There is a new “cancer awareness” campaign targeting women’s pubic hair. Cancer of the pubes? Nope. Your cervix! You know, cuz lady bits are all just one big amalgamation to be pornified.
This is not, of course, the first time women’s body parts have been turned into objects under the guise of ‘awareness’. There has been the ubiquitous pink merchandise that declares “I ❤ boobies”, for example. (Fun side story. . . before I knew these bracelets and so forth were for “breast cancer awareness” I legitimately thought it was some overtly misogynistic crap designed to sexually harass women. Why? Because I only saw men with the bracelets and stickers, and particularly dudebro-y men at that.)
There are “dance for the cure” parties for women. And the dancing? Around a pole, natch.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation had an ad showing a woman with a shirt that reads, “Punch it, strangle it, kick it, spit on it, choke it, and pummel it until its good and dead.” Hahaha! You thought we were talking about murdering a woman! Funny jokes!
There was Boobie-thon, which urges women to send in photos of their breasts, covered or uncovered.
I think you get the idea. This newest sexy-cancer campaign is supposedly mirrored after Movember in which males grow out mustaches or other facial hair to bring awareness to general “men’s health issues”, including male-specific cancers. Creating a similarly awkward portmanteau of ‘vagina’ and ‘July’, this newest cervical cancer awareness-raiser is called Julyna. (I’m strangely reminded of that episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry can’t remember the name of a woman and only knows that it rhymes with a female body part.)
And so, Julyna kicks off with not only a hilarious name, but an inaccurate one. Vaginas and cervixes: not the same thing, actually! The campaign further removes itself from the actual subject with its promotion of sculpting pubic hair, something the founders chose to create ‘media buzz’. It seems if you’re not showing pictures of breasts or shaving your pubes, no one much cares about ‘awareness’.
The parallels with Movember pretty much end with its involvement of hair in some way. Other than that, it is actually a reversal. Men keep their facial hair, women remove their pubes. As the last linked article says, the website for Julyna “has sample design ideas and suggestions on how to execute shapes with the least amount of discomfort.” There will be discomfort (ingrown hairs, itchies, etc) but just not as much as there could be. Got it.
Not only is the campaign Not Helpful in the way that it promotes sexualization of female bodies for some bullshit ‘awareness’, but the awareness it is raising is over something rather dubious. Cervical cancer is believed to be caused by HPV, a virus which is transmitted to the cervix almost solely through penis-in-vagina contact. While I don’t expect a soon-to-be-popular movement to include a critique of PIV, that should be a part of any campaign that is truly trying to reduce the cases of cervical cancer.
As with any mainstream awareness movement dealing with cervical cancer, Julyna hypes the importance of very frequent Pap tests. As I have written about before, cervical cancer screening (particularly in the U.S.) is used far too often, is unreliable, and is part of a broader system of medical surveillance of female bodies as a means of control. The constant urging of women to ‘test early and test often’ serves to make women afraid of their own bodies and shame women as irrational and immature for deciding against the test. With the sexy-cancer angle, the concurrent pressure to get Pap tests is similarly unacceptable and harmful to women.
Now, in an attempt to balance the scales, I have a proposal. I ask everyone to join me in supporting my new personal cancer awareness-raising cause: testicular cancer. To increase knowledge about it, I ask that all men bleach their assholes. It’ll be a great attention-getter!
(Thanks to Jilla for bringing this campaign to my attention.)