Status update: Where do you like it?
by Catherine Szabo
I like it out in the open. This isn’t the sex column, but during the month of October, other ladies used their Facebook statuses to declare that they like it on the floor, on their desk or on their chair. It’s not what you think. If you missed it: in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer, a chain message was passed among the female population of the social media site, asking them to set their statuses to where they like to set their purses down.
If my news feed is any indication, it didn’t catch on as well as last year, when women were supposed to post just the co- lour of their bra with no other explanation. But the movement has still managed to polarize the blogosphere, with comments pointing out that the link between purses and breasts is a little bit of a stretch. In the blog “Shameless,” Emma Woolley wrote, “A com- mentor…claimed I was discouraging female sexuality by opposing the meme, when I just think it’s too unrelated and ineffective.”
While the bra posts of 2009 may have had a more obvious link to breast cancer, purses are specifically feminine, and the sexual connotation of the status update lends itself to the fact that breasts are an integral part of the way that women define themselves sexually. There are other posts around the Internet on the same topic that are much calmer in tone, but there are inevitably comments that are indignant, arguing that a suggestive sentence won’t find a cure.
Instead of simply saying that the others are wrong and being quiet about a disease that one in nine Canadian women are diagnosed with in their lifetime, a commentator using the alias “great” on “My breast cancer blog” went one step further. “For everyone asking how it raises awareness, how many people Googled (“I like it on”) today and heard about the issue of breast cancer?” the user wrote. “You’re here talking about it, so clearly you read or heard about it. Would breast cancer have occurred to you out of the blue today?”
One of the characteristics of a social movement is that it has a specific issue to resolve since it is not being addressed by the current system. There are so many causes, charities and other institutions demanding our attention every minute of the day. If it takes something with a sexually-charged message to get our attention, then so be it. To be perfectly honest, I have declared, for simplicity’s sake, that I like it out in the open, but what I really like is that others are putting it out in the open. Even though I proudly participate in the CIBC’s Run for the Cure every October, decked out in every piece of pink clothing I can possibly find, I’m still not comfortable talking about my family friends who have battled the disease, even though some of them are quite open about their experiences.
The Canadian Cancer Society estimated that in 2010, 23,200 women and 180 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 5,300 women and 50 men will die of it. The Facebook statuses may not be a conventional method of raising awareness, but then again, it could be argued that Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s campaign tactics weren’t conventional either, and look where that got him. While I usually like it on my beanbag chair, I like it out in the open any day.