So there's been a PM going around Facebook lately, a secret "women's only" message with the intent of raising breast cancer awareness. In short you post "likes it" followed by the current location of your handbag in your status. Mine for example would read: "Miranda Fullerton likes it on the table by the front door."
It's a copy of the very successful thread in a similar vein from sometime last year (or even 2008 perhaps, it was a while ago) where women were sent a message telling them to post the colour of their bra in order to raise breast cancer awareness. Facebook feeds were filled with every colour of the rainbow, and comments from confused men (who were completely outside the circle) and women (who had yet to receive a message themselves) wondering what was going on. This campaign was so widely followed it made the news, and because of this coverage men and women were actually made aware of the cause it was supporting. It also had a tenuous, though physical link to the cause, because while simply peeking down their shirts to check what colour bra they were wearing, women actually looked at the body part in question and were subconsciously reminded of the importance of checking your breasts monthly for lumps, bumps or other changes, which can be a precursor to breast cancer.
This new meme however does not seem to have that physical reminder of what we're supposedly trying to protect by posting these "I like it" statuses, nor is it having the widespread re posting the bra colour status had. In fact, I am extremely doubtful it is raising breast cancer awareness in any way.
I received the same PM a few months ago, and it fizzled out without success. It has already been done, laughed over and forgotten, why try to revive it when it received such mediocre response in the first place?
Few women, and even fewer men actually understand what is going on. When a woman asks the question, she will receive a PM from one of her friends explaining this secret code, but the men (who can also get breast cancer) or whose wives, sisters, mothers or daughters may have fought it, and may want to support the cause are kept in the dark. The PM specifically states to send it only to female friends. How can you raise awareness when you're keeping it so secret?
Not to mention, how many of the women who have re posted this status can honestly admit to having thought for more than a second about breast cancer, researched a way they can help, donated to an organisation that is trying to find a cure, or in some other way genuinely spread the news that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
The status doesn't relate to the cause it claims to support. Posting the location of your handbag in a mildly suggestive fashion has nothing to do with raising awareness, so much as raising eyebrows regarding your sexual preferences. Since this status has come to light, "I like it on the floor" has become one of the most commonly searched phrases on the Internet, and not breast cancer support groups, organisations or ways to help.
The same PM that has set me ranting specifically states "we had men wondering for days" (referring to the bra colour craze.) It's not about breast cancer, so much as confusing men and hoping they will infer something entirely different from it. If the intent of posting statuses like these is to play mind games, and prove the theory that "all men think about is sex" then don't hide a sexist attempt beneath the guise of a far more serious cause. It's insulting to the husbands, brothers and fathers you post chain statuses about singing their praises and displaying to everyone how wonderful, loving and smart they are, and it's insulting to women. Women are fighting to not be viewed as sex objects, and to be seen as intelligent, creative individuals who were put on this earth for more than men's pleasure, so why then undo all this work by posting something like this that is intended (despite the worthy cause it is lingering behind) to be taken in a sexual nature?
I ranted similarly (although much more briefly) in my status earlier this evening, and received a comment (which has since disappeared, although I did not delete it) that it was just supposed to be a bit of fun, and that I should let people do what they want. I respect that Facebook is a public forum, and that people have the right to post what they want, as I have the right to post this. However if it's a bit of fun, don't hide behind a serious cause to legitimise a silly, sexist game. Have your game, but be upfront about it.
I'm not going to personally hunt down every single person who re posts the "I like it" status and flame them in the comments, all I am going to do is keep deleting the PMs as I receive them, keep the location of my handbag to myself, and hope that if you're going to participate, you'll also take the time to check your own breasts, think about someone (a sufferer, a carer, a relative) affected by breast cancer, or click on a link & donate some money.
In memory of Cathy Miller - RIP 2010
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