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Canadian cancer charity shows off its #Ladyballs

Canadian cancer charity shows off its #Ladyballs

It’s a genuinely funny ad, but viewers seem split on whether it’s fighting or promoting a certain kind of sexism.

#Ladyballs is an awareness and fundraising campaign for Ovarian Cancer Canada (OCC) by Grey4Good, a division of Grey Canada . OCC says that ovarian cancer is the most fatal women’s cancer, with no reliable test to catch it in its early stages. They’re asking for research funds to change this.

I get the idea. People have been joking about sexist terms like “grow a pair” or “he’s got some balls” that masculinize courage and resolve. I’ve seen women use terms like “having the ovaries” in a similar fashion, often with ironic intent. And “lady balls” is already a well-worn meme.

We still live in a very male-centred world, with male-centred linguistic and cultural contexts, and this is reflected by the fact that “ladyballs” has to modify an expression based on male genitalia to make its point — even humorously. But in a time when many women use words like “lady-boner” to express sexual desire, it’s definitely catchy. And conversation was the goal of the campaign.

Andrew Carty, VP, strategy and innovation at Grey Canada, told Strategy Magazine, “We decided early on that we should focus not on what ovaries are but what they do…  We needed something that was going to hit people over the head because this is a disease that has been ignored.”

There has also been an attempt at social action, with a call to share the “ladyballs hand sign” on social media, but it doesn’t seem to have taken off yet.


I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more