07 January, 2010

I’m wearing a silky leopard-print pushup number with apricot lace trim and peepholes

Bollocks I am, and if I were I wouldn't be telling the world about it but would be keeping it as a nice surprise for someone with the patience to find it under the twenty six layers of woven sheep currently protecting me from the snowpocalypse engulfing London. The following message just landed in my Facebook inbox however, suggesting that someone thinks that broadcasting details of your unmachinewashables to the entire internet is a rather good idea:

"Hi gals........had this sent to me ......some fun for us only...just write in ya status the color of ya bra nothing else just the color. and send this on by inbox only to all ya female friends NO MALES it will be neat to see if this spreads the wings of breast cancer awareness. it will also be fun to see how long it takes all the men to wonder why all the girls have a color as their status"
This message could be criticised for a number of reasons – I'm going to let the application of the word girls to my peer group of betrothed, bemortgaged and bePhD'd women slide as the writer of the original message was clearly around fourteen but seriously, how much time do you really save by turning "you" into a two letter word? – but the main problem I have with it is the idea that it will somehow raise awareness of breast cancer. It makes no mention of how you can check for breast cancer or how you can donate to breast cancer research. All it raises awareness of is the fact that around 50% of the UK population uses fragments of fabric and wire to cover the front part of their thoraces.

Truth is, breast cancer is always going to be the easiest cancer to talk about because the majority of the human population will either possess boobies or become very fond of them indeed at some stage of their existence. I think that most people are by now very much aware of the existence of breast cancer, possibly because events like this make good headlines and better pictures. You know which cancer needs a little awareness raised? Bowel cancer, that's which. Thirty seven and a half thousand people are diagnosed with it in the UK every year, making it the second most common cancer in women and the third most common in men (ref), but we don't have a whole industry selling poo-coloured t-shirts and shit-scented candles to publicise it and few people know which symptoms to watch out for.

Call me a humourless Feminazi if you like, but this email is not about raising awareness of breast cancer. It's about using a disease that has a devasting impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as a spurious justification for discussing saucy undies. It's about women trying to show that they're uninhibited and up for a laugh by inviting their friends to speculate about them in their underwear rather than to think about them as sentient, intelligent human beings. It's about women objectifying themselves. And for anyone who believes that the updates are really only for us gals I'd invite you to compare the number of updates saying "red satin w little bows" with the number saying "grey cotton (orig. white), straps frayed, bought Bhs 2001".

I have a couple of dozen friends on Facebook - colleagues and ex-colleagues, my friends' Mums, my family, my brother's girlfriend, my supervisor - who I'd rather not have wondering about what the colour in my status meant about my underwear thank you very much, and I'd rather the rest of themwere thinking about me in the context of how I write or the music I like or how good I am at throwing fireworks parties than what I'd look like with my t-shirt off (currently goosepimply and a delicate blueish colour). I leave you with an example of the only dignified way to respond to enquiries about one's undercrackers, as demonstrated by President Obama who when asked whether he wore briefs or boxers replied:

"I don't answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in 'em!"


  1. Its reminded me of the girl in primary school who lifts her skirt for the boys. Its the same kind of acceptance seeking. I can imagine doing this facebook bra game at the age of 15, and thinking myself quite racy, but given that most of my contacts on facebook are in their mid-twenties, I'm flabbergasted.

    I received the message from my friend-boy's 26 year old sister. Some girl she'd included in the thread replied to everyone with:

    "Ahh! How odd! I'm wearing a slightly grey sports bra, but for the purposes of facebook, I'm gonna say red!"


    Today I posted a status suggesting that the "boys" on my list share the shape, oclour and size of their undies in the name of testicular or prostate cancer. And because I'm a pervy old woman, getting my jollies from knowing what people wear, Ja.

    One guy responded.

    Mr.Kitton posted a status asking people to describe the colour of their morning dump to raise awareness of bowel cancer, and posted some statistics. No one has responded at the time of posting this, and I don't think anyone will. Because bowels and faeces don't sell calendars, face creams and give excuses to print pictures of jubblies. Or bikini car washes.

  2. I got a message about this on FB today and my first thought was 'How on earth is this educating people about, helping people with or doing anything useful for breast cancer?!' Because it's totally not.

  3. brilliant post!! here's my post on the same subject http://myswimsuitissues.blogspot.com/2010/01/save-boobies.html.

  4. So _that's_ what they're doing. Thank you. My status now reads. "None of your goddamned business."

  5. Ohmigosh. You all rock. Thank you so much. I have been having fits about this all day, and have gotten some support but much more backlash -- people just don't see the sexism in this, for one, and they just don't see the illogic in the notion that this will actually do something. So thank you for being a breath of fresh air.

  6. Also, not every female wears them (which would only be further fodder for objectification), and breast cancer effects men as well (who are, of course, not objectifiable at all). Mine was utter nonsense. Many of my guy friends have posted something as well, while most of my female friends seem to have ignored it. But I am sharing your post with them.

  7. Oh My. Is this really such a serious issue-- what OTHERS choose to do with their facebook status? Well, clearly, I am one of those "attention seeking" girls "in primary school who lifts her skirt for the boys." Well, I tell you I chose to clock a boy in grade three for asking me to do so, and in the name of TRUE feminism, I say that I have every right to post whatever I so choose in my status message without being judged by people who don't even know me.

    For a little comparison of my own: the feminist woman who judges others on such nonsense is no different than the highschool prima donna who judges everyone on her clothes and makeup. Seriously. If you're so pro-woman, why go around judging others so easily and harshly?

    The most common stereotype of women is that we are nasty and unstable, and I say that choosing to attack each other at every drop of the hat only serves to further that stereotype. We're judged by everyone everywhere, so can't we at least be understanding of each other, as sisters, if we can't find it in ourselves to be accepting.

