This Business of Breasts

October. The. Pink. Month.

Who doesn’t know by now that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Is this the month that companies must do or die? The local fire engine is now pink — really? How many tax payer dollars were used for that?

(Aside: This is not a post against victims and survivors of breast cancer; I have the utmost compassion for their plight.)

I’m wondering how the gents feel each October; I wonder if prostate cancer should have a huge splash, too.

This business of breasts is quite the marketing opportunity for companies to show ‘raderie. Heck, it seems girls and women’s bodies are incredible treasures of opportunity for pharmaceutical companies.

 Merck’s Gardasil

Gardasil, the Merck creation of a series of three injections for pre-sexual teen girls to ward off human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer, recently got a green light two days ago that it is safe…albeit the drug launched in 2007. Turns out one of the side effects was fainting on the day of the shot (do you think that was purely anxiety for these young ladies?).

The Texas governor Rick Perry mandated all girls get the shot while 24 states launched legislation requiring all school girls to get the shot in 2007 prior to safety studies.

Barr Pharma Plan B Contraceptive

How about the New York City School system giving out free morning-after pills, from Barr Pharmaceuticals called Plan B, to all the teen-age girls’ families throughout 50 schools in the 1-million student body?

The Associated Press broke the story Sept. 26, 2012 .

It’s being given to teenage girls many who have yet to have intercourse and to parents who have the option to opt out of the program. Only 1 to 2 percent of parents refused.

Here’s more:

  • More than 7,000 New York City girls ages 15 to 17-years-old get pregnant each year.
  • More than 2/3 of those pregnancies end in abortion.

A parent and president of the parent association at a high school on Staten Island quoted in the story by the Associated Press said, “The children nowadays are not going to abstain from sexual intercourse. How many unwed mothers do we need?”

How Do You Feel? 

As a mother of a 10-year-old girl, I cringe. The message I hear for our daughters is one promoting promiscuity with a drug safety net. Let’s not even address birth control measures for teenage girls, either.

Boys and Condoms

Here’s what I’d like to know…are condoms being passed out to families and all the teenage boys in high schools? Are boys suffering the consequence of teenage pregnancy as well as the girls? Do boys have to carry around the computerized babies that actually throw a tantrum, puke and poop in the night? I have never seen a boy carrying those faux babies; but, they should!

From what I’ve read of late, the consequence of teen intercourse is a one-sided situation skewed to the girls. When pink October arrived with a bang on the heels of the Gardasil news last week and the morning-after pill the week prior, I knew I had to speak.

This post by Joey Strawn on For Bloggers By Bloggers about firing up your blog pushed me over the edge to publish.

I’m a concerned mother of a pre-teen daughter, a business owner who sees females being exploited in pharmaceuticals, and a parent on the fence about these new fixes that may or may not be a good thing. I just don’t know yet.

What I do know is that gender inequality about this business of breasts and sexual promiscuity is alive and well.

Bring it…

 

 

 

41 comments
Pamela Grow
Pamela Grow

To put it simply:  these initiatives are ALL about money and control and have nothing to do with your daughters' health.

bdorman264
bdorman264

I'm not going to defend or criticize because I only know the male perspective having raised two sons.

 

Promiscuity should not be encouraged, but society sure does a good job of promoting it. And, it's reaching younger and younger girls all the time. 

 

I am pro-life....period. Not because of any specific religious or political belief; I just think if life is conceived then it should have a chance. However, it is the female that bears the responsibility of bearing the child and for a young teen, that's a pretty heavy decision. Yes, it's way too easy to conceive a child and way too easy (girl & boy) to treat it like it was no big deal and just walk away. 

 

What is the solution? What switch can you hit to turn back time and make things like they used to be? We (as a society) are way down this road already so what has to change to improve this situation in a meaningful way. 

 

Trust me, with my volunteer work with the Guardian ad Litem program I see plenty of babies having babies and it's usually not a pretty picture. 

Hajra
Hajra

Men have breasts too... 

 

I think making your children more confident and comfortable in their own skin and probably making them more aware. That might help overcoming a lot of issues. I don't have kids but that is what I feel. I might be wrong. 

rdopping
rdopping

Men have breasts too @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing ya know? I know, making light of a serious issue is not good and not my point.  I am not a parent but I know many who are and the issues are compounded today because there is just so much information out there at our fingertips. It can be a blessing and a curse, huh?  

 

I agree with @jennwhinnem and  @thejoshuawilner  If I was a parent I would certainly advocate for instilling confidence and self-worth into a child. That is likely the best approach anyone can take or so it seems.

 

Great post.

 

BTW, you mentioned a cause for prostate cancer. Not sure if this is in the US but Canada has Movember. Check it out!  http://ca.movember.com/about/

jonbuscall
jonbuscall

They started handing condoms to my son and his friends in school when he was 13. His school bag was so full of them, I was worried the dogs would choke on them (Editor's note: the dogs love to raid smelly bags). This is typical Sweden. Being very open about sex and sexuality. It's corruption we're quieter about. 

 

But it is only on the subway that there are massive posters encouraging girls to get the vaccination. Still, it's free.

susansilver
susansilver

New York is an interesting case study in public health. Bloomberg pretty much told the departments that if they had solid research that he would enforce their suggestions. Part of that was the launch of a sexual health program. They are the only state that has its own branded condom. 

 

I interned with the department one Summer.  

 

I didn't know they were going as far as giving girls Plan B. I worry about the confusion it might cause the girls. They could be receiving mixed messages about appropriate behavior.  

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

My son is almost 12 and my daughter is 8 going on 30 and we have had age appropriate conversations about taking care of ourselves. I see a major part of my role as a father as helping to educate my children so that they can make smart choices.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

So many issues in play here. And I have been given my marching orders that Jayme will be upset if I don't share my opinion! So realize that I am going to rant and run ripshod over the hand-wringing about young sexuality.

 

First of all, breast cancer sells. Ovarian cancer? Not so much. Heart disease? Nope not as much. But even a dude will don some pink for the sake of the tatas. What does this tell us about the meaning of women's bodies? Does marketing break human beings into segments in order to sell products? Um, yes. We're in this business, we should know better than anybody!

 

Breast cancer, at this point, still happens to adults (although the age of this type of cancer keeps getting lower, don't get me started). There is a world of moral difference between the sexualization of the non-working breast by marketing companies to sell football tickets and kitchen gadgets and then big pharma's development & marketing of PREVENTION to adolescents.

 

Buying a pink spoon does little to end breast cancer; it does more to display to the world that breast cancer holds a certain import to me. On the other hand, Gardasil prevents HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is so contagious that it can even be spread if you use protection. You don't even have to have intercourse to get it! I think preventing cervical cancer is paramount. And yet, buying the pink spoon receives support from all. Vaccinating kids against a potentially deadly disease meets with hand-wringing over the fact that OMG! people have sex! The horror! One of those people might be your offspring! OMG!

 

Instill the values in your children that make them believe in their own self-worth. The rest of their behavior will follow. They may have sex outside marriage (this is not in your collective control btw) but they will do so in a safe, loving way, because they have their parents' love, trust, and belief that they as a person matter and have the right to be treated respectfully.

 

I applaud @sydcon_mktg 's comments below.

 

 

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

I am a mom of a soon to be 14 yr old daughter as well as a  & 8 yr old daughter and 11 yr old son.  My oldest received Gardasil. She knows it prevents cancer - it was not touted for anything other than that, we never said a cancer you can get by sexual activity.  Think about it, if my daughter waits till she marries and her spouse does not, she can get cervical cancer from him! Why  not protect against cancer?  Also, are you aware that now Gardisil is recommended for males as well? Our ped said when our son enters high school is his time to vaccinate, and he too will receive it.   

 

I am wondering, why would anyone explain Gardisil to a child by adding in that the cancer is spread via sexual relation?  Does one give all specifics to their children about every single vaccine and their potential side effect?  I dont, thats for me and my husband to research and understand. If I could prevent my daughters from getting a form of cancer, damn right I am going to do it, just like if I could vaccinate my son from potentially giving it to a female I wil do that too.  Gardisil has been deemed safe for longer than 2 days...that is just a recent study, studies are typically ongoing.  

