Hmm. If describing the connection of environmental degradation to breast cancer, what visual aid would best come to mind? How about an image of a healthy woman's breasts in a low-cut top, with no head, no body or legs, just the breasts? You got it!
In a response today to a reader's question about how environmental factors relate to breast cancer, typically awesome enviro magazine Grist.org has emphasized its incredibly important message with said image, which currently serves as dominant image on the homepage. (Page-traffic ploy? Of course not!) It's super disappointing for such a progressive environmental news source to fall back on a tired, problematic practice -- featuring a photo of only a highly sexualized part of a woman's body detached from the rest of it, rendering her identity-less, just a part, further concretizing woman's objectified, commodified status. It's unnecessary, disrespectful and frankly, inappropriate, considering the tenor and purpose of the piece. We're talking breast cancer, the leading cause of death for women in the United States in the middle of life, not happy-sexy-boob talk.
To be fair, Grist.org isn't any sort of specifically feminist or gender-related advocacy or news site, and maybe the photo was meant to lighten the gravity of the piece. But all of us working within various movements can't afford to be sexist, or racist, or classist, even if that's not our "issue" if we want to win our battles together, in mutual support. Not cool, Grist.org, not cool at all.