Facebook Faux Pas

If you are on Facebook and have any significant number of female friends on it, then most likely you’ve seen the most recent so-called “breast cancer awareness” meme.

Here is the message that I received:

One of my friends has suggested that we women should do something special on facebook in order to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s so easy to do, that I’d love you to join in to make this a memorable online event.

Last year, the idea was to post the colour of the bra you were wearing on facebook…and it left men wondering for days, why women were posting colours, seemingly at random.

This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home; for example “I like it on the couch”, “I like it on the kitchen counter”, “I like it on the dresser”. Well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status (i.e. don’t respond to this message, but put it on your status) – and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox.
The bra game made it to the news. Let’s get the purse in as well and see how powerful we women really are!!!

REMEMBER – DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!!! PASS THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!

Jen McCreight of Blag Hag (who unintentionally set off Boobquake a while back) posted a pointed critique of this meme here, which I totally agree with. I think it’s important to question the way we do activism, and make sure that in our attempts to promote awareness of anything, breast cancer included, we absolutely need to make sure we’re not harming other activist causes we agree with, like feminism or sex positivity.

Now here’s what I really want to start a conversation about: why does “it,” unqualified, even mean “sex” at all? Why are we, as a culture, so invested in cutesy euphemisms, fake confessions, and pretending that sex is a dirty little secret that we should interpret it that way? Yeah, this is a little Foucaultian. But I really think we ought to question this norm. There are about a million things that “it” can refer to, so why is sex the default?

And obviously, this meme is totally uninclusive. Besides the fact that men can get breast cancer, too… How exactly is an asexual supposed to participate? Especially considering that national Coming Out Day is only a couple of days away. I wouldn’t participate in this meme because I think it’s sexist and does very little to save lives—at most, it might potentially remind someone to get a mammogram, but that’s only if they’re in on it already—but what if I did want to do it? I mean, sure, maybe it might be funny. But I imagine that for me at least, it would end up being way more awkward than funny. My facebook friends are largely acquaintances that I don’t know all that well, who may or may not be aware that I’m asexual. Posting a variant of this meme would be an opener for people to start questioning my asexuality.  Suddenly the comments would start pouring in: “Haha, I knew you weren’t really asexual.” Or, “Mmm, hot!”

And I really just don’t want people to think of me in a sexual way. I don’t want to titillate anyone. As a reasonably attractive woman by society’s standards, I get enough sexual attention already. I don’t want to open the gates for any more comments about how it’s a “waste” that I’m asexual, I don’t want any virtual catcalls; I wouldn’t appreciate them any more than I do when I get them on the street, and then get called a bitch for ignoring them. It bugs me enough that people seem to think that I’m holding hands with my girlfriend to get their attention. Of course I laughed when some guy ran into a curb because he was too busy staring at us to pay attention while driving. But while it might be funny to cause my Facebook friends to do a double take at my status, it’s not really the kind of thing I want to open myself up to.

I’m somewhat tempted to try to start an awareness meme for asexuality in reaction to this one on Facebook, but I doubt it would do much good. I’m not sure that we actually have the numbers behind us to get a meme like that going, and most likely people’s reactions would be to just brush it off, call us humorless, and move on.

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3 thoughts on “Facebook Faux Pas

  1. Memes in general are so annoying, and this one in particular really disturbed me. So many FB friends posted this, and not once did I think of breast cancer awareness… and really, aren’t there about a million better ways to show our support for breast cancer awareness?
    I totally agree with your sentiments. Showing support for breast cancer awareness should never conflict with worthy causes like feminism or sex positivity – it’s so hypocritical!

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  2. Obviously encouraging my acquaintances to fantasize about having sex with me is going to help increase awareness about breast cancer [/sarcasm].

    I feel irritated at the fact that women are continually encouraged to be sexually titillating (for heterosexual cismen) as the primary means of asserting “power” and “liberation.”

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  3. I heard a breast cancer equals sex sort of slogan a bit ago and spent about 10 minutes ranting to everyone in ear shot. It was “save second base.” (At least I think so, I can never remember which base is what in that awkward metaphor)
    baseball terms aside—GAH! Breasts are only valuable and worth saving as they relate to sex? As they relate to someone else (probably a hetcis man) getting their hands on them? I think I’d even take save the milkmakers over that. I don’t want to sexualize breast cancer survivors. Why is that OK?

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