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Rethink Breast Cancer?

September 24, 2009

Canadian charity Rethink Breast Cancer have comissioned a new ad to spread awareness that ‘breast cancer is the leading cause of death in young women aged 20-49’.  Presumably the leading cause of death in Canada and other developed countries, but I digress.

Rethink Breast Cancer believe their ad is taking a groundbreaking approach to awareness.  I beg to differ!  ‘Save the Boobs’ is crass and works as a publicity stunt for Aliya-Jasmin,  a MTV Host in Canada who features on the credits as female lead, creator, writer and director.

Ok, wanna see it, I suppose I must post it here for the sake of my argument:

Dan Neil of the LA Times understands why I might be annoyed about this ad:

Feminist film theory has a name for the camera’s eye here: The “male gaze,” which is to say, the camera’s view is that of the male spectator and unseen protagonist regarding the female as an object (cf. Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”). This is the camera’s-eye of pornography and it’s inherently misogynistic. The “Save the Boobs” spot spoofs the male gaze and turns it into something positive.

No it doesn’t Dan – The “Save the Boobs” ad shows woman as an object and is not a spoof as exemplified perfectly by a YouTube commenter (l8eybugzz): 

Why are women getting offended by this? I mean, yes it shows women as a sex symbol but that is reality.”

Is it?  Is it bloody well reality?  Well, it is if you are Dr Terence Kealey but it’s not the reality I want to live in.  And don’t even get me started on PETA and the Angry Green Girls!

Channel 4 have produced a straightforward video on how to check your breasts – for both women and men – and as I can’t find it on YouTube, you can see it on their website here.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. polly styrene permalink
    September 24, 2009 23:13

    Hmm, let’s do some googling. There’s a good table here….

    So although cancer (all cancers) is the leading cause of death in women 35-49 in the US, it isn’t for women under 35. So already a bit misleading.

    Anyway my fave statistic, is that 14,000 women die annually in the UK every year following hip fracture. Which is more than the amount that die from breast cancer. (I think it’s about 11,000)

    However, more googling reveals that in the UK the leading cause of death overall in females is heart disease. Followed by cerebrovascular disease (I think that’s a fancy word for stroke), Influenza and pneumonia, Dementia and alzheimer’s disease, Chronic lower respiratory disease, lung cancer, and only THEN breast cancer.

    So breast cancer is quite a way down the killer stakes overall. And very few women under 49 die anway, relatively speaking. But of course heart disease isn’t sexayy.

  2. polly styrene permalink
    September 24, 2009 23:14

    Link for death statistics in the UK (to avoid the dreaded spamulator).

  3. September 24, 2009 23:16

    Good googling! Thanks Polly, I totally missed that one.

  4. polly styrene permalink
    September 24, 2009 23:46

    I look forward to the colon cancer campaign….

    • September 25, 2009 00:04

      Perhaps the two could be linked. A superb ‘tits and ass’ campaign is just what we need!

  5. polly styrene permalink
    September 24, 2009 23:57

    I’m very up on causes of death, being older and therefore more likely to die. The breast cancer thing really winds me up, it is so sexualized. What is the point of breast cancer awareness anyway, it’s aim just seems to be to terrorise women. Young women are very unlikely to die of anything, but if they see that a lot of folks will become convinced they’re going to die of breast cancer. Most young women who do die of breast cancer are likely to have genetic factors, though IVF has been implicated.

    Your breasts are a)visible and b) easy to examine but no one ever goes on about how to spot colon cancer, or ovarian cancer. And no one ever tells you one of the leading causes of death is osteoporosis.

    The trouble is the advice you’re given to reduce breast cancer risk (keep your body weight low, avoid HRT) actually increases your osteoporosis risk. Overall women who use HRT live 1.5 years longer than women who don’t.

    There have been loads of scare stories about HRT in the press, but there is so much stuff you’re not told, like the flaws in the original study – they used HRT derived from horse oestrogen, which isn’t particularly compatible with female human bodies, and they studied women in their 60’s who were only started on HRT many years post menopause.

    (sorry for the tangent, but this is my pet subject).

  6. September 25, 2009 00:03

    I’m totally with you on the HRT. The menopause can be an absolutely terrible thing, and I thought it was scandalous when Germaine Greer came out against it.

  7. polly styrene permalink
    September 25, 2009 07:51

    I can see Greer’s point, which is the medicalization of female bodies. But like the natural childbirth movement, it’s become just as much of a tyranny over women who do find some medical interventions (like pain relief) useful.

    • September 25, 2009 20:15

      Aye, but that wasn’t exactly what she was saying when The Whole Woman came out – or at least that’s not the what came over on the radio/tv – I remember it well as at the time my mother was going through a particularly horrendus menopause and was having hrt implants – which she really had to fight for as she really needed them.

      • September 25, 2009 20:16

        And as for natural childbirth – no such thing. I know it is necessary to continue the human species, but believe me – nothing natural about it all. And don’t even get me talking about the tyranny of breast-feeders.

      • polly styrene permalink
        September 25, 2009 21:58

        Oh yeah HRT is tons better than sliced bread. I’ve never felt better since I started taking it. I think partly because I went through early menopause, I’ve always had comparatively low levels of hormones anyway.

        And early menopause reduces your risk of breast cancer, so my risk is no higher than anyone else my age.

  8. polly styrene permalink
    September 25, 2009 07:55

    But of course women are meant to “fear” breast cancer because it will lead to the loss of their “femininity”. I have to say that though I understand cancer of any kind is a horrible and frightening disease, I’d rather lose my breast than most of my digestive system if push came to shove. On the grounds it’s easier to live without the former.

  9. September 25, 2009 22:04

    Polly – tbh I am looking forward to the menopause as it will be the end of pms. I can then use HRT to stabilise my months.

  10. October 7, 2009 03:21

    I wholeheartedly agreewith Earwicga’s post. I’m sure this will bring in some bucks and gain attention, like the sexualizaton of women does, but that doesn’t mean it’s positive for women. In today’s world, where women are so frequently portrayed as though they exist for other’s viewing pleasure, an ad like this only prepetuates the problem. Rest of my reaction to this is at

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