North West Cancer Research Faces Backlash for ‘Sexualized’ Smear Test Campaign

North West Cancer Research Faces Backlash for ‘Sexualized’ Smear Test Campaign

Controversial Campaign Unveiled

North West Cancer Research’s latest cervical smear test campaign, titled ‘Don’t Keep ‘Em Crossed,’ has ignited controversy as feminists criticize what they perceive as a ‘crass’ and ‘sexualized’ approach to promoting cervical screenings.

Campaign Objectives and Launch

Launched to address the 19% higher cervical cancer rates in the region compared to the rest of England, the campaign features a sculpture of crossed mannequin legs at Manchester Piccadilly Station, accompanied by the slogan ‘Don’t keep ’em crossed.’

Despite its intentions to raise awareness, the campaign faces backlash for its choice of language.

Criticism from Mumsnet Users

Mumsnet users joined the critique, expressing dissatisfaction with the decision to use the term ‘people’ instead of ‘women’ in the campaign. Some users argued that the ad relied on ‘laddy’ humor, with one likening it to a promotion for a 1970s seaside legs competition.

Debate Over Language Inclusion

A discussion emerged on the inclusion of trans men in cervical smear test awareness. While some argued for targeted advertising via LGBT groups, others emphasized the importance of maintaining language that recognizes the unique health needs of women.

Response from Campaign Director

Karen Swan, director of Influential, the advertising firm behind the campaign, defended the approach, describing it as deliberately ‘playful and a bit cheeky.’ Swan emphasized the need to grab attention and encourage women to attend cervical screenings.

Feminist Critique and Offensiveness Allegations

Feminist campaigner Debbie Cameron and other activists criticized the campaign, with Cameron calling the strapline ‘a line for a lech.’ Critics argue that such approaches trivialize women’s health issues and make light of serious matters.

Alternative Views on Campaign Strategy

Author Tamsin Winter likened the strapline to something from a ‘Carry On film,’ suggesting that the approach may not be suitable for a health campaign. Meanwhile, Toni Hargis expressed disbelief at the strategy, stating that sexualizing a vital health procedure was inappropriate.

Campaign Distribution and Digital Presence

The campaign plans to reach targeted venues, including hairdressing and beauty salons, gyms, bars, and coffee shops.

Additionally, a digital campaign featuring social media influencers will run for four weeks. North West Cancer Research and Influential have been contacted for comments.

Previous Language Controversy

This controversy follows an earlier incident where a cancer charity suggested medical professionals refer to the vagina as a ‘bonus hole’ to avoid upsetting transgender men.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust faced criticism for what some considered dehumanizing language and the erasure of biological differences between men and women.

Women’s Rights Advocacy

Women’s rights campaigners criticized the language recommendations, asserting that ignoring biological differences is unnecessary.

The terms ‘bonus hole’ and ‘front hole’ were part of a glossary aimed at supporting trans men and non-binary people, drawing attention to the ongoing debate over language and inclusion.**

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