    Quit pissing on other's fun, and perhaps think about picking your battles. If you want to make a difference, why not try making one that will matter-- one that will be POSITIVE.

  8. Hi Mydogissam,

    to take your second point first, I completely agree that a Facebook status game is pretty insignificant when compared to issues like FGM, the likely erosion of womens' reproductive and relationship freedom, the fact that a pimp in the Big Brother household gets judged more harshly for her views on abortion than for her profession or transphobic murder. But tbh I don't believe in picking your battles - you apply leverage where you can, on issues that you think you personally have the power to do something about, and if it's the small stuff that pisses you off enough to write about then where's the harm? When this landed in my inbox I was annoyed enough to write a blog post about it, if it hadn't I probably wouldn't have written an alternative post about a more serious issue, I'd have gone off and had a cup of tea or something. I think we're able to concentrate on multiple issues of different seriousness at the same time - if we weren't afterall we wouldn't be wasting time with all this feminism stuff when climate change is a far greater threat to humanity's future.

    As for this being just a bit of fun, of course it is but there are a lot of little bits of fun like this that add up to something bigger - being pressured as a teenager to wear more revealing clothes or everyone'll think you're frigid, laughing off comments about your appearance that really aren't that funny, choosing sexy profile pics - all part of the pressure on women to show they're good sports by appearing available at all times. There's only one person in the world I want to think of me as a sexual being, and he's currently in bed snoring like a warthog. I don't want the rest of my Facebook friends to think of me that way and this is why I ddn't post the status.

    I'm sorry if this post came across as attacking women who did choose to post the update, reading back I can see how it could be read that way but as I say I was pissed off when I wrote it and those were my prsonal reasons for not taking part, which others may not agree with.

  9. Well I would argue it did work. It worked well.. At least 50 women in my 'friends' list today thought about breast cancer. Others who didn't post or got mad also thought about it. Breast cancer wasn't on my thinking list today and probably wouldnt have entered my head this week. Now it has.. at least 50 times today. I think the raising of awareness HAS worked.. It just didn't use a method you liked.

    No one can make you participate.. deep breath. breast check and move on would seem in order.

  10. Lanne: I saw this, didn't participate, and *didn't even notice* the line about breast cancer. That's how effective it is.

  11. I received this from a girlfriend yesterday... and honestly, choosing what bra to wear is a bit of a hassle for me each morning. I am a mother to twins and an executive... sometimes it's hard to cherish the "woman" I am. I can say that I am a total feminist when it comes to work and a family life. But sometimes a good bit of fun is nice... just to discuss that it hurts to wear a thong or that I had to search for F cup size bra while I was pregnant...

    Anyway, a good bit of highschool level fun whether it's bras or undies or waxing don't hurt my feminist views... it adds a bit of girly fun to my life. It was kind of nice to learn that I am not the only 35+ woman still wearing a purple bra. My boring life sometimes just needs highschool level activity. Isn't it why we are on facebook?

    One thing I do agree on, using breast cancer as a side item on this menu is rather lame. But maybe the fact that we are talking about this lame activity we did think about breast cancer today.

    It's amazing how one interesting thread gets circled around on facebook.I sure hope facebook will also be utilized for more useful causes other than chatting about our inner layer options...

  12. Great article. Hope you don't mind but I linked back to you and quoted a section of your entry on my blog today.

  13. Hi, I got linked to your article after I posted the following: "To the women on my friends list: - Have you participated in this colours meme? - Were you aware that it was for breast cancer awareness? - Did you regularly check for lumps before this meme? - If not, will you more often as a result of it? - Do you also go for regular cervical smear tests?". I expect there to be a certain amount of selection bias, and I didn't realise it had been based on an email until reading this post. I was going to ask a similar question of the men on my friends list too - but about testicular cancer.

    You mention also the bowel cancer - prostate is another big one. To be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn't know how to self-check for these. Perhaps that is something that needs an awareness campaign too?

  14. I respect all your comments, but this was supposed to be just fun, at least from what i gathered, my friend who HAS HAD BREAST CANCER FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS, sent it to me, and she told me it was nice to have a laugh at it for once, rather than always being pitied about it and having depressing talks on it.
    Again i say i respect this post, but lighten up a little.

  15. Totally agree with the post (though I can see why some people have missed the point a little) but wasn't sure what to do about it. My status now has my bra colour, a note about bowel cancer needing publicity too and a link the Cancer Research page on its symptoms. Bit of a mess, but it's so hard to criticise campaigns without coming across as uncaring towards the people they're trying to help.

  16. Ooops, I've just rechecked the two messages I received, and the reason I didn't spot the breast cancer message? It wasn't there. Both ladies mailing me were only passing on the "it's for fun" and "confuse the blokes" angles.

  17. Thank you for this! I was beginning to think I was the only one who found this whole thing bizarre, sexualised and totally unattached to the issue of breast cancer.

  18. We should be raising scientists, not awareness.

    Put away your ribbons and stop telling people about your underwear. Start telling people how you are encouraging your kid to learn more about science.

    Tell me you're okay with your property taxes going up half a cent per mil to support more and better quality science education in schools. Tell me you spend at least as much time thinking about your kid's biology homework as you do their next lacrosse game.


  19. None of the emails I've received encouraging me to take part have mentioned donating, charities, self-checks, or any of this - one mentioned in the name of breast cancer awareness, and the rest emphasising "fun!". Awareness is lovely - but this meme achieves frankly fuck-all because it reduces a serious disease to "save the boobs for objectification". I can see how it might be perceived as fun, enjoyable, etc - but it's not doing more than reducing women to their body parts.

    Nobody's denying anyone their girly fun, but it is worth considering the implications of that "little bit of fun" in the wider picture. If you have, and a cool with it, fine. If you have, and you're not, also fine. And I'm one of those people who have not-so-serious conversations about bras/pants/waxes/sex toys on a regular basis.

  20. Why not just put links to appropriate information (how to check for lumps etc) on a version you send out to friends? And next week, you could start a new meme about bowel cancer awareness, and ask people to say what colour underwear they are wearing (with the associated links in the message)- men and women. Just because the person who sent you the message was lazy, doesn't mean the whole thing is meaningless. Convert it into something useful!

  21. The person who forwarded it to me cut all the info about breast cancer awareness - and just said "it's a fun game."

    So I said, "why not."

    Only this morning did I find out what the original poster said.

  22. I would respectfully ask Sebawali, who felt the need to shout, to read this survivor's take on the meme:


  23. I agree with all your points about cancer awareness. I don't think it's okay, though, to say "It's about women trying to show that they're uninhibited and up for a laugh by inviting their friends to speculate about them in their underwear rather than to think about them as sentient, intelligent human beings." And I definitely don't think it's okay to, as someone did in the comments, speculate that everyone who did this was attention whoring. I couldn't care less who knows my bra color; many people who see me in a tank top on a hot day that leaves the straps showing could tell it to you in an instant. I don't see why in order to be taken seriously as a human being I have to pretend like my bra color is off limits or somehow a personal or private thing. It's just not for me, nor do I think I'm "objectifying" myself by revealing it. Yes, this meme can involve doing it in a sort of giggly way. Maybe that's because for people who have always been encouraged to think of underwears as somehow "unmentionable," it's kind of nice to let it out as public. I don't know; I just get a strong undertone of "sluts!" here.

    Also, for what it's worth, your friends may have been posting "red sating with little bows," but I've mostly been seeing "white," "black," and "beige." Not exactly titillation central. Not that there's anything wrong with wearing colored, satiny underwear; my own bra today is purple and has little bows (I know! I'm such an attention whore!) and you know what? As someone who wears a bra size that isn't found in American stores period, it was awesome when I found a British store that would ship me pretty ones. I'm not ashamed of it for a second.

  24. I didn't get into the game (mostly because I was home sick and didn't bother to put a bra on), but I did post links to information about self breast exams and breast cancer in men as my status this morning.

    I have to admit that I think it could have been a fairly successful awareness or fund raising campaign if people had thought it through and emphasized the breast cancer awareness angle. As one male pointed out the one word status updates piqued his curiousity and he would have donated $5 in a heartbeat had the option been given.

    Still, I'd rather get five bucks from him without first having to divulge the status of bra. Perhaps a more poignant campaign would have included sending love and kisses to people who have been affected by breast cancer.

  25. Thanks for this. I have been thoroughly annoyed by this campaign, which only succeeds in further sexualizing breasts, not raising any "awareness" or money for breast cancer research.

    And Katie, there is a gendered slut/prude double standard that women deal with in our culture that this is blatantly playing with. No men's movement on Facebook would ever include their revealing colors of any undergarments. You may not be consciously participating in a titillating *giggle* experience, but the nature of this exercise is to reinforce that objectifying women's sexuality is worth it for a cause. In fact, there is nothing else to this BUT objectifying women - there's nothing going to the cause.

  26. And Katie, there is a gendered slut/prude double standard that women deal with in our culture that this is blatantly playing with. No men's movement on Facebook would ever include their revealing colors of any undergarments.You may not be consciously participating in a titillating *giggle* experience, but the nature of this exercise is to reinforce that objectifying women's sexuality is worth it for a cause.

    Conversely, though, acting like underwear is some highly personal thing that must be kept a deep, dark secret isn't exactly getting us out of the slut/prude dynamic either. Look, do I think posting your bra color is a meaningful way of doing activism? Of course not. But stereotyping women who did nothing other than posting a single word that was a color in their facebook statuses is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Not to mention that in the pure form of the whole thing, women who participated WEREN'T EVEN TELLING MEN ABOUT IT. And yet it gets said that they're objectifying themselves because they posted a word like "white" or "black" in their Facebook status and then e-mailed their women friends about it? Someone on a feminist blog thinks it's okay to say that that is the same as "the girl in primary school who lifts her skirt for the boys" and doesn't get called out on it? Y'all can't see any contradiction in this?

  27. Katie, the reason I compared it to the girl "lifitng her skirt for the boys in the playground" is because people in the thread I got on facebook were all saying that they were going to say they were wearing fancy bras "for the boys", instead of what they were actually wearing, which was, black, white, or old-grey-sports-bra.

    My boyfriend posted a stauts asking what it was all about, and was inundated with messages from women telling him it was about sharing their choice of bra colour. Cancer awareness, breast or otherwise wasn't mentioned.

    When I posted, saying that my underwear was no one's business but my own, I was rounded on for not "playing along." When I suggested via my status that bowel cancer and lung cancer were bigger killers, and people should be aware, and donate, I was rounded on.

    I was villified by "friends" because I wouldn't join in in what was, on *my* facebook, an objectification parade. No one gave a monkeys about the cancer awareness. On my facebook list at least.

  28. Your post fired up a couple things in me this morning, so much so that I decided to write. One of your arguments was that breast cancer information and awareness would not be mentioned or spread. True perhaps, but you had a prime opportunity to post some links with education and information here and did not. I would gladly post some but this post box will not allow me to do so.

