The link between pubic hair & cervical cancer. Wait, there’s none.

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Would you shave your pubic hair to cure cervical cancer? I would. And plenty of you out there are no doubt hair-free already, so it’s not such a big deal at all.

The problem is, of course, that shaving your pubes won’t cure cervical cancer at all. And yet the Canadian Cancer Society is asking women to do just that, despite concerns that their latest campaign is inappropriate and largely futile. As Jezebel reports:

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According to the Globe and Mail, the month-long campaign, known a “Julyna,” was inspired by the event Movember, which involved men growing mustaches and asking friends and family to pledge money toward prostate cancer research. For Julyna, women are asked to solicit donations from loved ones for waxing or shaving a design into their pubes.

Interesting. But as far as I’m concerned, in rather poor taste.

Now, let’s get one thing straight: I’m no prude. I enjoy discussing vaginas as much as the next person. And yes, I did support Feel Them Up Friday, an online breast cancer campaign that encouraged women to examine their own breasts, which received some criticism for its use of ‘sexual’ language. But FTUF had a purpose – to use non-threatening, colloquial terms to demystify breast examination and persuade women to check themselves out. And it was successful. More than one woman discovered a lump that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, and has FTUF to thank.

But Julyna offers no immediate benefits to women. The pubic region is not like a lotto scratchie, in which you remove the surface and discover if there’s something sinister underneath. Only a pap smear can do that. Shaving one’s pubes is completely missing the point, let alone the region.

What’s more, there is the very real issue of causing offence to those living with the deadly disease. The Movember campaign successfully reduced the shame associated with prostate cancer by linking it with something innocuous and humorous – a funny moustache. But linking a disease of the female sex organs to the highly sexualised behaviour of ‘shaping’ one’s pubic hair has the exact opposite effect. Would a conservative middle aged mother with cervical cancer feel good about being associated with cheekily shaved pubes? I think not.

And finally, as a fund-raising exercise, there are clearly limitations. Would you approach your boss or work colleagues or the mums from your kids’ school to ask for sponsorship for your heart-shaped pubes? Well, depends on what field you work in, but for most people I suspect the answer is ‘no’. And as Jezebel quotes:

“… as gynecologic oncologist Joan Murphy puts it, ‘Shaving your pubes to any different shape, I don’t think that’s going to bring discussion around the water cooler.”

So what do you think? Is Julyna a brilliant initiative? Or is linking cervical cancer with kookily trimmed pubes a little bit off?

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