Friday, October 8, 2010

As a feminist it’s not uncommon for idiots to accuse me of having no sense of humour. Being felt up on the tube, strangers jovially commenting on my tits, rape jokes, it all just leaves me cold. Why must I be such a joyless harridan? But that it is my curse and somehow I will bear it.

And here I go again. This week my Facebook feed has filled with updates from my female friends saying where they ‘like it on…’

As someone who is very pro-sex and has never really understood the concept of ‘too much information’ I was initially delighted to learn that a woman I went to school with and haven’t seen for 23 years ‘likes it on her back with leather straps’. And to think, I thought that marrying Keith and working in IT might have precluded that sort of public announcement. As office dullards say, it really is always the quiet ones.

Then I got the email.

Remember the game last year about what color bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news. 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 with nothing more than that 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 see how powerful we women really are!!!

Ahhh. What I had thought was a vaguely inappropriate outburst, possibly fuelled by unresolved issues with prescription drugs, was actually part of an ‘awareness’ campaign, which is apparently both sexy and empowering.

Now I know that the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign is an impressive piece of marketing. Those little pink ribbons are everywhere, and when Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Mike’s Hard Lemonade (ah alcohol, that well known enemy of cancer) are on your side, how can you lose? I should imagine that however small the percentage of profits donated, it raises a tonne of money. Obviously I have one or two handwringing Guardian reader style reservations about the ethics of big business, but fuck it, I’m off to Primark as soon as I’ve written this so I’m nothing if not a hypocrite.

Both the bra colour game and ‘I like it on…’ have made the international news. But I don’t really get in what sense this raises awareness of anything other than our bra colours or who is amused by the kind of puns last seen on such a scale in 1970s British sitcoms.

It’s depressing enough that the awareness campaign for a form of cancer suffered largely, but not entirely, by women portrays us as such fluffy, cutesy hyper fems, reminding women just what it means to be a girly and then displaying it in big, pink sparkly letters.

But these latest campaigns, the bra colour, ‘I like it on…’ and others like the gratuitously twee ‘Save the Ta Tas’ (manufacturers of the shower gel ‘boob lube’) make it not just all about our sex, but about displaying just how sexxxy we are too. And all in a way that is about 1000000 times less empowering than the Spice Girls.

I understand that this latest stunt is ‘just a bit of fun’. I am a lazy person and long term slacktivist, signing the online petition but rarely making it to the march, so I although I doubt the campaign’s effectiveness, I understand the appeal.

But I would appreciate it if next year’s Breast Cancer Awareness month didn’t seem like just another step towards the tedious compulsory pornification of every single area of women’s daily lives.

Here’s hoping that BCAM 2011 won’t involve a tittering plea for everyone to dress up as a Playboy bunny and post our pictures for the edification of our friends and the international media.

Incidentally, I like it hanging up on a peg in the hallway. Disturbing stuff.