Manicure for second base?
by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux
I've always thought that the "Manicure for the Cure" campaign was a little bizarre, if well-intentioned. I've never expected much from activism at Princeton, but the idea that we need to be bribed with manicures before we'll support a cure for breast cancer (which, let's face it, is a great cause, but totally uncontroversial - find me just one person who doesn't want to support a cure for cancer) has always troubled me. The slogan, "Indulge yourself for a cause," seems particularly problematic - why can't we just support a cause because we care about it? This is taking Princeton privilege to new heights.
That said, I have never felt compelled to criticize the event openly - until I saw this year's advertising. The signs, plastered around campus, are confusing at best and at worst, horribly misogynistic. They come in two varieties: the generic kind, which entreats the student body to "Save Second Base," and the heteronormative kind, which focuses this plea at the campus "gentlemen." What makes these ads confusing is that nowhere do they actually mention breast cancer - they simply reference the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Houseparties, manicures, and of course, second base. I've had to explain the real meaning behind the ads to countless people over the past couple of days - that "second base," to quote Wikipedia, refers to "groping or feeling up underneath [a woman's] shirt."
Terrible baseball metaphor aside (and seriously, does anyone use those anymore? Are we still in 1963?), these ads are in very poor taste. Without even going into the heternormativity of the suggestion that only men care if breasts as sexual objects fall victim to cancer, is this really the argument we want to use to convince Princeton students that they should support breast cancer research? Women's breasts are not just about sex. This is a disease. Women die from breast cancer every day, and the loss of breasts to mastectomies is tragic, but not because they're suddenly unavailable for men to grope. I'm pretty sure that the ads were unintentionally offensive (at least, I hope so), but I hope that this campus community realizes that this is blatant objectification, and that it's not ok.
Amusingly, I think there's at least one other person on campus who agrees with me - whoever put up the parody posters outside Frist, good for you! The posters range from the over-the-top "Gentlemen, save titty f**king," and "Ladies, save the male g-spot" to a very heartfelt "SERVICE TO HUMANITY OR DISSERVICE TO WOMEN?" "SECOND BASE NOT THE GOAL; WOMEN, LOVE YOUR BODY, MIND, & SOUL," and "I DON'T NEED YOUR MANICURE TO SAVE MY MOTHER'S KNOCKERS. (Neither does her partner)." As explained by one of the posters:
What is service? "Manicure for the Cure" posters miss the point with their offensive and misogynistic campaign: "GENTLEMEN, SAVE SECOND BASE". The catch phrase objectifies women suffering from cancer. "Second Base" denotes "breasts" but connotes objects of sexual attraction meant to be grabbed. In case you missed the infantile reference, "Second Base" is second in the order of: french, feel, finger, fuck. Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer? Are you more concerned about their physical, mental, and spiritual health or their gropables? We are not against service for a cause. We only ask that you keep those you are helping in mind, and not at the expense of your fellow woman.
Personally, I like the last one best. What do you think of the original posters, and the parodies? Are they misogynistic, tasteless, or amusing?