October is breast cancer awareness month and, especially in the US, corporate brands have been bedecked with pink ribbons. One particular fundraising effort can perhaps be seen as an object lesson in how not to raise funds and awareness. The hardcore video tube Pornhub has promised to donate to breast cancer research for every click on videos in their big boobs and small boobs section. If you’re already recoiling from the crass association between sex and cancer, the offence is compounded many times over by their advertising tagline: Save the Boobies. Yes, you read that right – not saving lives or saving women, just their breasts. At least one cancer charity has already rejected their cash, but the site is unrepentant.
But is it ever possible to link sexuality and cancer awareness in an appropriate way? Yes, I think it is. A few years ago the men’s cancer charity Everyman produced a hit viral featuring Rachel Stevens seductively inviting viewers to “check their plums” for testicular lumps. Tacky? Probably, but also highly effective. More recently, a community of (mostly female) erotic bloggers from RSVP Erotica and Sinful Sunday have been tagging their amateur offerings with links to breast cancer awareness campaigns. Such efforts may not appeal to everyone but, in my view at least, they tread the tightrope quite well, helping to spread information without slipping into gross exploitation.
A ‘bouncing boobie’ flashmob for breast cancer charity Coppafeel! in London. Photograph: Rex Features