The internet has been stained pink with all the posts about breast cancer lately. In case you’ve managed to stay at the opposite end of the rainbow and haven’t heard the latest gossip, boob-lovers apparently hate baby-haters and won’t help save baby-hater boobies. To keep this post short, I’ll stay out of the bloody mess that is the abortion debate, but I will admit that the Susan G. Komen Fund’s decision to cut mammogram funding for Planned Parenthood simply because they perform abortions was stupid, both politically and morally. If they haven’t learned their lesson from the maelstrom of comments turning everything from forums to Facebook that famous Pepto Bismol pink, then they’ll at least notice the giant cut in donations I’m sure they’re facing.
For the moment, I’m going to set aside the fact that most non-profit organizations are not actually searching for a cure – why would they, when that would put them out of their very lucrative business of “charity fundraising”? That’s a topic for another day when I’m more prepared to be angry and disappointed.
The problem I have with boob-loving industry is its monopoly over the rainbow. Pink is everywhere. Did you know there was a teal ribbon, for ovarian cancer? How about the teal and white ribbons for cervical cancer? Or the black ribbon for melanoma? Did you know that lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer, and that it too has its own awareness month? So much attention is showered on the boobs that unless you have personal reasons to acknowledge other cancers, they have to struggle to outshine that ever-present pink ribbon. Just do a quick Google search and compare the results of “breast cancer organizations” to “ovarian cancer organizations” or “cervical cancer organizations.” There are more occurrences of breast cancer, yes: the American Cancer Society estimated 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 57,650 additional cases of in situ (or early stage) breast cancer for 2012, while endometrial cancer was estimated to have 47,130 new cases, ovarian cancer 22,280 new cases, and cervical cancer only 12,710. Yet all of these female cancers have higher death rates than breast cancer. Ovarian cancer: 70% death rate, the highest of the female cancers. Endrometrial (or uterine) cancer: 17% death rate, though it’s the most common female reproductive cancer. Cervical cancer: 34% death rate. Breast cancer: %14.
It’s obvious that, for whatever reason, our culture places more emphasis on breast cancer than other female cancers. Now, let me emphasize that I’m in no way depreciating the experiences of women who’ve survived breast cancer. I simply think it’s a reflection of our society that more emphasis is placed on the less deadly cancer of the boobs than on reproductive cancers. Not surprising in a country in which hundreds of thousands of women get breast implants, shop at Victoria’s Secret, work at Hooters, and dress up as Playboy Bunnies for Halloween. Boobs have become the symbol of femininity, and if you don’t have them, you aren’t a woman. Reproductive cancers are less visible, but they strike at the very heart of womanhood, not just its surface. Men can’t see the beauty of our female selves, the literal seat of life, and so unless it’s thrown in their face by a mother or wife or sister, they don’t think about the dangers we face. Boobs, however, are in their face everyday, in their magazines, on their TVs, bouncing beside him in the gym. Boobs are the outward sign of femininity, while our precious insides, hidden from view, only get attention when they perform their miracle and cradle new life. That’s why boobs have their own month and baby-makers don’t.
If you’re one of those women who loves to “Save the Tatas,” check out this article before you donate to Susan G. Komen or any other organization that promotes mammograms. Ever think that all that radiation pumping straight into your breasts might not be a good thing?