    I received the email without the breast cancer awareness part of it. I slightly hesitated to post my color only because I had been taught as a child that womens underwear is not something you publicly discuss. I took a deep breath, typed in my color and posted. The hesitancy was not due to peer pressure. I am a 36 year old woman and others opinions do not sway my decisions. Within the next 24 hours I saw posts from friends all over the globe from Asia to Australia to the Americas. Smiling at each post I read, I found that color reveals a lot about how a person perceives themselves and the hidden color of intimate apparel represents a private view of oneself. I should have remembered this... I worked in intimate apparel for 2 years. What may have started as a sophmoric prank became a global reveal of personality among women and men. Through the spirit of good humor, the email brought the realization that perhaps we need to take more time to listen to our friends and not assume we know everything about them. It made me reflect on how to be a better friend, mother, wife, woman.

    When a friend posted your article on her facebook profile, I immediately saw other friends back-peddle and apologize for their reveal. This is not a slam on her or them. I am glad to say that the people who are my friends are wonderful and very intelligent individuals and the friend that posted this, I truly admire.

    Revealing something as simple as the color of your bra, even in the spirit of a joke, reveals a little more about yourself to the people you supposedly care about and that should never be looked down upon.

    How we we dress ourselves, inwardly and outwardly expresses who we are. In my opinion, your article did not come off as the high road or even as the spirit of feminism.

    When I revealed my color, I was not "objectifying" myself. I was revealing something about my personality to the people I respect and admire while exercising my right as an individual to talk about it.

    What was so brilliant about Obama's quote is that he not only stood up for his right not to participate but he was inclusive of those who did choose to reveal by making a joke. He maintained his personal rights while still engaging in the spirit of good humor. In the end, everyone felt good about themselves and went away with a smile.

    Though I disagree with your overall assessment of those who chose to engage in this event, your article made for good discussion amongst my friends and did further the topic of breast cancer and self awareness.

    Best wishes to you.

  29. I didn't care if people wanted to post their bra colour. Whatevs. The points that bugged me were as follows:

    - Posting your bra colour was seen as a women only act...we weren't supposed to tell the men, they were just supposed to wonder. (As it turns out, most of the men on FB knew and the ones that didn't thought it was a fav colour meme and posted their own fav colour.) And nevermind transfolk and cross-dressers.

    - The weird coyness about the bra in the first place irked me because it harks back to a sort of grade school mentality about sexuality and the markers we use (underwear, makeup, etc) to showcase ourselves as sexual beings. It just seemed weirdly regressive.

    - Breast cancer awareness was SO obviously tacked on as a stupid justification. (Incidentally I started seeing a handful of women post "If you really want to do something about breast cancer, here's a link to donate to....")

    - Surprise! Men get breast cancer too. (I don't want this to be an all-about-the-menz post, but with serious issues like disease, it's incredibly damaging to treat it as a single gender issue.) Again, no awareness brought to the issue.

    - What exactly was this supposed to accomplish? As noted, it's not like I don't have Susan G. Komen's foundation and a thousand yogurt caps and pink sports bottles and a bazillion other reminders of cancer awareness.

    (Am also cranky because I found what is probably another benign cyst in my armpit/breast area, but I'll still have to get checked out with an ultrasound anyway, and a thousand people telling the colours of their bras isn't gonna do a damn thing about my health or insurance costs. Also, I am a No-Fun-nik.)

  30. wow, I think this reminds me of those games in elementary school where the words get all messed up as the info is passed around. I knew that game as Telephone, Gossip, Rumours.

    I got this in my Inbox on fb:
    "Passing this along to all my female friends: check your bra color, post that one word color to your fb status, then check those boobies for lumps and bumps that are not supposed to be there, then pass this message along to all your female friends in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Do you monthly checks; it saves lives."

    I posted, I checked, I passed it on. I personally know four women who don't have the need to wear a bra anymore because they were either cut off or are dead because of cancer.

  31. This post was spot on. My FB status currently reads, "This status update is intended to raise awareness about breast cancer. The link below is intended to raise awareness about sexism." The link, of course, goes here.

  32. Those that put the colour of their bra in their status simply because someone told them to - lemmings. Did it because they saw others do it - just like lemmings who jump off a cliff.


  33. When I posted, saying that my underwear was no one's business but my own, I was rounded on for not "playing along." When I suggested via my status that bowel cancer and lung cancer were bigger killers, and people should be aware, and donate, I was rounded on.

    I was villified by "friends" because I wouldn't join in in what was, on *my* facebook, an objectification parade. No one gave a monkeys about the cancer awareness. On my facebook list at least.

    Yeah, if my facebook friends had reacted that way, I would have been annoyed too. They didn't, though - people posted colors, a couple of people posted they though there were better ways to spread breast cancer awareness, and everyone was respectful about it. Certainly the practice of the thing does make a big difference.

    Those that put the colour of their bra in their status simply because someone told them to - lemmings. Did it because they saw others do it - just like lemmings who jump off a cliff.

    Yes, exactly like lemmings. Except that lemmings who jump off cliffs are dead and people who post colors in their facebook status . . . have a color in their facebook status and shared an inside joke with their friends. Otherwise, totally the same.

  34. Thank you for articulating so perfectly the many reasons why this meme has been annoying the crap out of me. Brava!

  35. An excellent post Jules. For me this whole "game" just ties into the way that breast cancer in the wider context is constantly sexualised.

    I know, I know, that sexy, sexy cancer - it's such an anachronism, right? But every year the same thing: awareness for breast cancer means doing fun runs in your underwear, or with your underwear outside your clothes, and that time frilly, lacy bras were pegged all along London Bridge. I've started to wonder if it's women who are affected by breast cancer or just their lingerie draw.

    Plus there's the maddening pink aspect of it; pink ribbons, pink bras, pink t shirts, the whole thing manages to be infantalising and deliberately titillating at the same time, which is just WEIRD. And completely ignores the fact that men do suffer from breast cancer too. I know the numbers are tiny, but they must feel awfully excluded at a time when they most need support.

