Slutty Slacktivism

According to Facebook, my friends like it…on the bed, on the floor, on a towel by the door, in the tub, in the car, up against the mini bar.

No, they’re not fucking Matt Damon (confused? Look here)…but apparently posting any of these super-sassy options as your Facebook status means you’re supporting breast cancer awareness.

Here’s the deal.  You log onto Facebook and find this in your inbox:

 One of my friends has suggested that we women should do something special on facebook in order to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s so easy to do, that I’d love you to join in to make this a memorable online event.

Last year, the idea was to post the colour of the bra you were wearing on facebook…and it left men wondering for days, why women were posting colours, seemingly at random. This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home; for example “I like it on the couch”, “I like it on the kitchen counter”, “I like it on the dresser”.

Well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status (i.e. don’t respond to this message, but put it on your status) – and cut and paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let’s get the purse in as well and see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER – DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!!! PASS THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

 
Facebook isn’t a doormat, but you might be
 

You think,

“ha ha ha what a great idea! Finally, the joke’s on the men! They won’t see through this and I’m participating in such a good cause!  Also – I am going to feel SO naughty when I include this as my status.  Instant sexy-time street cred!”.

You post it as your Facebook status and gamely send out the same message to your best bosom-buddies.  All of a sudden, you’re participating in the 2010 version of that email forward that promises you’ll save 10,000 kittens with a single click if only you’d send this life-changing email to your 50 closest friends.  Right.  As a brilliant, media savvy lady, you probably haven’t participated in a chain email since 1997…but for some reason this Facebook ‘campaign’ has passed your smell test.

I have an issue with this ‘campaign’ on a few levels.

Firstly – this entire campaign relies on sexualizing breast cancer and capitalizing on slut-shaming.  There is nothing sexy about cancer.  However, for whatever reason, the people who perpetuate this meme believe that including where they like to “put their purse when they get home” in their Facebook statuses – in a way that is clearly meant to imply where they like to get it on – is the way to draw attention to breast cancer awareness month.  Sorry, friends. All it does is make you look a bit silly.  No one is going to draw the connection between “where you put your purse” and “raising awareness about breast cancer”

The whole idea that putting something so ‘provocative’ in your Facebook status will gain attention relies on the notion that women speaking openly about sex is both slutty and shocking.  This may come across as feminist drivel, and I may be accused of having too many feelings, but it’s true.  As my super-star feminist friend Amanda Judd explained,

This whole thing was really an exercise in using the associated shame of sluttiness to supposedly draw attention to a good cause. It wouldn’t have been provocative if slut shaming weren’t so big. So it was slutty, it was totally meant to be. Women were supposed to sacrifice their reputation for a moment to grab the attention of others.


Didn’t we learn anything from Emma Stone’s character?
 
 
 
 

Secondly – this is a huge display of slacktivism.  It’s easy to post a frisky status update and pretend it’s making a difference in the fight against breast cancer, but at the end of the day you are not accomplishing anything.  Your time would be far better spent encouraging your friends to do a breast self-exam, linking to information about breast cancer, or even doing as a friend of mine did and donating $25 to the cause.  Heck, even blatantly telling your friends that October is breast cancer awareness month would do more good.  I repeat: No One Is Going To Make The Connection Between Your Silly Status And Breast Cancer Awareness.

So. There we have it.  A Facebook meme that is simply an exercise in ‘slutty slacktivism’.  Do you still feel the same way about it?  Will you participate when the message inevitably lands in your inbox? Share in the comments!

To donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation or to find out more, check out: http://www.cbcf.org/

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  • Theresa

    i totally agree that no one would make the connection…this is a perfect example of why i no longer work in media, lol!

  • Agree completely. Marketing campaigns is social media are useless they can result in off-line results. General “awareness” campaigns can be useful when you’re dealing with issues that are not universally agreed on (ie, if you’re trying to sell an idea, like a position on a social issue or a particular political candidate). This is not the case for breast cancer, where people are practically all on the same side (opposed to it…).

    An social media campaign could have been very effective if it had actual objectives it was trying to transfer people to (ie, a campaign that encourages frequent mammograms or solicits donations for research). But without any “transfer” into the real world this campaign is just guilt-resolving feel-goodery and cookie-cutter activism

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  • Theresa

    i totally agree that no one would make the connection…this is a perfect example of why i no longer work in media, lol!

  • Agree completely. Marketing campaigns is social media are useless they can result in off-line results. General “awareness” campaigns can be useful when you're dealing with issues that are not universally agreed on (ie, if you're trying to sell an idea, like a position on a social issue or a particular political candidate). This is not the case for breast cancer, where people are practically all on the same side (opposed to it…).

    An social media campaign could have been very effective if it had actual objectives it was trying to transfer people to (ie, a campaign that encourages frequent mammograms or solicits donations for research). But without any “transfer” into the real world this campaign is just guilt-resolving feel-goodery and cookie-cutter activism

  • The people on earth who aren’t aware of breast cancer yet, now in the year 2010, aren’t going to learn about it from cryptic stupid slutty group messages

    what and absurd and stupid meme

  • Jonathan Rose

    This is a great read, Stephanie. Touches not only on issues of feminism but also the troubling aspects of an internet meme. Great quote from Amanda as well! Thanks for posting.

  • Jonathan Rose

    This is a great read, Stephanie. Touches not only on issues of feminism but also the troubling aspects of an internet meme. Great quote from Amanda as well! Thanks for posting.

  • The people on earth who aren't aware of breast cancer yet, now in the year 2010, aren't going to learn about it from cryptic stupid slutty group messages

    what and absurd and stupid meme

  • green

    “So. There we have it. A Facebook meme that is simply an exercise in ‘slutty slacktivism’. Do you still feel the same way about it?”
    “Do you still feel the same way about it, now that I’ve called it slutty?”

  • green

    “So. There we have it. A Facebook meme that is simply an exercise in ‘slutty slacktivism’. Do you still feel the same way about it?”
    “Do you still feel the same way about it, now that I’ve called it slutty?”

  • i like it everywhere

    I feel sad for you that something like people’s facebook statuses gets you so upset you feel the need to write a blog about it. Does it make you feel big to rain on people’s parades?

  • i like it everywhere

    I feel sad for you that something like people’s facebook statuses gets you so upset you feel the need to write a blog about it. Does it make you feel big to rain on people’s parades?

  • KT

    I agree with “I like it everywhere”. I had no idea October was breast cancer awareness month until I got that facebook message a few weeks ago. After that I went online, found my local run for the cure run, signed up, and raised over 300 dollars for breast cancer research. So, basically, this “slutty slacktivism” earned 300 bucks for cancer.

    So all I have left to say is this: I like it wherever I like it, and who are you to judge me or it?

  • KT

    I agree with “I like it everywhere”. I had no idea October was breast cancer awareness month until I got that facebook message a few weeks ago. After that I went online, found my local run for the cure run, signed up, and raised over 300 dollars for breast cancer research. So, basically, this “slutty slacktivism” earned 300 bucks for cancer.

    So all I have left to say is this: I like it wherever I like it, and who are you to judge me or it?

  • Chiquita Banina

    Another uptight person looking too deep into this. Lighten up, I didnt become AWARE it was breast cancer awareness month until I saw those status posts (that to me were funny NOT slutty). You know what I did… I googled why suddenly I was seeing these status’ everywhere and whala… I learned and became AWARE. Cancer is Funny, it CAN be funny… take it from ME a CANCER SURVIVOR WHO LIVED OFF OF POSITIVE ENERGY, JOKES about my condition, AND looking to the brighter side of things instead of complaining and being all sad and feeling sorry for myself.

    Point: Because of these status I now know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month… did I do anything about it? Not really. I joined a 5k race for Cancer in general and donated there.
    So shut up and live a little.

  • Chiquita Banina

    Another uptight person looking too deep into this. Lighten up, I didnt become AWARE it was breast cancer awareness month until I saw those status posts (that to me were funny NOT slutty). You know what I did… I googled why suddenly I was seeing these status’ everywhere and whala… I learned and became AWARE. Cancer is Funny, it CAN be funny… take it from ME a CANCER SURVIVOR WHO LIVED OFF OF POSITIVE ENERGY, JOKES about my condition, AND looking to the brighter side of things instead of complaining and being all sad and feeling sorry for myself.

    Point: Because of these status I now know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month… did I do anything about it? Not really. I joined a 5k race for Cancer in general and donated there.
    So shut up and live a little.

  • Rehdbear

    I think this article is horse shit – to be kind about it. Open sexuality is not “slutty.” The fact that the author thinks so only helps to express her own issues with sexuality, especially feminine sexuality. That being said, I think it’s a joke that she uses the term feminist in the way she does – specifically espousing herself with ideology (one that she clearly has little to no understanding of).

    Is the “I like it on the____” cryptic? Sure, at the outset. But it gets people talking about something, just like any meme. And when the “secret” gets out people talk about *that*. And maybe, yes it would be quicker to just post a status that says, “October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Get a Screening.” But people respond to things that are out of the ordinary, to ideas with even a small amount of shock value.

