NYT_breast_cancer_cover.jpg

Because there is no actual news the day before Thanksgiving, apparently, the internet has decided the cover of this morning's New York Times is very interesting. I refuse to argue with the entire internet. The big, front-page photo that accompanies this story shows a breast-cancer survivor who had a smidge of areola showing. Dan tossed the image into the morning news (without mentioning the breast). But elsewhere, people are agog. Slate's Amanda Marcotte began:

The New York Times may hold itself above the rest of the grubby news media, but Wednesday they proved that they're as dependent on WTF traffic as everyone else. Check out how the paper of record illustrated a story about breast cancer gene testing in Israel. Yes, that's a partial nipple you're looking at there.

Marcotte wrote about many ways of looking at the image—from shocked to "people need to get over it"—but she makes a strong case for how sexual the image is:

It's grossly inappropriate to sexualize breast cancer, which is a serious and deadly disease. It's not just the nipple that sexualizes this picture. It's the lighting and the tank top and the pose, which is reminiscent of a strip tease shot. (The photographer tells New York Magazine that it was "an unplanned moment" and that the inclusion of the nipple was "not intentional," but that's hard to believe with the tank top positioned just-so, and clearly masthead editors at the Times were very intentional in choosing to run it.) It's absolutely maddening the way that people focus on the loss of breasts, instead of the loss of health and life, as the main problem with breast cancer. The sexualization of discourse around breast cancer strongly implies that the main reason to keep women alive is as life support for their delicious breasts. It's particularly inappropriate to focus on how delectable breasts are when the article in question is focused on preventive mastectomies, which are the ultimate expression of valuing a woman's life over her breasts. This argument will probably win the feminist blogs (and is my personal opinion).

But I'm with Slate's Jessicca Winter, who says that sexualization shit's poppycock:

Marcotte writes that her heart is with those of us who despise Puritan prudery, but a puritanical society is exactly what equates “breast” with “WTF traffic.” The Times picture doesn’t strengthen the taboo—it dismantles it. Demystifying the breast is good for women. The Times got this one right.

I didn't find it sexual in the slightest. Never mind that I'm gay and didn't even notice the areola when I picked the paper up this morning, most of all, Star of David tattoos toss cold water on anything hot. But it's important that we keep throwing fuel into the outrage machine. What says Slog—sexual or not?