Cancer is not a gender specific disease, we know this, and yet women have jumped on the no make-up selfie bandwagon by the bus load to unite ‘some’ of the sisterhood to take off their makeup, take a selfie, donate money to charity, do a good deed, take themselves a little less seriously and put themselves out there. What the hell is the problem?
Has it or has it not raised millions of pounds in a matter of days and sparked debate and widespread articles in The Independent, the Guardian, The Telegraph, BBC News and beyond? Has it not also now sparked the Cock On a Sock campaign with hopefully equal success?
I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say that despite having a circle of fabulous girl friends, I’m most often found scratching my head to figure out the sexes. Somewhere along the road to womanhood the clouds parted and revealed the shockingly resilient sisterhood. Now, I have always been the one shouting from the rooftops that marriage symbolises nothing to me and hell will have frozen over the day I give up my surname (she says, engaged). Where am I going with this?
Well, damn it, I suppose I’m admitting I’m a modern feminist (or at least that’s what the growing concensus is), whatever that means, and I’ll be damned if I’ll be judged by a bit of female solidarity about a genderless issue. I’ve read article after tweet after status after comment from women at large that seem to want medals because they never ever wear make-up, while suggesting us imposter women who do wear makeup daily are somehow masking our vanity with narcissistic philanthropy.
This cancer awareness campaign did what it said on the tin. It communicated awareness despite suggestions that membership to the sisterhood for all female selfie participants has now expired, presumably along with our self-worth, self-respect, street cred and intelligence? A common opinion among the polarised high-horsed critic it would seem. That said, I’m not intentionally fighting fire with fire here, but I’m struggling to find a problem with the social good this untraceable campaign has achieved. And if you bring my intelligence or vanity in to this s$&t-stirring argument once more, so help me.
A selfie gesture won’t cure cancer, nor does it communicate the how-to of copping a feel of one’s balls or boobs, or tell us of the 200+ cancers in existence. Tell me something new please and end the belligerent assault on social media and women at large. If I’m not mistaken, it was never a cancer type specific campaign. If you asked men to moon the web and give £3 for testicular or prostate cancer, or just cancer in general, I’m pretty damn sure that thousands would, and are now starting to do. You may as well ask what red noses or comedy has to do with aids or people in need!
This campaign is highlighting far more than cancer awareness, it’s highlighting humanity in all its pejorative and pigeonhole glory, and the opinion-led backlash does far more damage than a harmless community led selfie ever could. It feeds the monster of intellectual hierarchy and gives the Katie Hopkins of this world a loaded and poisonous soapbox to shout from.
The media backlash (predominantly female led) suggests that the #nomakeupselfie explosion is damaging to women’s mental health, self-confidence, and is not courageous or brave. Give us some bloody credit! There’s no denying that the campaign could do with a little refining and direction, but would it have been as successful? Has it or has it not been a staggering success all flaws included? How is it that we have come to a point where we critisise successful communications campaigns for the greater good along with ourselves?
Ask me to take a picture of my bare arse and I’ll show you my version of bravery, but bravery is not something to be measured in comparison to life threatening illnesses. This selfie campaign doesn’t seem to have been born out of narcissitic bravery. It’s just a brilliantly effective social campaign that found flight and is harnessing the power of social media for the greater good. I hope to see far more bold and viral social campaigns from now on. So let people get on with their balls, boobs and selfie posts. All cancer research will benefit. That much I’m certain of.
Share your bare mugs and jugs near and far and donate the £3 to your local or national cancer charity or hospice, or text BEAT to 70099 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK.
by Sam Jordan