Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Does It Have to Be Pink?

You may not know it, but October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may also live under a very large and heavy rock. It's easy to tell when BCAM rolls around, because you can't buy anything that isn't pink. In fact, you may want to check out your rock-dwelling; it's probably already been spray-painted.
Green eggs and ham become pink eggs and ham.
Bet the Komen Foundation is pissed that ham already comes in pink.
Lots of pink cleaning products, because women have breasts and they clean stuff!
Told ya.

Wait...then what color is the juice?

Shoot things for life.
Absolutely no fucking way.

I'm not going to rant about the pink ribbon culture. I find it disturbing and counterproductive, but I'm not going to rant about it. If you want to read a thoughtful and thoroughly researched book that articulates how I feel about breast cancer commercialism, check out Gayle Sulik's Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women's Health. Even if you are a Pink Warrior and think the breast cancer awareness movement is 100% positive and empowering, you'll find it an educational read. 

Here's how I feel about cancer: I'm scared to death of it. Scared of getting it myself, scared that a loved one will get it (several have), scared that I or they will die of it (several have), scared of the emotional and financial cost of fighting it, scared that I could live my life in exactly the right way and still get it, scared that I could slip and just once eat or drink or do the wrong thing and get it and never know if that one little thing turned out to be a death warrant. Scared that cancer hasn't been cured because there is no cure and never will be, no matter how much pink yogurt I eat.

But I'm afraid of a lot of things. Illness and death in general freak me out. So do bees and wasps. And enclosed spaces. And freeway overpasses. You know how some people have a recurring dream when they're stressed out? Like being naked or getting lost or losing teeth? My stress-dream involves driving over the edge of a freeway overpass. No real-life analogue to feeling out of control there, is there?

The point is, I'm no more worried about breast cancer than I am about any other type of cancer. And I'm no more worried about dying of cancer than I am of dying from any other illness or a freak accident or a heart attack or a stroke.

Or a damn chess game next to the ocean.

If you ask me, breast cancer gets all the attention because it allows us as a soceity to focus on breasts.

Not that society has any particular interest in them.

What makes a woman more instantly recognizable as a woman than her boobs?

Quick, which one is a dude?

And let's face it, everybody loves women. Your mom was a woman. And historically we women have been valued more for our bodies than for our brains. The fact that most of us actually have intelligence and talent in addition to boobies is icing on a soft, round cake. Whether you want to have sex with them, look like them, act like them, grow up to be one of them, women and their boobs occupy a pretty high place in society.

Some higher than others, of course.

Breast cancer, then, has come to be portrayed as woman cancer. And if we want women to survive, or so we're told, we have to wipe out breast cancer. Not that we can't die of a dozen other types of cancer that don't receive nearly the marketing or the funding. But most people don't even know what ovaries look like, let alone want to be reminded of them every time they watch a football game.

Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed is not wearing a pink do-rag 
on national television for no damn pancreas.
 The fact is, with a few exceptions on both sides, most cancers can afflict men or women. Hell, men get breast cancer, albeit at a much lower rate than women. I don't consider myself a prime candidate for testicular cancer, lacking testiculars as I do; but given a magical choice to cure one or the other, I wouldn't declare Beloved Spouse's boys to be less important than my girls.

I would love to see an organization as huge and far-reaching as Susan G. Komen for the Cure devote itself to all forms of cancer. The American Cancer Society, which does just that, isn't nearly as well-funded or as effective at calling attention to itself. On the flip side, I wish Komen and other fundraising organizations devoted more time and money to actual research and treatment and not just "public education," which covers everything from TV commercials to slapping pink ribbons on race cars and blenders. Komen currently spends as much on fundraising and administrative costs as it does on research. And it spends about $1 million a year on legal fees specifically to stop other charities from using pink ribbons or "For the Cure" events to raise money for any kind of cancer, breast or otherwise. Quite frankly, if I give money to fight breast cancer and someone I love gets an underfunded brain tumor, I'm going to be pissed.

It is totally not the brain's fault that it doesn't look good in a halter top.
 So yeah, it's awesome that everyone is "aware" of breast cancer, thanks to the White House putting up big pink spotlights.

And thanks to Kevin Kolb's willingness to look as if
he has an enormous pink shlong and doesn't wear a cup.
But instead of buying more yogurt because Yoplait promises to donate ten cents a cup, maybe I'll just donate ten cents a day directly to a charity of my choice. If a million people do that, it's about 22 times the amount Yoplait has pledged to help fight breast cancer if we buy their product. And I don't have to pretend that wearing pink makes me a better person or helps me cheat death. I don't even like pink that much.

God bless all those who have suffered from cancer, in themselves or in those they love. I hope we find a way to end the suffering.

But I am not going to purchase a Natural Contours Petite Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon Vibrator because I think it will change the world.

Does it come in any other colors, though? Just asking.


  1. I see your point but I still think it has merit

  2. Wow you just opened my eyes. Thanks for that. Good post.

  3. Ha- the pink gun does seem to be a bit of a stretch! Great post.


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