Friday, 6 November 2009

Pink Stink

I am going to do a horrible thing right now and say that I'm glad Breast Cancer Awareness month is over. I get how important it is that we aware of breast cancer yada yada but sometimes I get the feeling that many of the companies that are supporting see it more as a 'sell more product' than a promotion of women's health. And of course the evil 'save the boobies' meme that seem to place more emphasis on the breasts than the person attached to them is even more repugnant.

Think before you pink run by American-based NGO has come up with a list of 5 critical Questions to Ask Before You Buy Pink:

1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?

2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?

3. How are the funds being raised?

4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?

5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

Given the plethora of pink related products on sale in New Zealand, I think I may have come up with a blogging project for next year!


Anonymous said...

This. I thoroughly believe it's mostly (or just, if I'm going to be really cynical today) about making money and also rather - perhaps unjustly - suspicious about these big general FIGHTING CANCER OMG causes. Because what is my money doing, exactly?* Hmmm. There seems to be a lot of corporate puff involved, and wow, look at this, over here I can donate to Sweet Louise where I know exactly where my money is going and it is going to help women with secondary breast cancer be happier for the rest of their lives. Or Hospice, which do the same thing for anyone with terminal cancer whether you're going to die tomorrow or years and years away from now, and who are AMAZING and I know that from personal experience. Or Canteen! Who are also fantastic!

*I want to actually look into this so I can know which cancer research places ARE good to donate to, but as yet, have not mustered the energy to really think about where to start what with the kind of overwhelming amount of stuff I'm trying to educate myself about lately. DAMMIT, NEED THREE EXTRA BRAINS D:

- Jessie

katy said...

The best way to support cancer research in NZ is to properly fund our universities via the tax system.

lmrb said...

After a mammogram and an ultrasound, I am in no state to go shopping! It's more like a very strong drink. And I once had an ultrasound done by a male - OUCH!

I would love people to start thinking more seriously about how companies and charities raise money for such worthy causes. There is an environmental issue here. Why do we have to be rewarded with a another piece of junk (usually made by people on low wages and in a seriously polluted country - we all know where that is) for the act of donating money? I used to work for a charity and the crap that used to be donated or bought for appeals was mind blowing. Plastic, non recyclable, useless rubbish.

And on a lighter note, Therese Rudd (wife of Kevin 24/7) Rudd, made a superb comment when supporting breast cancer awareness. Something along the lines of looking forward to a test where we only have to breathe into something, but meantime she grins and bears it.

Next time you donate, maybe do what I do - hand over the money and refuse the rubbish reward???

lmrb said...

And apologies to Therese Rein (not Rudd).

Anonymous said...

The best way to fight cancer is to remove the politics from it. Funding for research should be encouraged from EVERYWHERE.

Not just through taxes but politicians should be open to grants and funding from any organisation. Katy, your view is too narrow - as times through a recession would show that a Govt cannot afford such luxuries.

A Nonny Moose said...

Anonymous: I think what Katy means is to better support our medical students so they don't disappear overseas for better wages the moment they step out of university.

In that case, it should be better funding the health system too, and pay our doctors what they're really worth - the ones at the coal face of daily health issues, and the ones doing the research in the lab. I'd be all for more government support of that.

Brenda said...

i read recently a good essay on feminism and breastcancer - on the use of pink pink pink, and the strong genderising of a (mostly) women's health issue getting mixed up with ideas of predefined gender roles and cis-women & hetero-normality by breast cancer foundations (not the NZ one).

damn - wish i hadn't lost the link.

Brenda said...

but a similarly well written essay can be found here:

katy said...

Anon and ANonnyMoose, yes and no. It isn't politics, it's about looking at the most efficient way to fund this work. Cancer research is expensive and it makes sense in a small country like NZ the best results are going to come from supporting our public research institutes such as universities (which work with medical providers such as hospitals). Good salaries are important but if you know any research scientists you will know that what drives people is not just salary but also just having decent facilities where they can do research.

Relying on the private sector to fund research is dangerous; if you have been following the fate of the US universities over the last year, in particular those in California (including the world's best such as UC Berkeley) which rely on funding from endowments you will be aware what serious trouble they are in now and how even fundamental departments are being closed down. In contrast, NZ and Australian universities are surviving the recession with little damage and that is because the funding source is more stable. The recession won't last forever and as a society we will benefit from the fact that we have been able to keep good people working in this country, rather than forcing them to flee elsewhere.

katy said...

BTW, fwiw I am not ideologically opposed to private funding for cancer research (?!), just that I think that in NZ public funding should form the foundation of funding and that we shouldn't lose sight of this.

spikybombshell said...

Was really excited to read this as this is what I am writing my masters on next year.

There is a really good book about this topic called Pink Ribbons Inc by American writer Samantha King. King has also written numerous material on this topic. There is a really good Time article:,9171,1543947-1,00.html.

As well as a activist group in the states working towards this issue. They have already stopped yoplait (an sponsor of pink ribbon in the States) from putting breast cancer causing additives in their product.

King calls this problem pink washing and it's part of a phenomena called cause related marketing which began in the 80's. Ben Agger has also written about this issue.

I find the most problematic sponsor in NZ to be Dove, they are so hypocritical - the chemicals in their products are actually cancer causing...

I want companies to stop trying to get a cure (instead of their own advertising campaigns - very problematic!) and pour the money into more worthy causes such as addressing the huge waiting times women with cancer are having to endure waiting for both surgery as well as treatment (disgusting)

My mum's a breast cancer survivor so this is a particularly close cause to me - anyone wanting to organise anything to do with this topic I am more than willing to help... shoot me an email if your are interested: