Monday, November 15, 2010

Boobies Vs Breasts. Coming to A Supreme Court Near You.

Well I predicted it.  This just in from the breast cancer newswires:  School's "Boobie" Bracelet Ban Draws Suit.  Essentially two middle school kids aged 12 and 13 respectively are suing a school district in Easton, Pa., after they were suspended for wearing the popular "I (heart) boobies!" bracelets, claiming that such a ban violates their right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  

I blogged about this particular campaign back in May of this year, in a post entitled "Boobs:  What's Not To Love".   At the time I had this to say:

"With that said, this snippet just in from the breast cancer news wires. Yes folks the breast cancer marketing cause has gone all hip and trendy with the high school kids now wearing all manner of merchandise emblazoned with the slogan "I Love Boobies", as part of a breast cancer awareness effort amongst the youth culture by something called the Keep-A-Breast foundation. As recently reported in the Seattle Times, apparently certain high schools are starting to get a bit concerned about the clothing items and their flagrant use and depiction of the term "boobies" claiming that it's leading to conduct unbecoming of their teenage students. And being part of the great democracy that is the U.S.A, of course the banning of such items being worn at school is not about causing offense or being inappropriate but a limit of freedom of expression under the Constitution, the extent to which will no doubt be tested in the Supreme Court by some spotty 16 year old and their over-indulgent parents.
Ho hum, where does one start with this ?
First of all, I go back to my point from this and other posts that Breast Cancer itself, is a highly marketable cause because of it's sex appeal. It's about boobs. Teenagers are obsessed with fashion and boobs. Edgy clothing with the word boobs to appeal to the younger generation ? Genius. Do you think we would ever see a similar campaign for Colon Cancer ? T-shirts with "I Love Small Intestines" ? Or Bladder Cancer ? Bracelets with "I Love Urine", Anal Cancer ? "I Love Ass" ? Doesn't have quite the same cache' now does it.
Secondly. I love boobs as well. At least I loved the ones that I used to have before they became cancerous and had to be surgically removed and rebuilt from other bits of my body and artfully placed lumps of silicone. Does it help me to see some fashion victim teenager parading around with a t-shirt/bracelet/bag emblazoned with "I Love Boobies" all in the name of "breast cancer awareness" and "freedom of expression" fashion, just to remind me of everything that I once loved and then lost because of an insidious and awful disease that struck me without warning ?" 
 Now call me crazy,  but is anyone who's a party to this lawsuit taking a step back and considering how much this is all going to cost  ?   Time, effort, actual dollars ? Does anyone think this time, effort,  and actual dollars wouldn't  be better spent actually trying to eradicate breast cancer, rather than paying for more plastic bracelets to be manufactured to  pollute the earth a little bit more ? And for what gain ?  So the kids can keep wearing their fashionable little bracelets, someone can keep profiting from their sale, and we can continue to perpetuate the myth that this is all done in the name of breast cancer awareness and   First Amendment  rights to free speech.  

I don't know about you but I can't wait to hear what the arguments are in this particular case.  Who's going to testify ?  Are we going to hear from anyone for whom breast cancer is a terrifying reality,  an experience made even worse by ridiculous and offensive campaigns such as these ?  Are they going to debate the appropriateness of the term "boobies" ?  Will the term's relative merits be compared and ranked alongside "titties", "hooters", "ta-ta's, "funbags", "bazoombas", etc ?  Does anyone even care that the real term is "breast" and that using the term "boobies" to supposedly signify breast cancer awareness, is just another way that this disease is trivialized, sexualized and infantilized by the use of silly memes ?  

And you know that as a result of of this lawsuit there's going to be a big payout.  Money will shift from the school district who, by the way, are in the business of educating the next generation, to where pray tell ?  

So now I think I've seen it all.  Not a lawsuit to charge the corporations still pumping carcinogenic materials into our environment.  Not a lawsuit to hold any of the pinkwashers accountable for their labeling of products with a pink-ribbon, despite selling the very products that contribute to breast cancer risk.  Nope.  The world's greatest democracy is going to debate the merits of the term "boobies".  

And with that dear readers, my hopes for meaningful change in the breast cancer movement just went out the window.


  1. No words, Anna. Just shaking my head.

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  3. Anna,
    So well said!!! This lawsuit is another sign our culture is slipping down the rabbit hole behind trashy, rock & rap stars & a glitterati obsessed media. The media are the only ones who will profit, writing stories about the winners and losers, all the while missing the point there are no winners.


  4. Rabbit hole is right this space....

  5. I agree with the ACLU on this one. Students should be protected by the Constitution and be afforded the right to freedom of expression as long as what they are expressing is tactful. With that said, I do think that, with some exceptions, most of the younger students who are wearing these wrist bands are wearing them for reasons other than the underlying message. Like anything else, the novelty will soon wear off.

  6. Well said Clay Boggess. And that's the point isn't it ? It's not about breast cancer at all which is why I find the whole thing slightly galling. Meanwhile women are still dying...

  7. Anna, I can't believe you predicted this outcome last May! I agree it's all pretty ridiculous. I'm sure those girls were wearing those bracelets for their "shock" value around school because what 12 or 13 year old ever thinks about breast cancer? (Unless one of their mothers has it, but probably not.)Don't let ALL your hope go out the window!

  8. Slightly off topic, but important to women 50 to 70: We just found out my grandmother has stage 2 bladder cancer. In my opinion, and from what I talked about with her, the key to early detection is knowing what the symptoms are: blood in urine, pelvic pain, urination pain, frequent urination and the need to urinate, but unable to do so. I think if more people are aware of the symptoms, the better their outcome will be. I hope that helps someone.

  9. So, the democracy is going to debate the merits of the term “boobies”...When I was on the Dr. Laura Berman Show on Oprah Radio, I received specific instructions that slang terms for women’s body parts were not appropriate for the show. I was so happy to see that! Dr. Berman knows that to do so would trivialize important issues surrounding women’s bodies and sexuality. Is this really news to the supreme court, or to the public? I guess we’ll see.

  10. Gayle - perhaps you should be called to testify as an expert witness....

  11. Just read this post - I don't remember reading about this case in the media back then but I am reminded by the discussion here of a related issue that really annoys me: What about slogans (very often used by grown women, many of them breast cancer patients or survivors themselves) like "Save The Tattas"? A good friend of mine was diagnosed with BCA 5 years ago and has since given car magnets with this slogan on them to the majority of our social circle. I don't want one - my perspective, as I have explained to her, is that I much prefer that the woman be saved.


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