Thursday, February 2, 2012

Questioning The Pink Scourge

The Susan G. Komen Foundation's shameful decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood’s breast health work has not merely caused a backlash against the organization, but has sparked an important discussion about the non-profit's methodology.  No doubt the Foundation, as Alyssa Rosenberg says, has done much "to make breast cancer a publicly discussable disease" and should be commended.  But, for those "who want a comprehensive approach to women’s health, and who want to give to a program that’s more about direct service and less about cancer culture and products, a reexamination of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a healthy debate to be having and a spur to thoughtful philanthropy.

E.J. Graff puts it a little more pointedly:
The Susan G. Komen organization is responsible for the pink scourge in this country. Barbara Ehrenreich nailed the issue in her cult-favorite essay, "Welcome to Cancerland," which discussed the infantilizing and cutesy approach that has taken over the world of breast-cancer care. . . .[And] if you're a corporation that wants to do something that makes you appear female-friendly, just put a pink ribbon on your product—shirts, makeup kits, football players—or turn your website pink in October. Say that purchases go to "breast-cancer awareness" (no matter how small a percentage of the price actually gets donated). Voila! You are in with the girls. 
As reported in the New York Times, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), executives at Breast Cancer Action, a San Francisco advocacy group, questioned "the value of pink October" and spending "millions more on promoting the medical status quo — annual mammography screening, that is — than they do on financing research into the causes and prevention of the disease." 

There are many questions surrounding the pinkification of breast cancer, including whether it trivializes the disease, permits companies -- many of whose products are associated with cancer risks -- to hide behind a pink veneer, and sidesteps questions regarding where the millions of dollars raised actually goes.  But as Rosenberg concludes, "it’s just too bad that Susan G. Komen for a Cure had to cut off aid to the women who need it most to get the conversation started."


Jonathan Spalter said...

I recall Colbert a few months ago riffing satirically about Komen suing other not for profit patient communities for "copyright infringement" who used "for the cure" in their fundraising initiatives.... Wag of the finger...

Post a Comment