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Breast cancer is a disease that effects an estimated 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1000 men each year. It comes with a slew of side effects and takes an average of 40,000 lives a year. It is safe to say that it is a deadly, serious disease. However, many individuals, both those who deal with breast cancer and those who do not, feel that breast cancer ads and slogans are sexualized, and as such this takes away from the serious nature of the disease.
Sexualization is to make something sexual in character or quality. But wait, you may ask, aren't breasts sexual? Wrong.
Breasts are not a sexual organ, but a secondary sexual characteristic. Primary sexual characteristics are the sex organs, those organs which are involved in sexual reproduction. Secondary sexual characteristics are those which appear during puberty, such as pubic hair, the Adam's apple, and breasts. They have no purpose in sexual reproduction. So why is the focus on breast in particular sex?
Yes, women can derive pleasure from breast stimulation. But they aren't sexual organs, and not all women have large breasts. Furthermore, the sexualization of breasts has made its way into breast cancer ads and slogans, and as such has created a harmful rhetoric surrounding the disease.
The sexualization of the disease places a specific focus on the boobs. Slogans such as "Save the tatas," "I stare because I care," and "Save second base" place the focus of breast cancer awareness solely on saving the breasts. This focus places breasts above women, making women the secondary concern. It places the focus on saving their breasts and thus making them better suited for sexual needs, rather than putting the women and their lives, which are in danger, first.
In the same vein, a large number of breast cancer ads show women dressed very sexily, baring all or part of their breasts. Such ads work to sexualize the disease but also take away from the dangerous nature of it. While these ads are in the world, many do not realize the dangers associated with breast cancer.
Furthermore, the focus on breasts has a negative effect on those women who have to lose a breast. Are these women less attractive? Are these women less of a woman as they have lost a breast? Much of the attractiveness of women is placed on their breasts, and it makes it increasingly difficult for women who put their life over their breasts.
The sexualization of breast cancer also places the focus on women only. While breast cancer does overwhelmingly effect women, one cannot ignore that men are also effected. By sexualizing the disease and focusing on women, it takes the focus off of men. I've met people in my life who assume men cannot have breast cancer because they only thought it effected women. These sexualized ads are harmful in that they create a confused message as to who breast cancer effects. If they think they cannot have breast cancer, men will not be vigilant or look out for potential symptoms, thus putting their lives in further danger.
Overall, the sexualized nature of breast cancer ads is dangerous and steps must be taken to work against this. While it is good that breast cancer is being represented in the media and being talked about, it is being talked about in all the wrong ways. It takes away from the seriousness of the disease, it places the focus on breasts over women, and it makes it difficult to recognize the manner in which the disease effects men. These ads must be changed for the better of the disease and to change the manner in which the public views.