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: