Saturday, January 09, 2010

My new least favorite opinion piece theme

"People on Facebook are posting updates with their bra color to get people talking about breast cancer. Even if I don't say it explicitly, you can tell by my derisive tone that I think this is foolish and silly and will never work. Also, I shall quote people saying that it won't work. But while I'm writing an article in this national publication about this thing that my publication only cares about because people are talking about it, I will go ahead and mention lots of stuff about breast cancer. But yeah, posting your bra color to get people talking will never work"

*Headdesk*

CC


Salon's version

Newsweek's version

Politics Daily's Version

The Houston Press' version

The Washington Post's Version (Somewhat more balanced)

the London Telegraph's Version (Someone balanced if you read all the way to the end, but gets its shots in)

Forbes' version

And there are MANY more...

22 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Who cares if these guys think it's dumb. It was funny, as you said in a FB post, and it did get people talking.

TogetherBeth said...

This is the most interesting thing I've seen on this topic.
http://toddlerplanet.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/in-the-name-of-awareness/

I'm ready for some heart disease awareness programs, though I'm not sure what we'd post for that. That's what'll likely get me (and most women, btw) in the end.

Chalicechick said...

Exactly my point. National publications wouldn't be writing about it if it people weren't talking about it, and the fact that national publications are writing about it means that people will talk about it more.

CC

Chalicechick said...

I agree with that person to a point, however, where's the money from our youth's biggest charitable event of the year going?

For education of kids in El Salvador.

Are there a thousand other causes as good or better on this earth? I'd say so. Certainly I think giving to the Heifer project or something else that works for sustainable development of starving people would do more good overall.

But El Salvador is what our youth care about and want to support, because of the work trips our group does there. They've met the kids who would be benefiting, like that girl who just wants to be a doctor but presumably won't get to go to college without our help. El Salvador is constantly on their mind, so when we're doing a fundraiser and they need a place to give money, El Salvador is the first place they think of.

When charitable causes are concerned, no one should knock the power of awareness.

CC

LinguistFriend said...

I'll keep on buying the forever stamps.

Hsofia said...

When I got the email about it I wondered if it would spread. As a meme, it's interesting. It was highly successful.

Charlie Talbert said...

When PETA uses sexual titillation to advance its cause, it inevitably incurs the wrath of some who think it’s anti-feminist. The positive reactions I’ve read about this bra color campaign – and the mildness of the critical ones – raise the question: what’s the difference? It probably has less to do with sex and more to do with the cause.

You mention the Heifer Project. It my opinion, it does more harm than good. This short piece by Rev. Gary Kowalski explains why, and has some links to alternatives at the bottom that are more compassionate and sustainable. http://www25.uua.org/ufeta/heiferproject.htm

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Hmmm...

Chalicechick said...

((((When PETA uses sexual titillation to advance its cause, it inevitably incurs the wrath of some who think it’s anti-feminist. The positive reactions I’ve read about this bra color campaign – and the mildness of the critical ones – raise the question: what’s the difference?)))

If you can't tell the difference between women putting a bra color in their facebook statuses that in most cases only their friends can see, and Londoners being subjected to a display like this then likely nothing I can say is going to help.

As for the anti-Heifer international stuff, I don't doubt that various approaches to the problem of world hunger can be productive. Heifer focuses on giving animals that they call "Seven M" animals that provide "meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation." The meat and the milk doesn't have to be the centerpeice of it unless you choose to view in that way.

In addition, Heifer does offer trees, bees, seeds for crops where it's most appropriate. Indeed, part of what they do is figure out what is the best thing to offer in a certian region. I'm not sure where Kowalshi got the idea that they were pushing cows in Zimbabwe.

According to the a report on Zimbabwe from the University of Alaska that mentioned their work: "Food security in the region was increased through the gift of small stock like goats, chickens, guinea fowl, and rabbits. These animals were selected as gifts because they are easier for households under stress, and often headed by children, to manage. In addition, it is culturally not acceptable in this region for women to and children to own larger stock. