Boobies, ta tas, hooters, bongos. You know what I’m talking about. We likely have as many euphemisms for the female breasts as there are nouns in the English language. They have an amazing ability to send men into a stupor. I know; I’ve seen it happen. A beautiful woman walks by, and she has that hourglass figure, and suddenly the men in the room stop talking, and their heads turn in unison like some Busby Berkeley choreographed scene.
Women spend huge amounts of time and money enhancing the effect that their upper torso has on the male of the species. From push-up bras to implants, women will spend thousands of dollars to have a “better rack.”
Songs have been written about the pillowy chests of women. In the musical “A Chorus Line,” the song “Dance 10, Looks 3” is devoted to how important it is to look good and admonishes one to “keep the best of you, do the rest of you.”
We see billboards throughout the Los Angeles basin for plastic surgeons willing to take a woman from an A cup to a triple D, and you can make monthly payments on those implants.
They are by definition sexy. Breasts are a gender marker; they look great on a woman and terrible on a man. The use of breasts in marketing is legendary. Women in skimpy bikinis, their chests almost bursting from the top, are used to sell everything from cars to hamburgers, which is why the Susan G. Komen Foundation has such an easy time marketing breast cancer awareness.
You can’t miss their awareness campaign. Everything it seems is being painted pink. There are bracelets, soup cans and in the latest fundraising event, Kentucky Fried Chicken. This fundraiser provides 50 cents per bucket for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. On the one hand, it’s awesome that they have a corporate sponsor who is doing such a wonderful event and donating money to an organization that is clearly doing much good. On the other hand, given that obesity is also a cause of cancer and fried chicken is not exactly known as a diet food (much to my dismay, I’d like to point out), I don’t know that this is the best message to be sending people by the SGK Foundation. But I guess the idea is that exposure is good no matter where or what it takes.
Which brings me to the male side of thing. While one in eight women, my mother included, will face breast cancer, one in six men will face prostate cancer. That means that a man is 35 percent more likely to face prostate cancer than a woman is facing breast cancer. Yet no one talks about it.
Tremendous gains have been made in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer. I’ve known several men, some in my neighborhood, who have had to go through the surgery and follow up treatment. It’s not a sexy cancer, but it can definitely affect your sex life. It’s a hidden cancer; it occurs in an area that most men are squeamish about. The jokes about being tested are many. I remember hearing about one doctor who used to have a giant drill bit right at the level where a man’s eyes would be when getting tested.
These days the test is part of a whole series of screening protocols that are done with a simple blood draw. So while the doctor is having your cholesterol levels checked, they can have a test done to look for a prostate specific antigen.
The problem with prostate cancer awareness is that it’s not an easy sell like breasts. Men are traditionally scared of doctors, they don’t like talking seriously about their bodies, and there has been no poster-child for the condition.
You’d think the Prostate Cancer Foundation would be pushing for more events and marketing tie-ins like the Susan G. Komen Foundation did. The playbook is there already. This is a lay down, blue ribbons for the boys, bumper stickers that read, “Stand Up for Prostate Cancer” or “Go with the flow — Get Tested” and of course, “Real Men Get Tested.”
Prostate cancer is deadly, it can go undetected for years, and men can and do ignore the warning signs. There’s no sizable campaign for men, but we need one. If you have a man in your life that you love, have him get tested because the only ones who can’t get prostate cancer are women.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.