Sex and Breast Cancer

I am going to tread carefully in this post.

A few caveats:

  1. I hate cancer.
  2. I am all for anything centered around beating cancer.
  3. I know very few people who have had or are currently battling cancer, so I am certainly no expert.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you knew that. Pink is everywhere. Ribbons. Flyers. NFL uniforms. While I still sometimes question what “awareness” really means, the movement has definitely gotten creative and has undoubtedly raised an extraordinary amount of money toward breast cancer research.

Today, a tweet by @molightning popped up on my feed and got me thinking.

Now, I have zero context regarding this picture. I don’t know who the person in the picture is, nor do I know where the picture was taken. But I do know that the shirt he is wearing represents a trend in the breast cancer awareness movement that I’ve grown increasingly disappointed in.

Everything is sexed up these days. Sex, sex, sex. It’s everywhere. You can’t avoid it. Go ahead, try. We have turned everything into sex. Even the fight against a horrible disease which happens to attack cells in a certain part of the female body.


Why have we gone there? Here are a few reasons I came up with.

  1. Sex sells. Or in this case, donates? Perhaps weaving sex into a charitable cause helps reach a demographic that wouldn’t otherwise be reached.
  2. Some people deal with tragedy through humor. In this case, adult humor. The shirt pictured above isn’t the first of its kind I’ve seen. We’ve all probably seen a “Save the Ta-tas” logo somewhere. As I mentioned before, I am no expert in this area. If wearing pink shirts laced with sexual innuendo helps get them through whatever pain they or their loved ones may be experiencing, I’m not one to judge that. Everyone deals with things differently. I just think we’ve gone too far.
  3. The “pink” movement has gotten so huge, so commercialized, that we may becoming desensitized to it. Perhaps some of us simply throw on a sexy pink shirt, get that warm, fuzzy “feel good” feeling, spread “awareness”, and call it a day, without giving much thought to the fact that we may not be sending the message we’ve originally intended. Do we enjoy seeing how far we can push the envelope?

Am I going to call someone out the next time I see someone wearing one of these shirts? No. Will I be further disappointed that we’ve stooped to sex in our fight against breast cancer? Yes.

We’re better than this. We don’t need sex to beat breast cancer.

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