Sexy Cancer

One friend likes it on the coffee table. Another friend posted that she likes it on the floor near the couch. Then there’s one who like it on the desk. And no, these statements aren’t related to Karen Owen’s sex “thesis”—these are actual status messages on Facebook by my female friends.

First reaction: Um? Second reaction: Read the comments for similar reactions—here are some (in no particular order): “TMI” the ever-so useful “LOL”, “Wow—what would your mother say! hahahaha” or just “hahahaha” “no, no, the door is way better.”

What is “it” several commenters, including myself, asked? Not important. Kind of. “It” is a purse, but I’ll get to that in a minute. These sexually charged posts are part of a viral campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer. Oh, here we go again. In January I read status messages about the color my friend’s bras. “Turquoise!” one poster said. No comments, no explanation. It was a secret sorority I was not invited to join until one gentle soul took pity on my “????” comment and then stated it was for awareness. Yeah?

WTF? Is this what consciousness raising has come to? So you’re saying by telling my FB friend the color of my bra I am contributing to breast cancer awareness? How many women on FB, as the result of reading that so-and-so’s bra was turquoise  (with an exclamation point), had an aha moment and a) decided to do Internet searches about breast cancer or b) finally decided to learn how to do a self breast exam or get a screening?

Oh, so back to “I like it” and “it” being the purse. A purse. I can’t verify officially. But The Huffington Post quoted Melissa Bell of The Washington Post on that. I don’t know whether I should be torn—are the memes a jumping-off point for discussions about breast cancer awareness or just titillations for the cravers of FB comments and attention? All I know is that breast cancer awareness is rooted in the feminist movement and making it sexy belittles the whole goal of raising awareness for a disease that will kill almost 40,000 women this year.

How about we use FB for some legitimate consciousness raising. Try “liking” Think Before You Pink. Or if you need a sexual innuendo for your status, at least include some information more useful than the preferred location of your purse. How about: “I touch myself here.”

Photo from Flickr user Kira_Westland from Creative Commons 2.0.


Martha Pitts is a feminist mother and pseudo-academic hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, where she is also raising her children. A graduate of Princeton University, Martha is pursuing a PhD in English literature with a minor in women's and gender studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She has written for various publications including the Times-Picayune and Gambit Weekly in New Orleans and the Washington City Paper. She's interested in issues related to motherhood, black women, and popular culture.