Porn: Doing Its Part to Detect Lady Cancers

BlogHer Original Post

“There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world,” says Westley to Buttercup in The Princess Bride as she prepared to stab herself because she thinks he’s dead. "It would be a pity to damage yours."* And from this wisdom, a thousand breast cancer awareness ad campaigns aimed at men were born.


BERLIN - APRIL 08:  A digital image is seen at the mammamobil on April 8, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. At the mobile mammogram service, patients can receive a mammogram checkup. A mammogram is an image of the breast produced by mammography which is performed to detect breast cancer.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)


Two years ago, Diva at Buenos Aries through my eyes posted sexy pictures of large breasts, noting that they looked like porn shots, but were actually from a breast cancer awareness ad. She asked readers to vandalize the ad if they saw it. In October 2009, Ashley at Zelda Lily analyzed several ad campaigns and fundraisers that used sexy and lurid photos to promote breast cancer awareness. Reading the pathetic justifications behind the ads makes my blood boil as the ad campaign creators explain that it is OK to objectify and sexualize women’s body parts for our own good. I should just get over my prudishness or something because the point is that breast cancer is bad, dammit, and the only way to get men to care is to remind them how hot breasts are and how much they love fondling them! Oh, and breast cancer kills the woman attached to the tits. Um, whatever.

The latest place to find this exciting message is in Poland. Sociological Images brings attention to a porn site that has an interactive breast exam. Seriously. All one horny but well-intentioned (presumably) guy must do is roll his mouse over the porn star’s breasts while she sumptuously pouts and he will learn to do a breast exam! Isn’t that great? Making boobies bounce on a photo is totally the same as feeling for lumps in a woman’s breasts. What a fantastic campaign that will save lives! (On the other hand, if like Monty Python, you believe that every sperm is sacred, this would lead to horrible sins ...)

Seriously, I can’t wait for the next campaign to save women’s lives: pelvic exam porn! As the AAUW Dialog points out, more than 11,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010, and 4,070 women will die from it. Just like using porn to help men detect breast cancer, we can encourage them to get way up in their lady friend’s cooter to find cervical cancer! I can’t wait to see the bus ads. They better feature shaved snatch or I'll be disappointed.

Of course, detecting cancer (which may help prevent a woman from dying) and preventing it (which absolutely helps people avoid death) are two different things, but it’s really hard (and far less sexy) to run campaigns to help people prevent cancer in the first place. As my heroes at Breast Cancer Action say, we need to "Decrease involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer." Also, it’s crucial to "Create awareness that it is not just genes, but social injustices-political, economic, and racial inequities-that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes." Dude, those bus ads are not sexy.

Unfortunately, as "fun" as it is to detect breast cancer (and other cancers of the lady bits), preventing it is much better. Plus, realizing that you have a problem is not useful unless you can get proper treatment. Many women have no access to health insurance and can’t otherwise afford doctors and hospitals. This truth is the real obscenity.

*For a great analysis of this fine film, see Stay Icy.

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and is the author of Off the Beaten (Subway) Track.

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