October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The entire Butler University community has rallied together to raise money and spread awareness.
It’s a very powerful experience benefitting a worthy social cause.
However, “sexy” breast cancer programs have become more popular in the past several years, which is troubling.
This sexualized message works against the campaign’s goals by using questionable means.
Granted, the goal of any cancer program is noble.
One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
This disease will inevitably affect almost everyone.
Recently, the campaigns of keep-a-breast.org have become popular.
They are behind the “I <3 Boobies” bracelets, among other slogans and products.
A quick visit to its website shows that the group is concerned with education and awareness.
It is a legitimate charity organization that has good intentions.
The focus of breast cancer is, after all, people.
People who have breasts.
This is not just a semantic game.
The focus of the “I <3 Boobies” message is on the content of someone’s chest, and not real lives at stake.
Breast cancer awareness should be a priority for students, faculty and staff.
The entire community should donate its time and effort to the cause.
But if some people do not care about breast cancer until they are reminded breasts are on the line, they are acting out of self-interest, not philanthropy.
That is not a general accusation of everyone who has the bracelet or has donated.
But it is something everyone needs to be aware of going forward with cancer awareness campaigns.
The point is, there’s more to charity than just the stated goal.
Part of the value of a liberal arts education is to analyze both content and context.
A reasonable person can demand more than just a noble cause.
He or she can ask for means and messages that are also noble.
There is no problem with raising money for breast cancer—as long as that’s truly the motivation.
But breast cancer should be a concern to everyone, regardless of how they feel about “boobies.”
There are other groups that donate to breast cancer research.
The American Cancer Society, which organizes Relay for Life, is an excellent example.
The solution is still to donate time and money to charities and to be on the lookout for people in the community who need the support.
The American Cancer Society develops a variety of events to benefit different kinds of cancer research and treatment, as well as offering counseling and educational resources.
So get out for breast cancer events and Relay for Life, but please do so by focusing on the people at stake, not the attractiveness of the organs.