Tuesday, October 8

Grrr.....Pink Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
yay, I guess.  Whatever.

I have had a non-specific problem with BCA month for many long years now.  Ever since I was a teen, it would annoy the crap out of me when I'd go to pick up an October "Marie Claire" hoping for cute fall fashion I could never afford or a "Glamour" that had an awesome cover interviewee only to find the whole damn thing chock full of pink-pink-pink-pink-pink-pink.  In my head, it was something like this:

So am I pro-breast cancer, terrorism, Stalin, and cockroaches? No, 
okay. I am not pro creepy bugs, senseless violence OR cancer.
But I am pro thinking about things.
Just as the idea that feminism is for white women gave me a lot to 
think about, I've had a lot to think about the past few years with the 
increased public Breast Cancer Awareness.
My issues all started with a minor complaint to my husband:
"Why don't we have Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?"
Also: consider these nuggets I highlighted:
Image cropped from a screen shot of Testicular Awareness Foundation.org
Which leads me to the inevitable question: why don't we have a Save the Balls 
campaign like Save the Ta-Tas? 
But I have to wonder, does ball cancer not get as much attention as 
breast cancer because these statements are - while entirely possible - 
a lot less likely to happen:
Director to struggling actor: "If you don't take off your boxers and 
show your balls, you'll never work in this town again." (Maybe if he 
was a weirdly shy Evan Stone?) Or how about two teenagers talking
about a movie they just saw "Yeah, it was really good! I loved it 
when Nic Cage showed his balls!" Or the possible: "You know, 
Orlando Bloom isn't that hot, but he does have a great pair of balls!" 

So is that the reason we have a lacking in Testicle Awareness - a lack
of mainstream sex appeal because sex sells? If that's the case, then the
kidneys and liver are just screwed forever.
This point has actually been addressed:
Save the People, Not the Boobies
While yes, sex sells, the main issues raised tend to be:
1.) It raises awareness of breast cancer via the slippery slope of 
objectifying and making a woman's value be about her tits as opposed
to the fact that she is a life and
2.) There is the implied sense that O-M-G---you are twenty years old
and you have titties and therefore you too, could be a victim! Which is 
technically true, in the most basic sense. Anyone can get breast cancer.
But statistically speaking, the average age of diagnoses is significantly older 
than the women depicted in the ads. The shirts should read more like:
'save a life: grope your mother or your grandmother, or perhaps your aunt.'
(Which doesn't rhyme and isn't at all creepy.)

But not everyone uses sexy boobs to remind us of Breast Cancer.
Everyone now knows that October is for Breast Cancer Awareness 
and for those of us who just freaking love Halloween, all that pepto-pink 
tends to clash with our black, orange, green and purple sentiments. 
I'm not saying pink ribbons should be gone from my sight! or anything like 
that, but seriously? Couldn't BCA month be something more appropriate 
when we need some color in our lives - like March or April? (Okay, first 
world problem rant over.)
Back to fundraising and the pink ribbon problem:
The problem is how many companies take advantage of the pink color and 
the pink ribbon logo. 
Consider this:
Read full page at Think Before You Pink.org
So you got it.  Here at KitchenAid's Cook For the Cure site, if you go to the bottom and read the fine print, it says: 

The underlined portion reads: "In 2013, KitchenAid will donate $450,000 or more to Susan J. Komen through the Cook for the Cure program to support the fight against breast cancer.  Product sales will not affect this donation."

The point of this is: 
Yay for donations!  Yay for philanthropy from all sources big and small because just like every vote (ostensibly) counts, so does every donation. However, if you buy pink or pink ribbon-ed stuff to help without considering all sides, you may find yourself seeing red later on.  Yes, it's good that cosmetics companies do good things like helping promote breast cancer awareness.  But then again...that would be kind of like if Iams was raising money for the ASPCA, right?  (Hint: hypocrisy.)

Finally, I'd like to raise issue with the fact that we have Breast Cancer Awareness month and unless you exist in a vacuum, you're aware that it's October.
But Lung Cancer actually kills more women (and men) than breast cancer.  And heart disease kills even more.  (It's the number one killer of women.)  So do we have a heart disease awareness month?  Yes, I had to look it up - it's February.  Did anyone know that off the top of their head?  
And November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  So here is my point:

Cancer sucks.  It is awful.  It is a dreadful, terrifying thing.  Breast cancer is terrifying and yes, if someone told me I had it, I would cry and be scared and worry that I was facing my own death, even if it had been caught early, and no matter what the treatment was - something non-invasive or if I had to have multiple operations - I would be terrified and wimpy and I know that my entire world would be jumbled upside down.  I have been so fortunate that as yet, in 33 years, I haven't had cancer. 
I have 3 friends who are breast cancer survivors and I am so thankful they survived and even in their darkest moments of fear and anger, they handled it with grace and strength that I'm sure I do not possess myself.  I want everyone to know that in no way, shape, or form am I trying to diminish how horrible breast cancer is. 

What I am saying is that ALL Cancer is awful, and while I am truly glad when I see people doing everything they can to fight something so heinous, I'd also like to see people running around with shirts that show black lungs with giant tumors because - lung cancer awareness, yo.  Let's wear white or grey ribbons for the cure.  I'd like to see breast cancer awareness be more a recognition of what a complex and awful thing it is, as opposed to a campaign to save second base.  I'd like to see people running around with toy plush faux-beating anatomically correct hearts where proceeds go to the cure for cholesterol in February.  I'd like to see people baking testicle cookies and selling them in front of stores to raise money for testicular cancer awareness. I want the NFL to wear lime green for lymphoma awareness.  And finally, on a personal note, I'd like to say this:

Here are some good resources and pages and I really do hope you will check some of these out:
Charity Navigator  (there are several charity rating sites, but I found this one easiest to navigate and understand) 
CNN: America's Worst Charities (a quick reference list) 

 Also, see this blog, which is far more eloquent and simple than my ramblings.


  1. I do find the whole pink thing with breast cancer to demean the whole process. How was it possible to turn breast cancer into a commercial mess? I work with medical files all day and cancer IS NOT SEXY. It's horrible and sad when it isn't caught in time.

    1. Exactly! Did you click on the "Save the People, Not the Boobies" link? I especially hated the ad that said women who had to get mastectomies were "becoming ugly." Oh, that really boiled my blood.


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