 

As far as teen pregnancy being a burden on the girls...isnt that a reality that carries into adulthood?  Take for instance all the news and politics surrounding birth control & abortion. No one ever mentioned men in that scenario. When they talk of punishing women for birth control usage or abortion...what about that male that was a required participant to help create the need for birth control or the pregnancy?

 

Sex, drugs, condoms, homosexuality is part of the world we live in. We cant hide it from our children. If you try I guarantee they will end up knowing more than you do about it.  I think it is our job to be open, honest and teach our children morals, etc. But if there is a drug out there that will prevent cancer, get it, no matter if male of female! 

Erin F.
Erin F.

I cringe, too, mostly because today's culture seems to be about using band-aids instead of addressing heart issues. What, I ask, is wrong with waiting? I truly don't understand why people who choose to wait are mocked.

 

Also, I'm glad you blasted the pharmaceutical companies. I've been thinking about doing the same thing, but in relation to a different subject matter. Come November, it may be on (November is Diabetes Awareness Month.).

Latest blog post: Who’s in My Audience?

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Wow Jayme. I'm 100% with you. Big Pharma is one thing, Big Pharma and crony capitalism is quite another. When big money is involved, let the people beware. 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @timbo1973  @rdopping With all these peeps with older children, we can take their lead, Tim! This is much more than merely sex education which they now do in 4th grade in the States. Luckily, you have a ways to go; now ya better git along to music class with your daughter! Heh.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Pamela Grow Woah. WELL SAID, Pamela. Thanks for that simplified breakdown of the truth, for real.

 

And, it's great having you here...your last name is really Grow? OHMy, what fun that would be to "grow everything" with Grow!  

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @bdorman264 Your perspective so valuable as per your final sentence. Don't forget, it's often the parents of those teenage girls having babies that bear a huge burden, too. And, grandparents, as we know. Did your school give condoms to the teen boys in  high school? Wonder if this is a national practice. 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Hajra  Parenting is a crap shoot, Hajra. The pressures are so much more intense, yet a child is so naive. They take what you say as the final word and are so committed to that; parents have to be solid in their own skin before they encourage another human being to be so.

 

My own fears of the future were predicated in the post above, for sure. My daughter? Has no clue. Love and a secure foundation is how I'm raising her with information that comes too quickly due to the conversation at school dictating that.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @rdopping  @jennwhinnem  @thejoshuawilner Hah. I do know about Movember; weren't the guys shaving facial hair the last few years or something? Or growing it a month is a vote of solidarity? I think it's taking off in the States, but I can't be sure. Look at all these foreigners in this community! (How cool is that!)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jonbuscall I'm so impressed with Europe in this regard. Apparently, there's a nude beach in San Francisco that people are finally trying to close. If guys want to sit around in lawn chairs with a hat and sunglasses and nothing else but the sand, OK...not my cup o' tea...is that @Bill Dorman who does that?

 

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

 @jonbuscall Jon could you help spread that spirit of openness here? Maybe we can get you a fellowship to travel the states, infecting others with openness (I am serious)?

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @susansilver Well, did you see the news yesterday about the 16 oz limit on sugary drinks? It's a huge battle. City wants limit in size of sweetened drinks that can be sold there, and apparently Bloomberg won a huge victory. It's sending bottlers into a tailspin. 

 

That said, I didn't know about a branded condom...but, if the boys aren't using them...then you get the morning after pill? 

 

What a fascinating internship, I'm sure, Susan. 

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

 @susansilver Actually what concerns me about plan B is that it only works if you haven't ovulated yet. I hope the girls know it isn't a failsafe!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @thejoshuawilner I love this test I just decided to do with the gender difference with the comments -- women are head on tackling the issues and the guys are skirting with very neutral comments. Love that. Thanks for sharing your passion about your kids; something I absolutely knew about you.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jennwhinnem  @sydcon_mktg Yes; your passion, too. As I knew would come and invited here. 

