A breast cancer meme has broken out on Google+: Booberday. As the name suggests, it involves breasts, specifically, "posting photos of women's cleavage under the guise of fighting breast cancer," explains Jezebel's Margaret Hartmann. On the surface it's just boob shots, which some might call demeaning. But we're talking about breast cancer, so it's all good, right? Not really. Booberday is demeaning to women, makes men look bad, and doesn't help the cause. The only winner we see here: Google+.
Some might argue that the underlying good-cause of the Booberday campaign makes posting lady parts on the Web okay, but it doesn't work like that. First, it's likely that people are feigning deeper commitment in latching onto the meme, argues Hartmann. "As we've learned from previous social networking memes, mentioning breast cancer means you can post all the silly and smutty content you want and pretend you're just a sensitive guy who's concerned about ladies' health." Yet, some, like Google+ user Kyle Maxwell, believe the movement could use some light heartedness.
I also know breast cancer survivors who endorse these sorts of marketing efforts as a way to lighten up to the degree they can for something so serious and somber.
Ok, so breast cancer awareness doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, but Booberday is particularly demeaning. Take the official page: While it has some links to charities, the context ruins any attempts at helping the movement, argues Hartmann.
For those who have an easier time focusing on something upsetting like breast cancer while staring at a lovely set of boobs, there are links to four breast cancer charities on the page. If you have any ideas on how help the women attached to cancerous breasts, you can share them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. With an address like that, it's pretty clear that they're serious about fighting breast cancer.
It also gets the entire message backwards, Google+ user Randall Monroe points out. "The really frustrating thing about the 'Save the boobies' campaign and similar ones is that it gets it exactly backward. Often, the point of breast cancer treatment is to destroy some or all of the boobies in order to save the woman."
These types of movements that sexualize the disease don't help at all. Even if a person truly believes that posting cleave-shots on Google+ will help eradicate cancer, as Peggy Orenstein pointed out in the Times Magazine, "Rather than being playful, which is what these campaigns are after, sexy cancer suppresses discussion of real cancer, rendering its sufferers--the ones whom all this is supposed to be for--invisible. It also reinforces the idea that breasts are the fundamental, defining aspect of femininity."
Overall the meme is embarrassing: It's no good for breast cancer or women, and makes posters of said photos look boob-hungry. The only entity that gets anything out of this: Google+. The baby social network gets a little press out of it and a meme scandal proves relevance. Check out all those links and discussion! A few more controversies and who knows, maybe it'll catch up to monster competitor Facebook.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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