Take This Pink Ribbon Off my Eyes…

As my sorority is currently gathering a team to walk in our campus annual “Relay for Life”, a feeling of ambivalence has bubbled up to my cognitive surface, not because I don’t support the Fight Against Cancer, but because events like this have sometimes left me feeling a tinge of bitterness when they are all over. Take, for example, last October when my sorority walked in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Golden Gate Park. I had fun, I walked, I wore pink. But what did we really do? Of course, we “raised awareness”. Do you know anyone who is not aware of breast cancer? And yes, we contributed our time, we donated some money, but where did that money go exactly?

I recently watched the documentary “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”, which revealed the intensely corporate campaign against breast cancer as a daunting, dangerous machine. When the Susan G. Komen foundation developed, it began marketing through countless women’s consumer mediums- namely beauty products. All of a sudden, there was nail polish with pink ribbons on them, and now, a few decades later, we see pink ribbon hair dryers, clothing, vacuums, even handguns. I think the worst of it was when KFC did a Susan G. Komen “buckets for the cure” campaign. I kid you not.

This would not be detrimental- in fact, it appears like these products are beneficial to the fight, right?- if some of these products were not known to cause cancer. Many beauty products , upon doing a little bit of personal research, can be found to have cancer causing agents in them, such as lead (ladies, check your lipstick). And the second issue with this: the corporate element of the fight against breast cancer, and many other cancers alike, have historically kept donors at arm’s length. What do we know about where our money is going? How much research is actually going towards finding out what causes breast cancer? From what I’ve read, only about 15% of research is on prevention,  and only 2-5 % of that investigates environmental causes of breast cancer, such as chemicals in our daily surroundings.

So when I walk this weekend, I will do it as a fun experience with my sorority sisters- I may even share my story of being there with my mother when she went through her battle with breast cancer. It did, after all, mean a lot to me. And I do not mean to sound unappreciative of the cancer-fighting community at large. But my message for those walking with me will be to self-educate.

I am so unsatisfied hearing cancer activists tell me to go get a fucking mammogram. Early detection, I get it. But who gets money from the mammogram tests? The people that make them, the same companies, in fact, who have been known to sell cancer-causing pesticides and milk hormones. Apologies, that was tangential- I will get a mammogram (and an MRI since breast dense tissue does not even come up in a mammogram), but if I want to help people other than just myself (which should be the point of a social movement), I will research where the ACS funding is going, and if I do not like it, I will try to do something about it.

And how about working with cancer patients in the community? Thousands of hours are spent at Relay for Life events honoring loved ones and caregivers of cancer patients, as they should be recognized, but how about stepping over to a less privileged part of our community and being the caregiver to a cancer patient who does not have anyone by their side? People are so quick to help in the most abstract ways possible- to instagram photos of themselves “fighting cancer” and “walking for _____”, (heart emoji) but there are people right in front of our eyes who need help. Moreover,when taking into consideration the mysteriousness of where our donated time money is headed, we may not even be preventing the possibility that we, someday, could be those same patients in need. What then?

I Know You Want It

Alright, alright. I know I’m late in the game on this one, but I just saw the “Blurred Lines” video for the first time and ohhhhhh my goodness. At the risk of sounding like an obsessive uptight feminist, that video made me so very uncomfortable, a little (a lot) bit angry, and quite humored at the outrageousness of it all.

Disclaimer: I will admit that this song is so very catchy and I will probably dance to it any time it is playing in my presence.

But, when I saw this video, particularly when I saw Robin Thicke’s creepy ass pervert stare-down of these models while whispering to them “I know you want it… you know you want it…”,  I couldn’t help but remember that time.

“I know you want it.” Well. I didn’t, sir. And I was able to push you away from me without any damage taking place, but it only took me saying, “no. no. NO.” for you to get the picture that, no, the lines are not actually blurred ,they are very clear. And for one in four women my age, the story has a much darker ending. Which is why, when I was shown this women’s parody of Thicke’s misogynistic debut, I was thrilled.

This video is the perfect reminder that we have agency, and with things like Youtube, we have more agency than ever before. We can all be heard, especially if we are clever enough to get our voices out there in an entertaining way. These women are not saying we should objectify men the way women are objectified- they are showing through this overly-exagerated video of men on leashes, etc, that the hyper-sexualized objectification in Thick e and Pharrel’s video is just as ridiculous.

 

Why We Always Want to Dance, and Why I Won’t Dance With You

“So, guys don’t like… get the urge? ”

No, we were not talking about sex. I asked this question on a date the other night (yes, ok fine, a Tinder Date), about why women always want to dance and men do not.  His answer, not surprisingly,  was a coughed-out chuckle. “Hah, uh… no.” He went on to explain how he doesn’t mind dancing, that he would definitely dance if he were at a place where everyone else was dancing, such as a club. Ah, of course, Tinder grasshopper.  And yet.

I don’t know if I can generalize this as a “thing girls do” but my experience as a collegiate young woman has been that, with my girlfriends, at any time, especially when there is alcohol involved, we get the urge. It overcomes us. We can’t stop it. Luckily, my friends and I have been able to grasp a solution to this craving. Starting last year on a late Saturday morning, if I or anyone else in the house felt “The Urge”, we would blast a lady jam (think Robyn ‘s “Dancing on my Own”), scream “THIRTY SECOND DANCE PARTY!!!!!!” and everyone would have to run into the same room, and shake what our mommas gave us.

Now, apply these polar-opposite, gendered ideas toward dancing to a social night out at a dive bar, and you have quite the clash of perspectives. Men, many of them hoping to A) get laid and, B) not embarrass themselves, will often do one of two things: either stand on the outskirts of the dance floor nodding their heads to the music in the hopes of striking up a conversation with someone (and making their way off the dance floor),  or,  my personal favorite, come up behind a woman, start rubbing their body against her, and then shout in her ear “WANNA DANCE?!”. Now, not all men are like this- some actually approach the woman before rubbing themselves all over her like a dog in heat, and some do not even give them the courtesy of asking. They simply latch onto her, pelvis first, and attempt to move with their new play toy as if their are one connected unit.

To these men, I say NO. NO, I will not dance with you. Why? Because I, unlike you, want to dance. I want to move, I want to feel this shitty Top Forty music pulsing through my vains, and dance with my friends who are all equally uncaring about going home with someone like you. Ok, ok, that’s not entirely true. Women have sexual urges just like men do. But, the difference is, I am not going to be turned on by feeling your sweaty body suctioned to mine before we’ve even spoken two words two each other, or, worse, before I’ve seen your face. Sure, maybe I’ll play along for a song or two, but when my best friend comes up and grabs me, looks you in the eyes and shouts “She’s mine!!!” Its not because I’m a lesbian. It is because this night is ours, and  I will not have you sweating and dry humping all over it.