 

The parental role is high pressure to raise our kids to understand choice and consequence. My parents had none of this to worry about when i was younger which makes this all "new" for me. 

 

In addition to promiscuity, there is social media, sexting, smoking, drinking, pot and every other avenue of human addiction and "enjoyment." Our kids will test because they're kids. How parents act in this regard comes down to your "safe, loving way" with "trust and belief." Thank you.

 

 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @sydcon_mktg Thanks, Jennifer, for your passionate response. I do agree with you about helping to prevent cervical cancer for our daughters. I asked my family physician/pediatrician about this for my daughter, and she said to wait. This was a year ago.

 

The issue becomes -- family choice. When schools and governments dictate and mandate that is where I fall short. 

 

Parents protecting their children; absolutely. Didn't know Gardasil was for boys, too. Very happy about that. Perhaps we're on the verge of eradicating HPV. 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Erin F. Humans are big business; disease is even bigger, Erin. Food manufacturers with ingredients; pharma companies with drugs.

 

My friend last night was given a baggie of Rx from other friends who had surgery. People are being over medicated; period.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @barrettrossie Thanks for your acknowledgment about parenting...I'm seriously overwhelmed with the future of my child's development and the pressure that comes with it. 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

PS: I feel so much for my friends trying to raise kids in this environment of free condoms etc. And I'm constantly amazed at what a good job my friends are doing. What a hard job parenting must be today. My fingers are crossed for you! 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jennwhinnem  @susansilver One would hope there are massive numbers of educational workshops for families before they accept that pill. Good grief; I can't imagine how this program came to be with the bureaucracies having to agree on it.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing  @sydcon_mktg I think your parents had to help you negotiate choices too. I can't speak to the amount of choice, but I'm confident they were different choices.

 

I'll leave you with this little vignette (perhaps I've told you already?) to show the power of honesty. I was diagnosed with CF when I was 3. One day my mom sat me down and said, you have a disease called cystic fibrosis. From now on, you will take pills before you eat.  - and that was it! Honesty, but a judicious amount of it (which I think Jennifer advocates for as well). She knew what I needed to know, and told me more as I got older. I was on a need-to-know basis. Guess what? I'm very responsible about my disease, I don't feel bad for myself, and that's that. The benefit of judicious honesty is a healthy attitude!

 

Same thing with my stepson. I told him early (like age 3 or 4)  that I cough because I have a disease, but that he couldn't get sick because of me. As he gets older he asks more questions. He's seen me incorporate new therapies into my life. One day he asked me if I was going to die because of my disease. I said, "Yes. But not today. Not for a long time. Okay?" and he said yes and we hugged. Schmaltzy. But I don't believe in lying to kids. I didn't tell him I'll most likely die because I'll smother to death. I kept it simple.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing See but if schools and or government do not get involved too many will not get vaccinated.  In our county there was a outbreak of Whooping Cough, because parents were opting out of vaccinating.  Too many young parents believe that if you dont hear much about a disease its no longer around, so why vaccinate. Our kids spend more time at school than most other places, if schools didnt mandate these vaccines they would be exposed to polio, chicken pox, measles etc! 

Erin F.
Erin F.

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Over-medication is a huge problem, but it's not my main pain point when it comes to diabetes. I've been thinking about the cost associated with being diabetic. I don't know what it costs for someone who has Type Two, but it's insane for Type One. Insane.

 

Referencing Jenn's story, my mom was the same with me. Being diabetic was never an ordeal. It just was a part of life. I guess that's why I sometimes get irritated when people respond with "I'm so sorry!" when I tell them I'm diabetic. Why be sorry? Sure, it sucks, but there are worse things.

Latest blog post: Who’s in My Audience?

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @sydcon_mktg Thanks for your advanced perspective, too. You're farther along the pathway with older daughters and you and your husband have been pushed into research. 

 

Excellent points. I'm not negating the need, it's the method. (There, I think I just got to the root cause of my discomfort. Thanks for the help on that.)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Erin F. People who live with disease every day of their lives require an attitude that others need to adopt and recognize. It's an amazing type of self motivation to keep on and not let the challenges win. Thanks, Erin...can you share that in your post?