    For what it's worth, also, I did not read this post as attacking the people who participate in this game directly; only as attacking the game itself. If to you it's just a bit of fun, go ahead, Jules is only asking you to consider the wider implications of it. Some people obviously think it's no big deal, some us think it's a little demeaning and are waiting patiently for men to start being encouraged to engage in these fun little games; whatever, feminism is a multi-faceted movement, riven with differences of opinion. The only thing that's important is that those opinions are considered ones, so hearing other people's thoughts on these sorts of issues can only be a good thing. That's kind of why we blog, right?

  36. Thanks for posting this. Breast cancer IS sexualized, and it's ridiculous. But at least it is the hottest of the cancers, so it can take it's spot on the gold medal platform.

    I'm no prude, but I don't really care about my friends under-drawers all that much. I hope that's not weird that I don't want to have sex with all of my pals. I know it's not as hot as it could be... :)

  37. Because attacking what women are doing - that's what feminism is about. >_<

  38. we shouldn't just say that everything women do is fine and unproblematic. women are not above critique.

  39. Jules, I loved your response to the craze. And I am one who posted. Secondly, I loved Mydogissam's post, and your response, both.

    About a year ago a friend who I met in an online group, and then at a group thing in person, talked about the hospital where she works. This hospital had a Breast cancer awareness theme in the lobby and volunteers sold items, provided information, and so on.

    She had lost her mom to breast cancer a few years ago.

    She posted online how this current years BC Event reminded her of the previous years. A woman had come up to her and had been combative and angry in the "Breast cancer isn't the only cancer" way, and "Maybe if the breast cancer people weren't everywhere, some attention would be paid to these other cancers."

    So when I read about how distressed my friend was JUST REMEMBERING THIS from a year ago, I said something to the effect of what you did:

    "I understand why you are upset, but to play devil's advocate, perhaps this woman has a rare cancer, or a cancer out of the spotlight. It wasn't you, it was her own desperate story."

    And I about had my head taken off. My point wasn't to minimize her feelings that had resurged. My point was to say, after a year, you are still so wounded by this, maybe if you look at it this way, next year you won't be wounded.

    BTW, in the US there has been some attention paid to colon/bowel cancer because Katie Couric (Now news anchor for CBS, prev morning show anchor for NBC) lost her husband to colon cancer. She had a LIVE on tv colonoscopy. SHe is still a huge advocate. It's a good thing.

    Thanks for your blog, and your comments.

  40. I posted my status as "beige - in honor of my grandmother and aunt, both survivors". It was a small tribute to them. Reading all the color post, I felt a kind of kinship as in, "we are all in this together". I guess you could look at it as something horrible or something harmless or something cool. I am happy I did it. If you think I am foolish, so be it. I am happy with my choice.

  41. You're an uptight prig, yet you have no issues with telling us your skin is tinged blue and you'd prefer to discuss fecal matter. Perhaps you'll post the colour of your feces once you've undergone a colonoscopy so we'll be educated as to whether you'll be passing on into the great beyond and we can expect to look forward to a more progressive writer in your position.

  42. And I hope you have a lovely weekend too Mistralwynde

  43. I too found your reaction demeaning & accusatory. I saw my role in the bra color disclosure as a moment of intimacy between women. Since one of the main focuses of the Breast Cancer/Pink Ribbon campaign is to heighten awareness of the pervasive cancer & to encourage women to support each other, it seemed appropriate & fun to share color & our respect for those other women who shared. It was not an exercise in educating each other. I only passed it on to women I thought would feel the same way I did. Only one of 40 didn't care to participate & thought it was foolish.
    I also don't believe it was in any way an exploitation of our sexuality. That too is part of the breast cancer campaign, taking the image of the breast away from being simply a man-enticing sexual toy & putting it back in the hands of women so they will take care of their own breasts & have no shame if they lose them to cancer.
    I have no problem with or judgement of those who didn't want to participate. But why did you so vehemently judge & attack those of us who did? Is divide & conquor more powerful than sisterhood & acceptance in your opinion? I thought that feminism was about accepting women as they are. But then I come from the birthing era of feminism, when the baby was so beautiful that even warring grandparents respected each other.

  44. Fantastic post (here via Shakesville).

    How aware of breast cancer do women really need to be? It's just a trump card people pull out to get women to do whatever they want when "increased awareness" doesn't actually do shit for women. Everyone has heard of breast cancer and anxiety is also unhealthy.

    My mom died of breast cancer, and I'm fucking sick of getting reminded of that fact every other day because someone is tacking on "awareness" to another game for objectifying women, whether it's asking to see our underwear or exhorting us to feel our boobies or putting up posters to "save the tatas."

    Sorry but it's not breasts I want to save, it's women.

  45. I've just received this message from a female friend:

    "Hello girlies... day 3 of the 'breast cancer game' thanx to those who have played

    today all day i want you to put is the size of your feet and the word inches and a sad face after for example.. 6 inches :( .... we'll wind the men up with this one for sure haha.."

  46. "Using a disease that has a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as a spurious justification for discussing saucy undies." Seriously? Do you think someone really said, "hey, I wish there was a way to talk about my sexy underwear today... I know, I'll use breast cancer as a ploy!"

    The point was not to post a long status that tells you where to donate money. I think it's understood that every single person on facebook could find that in about 30 seconds.

    If it reminded one person to do a self-exam, schedule a mammogram, or look up how to donate, then it did something worthwhile. I don't see how this is some huge feminist issue. If you don't want to post, don't. At the very least, it got all of us talking about how to best support breast cancer awareness, didn't it?

