Enough about Saving the Boobs. What about Saving Women's Lives?
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, the porn site Pornhub.com is promising to donate money for every 30 “boob videos” viewed on its website during October. Perhaps the most craven example of pinkwashing yet, a visit to Pornhub.com reveals that the site's logo has been decked out with Pepto-Bismol pink and adorned with a breast-cancer awareness ribbon. Below a call to “Help Save the Boobs!” a pink “boob views” counter records the number of times videos tagged as “small tits” or “big tits” have been viewed on the site. (Below that, there is an ad for “squirting” videos. Thankfully, it hasn't been pinkwashed.)
There’s just one catch to Pornhub’s plan: After announcing its intentions to donate the money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the research stalwart unequivocally told Pornhub to keep their dirty money to themselves. (Apparently, Komen is A-O.K. with pulling funding from Planned Parenthood and raising money for research via the sale of pink handguns, but porn money is just one step too far.)
Shortly after Komen’s refusal of the money, Pornhub.com released a public plea to other breast-cancer research and awareness foundations to accept the cash raised from this month’s campaign. As of the afternoon of October 16, the boob-view counter was already reporting more than 39,000,000 views, with the numbers spiking up by about 1,000 every minute. That's a whole lot of cash up for grabs.
Pornhub’s current campaign follows on the frisky heels of its April 2012 “Save Our Boobs Bus” event, in which a pink leather–clad bus tooled around New York City and porn star Bree Olson offered passersby free breast-screening exams from an onboard plastic surgeon.
You could claim that Pornhub.com is doing something really great that will directly benefit a lot of women and their health. And people have: As the Observer.com’s Drew Grant argues, “This isn’t about politics. It’s about breast cancer. And porn that you were probably going to end up looking at anyway. Everyone wins?” A poll currently up on Escapist Magazine’s website reveals that about 87 percent of people who voted thought the Komen foundation was wrong to refuse Pornhub's donation. The trouble with this line of thinking, though, is that the campaign isn't framed as being about women and their health. It's framed as being about boobs, and about the people who want to make sure that there are plenty of them to look at and get off to. By this logic, women are great because they come with boobies, but women being healthy is just an added bonus to the most important thing, the god-given right of people to have plenty of women's tits to ogle. (Co-Ed magazine's slideshow titled "The 60 Best Natural Breasts of 2012 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is another grimace-inducing example of this approach.)
The mission of improving women’s overall health and well-being is arguably hurt by Pornhub’s campaign if we consider both the number of women who have undergone partial and full mastectomies due to breast cancer and the Komen foundation’s attempts to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. This doesn’t really seem to be so much about improving women’s health as it does making Pornhub seem more pro-woman amidst its rampant profit off of women's sexual objectification. The kind of doublethink necessary to raise money for breast-cancer research through a mainstream porn site really epitomizes the fraught relationship between the sexual objectification of women and women’s health.
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