Dudes Telling Us What To Do With Our Body Parts

If You Don’t Have One, then Shut the Hell Up.

If it weren’t for the website from whence I borrowed the above photo, I might have lost my mind entirely over the past few months. You’ve got to love a site called Government Free VJJ. The site tagline says it all: “Dear Men in Congress: If we knit you a uterus, will you stay out of ours?” Girl-lilla warfare at its finest. I encourage you to visit and enjoy a nice sardonic chuckle. Then grab some yarn.

Well, let’s see…where to begin? In the last several weeks, we’ve seen countless news reports about American male legislators working their flabby, mostly-white butts off in an attempt to limit women’s access to healthcare. First there was the Congressional panel that conducted hearings on birth control, which included exactly zero members of the female persuasion. Then there was the attempt to defund women’s health services in Texas — the homebase, not coincidentally, of Klan Komen. Plus there were legislative attempts, in more states than I can keep up with, to limit or discourage access by granting ‘personhood’ to our ova, and forcing vaginal ultrasounds on women seeking legal abortions in Virginia, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Florida, to name a mere few. Oh, and the Republican Presidential Candidate-Apparent, the Mittster, apparently wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and get rid of Planned Parenthood. If you can stand any more info, there’s a cogent reading list on Government Free VJJ’s website.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently purchased Instagram, from which a bunch of French dudes spawned Boobstagram. Their tagline: “Montrer ses seins sur le web c’est bien, les montrer à son médecin c’est mieux.” En anglais: “Showing your boobs on the web is good, showing them to your doctor is better.” All this is supposed to encourage young women in particular to be ‘aware’ of their breasts and ‘prevent’ breast cancer. In the translated words of les gars de Boobstagram, “Glamorous, audacious, original, whatever the means, as long as the objective is fulfilled: To stay alive.” Très noble, dudes. But, je suis désolée to tell you that we don’t actually have any tools as yet to prevent breast cancer. D’accord, c’est domage, but, hey, c’est la vie, n’est-ce pas? Also, while I was unable to find any concrete statistics on this, a somewhat cursory search of the web’s response to these countless images of young female cleavage suggested that it has mostly provided another source of tit-illation pour les dudes. If you think I’m biased in that assessment, Casey Chan of Gizmodo wrote a brief piece about it, headlined, Boobstagram Is How You Will Spend the Rest of Your Day. In it, Chan, remarking on why Zuckerberg purchased Instagram, says that Boobstagram “might be the reason why Zuck splurged a fresh billi on it. It might be the reason why Instagram exists. It might be the reason why we exist.” There is no mention in the piece, nor in the comments following it, of breast cancer. Nuff said.

I briefly considered uploading this image on Boobstagram, but I was too busy reorganizing my sock drawer.

Porn for the Cure

If mere tit-illation isn’t enough for you, how about pornography? Okay, well, not exactly, but another recent news item, from the “You can’t make this stuff up” category, reported that last Tuesday, April 24th, online-streaming porn site Pornhub.com [and no, I’m not providing a link] teamed up with “award-winning porn star,” Bree Olson, to provide free breast exams in a bus in downtown New York. Yeah, really. I shudder to contemplate what sorts of awards they dish out to porn stars. And why.

It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. They did have “a team of medical professionals” to carry out these exams, including Dr. David Shafer, a diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, reportedly voted a “TOP DOC for Botox, Liposuction, Tummy Tuck, and Facelift,” who “was on board to lecture customers on how to conduct examinations of their own and offered his own screening services free of charge.” What a guy. Wonder if Olson is one of his patients. Olson herself told Fox News that she was motivated to do this because the mother of a close friend died in her thirties of breast cancer. Explaining Pornhub’s rationale for the bus, Olson remarked, “They figured, you know, breasts are a large part [no pun intended, I’m sure] of our industry, and the two would kind of coincide.” Heart-warming, isn’t it? One site which reported on this story, called Peeperz — trust me, do not visit — also included a video of a lifelike-down-to-the-tanlines, animated 3D woman-droid performing a breast self-exam. Nice that they’re so public-spirited. And you only need one hand to click ‘Play.’

Meanwhile, Back in the Un-Sexy Land of Cancer…

Aside from the blatantly obvious, one of the things that aggravates me about this boob dross is that, once again, it pushes the prevention myth. Last time I checked, which was earlier this morning, we don’t have anything yet that works to prevent breast cancer. Yes, there is research underway on vaccines. There’s a recent report here, but you have to copy & paste the link to get it to work: http://news.health.com/2012/04/02/early-study-hints-that-breast-cancer-vaccine-might-work. Other studies are identifying biomarkers that may signal future breast cancer risk and lead to prevention, but it will be years before any of these projects yields something usable.

