I've read about it everywhere. It seemed to me to be a way of remembering that many of us - we average, non-sexpot, Facebook-using women - have breasts. It's not exciting, it's run-of-the-mill and for some reason, acknowleging that spreads awareness (I admit I don't get it).

Maybe I'm outraged out...

flutter said...

I am with you on this, i mean you don't see men telling us what color BVD's they are sporting for testicular cancer awareness

ozma said...

Yes, there are so many things about this that are bogus it is hard to list them all.

modernemama said...

so that's what was going on. I didn't get the memo, which is a good thing - saves me having to rant. What about the men who get breast cancer? They have a hard enough time dealing with a disease that predominantly affects women, adding to bra jokes is uncaring and divisive. Oh, and "spread the wings of cancer awareness" is such a trite phrase designed to raise money, not awareness.

mayberry said...

Amen, and I feel the same way about brands swathing themselves in pink and donating a few pennies to cancer research in exchange.

Lawyer Mama said...

Until I read Susan's post, it hadn't even occurred to me that it might upset some. Clearly I was in oblivion land or something. I saw the emails more as trying to spread awareness among women and adding in some fun to get people to pass it along to *more* women.
Well, it reminded me to put my self-exam on my calendar at least. And I'll now go make a donation to try and make an actual difference. (-;

coldspaghetti said...

AMEN.

Reminds me, too, of a 'send panties' chain letter that went around a few years back. At the time, I thought it was very, "look, look, I'm in control of my sexuality -- I'm comfortable in frilly, sexy (as defined by male heteros) undies!" GAG.

Hadn't seen the FB thing, yet... let's hope not at all!

slouchy said...

Agreed. This is why I wrote:

"No one knows what color my bra is. They're too busy staring at my bodacious tatas."

I mean, c'mon.

Mrs. Lynch said...

As one of the people who posted bra color, I think that this has been taken too seriously and way out of context. One poster mentioned "what about men with breast cancer?" Well...what is your government doing to help men with breast cancer? No one did this with the intention of being mean, crude or heartless.And apparently, this has caught the attention of the good people at Susan G. Komen. Now, maybe you may have something to say against the wording of the initial message but the heartfelt intentions of the women who participated can't be analyzed or criticized. Many of the women I know participate in cancer runs/walks and donate. So, stop thinking so hard. You might have to post what color your advil is next.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I could not agree with you more. Thank you for writing this, Magpie.

Caitlin said...

Goodness people...I believe that all the people that posted colors, myself included, were doing to say yes I hear your message. Yes this is serious, but just because you posted your color doesn't mean that you don't take actually actions. And I"m sorry but why exactly is knowing the color on my bra and all titilating. Quite frankly if just knowing the color makes people think about sex, then they are probably doing it anyway.