    PS - 95% of my friends who posted bra colors simply posted, "pink", "black," "beige," or "blue." I personally didn't see any objectification or sexiness in this.

  47. i just think it's a fucking joke people are wittering on about their bras to supposedly promote awareness of a disease which regularly leaves women with mastectomies and problems finding bras afterwards. talk about insensitivity - no wonder this has pissed off so many cancer sufferers as well as feminists.

  48. Mystralwynde - come back when you can learn how to argue properly. Or don't come back at all, as trolls are inclined to not.
    If it weren't for the heads-up that I got via other friends' statuses, I would have just scratched my head and carried on with my day. As it is, it didn't serve any purpose. All I saw was an uninteresting detail about someone's undergarments and as an article had touchingly put it, those who had the mastectomies or had died from breast cancer wouldn't be able to participate, instead being reminded about what they'd lost. As far as awareness is concerned, the only awareness I'm aware of is how pointless some memes are.

  49. but sayem, why promote genuine awareness when you can vacantly self-promote instead?

    luckily there are also a lot of people who have put statuses along the lines of "i'm not going to write what my bra colour is because it's stupid, but here is a link to how to check your breasts, and here's another to donate to X charity", though.

  50. I agree with Jules. Not only were a lot of guys confused, but there were women confused about this game as well (on my FB anyways).

    How much awareness can you possibly raise when even members of the target group don't understand the message?

    Furthermore, there were several women I saw that posted statuses such as 'nothing at all ;) ;).' I don't think awareness, at least about breast cancer, was their main purpose in posting.

    I can't say what the true intention of the person who started this whole thing was, but if it truly was about raising breast cancer awareness, the message was lost on some people.

  51. The color of my bra is who gives a shit.

  52. Nobody has mentioned how the biggest irony is that bras may actually promote breast cancer. Here's some more info on this:


  53. Mystralwynde, other people hsve managed to register their disagreement with Jules' post without resorting to personal insults and veiled threats. Might you attempt the same? Don't let the door hit you.

  54. Put a link on your facebook to a charity donation page, a guide to self-examination, survivor testimonies - in my opinion, if you truly give a toss about breast cancer awareness and saving lives, these are vital tools in our arsenal. These are about the reality of the disease, the gritty details, the facts. Posting your bra colour is just that - a useless detail which does nothing useful for the cause. I have three close family members who have survived this ugly, debiliating disease and all of them were better served by knowing how to self-examine than by telling the internet the colour of their underwear.

    If you want to do something, do something that matters. Do something that will really help. Don't kid yourself that posting your bra colour is anything but frivolous.

  55. I just don't understand how it was ever meant to help. Did anyone, genuinely, read "yellow with tangerine spots" in someone's status update and think "shit, must book a breast exam!"? Even one?

  56. wow...what a waste of words, in response to something that obviously gave (at least) someone some entertainment. I (myself) will keep this short because I have better things to do than to waste energy on pointing my finger at other people. (Like cuddling with my wife who has a sexy leopard number on right now) =D Maybe if you wore something other than frayed, grayish, not very flattering somethings...then maybe you might be in a lighter, less cynical mood. just a thought. =D

  57. btw...just reading this blog prompted me to donate to a web-based bc awareness site. so, it worked in a way. awareness (and the process of raising it) comes in many different forms.

  58. The only waste of words I've seen are yours Justin. Saying you're not pointing fingers and then casting aspersions upon the OP's clothing is a contradiction, putting it neutrally. Oh, and won't your missus be proud of what you're sharing with us about her undergarments... if she exists of course.
    Just a thought.

  59. I'm with Katie. Actually, I rather liked the exercise as a little act of defiance in normalizing breasts, and reminding everyone that for roughly half of us, breasts and bras are just, you know, everyday life.

    I'm impatient with the OMG! it's a bra! they're talking about their BRAS! angle here. Why are we agreeing to go along with the male-oriented perception that sharing the color of our bras is "sexualizing" or "objectifying" ourselves? My bra is a piece of clothing I put on everyday; it ain't that sexy for me. I choose its color mostly to entertain myself. And if it makes male Facebook friends squirm to know that color? Dude, I frankly don't care. My bra isn't sexual. It's practical, like socks. Get over it, and learn to live with the fact I wear one. I'm not going to accept the received message that it's a symbol of who am sexually.

    Actually, one interesting thing about the whole "bra color" fad to me was how threatened many of my male FB friends seemed to be by being excluded from it -- either making nervous jokes about it, complaining about "TMI" or critiquing it as activism.

    And sure, as for the breast cancer awareness angle? I'm not going to argue it was the best activism ever. But dude, it was a Facebook meme. Like reposting some Huffington Post article or putting "Hussein" or "Equality" as your middle name in your profile. Not that serious, and not a replacement for other action. Of course, this discussion and others on other blogs HAS provoked serious discussion of breast cancer awareness, so that actually is an argument in its favor.

  60. I'll agree that the campaign has worked in such as way as that the resulting backlash has raised awareness and encouraged people to donate, but since I doubt the intention of the campaign, were it ever such, was to piss so many people off, it'd be a bit bloody rich of the people behind it to claim it as a victory.

    What it has demonstrated is the power of blogging to get people's attention - if we REALLY want to help the breast cancer cause, and indeed, any of the other myriad issues affecting mainly women, clearly blogging about it is far more effective than some silly Facebook game.

  61. Thanks for the great post. I wrote on my status the next day that I was annoyed that ploys like this claimed to raise breast cancer awareness. Even though I went out of my way to make sure my status was polite, I got a lot of backlash and was called "rude" and "inconsiderate." It is nice to see women that I respect expressing some of the same frustrations.

