It’s October, and that means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I love Awareness months. Buying the cereal box with the pink ribbon on it makes me feel accomplished and charitable, without having to engage in any activism. Plus, I love talking about boobs. I love appealing to male horniness to raise their awareness and the awareness of women who care deeply about men’s sexual desires. The only good thing about the end of October is moving on to Thanksgiving Awareness Month.
Sarcasm aside, I’ve had it with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am sick to death of the pinkification of the grocery store aisles. I’m probably in the minority but I don’t think we can shop or 5K our way to a cancer-free world, and I am suspicious of companies that repackage their goods at this time of year. I’m also not fond of selling “the cause” using sex.
Breast cancer is not the leading cause of death in women. But it affects the breasts, which makes it the sexy women’s health issue. Can’t put a tank top on a lung, amirite? Much of the advertising and marketing I’ve seen over the past few years emphasizes saving breasts more than saving women. It feels degrading to be reduced to, and valued primarily for, my body parts as a woman. I can’t imagine how a cancer survivor who’s had her breast(s) removed might feel after seeing the advert in the first link. Your boobs weren’t saved, but look on the bright side – your life was! It’s gross.
Think Before You Pink, a project of Breast Cancer Action, calls for more transparency and accountability by companies fundraise for breast cancer, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions, and exposes “pinkwashers:”
Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company that purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribboned product, but manufactures products that are linked to the disease.
I am concerned about preventing cancer. I don’t just mean making individuals responsible for preventing disease. Right now the focus of the “main” breast cancer organizations (*cough*Komen*cough*) is on finding a medical cure for breast cancer. Studying and reversing the environmental factors that cause cancer, the struggles of the un- and underinsured, and corporate power over patients are not emphasized at all. I suspect universal health care would do much more to prevent and treat breast cancer than all the 3-day walks in the world, especially for minority women.
Barbara Ehrenreich took on “the mainstream of breast-cancer culture” in her 2001 essay “Welcome to Cancerland.” I highly recommend it. Save the women.
ETA: PhDork reminded me that Twisty has a whole category devoted to the sexy, sentimental breast cancer industry. Take a trip over there for more biting commentary.