Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things


What’s in a Facebook Status; Apparently, The Fight Against Breast Cancer

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October is known for many things — apple picking, the chance to dress up as a slutty frying pan for Halloween, Oktoberfest. And for 25 years, it has been Breast Cancer Awareness month as well. This explains the Facebook statuses that have been across my newsfeed. But these statuses don’t feature facts about the treatment or prevention of the disease. These statuses merely say, “I like it on the (blank)”, with the blank filled with words like floor, closet or table. It is supposed to refer to where women like to leave their purses, and is a continuation of last year’s unofficial viral campaign, which had women writing “I like (insert color here)” to indicate what color bra was their favorite.

There are several reasons this campaign is both ineffective and offensive. First of all, talking about where you leave your purse in relation to breast cancer makes no sense. Do you use your purse to fight breast cancer? Is your purse an integral part of your identity that breast cancer takes away? No. This campaign does little to educate individuals about breast cancer, and merely reminds them of it.
Secondly, it revolves around emphasizing the feminine aspect of breast cancer that has long been exploited through campaigns such as the breast-centric ones that have filled college campuses. Men are not supposed to be able to participate in this campaign (except to voice their appreciation for women’s breasts), isolating half the population who is affected by this disease, whether they like it or not.
And thirdly, wrapping this campaign around an accessory typically used by women sexualizes it and feminizes it to an unnecessary degree. It is as though we must promote knowledge about this disease by reminding everyone of what could be lost with a diagnosis is the presence of femininity. We are clinging to our femaleness as we cling to our breasts.

Barbara Ehrenreich has written poignantly about the marketing surrounding breast cancer. Her 2009 book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America features an entire chapter on her experience post-her diagnosis with breast cancer, in which she describes the campaign that surrounds fighting the cancer: “It is also clear that the ultrafeminine theme of the breast cancer marketplace – the prominence, for example, of cosmetics and jewellery – could be understood as a response to the treatments’ disastrous effects on one’s looks. There is no doubt, though, that all the prettiness and pinkness is meant to inspire a positive outlook.”

There are many different causes out there, but none have such a culture surrounding them as breast cancer. Part of this is due to the ease with which its culture can be marketed to women, who are viewed as a very specific focus group. The same cannot be said of lung cancer, which is the biggest killer of women, but also features a much more diverse group of victims (smokers, non-smokes, men, women). It is unlikely that the positivity culture that Ehrenreich describes will die down, but perhaps ridiculous “educational” tactics involving Facebook can be avoided; there are more teachable moments. Ehrenreich describes a particularly poignant moment where she was sitting in her doctors office, avoiding the pile of women’s magazines next to her. She explains that she was not against their content, but because she “had picked up this warning vibe in the changing room, which, in my increasingly anxious state, translated into: femininity is death.” Let’s try to reeducate ourselves to learn a new lesson.

Barnes and Nobles Compares Columbus’s Accomplishments To Buying Books 10% Off

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Tagline: Columbus discovered America. You’ll discover great savings.

On Columbus Day, you can buy Bones on sale. I bet if old Chris were around today he would have considered that a worthy comparison to the completion of his journey to the Bahamas.

I’m Sure The Pro-Marriage People Will Love This

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Because their site isn’t busy enough, The Huffington Post is planning a section dedicated to the subject of “Divorce,” to be edited by Nora Ephron. Arianna Huffington told Webnewser that “The premise behind it, as Nora puts it, is that marriage is for some time but divorce is forever…[Ephron] is sort of the creative spirit behind it, and is going to work on the different categories the different areas that the section will cover as well as the shape of the section.” The actually exciting news to come out of this project is that it is timed to the release of her new book, I Remember Nothing, which should be an interesting follow-up to her book I Feel Bad About My Neck, if the excerpt I read last month in the waiting room of my doctor in whatever magazine it was, I can’t remember don’t judge me I read a lot of stuff and google is not helping, was anything to show for it.

But perhaps the Ephron-advocated site is unnecessary, this interview in the Telegraph with Susan Sarandon might be the only advice one ever needs about divorce ever. On her recent separation from long-time partner Tim Robbins, Sarandon says:

“I thought that if you didn’t get married you wouldn’t take each other for granted as easily. I don’t know if after twentysomething years that was still true…People were coming up to me in the street and saying ‘I cried and cried when I heard.’ Well, I was sadder! I didn’t think it would ever happen, either…You bring people into your life at certain times. Maybe you have a relationship to have children and you realise that it’s fulfilled after that point…What I’ve realised in my old age is that your relationship with people or with your job has to be a growing organism…It’s not something where you reach a certain point and then you start preserving it. You have to nurture it, you have to stay curious and hungry and foolish. Once you stop doing that you get satisfied and you get stuck.”

The Huffington Post Launching a ‘Divorce’ Vertical [MediaBistro]

It’s Like This Series Was Made For Me

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McSweeney’s Kevin Collier does Get To Know An Internet Commenter. This week’s featured author “aliveinkickin” is from the Salt Lake Tribune‘s TribTalk. He’s chosen to use this forum to muse about love and other big questions.

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