    As far as “slacktivism,” well we’re all having these discussions on Facebook – so are we all slacking/pseudo-intellectuals? I don’t really believe that just because something is promoted and talked about on Facebook that it should be trivialized and reduced to meaningless drivel. Because when we (eventually) log off of our computers, it could be hoped and maybe even expected that we go talk to someone about what we’ve read or experienced on the electronic social interface. Fusco went as far as to write a blog entry about it! She’s spreading the word!

    If her goal is to get even more people talking about it then I say Kudos! You’re brilliant! But I don’t believe that was Fusco’s agenda. Unless there is an ever deeper goal, which is to get people to question the integrity of the claim that there is a certain “slutt-i-ness” even in existence, to question what we are calling “slutty.” And again, if that is Fusco’s goal – kudos, you’re brilliant. But I doubt it.

    Either way, I am personally satisfied with an increased openness in feminine sexuality, rather than shame – and I definitely have a problem with referring to this trend as “slut shame[ing].” I’m glad there is one more creative way to raise awareness about breast
    cancer.

    And if I did use a purse or a pocketbook or handbag, I’d like it in the car, because that’s where I leave everything else.

  • Rehdbear

    I think this article is horse shit – to be kind about it. Open sexuality is not “slutty.” The fact that the author thinks so only helps to express her own issues with sexuality, especially feminine sexuality. That being said, I think it’s a joke that she uses the term feminist in the way she does – specifically espousing herself with ideology (one that she clearly has little to no understanding of).

    Is the “I like it on the____” cryptic? Sure, at the outset. But it gets people talking about something, just like any meme. And when the “secret” gets out people talk about *that*. And maybe, yes it would be quicker to just post a status that says, “October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Get a Screening.” But people respond to things that are out of the ordinary, to ideas with even a small amount of shock value.

    As far as “slacktivism,” well we’re all having these discussions on Facebook – so are we all slacking/pseudo-intellectuals? I don’t really believe that just because something is promoted and talked about on Facebook that it should be trivialized and reduced to meaningless drivel. Because when we (eventually) log off of our computers, it could be hoped and maybe even expected that we go talk to someone about what we’ve read or experienced on the electronic social interface. Fusco went as far as to write a blog entry about it! She’s spreading the word!

    If her goal is to get even more people talking about it then I say Kudos! You’re brilliant! But I don’t believe that was Fusco’s agenda. Unless there is an ever deeper goal, which is to get people to question the integrity of the claim that there is a certain “slutt-i-ness” even in existence, to question what we are calling “slutty.” And again, if that is Fusco’s goal – kudos, you’re brilliant. But I doubt it.

    Either way, I am personally satisfied with an increased openness in feminine sexuality, rather than shame – and I definitely have a problem with referring to this trend as “slut shame[ing].” I’m glad there is one more creative way to raise awareness about breast
    cancer.

    And if I did use a purse or a pocketbook or handbag, I’d like it in the car, because that’s where I leave everything else.

  • I find it incredibly hard to believe that all of these commenters had NO IDEA it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month until the Facebook status campaign. You didn’t notice that EVERY SINGLE item in the grocery store has pink packaging? You somehow missed the great pinkwashing of everything you encounter every day? And yet you live in the world enough to have internet access?

    My main issue with the stupid, “cryptic” status updates is that they do nothing. “They raise awareness.” Honestly, if you aren’t aware of cancer in general and breast cancer specifically, you have bigger issues. Everyone is aware of breast cancer. A status update doesn’t affect that in the slightest. They don’t raise money. They don’t help secure research funding dollars. They don’t promote early screening programs. They’re pretty much just a modern chain letter. Like Stephanie said, they’re a “FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: >>>>” email message.

    I don’t think I personally would have used “slutty,” mostly because of the connotations about modern femalesexuality, but what these pseudo-sexy status updates do is reinforce the fact that something has to be sexy to get attention. That nothing is worth your time if it doesn’t tittilate the poor, confused menfolk, who aren’t in on the “secret.” Breast cancer’s not a secret, though. It’s the most well-funded, well-supported kind of cancer there is. The colon and liver and pancreas get totally shafted because they aren’t sexy like breasts, though. Their loss, I guess.

    If social media like Facebook are going to be used for “causes,” I’d much rather they actually DO something for the cause, instead of perpetuating pointless memes.

  • I find it incredibly hard to believe that all of these commenters had NO IDEA it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month until the Facebook status campaign. You didn’t notice that EVERY SINGLE item in the grocery store has pink packaging? You somehow missed the great pinkwashing of everything you encounter every day? And yet you live in the world enough to have internet access?

    My main issue with the stupid, “cryptic” status updates is that they do nothing. “They raise awareness.” Honestly, if you aren’t aware of cancer in general and breast cancer specifically, you have bigger issues. Everyone is aware of breast cancer. A status update doesn’t affect that in the slightest. They don’t raise money. They don’t help secure research funding dollars. They don’t promote early screening programs. They’re pretty much just a modern chain letter. Like Stephanie said, they’re a “FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: >>>>” email message.

    I don’t think I personally would have used “slutty,” mostly because of the connotations about modern femalesexuality, but what these pseudo-sexy status updates do is reinforce the fact that something has to be sexy to get attention. That nothing is worth your time if it doesn’t tittilate the poor, confused menfolk, who aren’t in on the “secret.” Breast cancer’s not a secret, though. It’s the most well-funded, well-supported kind of cancer there is. The colon and liver and pancreas get totally shafted because they aren’t sexy like breasts, though. Their loss, I guess.

    If social media like Facebook are going to be used for “causes,” I’d much rather they actually DO something for the cause, instead of perpetuating pointless memes.

  • Johnny Bigtime

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing the word ‘slacktivism’ – I don’t know if you coined it, but it’s given me a word for something that’s been annoying me for years. People love being in on a joke more than anything, and this pretentious bit ‘awareness promotion’ is more that than supporting a good cause. But hey, it let’s you feel like you’re helping out, doesn’t cost you a dime, and gives you another excuse to check facebook at work.

    You want to spread awareness about breast cancer or whatever cause is close to your heart? Here’s your facebook status: “I gave $XXX to (insert cause here) today. How much did you give?”

  • Johnny Bigtime

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing the word ‘slacktivism’ – I don’t know if you coined it, but it’s given me a word for something that’s been annoying me for years. People love being in on a joke more than anything, and this pretentious bit ‘awareness promotion’ is more that than supporting a good cause. But hey, it let’s you feel like you’re helping out, doesn’t cost you a dime, and gives you another excuse to check facebook at work.

    You want to spread awareness about breast cancer or whatever cause is close to your heart? Here’s your facebook status: “I gave $XXX to (insert cause here) today. How much did you give?”

  • cassandra

    this article is absolutely true

  • cassandra

    this article is absolutely true

  • Sifiso

    I had the same thoughts when I first head about this. The funny thing is that women will giggle and not share with us guys what this whole thing is about and therefore the campaign looses its meaning

  • Sifiso

    I had the same thoughts when I first head about this. The funny thing is that women will giggle and not share with us guys what this whole thing is about and therefore the campaign looses its meaning

  • Yves

    I am kinda glad marketing agencies do not share your opinion. while it’s a valid opinion, we all know how interesting facts are? “starbucks, it’s coffee”, “Global warming: the world is getting hot” – people that want “facts” google. Kinda like advertising a spreadsheet full of statistics.

    The point was to raise awareness, in my books awareness was raised – not in a conventional way but it was certainly raised in more efficient way than blatantly posting “October is breast cancer awareness month” – while scanning through the many facebook updates the average person will not pay attention to…

    Just my thought! “two minute noodles, it’s food – fast”

  • Yves

    I am kinda glad marketing agencies do not share your opinion. while it’s a valid opinion, we all know how interesting facts are? “starbucks, it’s coffee”, “Global warming: the world is getting hot” – people that want “facts” google. Kinda like advertising a spreadsheet full of statistics.

    The point was to raise awareness, in my books awareness was raised – not in a conventional way but it was certainly raised in more efficient way than blatantly posting “October is breast cancer awareness month” – while scanning through the many facebook updates the average person will not pay attention to…

    Just my thought! “two minute noodles, it’s food – fast”

  • sluttyspock

    Thank you so much for this article. The world needs more people who think like you. All the haters can hate, but what you’ve said is true!

  • sluttyspock

    Thank you so much for this article. The world needs more people who think like you. All the haters can hate, but what you’ve said is true!

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  • Andrew Jackman

    Hi Stephanie,

    A friend of mine has you on linkedin, and I checked out your blog, and I must say, I love it. In this world it easy to feel like your the only one who cares about a certain something. Keep up the great work. I will try to visit here regularly.

  • Andrew Jackman

    Hi Stephanie,

    A friend of mine has you on linkedin, and I checked out your blog, and I must say, I love it. In this world it easy to feel like your the only one who cares about a certain something. Keep up the great work. I will try to visit here regularly.

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