Friday, October 14, 2011

Reverse Chauvinism

Disclaimer: I do not like cancer. I am all for cancer research and awareness. To the best of my abilities, I understand and empathize with the havoc that cancer wrecks on an individual and their family.

I am very apologetic when I say that breast cancer awareness really turns me off. An entire month is devoted to this pink rally, the NFL is swathed in pink during the month of October, and, with each year, I become a little more desensitized to this particular form of raising awareness. I understand that breast cancer is a terrible thing and that women need to be aware of the risks and remember to be on the look out for problems. But, frankly, the same could be said of any cancer. In fact, breast cancer perhaps has a distinct advantage in that it can be looked for at home, unlike, say, ovarian cancer or liver cancer which require a medical examination. All that being said, I also understand that breast cancer awareness is going for a fresh approach and trying to capture women's attention but, all the same, I don't agree with their methods. I have no issue with reminding women of the risks, I have a problem with the how. "Save the tatas", sure it's catchy and just a smidge risque, no issue there. But you lose me on the facebook fake outs - one year it was bra color, one year it was where you put your purse, this year it was something about how many weeks along you were and what candy you craved. How does this help? I'm not sure how "confusing all the boys, teehee, teehee" raises awareness for breast cancer. Now there's this, a fun new phone app that reminds you to examine yourself for breast cancer, in the form of a hot guy. I don't have a problem being reminded to check myself but do we have to objectify men to do it? This app is just as appalling as the JCPenney Van Heusen commercial that gets guys to look at suits by watching a busty woman heave herself out of a pool. How can we as women be so up in arms about being evaluated for our base physical attractions and then turn around and do it right back?

This reverse chauvinism has always made me uncomfortable. In college, some of the girls on our hall put up a hot guy wall, cutting and printing out pictures of buffed up men with their shirts off (in response to the fraternities wall of porno women). My roommate and I, equally bothered by this homage to male looks, put up pictures of men we respected and why. Men like Gilbert Blythe, Mr. Darcy, and John Addams, men who showed deference and respect to the women they loved, men who were attractive but for so many more reasons than just their face or physique. Physical attraction is understandable, natural even, but does it require that we slaver over the opposite sex like animals in heat? Haven't we as the human race outgrown this behavior?  No? Just me then? Okay.

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