  62. Sayem....
    my lovlier side (who prides herself as a anarcha-feminist) is the one who prompted me to divuldge what she was wearing. she finds this whole thing as silly as I do. she is proud of her sexuality/sensuality and isn't embarassed or feels objectified by engaging in harmless fun, such as a "secret fb game".....then, in the end, accomplished it's goal of bc awareness....am I wrong?

  63. Justin, if your anarcha-feminist "lovlier side" knew that you were trolling on a feminist blog and assuming that we all wear "frayed, grayish, not very flattering somethings" just for defending our right not to have internet randoms speculate on our undergarments in the first place, I reckon she'd be pretty pissed. Do you even know what anarcha-feminism is?

  64. Ms. Kitton.....obvious troll?...i think so. However, I will respond. If you read my previous posts, you will see that, yes, my wife is aware (and supportive) of my postings here on this blog. I did not suggest that every poster here wore "frayed, grayish, undersomethings"...that was in response to the OP, who admitted that was what she was sporting these days. Yes, I am fairly well educated (both book savvy and experience smart) on the topic of anarcha-feminism. If you would like to discuss/validate my knowledge, then I would be happy to start a dialog privately; so that we don't use up space here. It's rather amusing that the most substantial rebuttals to MY OPINION here has been

    1) suggesting that I was dishonest in stating that I had a wife (which evidently is a rare thing these days...didn't know that having a wife was so unbelievable) and

    2) suggesting my ignorance pertaining to the topic of anarcha-feminism. I ONLY speak on issues that I have knowledge of. I find that if I possess a strong ignorance in a certain issue, it is beneficial for me to listen, rather than speak....I learn a fair bit more.

    Anyhow...if you don't want "internet randoms" speculating on your undergarments....then, don't play the (what I still TRULY view as) harmless, joyful game. btw...the whole point in the game was that members of my sex persuasion (men) wouldn't even speculate on your undergarments; for the subject lines on the fb pages were to remain secret to woman only. Therefore, men would be clueless (as we most always are) to what was even going on in the first place. Did that make sense?

    Again....no intention of trolling....just responding to the OP with MY OPINION. I live in America, where this is still a privilege.

  65. Firstly, I did leave the possibility of her existence open, though my skepticism still stands - I'm sure she's more than capable of making herself known on this thread, or are you going to tell me that she has an allergy to computers?
    Secondly, where on earth does it say "frayed, greyish undersomethings"? I see it nowhere on the post, unless you're talking about:
    "And for anyone who believes that the updates are really only for us gals I'd invite you to compare the number of updates saying 'red satin w little bows' with the number saying 'grey cotton (orig. white), straps frayed, bought Bhs 2001'."
    Now I've heard of taking things out of context, but you've really gone and rewritten the entire point. Care to tell me where, in your words, the OP "admitted that was what she was sporting these days"?
    Thirdly, funny, I didn't know freedom of opinion was only a privilege in America. Over here in the UK, it's actually a right.

  66. wow...did i suggest that America was the only place freedom was a right/privileged? you people are very silly.

    and she...unlike myself....evidently has a large enough brain not to get sucked into a useless blog such as this one.

  67. Justin dear, the point Sayem was making, which has sailed clear over your head, was that you suggested freedom of opinion was merely a privilege (ie something that can be revoked or have restrictions put upon it) in the US, rather than a fundamental right. It's ok, we understand, not everyone has English as a first language.

    Now, I shall invoke my also handily protected right to free speech to suggest that if this blog is indeed so useless, you stop wasting everybody's time here with your persistent mis-quoting of the OP and admittedly hilarious "rebuttals" of Sayem's incredulity at you having a wife - FYI, it's not unbelievable for men generally to have wives, I think the surprise came from the idea that an sexist man like yourself might still have a wife. And I'm keeping the emphasis on "might" myself.

  68. Victoria dear, sexist? lol....I was born one of those rare freaks that had the physical characteristics (as well as genetic) of both sexes. From my life experiences, I have learned not to lean towards EITHER sex. You might want to re-read some of these posts before you decide who the "sexist" people are.

    as far as Sayem's suggestion....re-read it.

    "Thirdly, funny, I didn't know freedom of opinion was only a privilege in America. Over here in the UK, it's actually a right."

    she was (in my opinion) suggesting that I was singling America out as the only country who has a freedom of expression. But, what do I know....I fail at the English language.

    And I merely suggested that freedom was a privilege due to choice of language. It helps me to not feel entitled. If I view things as a privilege, I have more of a tendency to respect it more. With my luck, the moment I start to view it as a "right", I will inevitably take it for granted and then the country will be placed under a state of social martial law.....then even my "privilege" will be stripped away.

  69. Victoria....

    I see what might have happened. After re-reading Sayem's post....it comes down to a matter of inflection.

    I read her post as:
    "I didn't know freedom of opinion was only a privilege in AMERICA"...with the stress on America

    whereas, I believe you read her post as:
    "I didn't know freedom of opinion was ONLY A PRIVILEGE in America"...with the stress on ONLY

    But, I guess it clearly went over my head.

  70. A lot of things seem to go over your head Justin - like the fact that Sayem is a man. I wonder who'd assume that all feminists are women? A sexist, maybe...

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  72. lol....

    where exactly did I suggest that Sayem was a woman? fyi, I knew that Sayem was a man....it isn't that hard to view a profile.

    please respond with an argument based in fact, because now you are just grasping at straws....and, it isn't very flattering.

    After being born a man/woman...i chose to be a man. yes, i do know that men can be feminists as well. just because I responded with an opinion of mine that conflicted with the OP's post doesn't mean that I don't value the fight and continued effort to garner support in favor of women's rights. It just means that I didn't agree with the OP's perception on this particular issue.

    lol....I work at the ACLU ffs.

