Cancer, Dignity and Lust?

So I saw a breast cancer awareness ad and I thought it was in “poor taste.” I made this comment on facebook: “I’m against cancer in all forms and places. But I think some of the ads for awareness are in poor taste.”  The ad showed the back of a skinny woman stripped down to her underwear holding a bra over her head…. I didn’t think it was in poor taste because I was tempted to have lustful thoughts. I didn’t. And to be honest I never even thought about this ad provoking lust in anyone until a male friend of mine made a comment about it being a stumbling block (so I won’t reshow it here out of respect for those who might view the ad as being lewd in nature) More on that in a moment but first…

Why did I think it was in Poor Taste?

Dignity. I thought the ad was in poor taste because I couldn’t imagine my mother, sister, wife, or daughter ever having to take her clothes off like that in front of a camera (even for a good cause).  If it were one of the women whom I love in that picture I wouldn’t be sharing it all over facebook. My guess is that most men and women who saw that image didn’t actually see a person (whether they had lust in their hearts or not).

Ignorance. The ad also says, “Support Breast Cancer, Set the Tatas free, Oct. 13th, No Bra Day.” I’m not up to date on all the breast cancer lingo, but shouldn’t there be another word behind “cancer” like “research” or “awareness.” I don’t know of anyone in their right mind who wants to “support breast cancer”… like it’s a good thing?

Insensative. Breast cancer is about more than breasts. It’s about surviving. Somehow a picture of a young woman holding a bra over her head in her seeming support of breast cancer rings hollow when we remember that the average breast cancer survivor is 63 and she’s someone’s wife, mother, sister and daughter. She has faced the battle of her life, I can’t imagine how going bra-less changes anything? I’m not a woman, nor do I wear a bra, but through those who have been through this lonely valley I have been reminded that the image of a bra has changed for those who now wear one differently or not at all because of breast cancer.… If it’s a joke, it’s a cruel one (especially when we consider the ad says “support breast cancer.”)

Why is Lust a Different Issue?

I have two young children, a boy and a girl, I’m doing my best as a dad to look out for both. So here is why I think it’s dangerous to use lust as a motivator to say these pictures like the one discussed are in “poor taste.”

It reinforces a false stereotype that “boys will be boys.”  Not all men are perverts. It’s not okay to raise my son like he has no choice in the matter when it concerns lust. As men we should teach our boys the difference between a healthy interest in girls (as part of their growth and development) and lust.  My goal is for my son is two-fold, to make it through puberty without excess guilt over what is a natural attraction, and to guard his heart from lust. The breast cancer ad is the least of my worries.

It blames women for lust…which last I checked was in the heart of the one choosing to lust, not in the one being lusted after.  I have never read the account where Jesus tells the women that if they are being lusted after that they are guilty of adultery.  Now there is a word describing the act of someone attempting to provoke lust, it’s called “lewd” and I don’t think that was the intent of the ad… though I could be wrong which leads me to the last point:

Not all women are attractive to all men, even when they are trying to be (the reverse is also true).  I still remember the day when I was at the beach and a woman was staring at my belly. I wanted to say, “ahem, my eyes are up here lady.” But I don’t think she would have laughed at the joke.  She was probably wondering if I could put a shirt on and it had nothing to do with her lust issues…But to be honest, I’ve looked at some women that way too.

I get how the ad did not provoke lust in me, but might have provoked it in you. I would still be cautious to accuse anyone of being lewd. Lewdness is also something that must be intended and I can see how people posted this without that intent (especially if their motivation was to raise awareness).  I just really thought the ad itself was in poor taste.

If this awakened some passion in you. Check out this article by my pastor on communication on line.

You may also want to check out a post I put up a few years ago on this blog

One thought on “Cancer, Dignity and Lust?

  1. I think you have stated your point very clearly. I will not view the ad but I understand that a little marketing, a little PR with subliminal messaging can have people “un-think” the breast cancer issue and appear either unfazed or lust after an image.

    It is quite a shame that even to promote something good,, a woman has to have her clothes falling off. I am not totally upset because it is not surprising.

    Thanks for the post!


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