The time has come where we see more on a woman and inside of her than her breasts. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s time we stand up and fight breast cancer rather than parade around in our “Don’t slack, protect your rack” or “Save the Tatas” pink tank tops and say we are really making a difference.

I’m not saying this to be crass, but honestly wearing a pink T-shirt that sexualizes a serious disease hits me deeply. I understand wanting to raise awareness for breast cancer and doing it in a way that people will pay attention to, but come on. Why does sex have to be a reason to do something?

We shouldn’t use sex as a motivator because these are our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers and friends suffering from cancer we are talking about. They are not just a collection of boobs we need to save. This is why I rather endorse the “Save the Women” campaigns for breast cancer that have recently come across my Facebook news feed. We shouldn’t need sex or sexualized terms to get people to stand up and take action.

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer later in her life. She was a conservative, Catholic woman, and I’m sure would not want to even see me wear a “Save The Boobies” bracelet, even if it was to help raise awareness of her condition. Even then, I would never want to wear one because for me, it’s a moral disservice to the people who have breast cancer and are struggling to fight it.

Wearing one of those bracelets is doing the whole disease a favor and making it seem like having breast cancer is a sexy trend. Breast cancer is not and will never be a sexy trend. The statistics you will most likely see or hear about this month are the proof.

In the United States, 1-in-8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to nationalbreastcancer.org. It’s also the second leading cause of death in women and the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

And don’t think breast cancer affects only women.. Nationalbreastcancer.org says breast cancer in men is rare, but an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 410 will die each year. That’s right, men, don’t think for a second you don’t have to worry about this either.

In addition to sexualizing breast cancer, testicular cancer is often used to sexualize men While researching Pornhub Cares, the pornography website’s philanthropy section, I found they were sexualizing testicular cancer with a particularly disturbing video. Granted, the cause was dubbed “Save the Balls” and sponsored by Pornhub.

The video showed a famous pornstar with nothing but lingerie on holding a dildo with balls. She showed in the video how to massage the prostate but tried to be sexy while doing it. Why? To further the cause of treating testicular cancer or for the mainstream media to accept pornography? I tend to believe the latter.

There are many ways to help raise awareness and push research of cancer forward other than appealing these diseases to the masses. I ran Susan G. Komen’s 5-kilometer “Race for the Cure” twice in middle school. While at the races, I bought pink bracelets that said “Support the Cure” and cheered on other runners.

Maybe it’s a lack of creativity, or maybe people just like to ooze anything that says “sex.” The fact that so many people are hospitalized, lose their hair and undergo horrible treatments is why I get so heartbroken that my grandmother is gone, but these symbols of sex still remain the most prominent message of breast cancer.

Email Anne McLean at anne.mclean@cardinalpointsonline.com

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