I’m going to assume you already know that last week the Susan G. Koman Foundation, which is responsible for the pink ribbon campaigns raising money for breast cancer, pulled its funding for Planned Parenthood, had the internet dropped on its head, then back-pedaled. That piece of it is done, and I assume everybody can guess what I’d have to say about it anyway. If you can’t, well, I’m on the record as thinking life starts when it can carry on an interesting conversation and not before. I’m rather fond of Planned Parenthood.
No, I’ve two entirely other beefs to pick with Koman. This first is simply that they manage to actively trigger my badly calibrated sexism sensors in such a way that it’s awkward when I bitch about it. We can slide right past the aggressive pairing of “pink” and “women” to the point where I once had a memorable tirade in a hardware store when confronted with a noxiously colored tool box. Seriously, you do not have to make a thing pink for it to be attractive to women. Granted, Koman isn’t directly arguing that you do, but they’re ruthlessly benefiting from every marketer ever going, “Finally, I can make everything pink to sell to those wimmens without being sexist because I’m doing it for their own good!”
Which segue’s nicely into the other problem with the whole campaign, i.e. having “Women have a special disease that makes them
weak sick and kills them.” Again, I’m sure Komen is utterly well intentioned, but the issue isn’t so much a disease that kills women but the disparity in medical research done on women in general, and women-specific issues in particular. I mean, come on, we didn’t even figure out what the clitoris looks like until the nineties and almost twenty years later it’s still not common knowledge. I learned details of the penis under my not-quite-abstinence-only sex ed in school. Shenanigans, I call them. Komen doesn’t. That’s a problem.
But that’s why that other thing they did last week, which got much less press, bothers me significantly more than de-funding Planned Parenthood: pulling funding for stem cell research. Stem cell research funding is on the short list of topics I have trouble talking about with out reaching for a baseball bat. It’s the smug look the proponents get when they say, “See, it only took us fifteen years to find a way around using embryos that were getting thrown out anyway.” Fifteen years we could have been, you know, doing research on curing things I’m rather frightened of getting. So last week Komen tarnished their brand with the knee-jerk internet pile-on crowd, but they also took themselves from “Annoys Anaea in a way she feels a little guilty about,” to, “Anaea endorses cosmic cruelty directed their way.” Good job, Komen. That’s a very efficient week you had there.