Feminists need to be consistent

I have no problem with raising money for breast cancer.

I have no problem with people calling breasts “boobs,” “hooters” and “ta-tas;” I am not offended when children wear bracelets to school stating, “I (heart) boobies.” I don’t even care that half-naked women have been posted on billboards and in magazines this month.

It’s all been done for breast cancer awareness month. Each year, this wildly successful (no major cancer has more money raised for it than breast cancer) campaign gives folks the right to use slang terms for breasts. One could even pull it off in the work place – as long as it’s part of an effort to “save the jugs.”

I have a problem with that.

Since middle school, possibly earlier in my life, I have put up with teachers, peers, bosses, co-workers, girlfriends, friends’ wives, fellow students and HR representatives telling me it’s not okay to say anything that might imply female breasts serve any purpose other than feeding children. I simply don’t talk about breasts anymore. It’s not worth getting fired or looking like a sexist pig.

Know why these teachers, peers, bosses, co-workers, girlfriends, friends’ wives, fellow students and HR reps have said it’s not okay to use words like “boobs” or eat at Hooters? Because of the women’s lib movement. There was a time – a nasty time, in my opinion – men ran around smoking cigars, dressing like Cary Grant and treating women like lesser human beings. Then women started burning their bras.

While this didn’t stop the Cary Grant-looking men, it did get them in trouble. Eventually, it toned them all down. As portrayed in HR sexual harassment videos across the nation, it’s now unethical to come up from behind a poofy-haired Ace of Base-looking female coworker sitting at her desk and begin massaging her shoulders before whispering who-knows-what in her ears, paralyzed with fear.

(Anyone know the HR videos I’m talking about? The helpless woman actually flinches as the guy’s talking in her ear. Moments later, she’s shown with streaked mascara talking to her HR rep.)

But the Ace of Base-looking females prevailed. Eventually, they abandoned their clerical positions and became things they felt mattered more than the jobs they had before, which they apparently thought didn’t matter. They did this through standing up for themselves. They held their ground and told the Cary Grant-looking opposition the don’t work in the North Country.

Members of the Cary Grant-looking opposition were given three choices: 1.) be forced into resignation, 2.) retire, or 3.) toe the line. My own working years began in the “toe the line” era, which was introduced by the public school system of New York State.

Thus, my life of never, ever mentioning breasts began. But I digress.

Where the heck are these women when it comes to not “let(ting) cancer steal second base?” Are these the same women baking cupcakes decorated as owls and calling them “hooter cakes” for breast cancer awareness fundraisers? Or “saving ta-tas?” Or “go(ing) a long way for a good rack?”

(Are these campaigns geared toward saving women or just their breasts? What about the cancer survivors who have had mastectomies … where’s their shout-out?)

I’m not trying to suggest efforts to raise money for breast cancer are wrong. I would, however, like folks to think long and hard (Michael Scott’s laughing) about the way it’s being done. The bra-burning feminists taught me it’s never okay to call a breast a boob.    

What this tells me is some feminists really aren’t that offended. How boobish of us all to fall for their game.

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2 Responses to Feminists need to be consistent

  1. I came of age during the feminist era and was among the women who found themself(es) in jobs that weren’t traditionally held by women (troubleshooting and repairing radar systems on fighter aircraft – there were 500 men in the squadron and about 4 women – while my wonderful spouse became Mr. Mom and Chief Bottlewasher and Cook, et al. FYI I am a breast cancer survivor, had the mastectomy too…but I digress.) I would suggest that the dilemma you are addressing in this post is NOT so much about “bra-burning feminism” (that certainly is a trigger word that tends to close the door on communications…but again, I digress, though that would be a good topic to explore actually!) but about our culture. Forty years after the word feminism became part of our culture, we see a kind of back-lash. This is not uncommon among second and thrid generations of any kind of passionate movement. It is, oddly, a sign of progress in some ways. Now, the dilema is about good manners, appropriateness and not so much about the actual word choices. Most women I know (and certainly the men) can see the humor in various terms associated with breasts – but like so many things in life, timing is everything. The time and place are significant. In some environments banter seems provacative in others it is amusing…sometimes it can even be threatening or used in a way that diminishes others or it can be percieved as mean-spirited. It can also be used as a way to display power. We hear so many vulgar words bandied about these days…the words seem to lose power when we overuse them. I agree, we do not want to demean women (or men), but in the end it comes down to individual choices about how they will behave. It is about conscious choices and self-correcting and taking the high road and living personal values. You can’t legislate taste! OK – this is a bit aof a rambling diatribe on a provacative (in a good way) topic that needs to be explored. Paradigm shifts…. changes…it’s all good. (Oh yes: Non-feminists also need to be consistent!)
    Sippin’ Coffee on South Main

    • So are you saying you’re okay with people using slang terms for breasts as long as it’s done under certain conditions, including to raise money for breast cancer research?

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