Thursday, October 13, 2016

Say No to Pinktober (Again)

[Editor's Note: This post first appeared on ATRD on October 3, 2011. Five years later, it's still relevant.]

If you haven't noticed, it's October. Many great things happen in October. Baseball is finally worth watching, hockey and basketball seasons start, and football is in full swing. Scary movies play on TV. Apples, squash, and pumpkin are everywhere. A lot of pink things start showing up as well. I'm not a fan of the pink initiative. Before you hate me, let me include a disclaimer: I'm against cancer. I just don't know how strong the link between "awareness" and "cure" is. If October were National We Found a Cure for Breast Cancer month, I'd be supportive.

There's a great article here [2014 update: herehere, and here, 2016 update: here] that sums up my feelings on the month. What angers me most is how much of a lucrative business gimmick it's become. If I didn't already have issues with the gendered coloring of distinctly non-gendered items, I still wouldn't pay for a pink trinket to "raise awareness" - awareness doesn't equal action or results. I support finding a cure, providing treatment, and helping survivors and their families, but I think we're all well aware of breast cancer itself at this point.

Besides, can't we all just agree the "I (heart) boobies" bracelets (and their offshoots) are objectifying? Women are more than their chests. A woman who's had a mastectomy probably misses not just her boobs, and she's no less of a woman (or a person) without one or both of them. Plus there's the fact that breast cancer is still most common in women past the perky point in their boob life--I doubt they refer to their breasts as boobies. And let's not forget men, who can also get breast cancer but maybe don't care about "boobies," per se. [2016 update: All this to say, I do (heart) boobies. I think they are great. But breast cancer is not just about boobs, it's about a malicious disease that affects a whole person.]

What I'm saying is: wear pink if you want. Or don't. But let's not pretend that this color is doing the real work of preventing, treating, or curing breast cancer. And while we're at it, let's treat people with cancer like humans, not like body parts that happened to have people attached to them.