Keep A Breast Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing and eradicating cancer for the American public. Perhaps its most famous move is the backing of the humorous and some would say provocative, “I Love Boobies” bracelets. While the bands were certainly born from good intentions, we must question the implications of such a sentiment.
We are all undoubtedly familiar with the idea that women are objectified in our society. We need only peruse a magazine stand, watch a high-profile movie (Transformers, anyone?) or listen to jokes men tell, often in hushed tones, about women to know this claim holds some form of truth.
While unfortunate, these observations now rarely raise eyebrows and are relegated to that despicable, complacent category of “accepted normalcy.”
With this in mind, I found it rather bothersome that a supposed champion of women, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a multi-billion-dollar breast cancer charity, implicitly forwards the notion of women as simply a collection of body parts.
The Foundation initially revoked its funding of Planned Parenthood, a comprehensive health care provider for low-income women. It is speculated the Komen Foundation withdrew support because Planned Parenthood provides some services related to abortion.
Apparently, then, the Susan G. Komen Foundation sees (or at least “saw,” as it reinstated
support and funding for Planned Parenthood following a firestorm of controversy) its mission to only protect breasts and deny that those breasts are attached to women.
This is precisely the sentiment offered by a Feb. 3 CNN article, which asserts: “What continues to appall [about the actions of the Susan G. Komen Foundation] is not just the threat of taking money away from a valued health care provider, but the insulting view that women’s breasts are somehow detached from the larger reality of their lives.
“The women who go to Planned Parenthood for breast exams, birth control pills, mammography referrals, pap smears and the like probably don’t view their potential (or actual) breast cancer as a separate matter.”
In this same way, discourse about abortion seems to generally frame women as simply the bearers of uteri and denies the indisputable complexity that leads women to the choice to consider an abortion in the first place.
I can understand opposing abortion; it’s a charged moral issue that challenges us to reflect on our religious or secular frameworks of reference. However, the idea that women should be denied abortion simply because biological variance dictated they should have the responsibility of bearing children collapses their entire existence/importance into their
If we are to have constructive conversations about women, I believe we should recognize biological differences as yet another dynamic in the context of complicated human life. Breasts are a part of women’s health; abortion is the result of multiple decisions and circumstance in each woman’s life and so on. A failure to recognize this is the intellectual equivalent of relying on a Playboy magazine stand as one’s sole source of literature.
Keep A Breast Foundation should be admired for its efforts to mitigate the heart-shattering effects of breast cancer. Ultimately, I see little difference between objectifying women with a well-intending bracelet and objectifying women with a for-profit magazine.
And yes, while I too love “boobies,” I recognize they are simply a part of a living, breathing, feeling human being.