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. victoria...

    if you knew one inkling of what i have done for the fight, i am sure you wouldn't be carrying on like this.

    I was lobbying Senator Wayne Townsend to not listen to Phyllis Schlafly's dribble, long before you were born. I hope that doesn't make me "agist" I know that you are not from the states, and I don't want to assume that you don't know what I am talking about.....so, I will post this for those that don't know. Senator Wayne Townsend was a Senator from Indiana whose one tie-breaking vote would give the ERA state majority support for ratification. I left my home in California to live in god-awful Indiana for months, just to lobby on this issue. It was that important to me.

    If that makes me a sexist....then the definition sure has changed since i was young.

  75. Justin - the crazy, wacky, completely out-there way in which I came to think you assumed Sayem was a woman was, and now bear with be, cos it's a bit mad...In your post, pasted below you referred to Sayem as HER (capitalised in your post for your benefit) twice. Clutching at straws? Or um, being able to read?!

    "I see what might have happened. After re-reading Sayem's post....it comes down to a matter of inflection.

    I read HER post as:
    "I didn't know freedom of opinion was only a privilege in AMERICA"...with the stress on America

    whereas, I believe you read HER post as:
    "I didn't know freedom of opinion was ONLY A PRIVILEGE in America"...with the stress on ONLY

    But, I guess it clearly went over my head."

    Seriously, read your own writing before you accuse me of making things up. I'm glad that you campaign on issues that you find important, that's great. Really. But it doesn't stop you from being a complete arsehole for being aggressive and abusive (and I maintain, by making snarky remarks about what underwear you imagine the OP is wearing, sexist) to people for campaigning for something THEY think is important.

  76. if you think that posting to a blog is campaigning....more power to you.

    i was merely offering my opinion as a different way to think about things....something that you clearly took offense to. i wish that i could say that i apologized, but nothing was ever accomplished without pushing people out of their comfort zone to think.

  77. You're completely right Justin. You coming here and being sexist and rude has pushed me right out of my comfort zone. Well done. I'll tell you what, come back when you learn to play nicely, and to use the shift key. Moron.

  78. Victoria....

    I will give you credit, I did think that Sayem was a woman when I posted that response; however, it wasn't because I feel that only women can be feminist, but rather his name (which is not common in the states) sounded feminine to me. But, you clearly have my psyche pegged so subconsciously, his name probably sounded feminine due to my sexist nature.

    but, as I can see that you are belittling me for not using the shift key, i won't waste anymore breath. good day and keep up the fight; whatever fight it is that you seem to be fighting. You never know, under different circumstances, we could have had some amazing chats and had some astounding congruencies. I hold open to that idea; however, something tells me that you do not. I won't trouble this blog any further.

  79. You thought my name was feminine. How hard is it to type in "Sayem" on Google and perhaps illuminate that part of your understanding? I mean, I don't know, shall I just refer to you as Justine in the rest of my posts?
    Well never mind, everyone makes mistakes. Though there was a clue in my first reply.

    But anyway, I digress. First of all, you did take what Jules wrote way out of context (refer to my post above). Second of all, according to what has been written, the email had sweet F.A. to do with breast cancer and getting men to speculate on undergarments. If I didn't know about this from other friend's postings, then I wouldn't have known at all. As my erstwhile compatriots have pointed out, no link to breast cancer sites were provided in any way. Really, it's akin to a brothel advertising itself as a woman's refuge (apologies for the example, but sometimes reductio ad absurdum is the only way to work).
    Picture yourself as any person not in the know: what would you think when you saw the status updates? Favourite colour? Colour of jumper? What the flying duck does that have to do with breast cancer?
    Now I duly apologise for my departure, but the wasteland of corporate homicide calls. And lots of Goth music to help me get through it.

  80. Hey guys and gals,
    Yes...the post could have been put up by a teenager...and most probably was,...and most teenagers aren't really aware that they should put links with their posts to sites with more information. I am a four year survivor of breast cancer....and do not let it concern me day after day.....I also went through a really difficult time with chemo and the side effects, a family full of grief because they couldn't DO anything to change the diagnosis or ease the symptoms. I for one posted my bra colour as I felt that it may raise a little more awareness for young girls. I know for a fact...having teenage children...that it is not something that is continually on their minds, mum survived and that's all that matters to them....teenagers don't think much past their current situations...(younger teens anyway).
    Maybe for some of us who are past those teen years, it may have seemed to have been sexist, or provocative in nature....but let us remember that even if it probably did little for awareness of this disease, it may have just twigged a small response in some young teens to remember that breast cancer does exist,,,and maybe some of them did do further research. I did not see any harm in it at all...I have been in remission for 4 years and am approaching the 5th year of survival...where my doctors will give me the all clear. I know that this doesn't mean that I will be protected from another outbreak at any time in the future, as I only had a single mastectomy, but so far I haven't let the past effect my goals for my future. I had it really tough, having 4 months of one sort of chemo...and then a 4 month break before another 12 months of another sort of chemo...but I just thank God every day that, although my cancer was extremely severe and extremely agressive.....it did not spread anywhere else. Even if it had...I would have been the same as I was throughout my treatment...just do what you have to do and get on with life...regardless of how long that life may be. Whatever way people choose to promote awareness will lead others to look into possible cures and prevention. Many of you say that we don't need anymore awareness campaigns, that we just need research into cures and prevention...but if we stop promoting awareness in any form then people will become complacent...then we will be likely to have many people go undiagnosed in the early stages until it may become more life-threatening.
    Yes, to many the "what is the colour of your bra" post may have seemed offensive....but I didn't see any harm in it.


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