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!"