As you may be aware, I’m a testicular cancer survivor. That sounds a lot more badass than it is; testicular cancer is extremely treatable if caught reasonably early, and while chemo and surgery are exactly as fun as you’d think they would be, they were not bad relative to many of the other cancers out there. Indeed, if you must get cancer, I can’t recommend testicular cancer enough.
Now, as someone who made it through testicular cancer, I believe strongly in self-checks and awareness of warning signs — especially since I made my treatment worse by ignoring early warning signs, allowing my cancer to hit very early Stage II. And so I’ve decided that, in order to build awareness, I’m going to start a web site called Ballstagram. What I want is this: guys, take a picture of your scrotum. Having the penis in the picture is okay, too. I want good pictures of nice-looking scrota, too, no crappy scrota, and no scrota of men who, like me, have had orchiectomies — nobody wants to look at a scrotum with only one ball in it. And for God’s sake, no pictures of any surgical scars. No, just lovingly-detailed pictures of men’s scrota, preferably young men’s (less drooping). I’ll post these pictures online. And this will promote testicular cancer awareness. I’m awesome, right?
What? I’m not? You think that’s not only not going to raise awareness of cancer, but it’s really just an excuse to post voyeuristic pictures on a website, sent in by well-meaning but naïve young men, the better for women and men to ogle?
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Boobstagram. I could describe it, but Anne Marie Ciccarella has done such a good job that I want her to do the honors:
An ingenious website (I really really REALLY wish there was a “universal sarcasm font”) wherein women are instructed that “Showing your boobs on the web is good, showing them to your doctor is better.” The website is filled with photographs of beautiful “boobs” in some exquisite lingerie. They have a Facebook page and a twitter feed. Breasts breasts everywhere. All beautiful breasts. The Facebook page looks a bit pornographic and I am FAR from a prude.
It certainly looks awful; I mean, as a person who’s attracted to women, it’s a lot of pictures of breasts, and I’m not necessarily opposed to that, but not in the context of “promoting women’s health.” And not in this way, a series of disembodied breasts, just body parts, lined up for people to gawk at. It literally removes the women affected by cancer from the picture, reducing the threat of breast cancer to a threat to breasts. It seems a lot less like a women’s health site than a site designed by a couple of douchey guys who came up with a sweet plan to get women to send pictures of their breasts to them.
But maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this is being run by a women’s group that has the best of intentions.
To lend a bit of credibility, there is a “Why” page on this website. The “founders” [Julien GLT (self-identified as the "founder of Boobstagram") and Lionel Pourtau (a "sociologist")] introduce themselves and include the credentials that make them qualified to launch such a site and further explain how this site is the greatest way to raise awareness through fun rather than fear. Really? Has France ceded from this planet and moved to a new galaxy? OK… that’s not fair either…..it’s not France. Allow me to rephrase…. Have these two guys gone from human to alien and departed Planet Earth? What the HELL does that even mean? Fear to fun. There’s nothing fun about breast cancer or screening for it either. I was at the screening game for 20 years and being told, “Don’t get changed yet, there is dust on the film, we need more images” …. nothing but terror. Sheer terror. Most times it IS nothing but dust. Until one time, it’s something like cancer.
Of course there isn’t anything fun about looking for breast cancer. Nobody with a functioning brain would think there was. Cancer sucks, and breast cancer sucks worse than most cancers. Yes, it’s important to keep an eye on warning signs, because like all cancers, it’s easier to treat if you catch it early. But it’s a necessary monitoring, like a colonoscopy or a prostate exam — you go through it not because you enjoy it, but because you need to know if you’ve got cancer.
This is, of course, the end result of the stupid “Save the Ta-Tas” movement, which has also given us abominations like this:
Why yes, that is a “breast cancer awareness” van being run by a porn site, urging women to preserve their luscious, heaving breasts, and also reminding people that there’s a website out there that features women who have breasts. Because breast cancer would be really bad if it affected the ability of people to stare at breasts.
I know I’ve said this before, but let me say it again: the problem with breast cancer is not that it takes breasts. Let it take them! Breasts aren’t all that important, really. The women they’re attached to are.
I’m not saying it’s easy to lose a breast; it wasn’t fun to lose a testicle, and that’s about 100 times less visible and 10,000 times less painful. But given the choice between losing a breast and losing your life, women are going to choose losing the breast. Indeed, women being good about checking their breasts and getting adequate treatment means that more breasts may be lost to surgery, because women are getting treatment.
We don’t need to save breasts. Pace Westley, there isn’t currently a shortage of them. What we do need to save is the women they’re attached to. Women need to get breast exams and pap smears and colonoscopies and ECGs and regular check-ups because women are important. Their lives are important. Their health is important. Their breasts? Not so much.
We need to get over this. We need to grow up as a society, and stop trying to save body parts. Body parts are expendable. The people who own them are far more important than any part of them could ever be.