ABC News has picked up the story of local ABC affiliate WJLA’s series on breast cancer detection. WJLA has courted national media attention for its decision to televise a local woman’s self breast exam, un-draped, un-blurred, and unedited. ABC News, for one, remains committed to blurring the boobs: “for our purposes, we are showing it without any full nudity,” the segment explains.
Just so you’re clear on that: WJLA’s news story on self breast exams will show the boobs, but ABC’s national news story on the WJLA news story that showed the boobs will not show the boobs.
I understand the reasoning here. WJLA showed the boobs for a very specific reason: To help women learn how to correctly perform their monthly self breast examination, a teaching moment that’s been made difficult by the news media’s reluctance to showing boobs on the teevee. ABC News’s story isn’t educational, so they don’t share WJLA’s rationale for filming breasts.
But ABC News’ choice to blur out the breasts raises a different problem for the network. ABC’s story is all about whether television stations should show naked breasts on television, or whether they ought to blur them out. “The move has been met with criticism from people who believe it’s inappropriate to show women’s bodies during the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. news,” the story reads. “[C]ritics say the reports’ airing during a key ratings period suggests the station was exploiting women for gain.”
Too bad ABC News can’t take an objective look at this issue. It’s obvious where ABC News stands: They blurred them out!
They didn’t have to do that. They could have avoided the breast shots altogether. Instead, they replayed WJLA’s breast examination at length—-and they blurred it out. And then they showed the (blurred) breasts again. And again. And again. They just kept playing the same shot of a woman examining her breast, accompanied by a large white box that shifted with the woman’s movements to make sure the nipples remained un-slipped.
WJLA showed a couple of breasts in order to help women avoid a terminal illness. ABC News, on the other hand, slapped a scare-tactic white box over the body of a woman who dared to help other women detect cancer. You know what that says to me? It says that protecting an outdated puritanical code against showing women’s bodies is more important than preventing women from dying. So, which network is exploiting women for gain?