There have been a few feminist memes, femi-memes, out there on the Facebook that I appreciate and at the same time had a small issue with. Two in particular come to mind.
The first one was an edited version of another meme. It said something along the lines of “She’s a: daughter, mother, sister, wife.” It then had a red line through all those and the word “person” written in red on the bottom. I do not have a problem with the message. She’s a person and it shouldn’t matter what else she is, she should simply be treated like anyone else. I think this meme in particular was about sexual assault and harassment, but I’m not sure. It may have just been about inequality in general. For me though, “person” is sort of vague and thus somewhat un-relatable. Though, I’m also a bit of a curmudgeon, a jerk, and maybe a bit anti-social and I don’t really like people. I actually kind of hate people and person could just be some random, faceless, ass hat. Don’t get me wrong, generally, I still think all ass hats deserve freedom, liberty, and the yadi yada- unless they’re a criminal who has undergone due process and been convicted (and actually guilty, of course).
But I liked the first version of it better. Just “She’s a daughter, mother, sister, wife.” While I don’t have children or a wife, I do have a mother and a sister. I’ve also been in love and significant other is akin to wife, and I could image having a daughter. These aren’t just some random “person.” These are people I know and care about and would never think of treating them badly, nor tolerate anyone else treating badly. It hits home, it’s personal now. If you hurt one of these there’s no god powerful enough to keep you safe you wretched bastard! I will find you and lock you up in chains and feed you to rats after covering you in something rats find delicious! Or at least call the cops and maybe out you on social media. One or the other.
The second one was maybe not a meme, but a critical judgement of the memes concerning breast cancer: “Save the Ta-tas” and “Save Second Base.” The objection was that this sexualizes and objectifies women and I agree, it totally does. So valid point. The woman, or women, or people, objecting to this rightly state that they are more than body parts, and battling cancer is not about saving breasts, but saving lives.
The unfortunate truth is sex sells. And I remember when I first heard of this new campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer. I’m pretty sure I was in middle school. Again, it was a more relatable way to spread awareness and one that I remember hearing was aimed at younger people. Middle schoolers, particularly middle school boys, are not particularly passionate about cancer of any kind – unless they know someone with it, then they might be. But you know what middle school boys are fairly passionate about? If you guessed fart jokes you’re right! But also boobs! Boys really like them. And I don’t think that’s so much the objectification of women as sexual objects, so much as the natural inclination of boys wanting to see naked girls. And that inclination stays up till the day a boy becomes a man and that man dies- preferably with a pair of bare breasts in his face.
My point is, whoever came up with this campaign managed to make cancer sexy in a way… that sounds wrong. The topic of cancer being sexy? I’m not sure how to phrase that. But we don’t want to think about the struggle of battling death. We don’t want to be guilt tripped about not donating to a cause like those commercials about starving children, or those Sarah McLachlan animal commercials that we all change the channel when they come on. Someone came up with a way to make cancer cool- again that sounds so wrong, but I have to wonder how much money did these people raise selling T-shirts? And how many lives did that money save? I’m guessing at least some. Sure, it’s kind of a marketing scam and I understand the completely valid objections to the campaign and I agree with them. Unfortunately I don’t have any numbers, and I couldn’t find them on the first page of Google search so they must not exist, but the bottom line is the campaign did raise awareness and got people’s attention. Companies made a lot of money selling T-shirts and at least some of that money went to research which is more than without the campaign.
The objections to these memes are valid and show we as a society and culture have a long way to go towards appreciating women as people. But it’s not going to happen overnight and these two examples are hardly the worst offenders of sexist content. At the very least these two have hopefully done some good.
~David T. Kukulkan~