Need Some New Wall Art?

Cancer poster draws lots of fire

Critics say fundraising message lost

Guelph chief says nothing suggestive or provocative

A controversial fundraising poster featuring eight provocatively clad, gun-slinging female police officers is drawing fire.

The poster, with the caption “Girls with Guns Target Breast Cancer,” is a fundraiser for breast cancer research but that message is lost, detractors say, in images of sexy, heavily armed officers.

“There they are sporting guns as if it’s a fun thing to do,” said Dawn Reynolds, a family therapist in Guelph who is offended by the poster.

Well, it IS – that’s something that gun-phobes don’t get and never have.

But wait! There’s better!

“Guns are what kill women. They are not a good thing. I regret hugely that this was done, especially for such a worthy cause as breast cancer.”

No, guns are sometimes used to kill women, but they are not the cause. And guns are an inanimate object, neither intrinsically good or bad.

But this is the mentality we’ve got to combat, daily.

Two officers in the Guelph police sex and child abuse unit, Constables Cate Welsh and Lisa Lakatos, are selling the posters so they can take part in the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer, a 60-kilometre walk through Toronto this fall. Each participant must raise a $2,000 entry fee.

With approval from the police services board, they persuaded six other female officers to pose with them in the photo. Posters went on sale last week and despite some backlash, sales have been brisk, said Guelph police Chief Rob Davis.

“I didn’t see anything that was suggestive of anything sexual or provocative,” said Davis. “Police officers are targeting breast cancer. That’s very admirable.”

Sue Richards, a Guelph entrepreneur who launched the Breast of Canada calendar in 2001 to raise awareness of breast cancer, said she was taken aback when she first saw it.

“It’s a very unusual image. It’s not obvious these are police officers for starters, and they are not showing breasts — they’re showing guns,” she said.

“I do see a sexual tone to it. To me it is provocative. Personally, I would have preferred to see them in police uniforms. Then the guns are in context.”

Why? Should only police be allowed to have guns, then?

Dianna Schreuer, president of the network, was not upset when she saw the police poster.

“This is what they are,” said Schreuer, referring to the gun-toting officers. “If they were holding bananas, that would be silly.

“To me it implies a fight and that’s exactly what breast cancer survivors do — we fight it.”

Matt Greenfield, spokesperson for the Princess Margaret Weekend to End Breast Cancer event, said his organization will not take a position on the poster.

“We don’t want to polarize ourselves,” Greenfield said. “We are proud of everyone who has made the decision to do something bold in the fight against breast cancer by registering for the event.”

He added, however, that the title, Girls with Guns Target Breast Cancer, “did not originate in our organization.”

Christine Koserski, spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society, wouldn’t comment except to say, “These will certainly get a lot of attention. It will probably be a successful fundraiser. Obviously they feel strongly about breast cancer.”

Koserski said the disease kills about 5,200 Canadian women annually.

According to this page, firearms are not exactly what’s “killing women” in Canada. Here’s the chart from 1992. The proportions haven’t changed much, I don’t believe:

Sly Castaldi, acting executive director of Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, said she was confused by the poster.

On one hand, she said, they are powerful professional women supporting a really important cause. On the other, “that’s not how they dress for work. I think the evening wear adds to the confusion of the poster.”

“Plus, using the word `girls’ takes it down a notch or two. These are women, not girls,” Castaldi said.

Still, Castaldi is pleased about the debate the poster has sparked.

“Twenty years ago we were the only agency speaking out about domestic violence and women’s rights. Now people are making those connections on their own.

“It’s good when the community can do critical thinking on issues like this.”

Sometimes critical thinking – especially when it comes to the topics of feminism and guns – is a very rare commodity.

Anyway, here’s a thumbnail of the poster:

The number to call to order yours is:

(519) 824-1212

The price is a paltry $10 Canadian (what is that, $7.25 American?)

Hat tip to Gunner of No Quarters.

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