Another thing that bugs me is that this kind of thing may add more confusion over the whole breast-self-exam issue. There have been many studies published over the last several years suggesting that formal BSE’s don’t work any better than informal ones, nor do they reduce breast cancer mortality. But conclusive assertions are complicated by study limitations, the differences between self-exams and clinical breast exams performed by physicians, and exams performed in conjunction with or without mammograms and MRIs. Not to mention the age of the woman performing the exam, her breast tissue density, and a host of other perplexing items. Perhaps the most coherent write-up I found on the subject this morning is this post written in 2008 by Dr. Susan Love, the week after the Cochrane Collaboration released an analysis of the research that had been done to date. Her post is called Breast Self-Exam: What The Research Tells Us. More recent studies are ongoing, but inconclusive. The bottom line still seems to be that we should be checking our breasts periodically for anomalies, but that we don’t have to do it formally. And if we’re not sure what we’ve found, we should see a doctor.

And in the meantime, last October, GE obtained FDA approval for new technology that provides contrast-enhanced spectral mammography. Like other contrast imaging, it requires the IV injection of a contrast substance, but evidently, unlike CT scans and MRIs, fewer images are needed, are done more quickly, are analyzed immediately, and will ultimately be less costly than CT or MRI imaging. Efficacy studies have demonstrated improved clarity, especially in dense breast tissue, over conventional mammography, but it was difficult to find clear information about longitudinal comparisons. CESM has recently been launched at the Pink Lotus Breast Health Center in Beverly Hills. In this video, Dr. Kristi Funk explains that this technology could eliminate the need for follow-up breast MRIs after a suspicious diagnostic mammogram, but does not suggest that it will replace screening mammography. She recommends it for high-risk women, those who are BRCA positive or have dense breast tissue. Because it can be done immediately after a diagnostic mamm, in about ten to fifteen minutes, and significantly enhances any cancer lesions in the tissue, waiting times for results are reduced and a plan for treatment can be worked on right away.

Another imaging technology being developed is called photo-acoustic tomography, which can see cancer cells long before a discrete tumor forms, and requires no radiation at all.

For now, we can all hope that these kinds of tools will become more widely available. And genuine prevention would be nice, too. We can also hope that someday, prurience peddlers and pink-washers will not keep encouraging everyone to mistake boob awareness for cancer awareness, and that sanctimonious legislators will get over this slut obsession, admit that it takes two to have sexual intercourse, and put a Trojan on their power trips. So far, misogyny has not been proven to prevent pregnancy, poverty or cancer.

I’m going to flush my browser history now. With sulphuric acid.

This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Friday, May 04, 2012 at 03:05 pm, filed under Diagnosis, Recurrence, Screening, Fighting the Pink Peril, Health & Healthcare, Research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

19 Responses to “Dudes Telling Us What To Do With Our Body Parts”

  1. I can’t decide which part of this post I like most. So that I don’t have to choose, I’m calling it all brilliant. Preach on, sister!

  2. Preaching, Nancy K!

  3. Fave comment on Facebook today: “She is the awesomesauce.” From Wendy of a little c. Thank you, dear Wendy, for the comment & the share.

  4. I loved the info on the GE technology – could this be a workable, interim step for those younger women whose tissue is difficult to image? Did they supply a cost comparison? Great stuff.

    And BSE – yes, honest to God. Let’s just use common sense. I’ll bet you ten to one 50% of the women under fifty found the lump themselves while showering – or their partner found it. I don’t think knowing one’s body is ever out of order.

  5. Yes, I think that’s the idea that I inferred about CESM from Dr. Funk’s remarks. Don’t know how practical this will be yet. A lot of imaging departments have only just purchased digital mamms in the recent years & I doubt they can afford to go buy another piece of technology that is costly. Couldn’t find a cost comparison study. Couldn’t really find any good comparison studies. Too new, I think.

