Friday, March 2, 2012

Booby Traps

I've just finished another day of teaching. There is a culture war going on in my high school, and in most high schools. It's about the bracelets, the t-shirts, the belts, the book covers, and whatever else that say "I love boobies." As I type this I realize that I've never typed the word before unless I was referring to a South American bird common to the Galapagos Islands. But the word is everywhere.

It's not permitted, of course, but that's just an encouragement to the kids here. Allegedly, these bracelets are heightening breast cancer awareness. In my school, at least, all they are heightening is "breast awareness." Boys who have never contributed a dime to a worthy cause are wearing one, two, or three of the bracelets, hiding them from principals and teachers.

When someone gets caught and the bracelet is taken, the teacher or administrator, of course, is the villain, for not supporting "cancer awareness." I want to make a simple statement: those bracelets have done absolutely nothing to heighten any awareness of any type of cancer.

I have been highly disillusioned about the whole cancer awareness thing. The Komen foundation has lost its significance. I feel I have a right to say this, being a cancer fighter myself. The cancer I am fighting -- leukemia -- is signified by a green ribbon. I'll bet you didn't even know there were any ribbons but the pink ones.

Every year, we are told to "pink out" the school on a certain day, to wear pink instead of our school colors, and to buy pink ribbons. Komen has even made breast cancer a "feminine" issue, despite the fact that men die of the disease as well.

Then there are those occasional "cutesie" statements you see on Facebook or hear in conversation: "I like mine on the car seat." "I like mine on the kitchen cabinet," etc. Or "seven inches," etc. Of course, all those suggestive little phrases are the "secret"things that only the girls know. Of course, the first one was, "Where do you keep your purse?" The second one was her shoe size, with the word "inches" added. These, of course, were designed to "heighten cancer awareness." Did they do that? Seriously? A few guys figured out the answers, and girls got mad and chewed them out; after all, this was just a "secret" among the girls.

I'm still trying to figure out how these phrases heightened cancer awareness, since half the population was to mind its own business. How do sexually suggestive inside jokes heighten awareness?

One beloved aunt of mine died of ovarian cancer; another of colon cancer. What the Komen Foundation has done is cheapen the fight against cancer; first, by making it a one-cancer issue, and second, by making it some type of feminist issue.

As a male who wears a green ribbon, I don't like being left out. And I don't like the misappropriation of funds. Let family planning clinics do their own screenings, and I am all for it. The "Fight for the Cure," however, suggests research, resources, and a unified front to beat this awful monster that has invaded lives and families, rich and poor, black and white, young and old, liberal and conservative.

Why are they wasting time with controversial bracelets that take our eyes off the fight? I would like to see an organization that really wants to "work itself out of a job," a group that wants to eradicate cancer the way Rotary International has worked in the last decade to eradicate the last vestiges of polio.

And it's not going to be done with a "boobies" bracelet.