• Fri, Feb 4 2011

New Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ Campaign Just as Irritating as The Others

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.”

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  • Eileen

    Wait, breast cancer again? The one I got was for women’s heart health.

    1. February 4, 2011 is National Wear Red Day to promote Heart Health for Women. I hope that you will consider wearing red that day, even a scarf or mittens, to show your support.
    2. We have posted secret messages as our Facebook status about the color of our bras, underwear and also about where we store our purses.
    3. I am proposing that on February 4, 2011, your Facebook status be a word or phrase that describes your heart. Finish your status with the phrase “…and it’s RED!” It can be anything…some examples: It’s full of love…and it’s RED!…It’s huge…and it’s RED!…It’s broken, but mending…and it’s RED!…you get the idea.

    I might wear a red shirt tomorrow if I have a clean one that’s flattering, but this is almost as stupid as the drinking one.

  • Candise

    You spent a lot of energy bashing on the game; however, because of this game, I’ve been researching more on breast cancer. All your little rant did for me was put me in a bad mood. I’d much rather have fun with my friends babbling about fun ways to raise awareness.

    • Alex

      Pathetic response candice.

      Were you not aware of breast cancer? Don’t you know that at a certain age, you should have a annual check-up?

      Let me ask you two things, oh so brilliant candice…. 1- Did you donate any money after your research? No? Well what a surprise! The rise of awareness is to receive more donation… As I said, pathetic post!

      2- Where’s the awareness for obesity? Or heart disease? Or any other form of cancer that HAS NOT A DEATH RATE OF 2 FREAKING PERCENT????!!!

      You’re post was AS equally useless than those facebook statuses

      How about you get off your butt, and be useful FOR ONCE – donate money.

      Again, a very pathetic post on your part. Work harder next time!

  • Jamie

    This is dumb, ppl are now posting fruits for there relationship status…it has nothing to do with breast cancer…and the idiotic part, there still trying to keep it a secret from men….when most of those that are in relationships are dating men…it’s important that they know about this, and not kept a secret…BS I say…if ppl want to promote this, they should atleast write something that promotes it…i.e. “LAdies don’t forget your check up…Breast Cancer, be knowledged!”

  • Erica

    Lol I laughed hysterically! at your article when u were putting up the responses to your status! ANd it really does make sense what youre saying… Lol. It doent reallly help people know about b.c . People just do it to be funny.. (me being guilty in doing it!) Cuz once people inboxed me it was for breast cancer awareness I was just like ooooh ok.. Lol n did the game anyway. Not once pubicly tellin people what it was about.. So agreed.

  • Bea

    Now the posts are about decoding your birthday into a certain number of weeks and something you’re craving (making it seem like the poster is pregnant). I am all for breast cancer awareness, but this really doesn’t help the cause. Worse than your re-enactments is the fact that people don’t even end up explaining what the statuses are about! Because they’re supposed to be secret, remember? If these girls’ intentions are really to raise awareness, good for them. But we all know most are just doing it because everyone else is too…

  • James Halpin

    I’ve been wondering where this email is coming from because I would like to email them personally and see where they get their reasoning that this supports breast cancer awareness.

    1. Why would you exclude half the population. You say its to confuse men. Well, guess what. Since this is the third time you’ve done this people don’t really care anymore. In fact it just irritates people. Way to go!

    2. Last year 5% of the people diagnosed with breast cancer are men. As if men were not already embarrassed enough with having a cancer that strikes mostly women they have to be confronted with the thought that they are only around to be messed with. Way to go!

    3. As everyone knows that when people start talking about cravings it usually has to do with pregnancy. Having had fertility issues and with my sister going through problems having a baby it is quite disheartening to see all these posts of “pregnancies”. Then its just a “joke”. So then you’re saying infertility is a joke. Way to go!

    4. Last but not least you have scores of people having to explain that they are not pregnant. In all this explaining there is no real talk about awareness. It is just seen as a stupid ploy . And apparently by the email ” It’s time to confuse the men again ” . Way to go!

    • Dottie

      Thanks for writing this. I cried when I saw 2 of my friends post yesterday. I had know idea it was for breast cancer and all it did was remind me of my infertility. How can it be stopped?

  • Dan

    These “games” are indeed ridiculous. Here’s my thoughts provoked by the latest status game claiming to be about breast cancer awareness: http://runningdanw.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/real-breast-cancer-awareness/

  • GreyMama

    The ridiculousness has started again. Now we are supposed to post 1 single heart <3 for breast cancer awareness. Really? How could this possibly make anyone aware of breast cancer?!?!?