So this is the latest bit of feminist outrage, and while it may seem humorless nitpicking to some, I have to say I agree.
O.K. First thing I do when a charity hits the news is go check it out on Charity Navigator, a great site that monitors the financial integrity of charities. Save the Tatas weren’t on there. (Though Save the Boobies was with a warning that they and their associated “charities” were for For-Profit entities that had engaged in fraud.) So on to Wikipedia.
“Save the tatas, also written as save the ta-tas, refers to both a non-profit breast cancer awareness foundation and a for-profit company founded in 2004 by Julia Fikse and currently has 12 employees. Their motto is that laughter heals. Founder Julia Fikse, attributes her idea to seeing people close to her die of breast cancer. Liz Vassey and Hannah Cornett have both publicly supported the group.
Over the course of 2008 and 2009, they have pledged at least $50,000 toward The Concern Foundation and donated 5% of sales, about $802,000, to breast cancer research since its start. They are currently supporting four researchers.”
Well, O.k.. Their intentions are good. Sorta (5%?). And I see what they are trying to do.
Though unfortunately, that devolves into things like this:
You little shits.
Why does breast cancer get this kind of attention, and so much attention, when the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. is heart disease. Cancer (in general) comes in a close second and of the cancers, breast cancer is the most common, and the second deadliest. So it does deserves a great deal of attention, but more than heart disease? I mean, I only learned this year that women can have different symptoms of a heart attack than men do and that they are more likely to ignore them.
But O.k., breast cancer is serious business. (Nor are women the only ones who get it.)
And I understand humor to get a message across, like the recent wave of the (innocent!) ALS Challenge, but instead of raising awareness, which is pretty high already, this approach trivializes it by reducing a woman’s life to what’s in her bra. It frames it not in terms of saving women’s lives, but of saving men’s playthings. Breast cancer is not merely a matter of “Oh God, please don’t take the warm, soft, squooshy toys away.”
As in dead.
What is more important? The woman, or her tits?
If a double mastectomy is going to save a woman’s life, then who fucking cares about her breasts?
When I was 25, they I found a lump in my breast. For those of you who have not found one, I will tell you that I have very cystic breast tissues and it still stood out. It was a lump that felt to be the size of my pinky tip, hard as a rock. It felt like there was a pebble in there. So that is what you are looking for. The doctor confirmed with a mammogram and I had a lumpectomy within a week of diagnosis. (What felt to be the size of a pinky-tip was in fact the size of a whole pecan in the shell. So if you find a lump, RUN, don’t walk, to your doctor.)
And they only gave me a local, so it was really weird. It felt like someone was tugging at my shirt rather than cutting into me and pulling something out.
It was benign, thank the Gods.
In the interim between diagnosis and surgery, I went through about 15 minutes of “I’m going to die” before reason reasserted itself and it downgraded to “I’m going to lose my right breast.” Somehow, that prospect was almost as frightening. I had not realized how much of our social identity as women is defined by what is sitting on our chest. It is literally as socially vital to our identity as women as testicles are to men, perhaps even more so given how much attention they are given in our media. It was a terrifying prospect.
But I came to my senses, as most women facing this do, and realized my life matters more than my blouse bunnies. And, just as important, that my body does not define me as a woman to society or to myself (to a medical professional, yes, but otherwise, no). What is in my head and my (metaphorical) heart is the most important part of what makes me a woman and a valid human being.
And I redefined what being feminine meant to me. I’m not going to preach it because what being feminine means to me may not be the same as what being feminine means to another woman (cys or trans). Society doesn’t get to tell us what being a woman means. We tell them. We define that.
And it doesn’t have to have anything to do with breasts.