Planned Parenthood

Save Whose Tatas? The Sexualization of Breast Cancer

I had a hilarious conversation with my young adult daughters. We were discussing the Save the Tatas campaign that swamps college campuses every year. They were weary of the proliferating pink ribbons.

“I’m tired of T-shirts that say Save the Tatas, as if wearing them helps women with cancer!”

“I’m tired of pink foam beer holders!”

“I’m tired of people posting their bra color on Facebook, it’s lascivious!”

Excellent vocabulary, wouldn’t you agree? Yay for those college educations!

I chimed in with my own exasperations. “I’m tired of seeing pink ribbons on the grocery store shelves, as if buying a particular canned soup, or cup of yogurt, helps women with breast cancer. These are not charities. I’d like to see some purple ribbons. Because what about pancreases? They get cancer too.”

We laughed. It’s not that we don’t care about women with breast cancer — far from it. We’ve donated to the Race for a Cure. Both daughters have done the all-night walk around the football field to raise pledges. We support women; we support healthcare.

I am old enough to remember a time when breast cancer was hush-hush and I’m glad those days are over. But honestly they are long over! The world has gone from silencing the word “breast” to slapping pink ribbons on everything. I’ve always hated it when an easy use of symbols becomes a substitute for the hard truth the symbols represent.

The point of fighting breast cancer isn’t titillation! The point is to support healthcare for women who need it. The big weapon in that arsenal is breast cancer screening. You’d think that would be front and center at all times in this conversation.

Now the Susan G. Komen foundation has announced that it will no longer partner with Planned Parenthood to provide clinical breast exams and mammograms. In simple facts, that means that low-income women will be unable to ensure their breast health.

This is disturbing. The foundation has apparently lost its moorings, forgetting it’s most important mission because of politics. I will forever be grateful for the free and low-cost healthcare I received through Planned Parenthood as a young adult. PP made a positive difference in my life.

Perhaps we should have known the Komen dynasty would fall. Is it a victim of it’s own success? When an organization trivializes it’s most powerful symbols, it is telling the world it has begun to decline. When an organization becomes very powerful, with lots of money and political clout, the decline can gather much steam! The church is forever re-learning this truth. Now the world of pink must learn it.

I won’t be making any more contributions to Susan G. Komen, and will instead give the money directly to Planned Parenthood. I hope you’ll do the same!

Ta-ta, Save the Tatas!


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