October? Already? I suspected as much when I saw a TV commercial for one of those bottled “energy shots.” Everyone was wearing a pink shirt; they were hawking a new pink flavor. Then I read some random article in the Houston Chronicle, and noticed that suddenly it has a pink ribbon on its banner.
Pink, pink, pink. It began to gurgle up from my spleen, that festering clump of fuchsia bile that gags the spinster craw every October, the month when “breast cancer awareness” metastasizes, spewing its foul Pepto-hued marketing spores over the countryside like a giant exploding tumor. Time for my annual anti-pink rant.
If you’re new to IBTP, here’s my whole breast cancer weltanshaaung in a nutshell: several years ago I was diagnosed with a pretty advanced case. I endured a couple years of humiliating, expensive, barbaric treatments, including the amputation of all organs, tissues, and glands associated with reproduction (they chopped off some other stuff, too, just for the hell of it). During this period I was introduced to the Cancer Industrial Complex in no uncertain terms. I came to resent the way misogynist outfits like Komen and Avon, with their positive-attitude survivor-nazis and sleazy, hypocritical corporate sponsors, had turned my life-threatening disease into a marketing juggernaut, a juggernaut with a white, middle-middle class face, a “shop for the cure” message, and no interest whatsoever in preventing cancer.
Well, I lived. Mostly. You can read all about my nauseating cancersploits, as well as elaborations on my jaundiced views on Komen et al, here. The book that opened my eyes to this shit was Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, by Samantha King. You can watch the trailer for the 2011 film “Pink Ribbons Inc” right here.
Anyway, the gist of my anti-Komenite argument is that all these thons and pretty-pink branding campaigns benefit corporate interests way more than they do women. That’s because Komen et al are entirely focused, not on preventing cancer, but on normalizing cancer. The giant corporate entities that align themselves with Komen line their pockets with loot from pink awareness editions of their cheap crap products. The mammoth cancer industry — drug companies, hospitals, manufacturers of pink dyes, etc — and its corporate leeches have nothing to gain and everything to lose should breast cancer actually be eliminated.
Let’s break it down. The aforementioned energy drink company, for example, donates a nickel every time some hapless sleep-deprived shopper buys the product. Most people don’t give a crap beyond the “donate” part, so they probably don’t know or care that the beneficiary is a charity called Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a non-profit assisting patients in navigating the eddying cesspools of the treatment industry. I don’t know much about them, but let’s just assume for now that they actually provide useful services.
But look out! It turns out that Living Beyond Breast Cancer is funded, among many others, by Komen, Avon, Myriad Genetic, Novartis, practically every other drug company you can name, Cancer Treament Centers of America, L’oreal, and an entity called — and no, I’m not making this up — “boobies rule !!!”
Let’s break down the breakdown. Komen is a breast cancer brand name, devoted solely to attention-diverting “awareness,” that corporations use to sell pink shit. Novartis is the pharmaceutical company that charged me $40,000 for a cancer drug that drained all the estrogen from my body and turned me into a creaky old bearded crone. Myriad Genetic is the company that charged me $4000 for a single test; they get away with that price tag because they have actually patented the gene that caused my disease.* Cancer Treatment Centers of America is a chain of clinics who advertise heavily on primetime TV and whose entire revenue stream depends on the perpetuation of cancer. Avon and L’Oreal are cosmetics companies that sell carcinogenic femininity-compliance supplies.
In other words, these are all entities who profit ginormously from a steady stream of cancer patients (or, in the case of Avon and L’Oreal, from actually causing cancer).
“But Twisty,” you say, “at least they’re funding this ostensibly benevolent organization.” Well, yeah, but it’s a charity that basically resigns to the inevitability of cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer looks good on a corporate resume, and in no way interferes with their revenue streams. In fact, through programs such as pharmaceuticals “education” and free advertising for new or “breakthrough” drug therapies, Living Beyond Breast Cancer can even increase their sponsors’ bottom lines.
By the way, I have no idea what “boobies rule !!!” is, but clearly it belongs to that juvenile, offensive, porn-informed save-the-tatas! faction who think that breast cancer is about tits rather than death.
Anyway, because breast cancer has been successfully marketed as a politically-neutral, warm-fuzzy cause, the aforementioned energy drink company can use the glowing pink ribbon association to burnish its corporate image even as it rakes in the dough off shoppers who confuse buying shit with philanthropy.
Breast cancer patients may indeed benefit short-term from such services as Living Beyond Breast Cancer provides. But what they really needed was for all this bullshit cure-based cancer money — the dough raised by pink-visored walkathoners and purchasers of pink caffeine drinks — to have gone into prevention, so they wouldn’t have had to get fucking cancer in the first place. Because, let me tell you: even if it “cures” you, which of course it never completely does, cancer treatment is torture. Actual, physical, months-long torture. Not to mention, it bankrupts you.
I mean, look what cancer did to Walter White.
If you wanna help giant corporations make money off the backs of cancer patients, by all means go Walk, or Drink Caffeine Shots, or Lick Yogurt Lids for the “Cure.” If you wanna read about celebrity breast cancers, or check out photos of philanthropic socialites wearing pink dresses at galas, or view clickbait on some backyard grilling tips to add to your pointless cancer-prevention regimen, thank the lard for the enpinkened Houston Chronicle. But if you actually want to help prevent cancer, check out Breast Cancer Action, the San Francisco-based feminist social justice advocacy group whose mission is — not to endlessly treat existing cancers with barbaric drugs, surgeries, and radiation — but to end the breast cancer epidemic once and for all. Their motto is Think Before You Pink. They’re the official breast cancer charity of Savage Death Island.
* I had really good insurance at the time, but, surprise, it covered neither the Novartis drug nor the genetic test. I was only able to afford that shit through the generosity of my family.
Pink ribbon at the White House pic: still from Pink Ribbons, Inc trailer.