In the U.S., we trivialized and commodified the catastrophic nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands by naming a swimsuit after the tests at Bikini Atoll. (A real “bikini body” is sickened by radiation and if female, has a greater chance of giving birth to children with birth defects…) So why should I be surprised or outraged by this use of this picture below? It’s a recent tweet from the founder of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (APOPS) and until this morning, I’ve been a fan.
This is the picture I ask you to consider, below.
Let me add two other screenshots here, before I get on with my story. The one on the left is from a story about the Marshall Islands, published by The Guardian five years ago. The one on the right is from the Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefits Center. My maternal grandfather was an “Atomic Vet” and the VA gave him no medical help at all when he developed a brain tumor. My family was impoverished as a result, paying for his care.
As for the fate of the Marshallese, see these links: Project 4.1 and the documentary, Nuclear Savage. The immense damage to human beings, animals, and the islands continue. Trailer: https://youtu.be/13i09gV7HRk
I’m also boggled by the juxtaposition of a quote from Oprah–a woman of color–on top of an image which has brought doom and destruction to other people of color, all in the name of “vaginal health.”
Plus, do I want that thing (an exploded atomic bomb) anywhere near my “lady parts?” I think not.
Based on the above, I do not believe I was being overly sensitive about “stuff” when I alerted APOPS founder Sherrie Palm about the inappropriateness of this image. I know that Pelvic Organ Prolapse is an enormously ignored medical condition, internationally, and until now I’ve had nothing but respect for Sherrie Palm for all her tireless activism. And so…
…I began by gently pointing out that this was not the best image to use in supporting “vaginal health and intimate wellness.”
(My first post did not include the image of the Guardian article. I added that later because someone–in an attempt to be funny–said that fireworks wouldn’t work as someone had recently died from one.) The founder responded like this (comments from others are deleted):
I feel strongly about this. It’s important to have some modicum of multicultural sensitivity and awareness when advocating for a health cause that affects people internationally. Yeah, I’m not anybody’s media police, but I’ve put public endorsements of APOPS on my website and talked this organization up to my colleagues. However I can’t endorse someone in a leadership position who persists in such insensitive cluelessness–to the detriment of the cause itself and her ability to further it on a wider world stage.
So until Sherrie Palm withdraws the image and apologizes for its use, I cannot in good conscience recommend this organization as one having the best interests of ALL women at heart. And that means women of the Marshall Islands too.
I’ll be removing links to her website from my website as soon as I post this blog.