Open Letter to Vanessa J Brown (and Anne, who’d rather have Cancer)

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Dear Vanessa J Brown and Anne* who’d Rather have Cancer

I found your article on a close friend’s Facebook.
She has cancer.
So do 5 other female friends of mine.
They are career women, parent and some had children before 20, some after 30, one after 42.

I have lost at least 2 women and 1 man in my personal life because of cancer, one of them being just 19.

I hope it is safe to presume, that your ‘purpose’ in writing this article was to empower women in making their choices. But, starting from the article heading itself, followed by reading the entire article I am dumbfounded for more than several reasons.

Is child a CANCER?

Image Source: theBreastCareSite.com

Your article shows that Anne* says, “I feel sorry for anyone 33 plus with babies or toddlers. Cancer is preferable,” she said.

As a feminist (who happens to be a male) and someone who has witnessed cancer far too close with a mixed long list of dear ones who:

  • are either cancer survivors or,
  • are fighting the ugly battle,
  • not to mention those who have lost the fight and passed-on as Cancer once again laughed right in the face of the victim, and their families
  • AND having a first hand experience of what the fear and journey of cancer IS like

I have to ask, if you realize that your article raises several alarms in a reader’s mind:

1. This article implies that, Women are meant to focus on being the breeding pans for family – either breed or you are useless. Screw ‘The Right to Choice’ on her own body and life. 

2. It further goes on to imply, get the child-birthing ‘out of the way’ IF you want to progress in your career, or else as a woman, with the children looming on her head (which is worse than cancer she implies), she has no right to rise and shine in her career.

3. Child-Birth or becoming a mother, is being compared to dealing with Cancer. I am not sure if You (or Anne) believe that Cancer is a temporary nine-month phase or having children is A TYPE OF CANCER in a woman’s life? Either way, the comparison is horrendous, insensitive and highly offensive both for women (who want to be or are mothers) and every person who has or is dealing with cancer (patient, fighter, survivor, their families and friends, the doctors who are fighting against cancers .. the list is LONG!)

Child is Cancer 001

Original article by Vanessa J Brown on news.com.au

I find this as a very powerless attempt at empowering women in this article – by telling them, ‘breed now, breed fast, BREED or else you are useless for the family, for the society and for businesses’ – in effect. Not to mention it is thoughtless and grossly insensitive. It makes me think of something my mother and father have repeatedly said, ‘Women are often, the worst enemy of Women’.

In essence your article is saying, unless women choose to ‘breed and produce’ most of their purpose for being on this planet is wasted. It further goes to emphasize, before career, or herself, a woman must think of her duty as a ‘wife’, a ‘family reproduction vessel’ and ‘Just a baby-making-oven, that can be used for general storage after it has done the primary job of producing children’ and NO MORE. 

So in other words, women are just a baby-making-factory, who are allowed to work and progress once they have delivered the primary ‘product’ – children. And then Anne* goes on to say, “cancer is preferable”. Because Cancer is just an inconvenient flu or cold or just an itch, that will fix itself or with a couple of days of Over-the-Counter drugs?

It is one thing to speak FOR Pro-Choice campaign and demand women’s right to choose what they want to do in their life, with their body, about being a parent or not. But it is an entirely different ballgame to compare ‘being pregnant too late and hence affecting career, therefore it is better to get cancer than to be pregnant after 30s’.

Either you (and Anne*) do not understand how nasty, serious and awful disease cancer is and how may women (and men) are affected by it, how many families are devastated each year because of Anne’s ‘preferable’ Cancer or her vision of having a choice to be a parent or not is so distorted that while she has managed to have a son, she likens his presence in her life to being worse than Cancer. It is like she’d rather her son be unborn/dead/non-existent and happily accept being a cancer statistic instead.

I wonder if her son reads her views and knew this is his OWN mother’s views how would he feel about his own birth and life?

More than Anne’s view , what has left me more shocked and stunned is, that nowhere in your article you have once expressed any surprise on her views and/or reflected that Cancer isn’t a joke or just an inconvenient itch, that can be compared with being a parent. Even more startling is the fact that the news.com.au and nzherald.co.nz allowed it to publish. I suppose click-bait journalism has more importance than The Journalism.

Child is Cancer 002I am not sure who should be more hurt and offended – the parents, the children, the cancer fighting patients/survivors/their families or career oriented women? I had to double-check that the article was really written by a woman. Something in me felt sick to my stomach in just reading the headline and reading the article left my stomach churning – feeling appalled, horrified and not to mention very sad.

But, what would I know, I am just a male, ‘claiming to be a feminist’ who has no idea what women feel, what cancer patients and their families go through and what it means to want to have a good career as a female. With at least 6 women, very close to my life CURRENTLY battling cancer, one for the 6th or 7th time Cancer returning to her life (and other overheads it has brought in her life directly related to cancer, thanks to the heartless Insurance Providers who I suspect would LOVE your article), and with growing up in care of parents who made it a point to rub-in the Gender Equality serum in my brains and character, every single day of my life, and with having faced the sacrifice of a father who died for rights of women, supporting his own wife in being a bold voice for Gender Equality and Economic Equal Opportunity – what would I know what cancer, gender equality or career struggle for women is like.

Clearly, you (and Anne) know it the best.

That said, (of course in my passive aggressive tone, feeling offended as a child whose mother is STILL a career woman at 65 and has been before, during and after my birth), I find a million things wrong in this article and it’s purpose. It is needless to say, I am STUNNED by your vision of Women Empowerment (or that of Anne), IF it was in any way the focus of this article. And to compare parenting/children/career with CANCER. Just WOW!

Congratulations though, the ‘click-bait’ worked and you are nearly famous now Vanessa J Brown, per say!

We don’t need the patriarchs and, misogynist men anymore to suppress women rights, do we?

~Szebastian

[Update: On audience request, attached is PDF version of Ms. Brown’s article on New Zealand Herald]

Having a child over 33_ ‘I’d rather have cancer’ – Life & Style – NZ Herald News

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Showing 3 comments
  • Greg Stevens
    Reply

    I think a lot of people have a difficult time imagining that their personal experiences aren’t everyone’s, and just because they have a certain preference doesn’t mean that it should be given as advice to everyone.. The phrase “would rather have cancer” was an exaggeration and… who knows?… possibly an attempt at humor. But it comes off really badly, I think.

    • Szebastian Onne
      Reply

      In her ‘dialogue’ Anne* pretty much highlights her hate of children (though she’s glad she has a son now) and then goes on to say ‘would rather have cancer’ and ‘cancer is preferred’. I think she knew her vision is appalling from many angles hence anonymous, and I wonder what would her 20 year old son think, if he knew, “This article is about my mother and me!”.

      I can’t get my head around her reasoning and rationale, if any!

  • Reply

    Wow, just wow.
    How insensitive, inflammatory and ignorant can someone be.
    As you say women are sometimes women’s worst enemy.
    Nobody wants cancer, no matter what the alternative and to link having children, a wonderful thing, to something like that is just horrid

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