Google+ is still in its infancy, and yet it's already run into controversy over the way women are treated in the community. After a female user complained about the "Booberday" meme, which involves posting photos of women's cleavage under the guise of fighting breast cancer, she was told to stop being such a humorless bitch, then called a hypocrite for having modeling shots on her profile.
It seems Booberday was created to compete with the "Caturday" practice of posting cat pictures. Then at some point it was suggested that the posting of headless cleavage photos and gifs should be tied to breast cancer awareness. As we've learned from previous social networking memes, mentioning breast cancer means you can post all the silly and smutty content you want and pretend you're just a sensitive guy who's concerned about ladies' health.
Over the weekend, the debate over Booberday exploded when Robert Scoble, a man who has more than 127,000 Google+ followers, recognized the meme by sharing this cleavage shot at the bottom of a post. Christa Laser responded with her own post explaining why the meme is harmful, despite the tenuous breast cancer connection. She wrote:
It's demeaning, and it is precisely the gateway to harassment that drives women away from online communities. We have a responsibility as early adopters to create a respectful, caring community where everyone feels welcome. If it is acceptable in a community to post a photograph of cleavage, it becomes okay to comment on it with sexual jokes, then to comment on a photograph of a woman in the G+ community with a sexual joke, and then with sexual comments that are not jokes. If left unchecked, an online community that tolerates harassment against women can become dangerous for women, professionally and physically
Laser says that when she originally commented on Scoble's post, she got two types of responses: "(1) telling me to relax because it was just a single post of a woman who consented and (2) explaining that the purpose is breast cancer awareness." One commenter even mansplained, "I think the point of booberday is to celebrate women in a whole." Obviously the best way to celebrate the whole woman is to focus on just one part of her anatomy.
After people started sharing Laser's comments, those who opposed her alleged assault on their Constitutional right to post boob pics starting going through photos on her profile. The pictures of Laser modeling are incredibly tame (in one she's wearing a full fencing uniform), but according to Google+ commenters, posing for a few glamour shots is just as crass as photo after photo of headless women's breasts. In an email, Laser says that the worst comments have been removed. However, you can still see a sample of what was said in this thread that goes from users mocking her for "demeaning" herself and "inciting harassment" by posting a sexy photos to calling her simply an "ugleh whoar."
The Booberday meme now has its own website that explains under a photo of two women grinding into each other, "Booberday is all about raising awareness in an atmosphere of fun and mutual respect. It's about drawing attention to issues that matter." For those who have an easier time focusing on something upsetting like breast cancer while staring at a lovely set of boobs, there are links to four breast cancer charities on the page. If you have any ideas on how help the women attached to cancerous breasts, you can share them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. With an address like that, it's pretty clear that they're serious about fighting breast cancer.
Image via Selena/Shutterstock.