Dear Mr. Neil,
I’m probably wasting my time writing to you about this column, because, let’s face it, you’ve already written me off as a “bluestocking” and “the morals police” (I’m pretty clearly neither a psalm singer nor a family focuser). I’ll just get right to the heart of what irks me here, and you can either listen with an open mind or scoff, whichever feels better to you.
This may come as a shock, but women have value beyond their sexual appeal to men. Breast cancer is a problem because it kills women, not because it makes them less sexy.
You liken this ad to one in which a shot of a woman’s “ample bosom” gives way to an x-ray of her diseased lungs. Good shock tactic, that. So if they really wanted to make a point about the unsexiness of breast cancer, they’d follow up the shot of bouncing breasts with pictures of mastectomy scars. But that would be somehow going too far, wouldn’t it? That’s a little too unsexy. Thus, boobs and statistics it shall be.
“These ads make the equation explicit: More breast cancer equals fewer awesome breasts. Brilliant. Where do I send my check?”
Sincere question: did this ad actually inspire you to send a check? How much did you send, and to what organization? See, that is probably the worst problem with this ad. It’s cute, it’s funny, it plays into people’s comfortable sexism and objectification of women’s bodies, and it won’t do a damn thing to help breast cancer research. Because cancer – even cancer of the ta-tas – isn’t cute and it isn’t funny, and no one is going to laugh at this ad and then sit down to write a check.
“If these sexy cancer PSAs do nothing else, they underscore the notion that we’ve moved beyond blaming the victim.”
You are wrong, sir. If these sexy cancer PSAs do nothing else, they underscore the notion that women’s lives only matter as long as they are sexually appealing to men.
Oh, and kudos, by the way, on this insightful statement: “the earnest, sad-violins spots invoking moms and grand-moms of the past probably haven’t gained much traction among men.” Until I read this, I hadn’t realized that only women had moms and grand-moms.
Mr. Neil Dan, since he’s addressing me by first name, wrote back, calling my responses “reasonable and predictable,” and using an ends-justify-means defense. We are now engaged in an e-mail back and forth. Let’s see where it goes!,