A while back, we wrote about the Facebook campaign that asked women to say where they “put their purse,” in an effort to make it sound like they were saying where they like to fuck, which was all a very inexplicable, roundabout attempt to “raise awareness” about breast cancer.
Well, today I got a message from a Facebook friend asking me to join the latest iteration of this game, and this time, it has to do with alcohol! And not just alcohol, but alcohol and your relationship status — you know, things women care about. The idea is that you post the name of an alcohol, and it serves as a code for your relationship status, like so:
tequila: I’m a single woman
rum: I’m a touch and go woman
champagne: I’m an engaged woman
Red Bull: I’m a woman in a relationship
Red Wine: I’m a married woman
vodka: I’m the “other one”
Beer: I’m a woman who can’t find the right man
whiskey: I’m a single woman but my friends won’t stop partying
liquor: I’m a woman who wishes she was single
gin: I’m a woman who wants to get married
Now, what I’m going to try to do next is a hypothetical re-enactment of what might happen on my Facebook page after I post something like this, in an effort to figure out how it all links back to breast cancer:
My Facebook status: champagne!
A friend: LOL, I love champagne
OK, that went nowhere. Let’s try it again:
My Facebook status: champagne!
A Friend: ??? What about champagne?
Me: Breast cancer!
Friend: What the fuck is wrong with you? [Of course, in my case, they might also say, "didn't your mother have breast cancer? Seriously, what's wrong with you?" And they'd be right.]
Still no. How about this:
My Facebook status: champagne
A Friend: What about champagne?
Me: Umm…well, according to this random Facebook code, it means that I’m an engaged woman
Friend: Huh…I didn’t know about that. Does that have to something to do with the new design of Facebook or something?
Me: No, it has to do with breast cancer awareness.
Friend: ??? WTF? How does this have anything to do with breast cancer?
Me: I don’t know, did you just become more aware of breast cancer by having this exchange with me?
Friend: No. I thought about breast cancer since you brought it up, but you could have just as easily typed “breast cancer” into your status update and saved us all this trouble.
Hmm…this doesn’t seem to work very well. And that leads me to my main problem with this kind of campaign — it makes people feel like they’re doing something when they actually aren’t.
In and of itself, that’s not such a bad thing. But when it comes to taking action to forward an important cause, you want to harness the energy that people have to participate and make it really, really count. Instead, this game makes people feel like they’ve done something, check “altruism” off their daily to-do list, and waste whatever small amount of effort they were able to muster by playing a game that goes nowhere.
My other problem with this game is the following statement, that appears at the end of the email: “The Bra game reached the news. Let’s try to get this one on the news, too! Help us show everyone how powerful women really are!”
See, here’s the thing — this Oprah-type empowerment bullshit actually makes women look ridiculous. Do we really need to fool ourselves into believing that posting a Facebook status makes us “powerful?” Are we really going to cheapen what it means to be a powerful woman by saying something like that? I mean, that’s just embarrassing.
All that this Facebook game shows is how much we’d like to believe that we can do the bare minimum and make a difference, which doesn’t say anything particularly nice about us as a gender. Because I think, in our hearts, we all know that affecting real change can’t be as easy as this. Change is affected by action. Not little news stories that go nowhere, not Facebook status updates. It’s affected by doing something difficult — getting up off your ass and raising money, or donating your time, or participating in a study.
In other words, you get out of activism about as much as you give.
Let me finish this up by quoting Dr. Susan Love, a nationally renown breast cancer surgeon and advocate, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak in Los Angeles a few months ago. When it comes to the breast cancer movement, she said, “We are stuck in awareness.”