    The point of the BSE research is that we don’t need to follow those old directions on the shower cards they used to hand out. I was never faithful to that anyway, but I’ve always ‘felt’ my own breasts whenever I showered anyway and I knew what was going on with them. I find it very hard to believe that we need all these ‘legit’ groups to encourage young women merely to feel their breasts. For goodness’ sake, don’t they wash themselves, at the very least? Rearrange their bras and camisoles, etc.? As for Boobstagram, how far is that, really, from nonsense like ‘Hooter Hoedowns’ which are offered as legit fundraisers for awareness? Oy gott, I could have gone on even longer with this post…

  6. My blood is boiling, Kathi. Your incredible post has had that effect on me, as I’m sure it has had on many others. The pornsense and pinkcents have got to stop. And NOW! But HOW? xxx

  7. Jan, it’s remarkable that some of this nonsense is even legal, on the one hand, while our lawmakers, on the other, are trying to circumscribe women’s health rights and haul us back to the Edwardian era. I did, in fact, look up some law on these porn sites, and all that the system has been able to come up with so far is to pass regulations protecting children — which are difficult to enforce. Meanwhile, Pornhub is apparently one of the most popular sites on the web, a fact which leaves me about speechless.

    At least we women still have the right to vote. And run for office. And assemble. And exercise our free speech. And we need to do all that and more.

  8. Until we dense tissue ladies are given more accurate screening tools, mammography is the standard and my one piece of advice to ladies is GET YOUR TRANSCRIBED RADIOLOGY REPORT following your mammograms. NOT the letter that says come back next year but the actual play by play of the map of your breasts. My breast cancer mass was mentioned in my 2006 and 2007 reports but my referring doctor never read that part of the report and in 2008 when a second mass was actually found, it was too late to save my breast. This piece of information is your medical record and you are entitled to it. But they won’t typically hand it over you must ASK for it. Know the red flag terms to look for such as “mass” or hyperplasia or others, then go over it thoroughly with your doctor.

  9. Koryn, you are SO right! I’ll tell you, I’ve had some snafus occur about notifications on tests & imaging since my diagnosis. I don’t trust what anybody tells me anymore until I see the full report for every single test or image in my hot little hands!! One thing I am glad about is that now the radiologist puts the BIRAD density rating on the report as well. About time!

  10. Kathi,

    This post is AWESOME and brilliant — and very informative. I was so angered by the exploitation via boobstagram. Does this sexualization of breast cancer ever get old in society? Thank you for this excellent post.

    About BSE, I agree it is not often effective. I’m one of the few who conducted formal BSE each month according to that card hospitals give out. It happened to save my life, but there must be better ways to detect cancer. A mammogram had missed my tumor, thanks to dense breasts.

    I resent all these men making decisions they think that will benefit us ladies. Sickening.

  11. Sickening is the word, Beth! I can’t even wrap my mind around how any these dudes thinks for one second that this is acceptable or ethical or right or fair or ‘Christian’ or moral. They cannot be thinking. That’s the problem. Sometimes I feel like we haven’t left the Stone Age.

  12. Kathi,
    What a smart and sassy post and most informative. Hadn’t heard about the GE technology.

    Anytime a man is involved in legislating women’s health, I fear they are thinking with their little brain. Just the mere mention of breasts and vaginas conjures up black lace and garter belts, hardly… pardon the pun… the mental environment to render effective decisions.


  13. Amen to that, Brenda!! Plus, they’re all such hypocrites. As if they don’t all sleep with women out of wedlock or for the purpose of having fun, not babies.

  14. Kath,

    I’m outraged by men in Congress (or anywhere) who think they know best about these things. It’s beyond ridiculous. We cannot allow ourselves to slip too far backward.

    Boob awareness does not equal cancer awareness. Love that.

    Great post. Thanks for writing it.

  15. Fantastic post, Kathi, though so much of it is depressing (as a trivial aside, for some reason I even find it depressing that MZ has bought Instagram). There’s a part of me that wants the breast cancer sistahs to flood Boobstagram! As for the Boob Bus – when all else fails me I resort to a Charlie Brown-esque “Good grief.”

  16. …but those delightful examples of knitting skill are almost enough to make it all OK.

  17. Well, Liz, I will say that I got some short-term satisfaction out of snarking about all this nonsense. Then I saw a news post today saying that one of the favorite high school graduation gifts for girls in the U.S. now is breast enhancement surgery. Sometimes, one does despair of all this…

  18. Hi Kathi,

    OMG I can’t believe how breast cancer is used to sell everything! Pretty subtle to use breast cancer to sell breast enlargements and porn! That’s a new low!!


  19. It’s ridiculous, Kay. Snark helps. And you can be sure there will be more of it here.

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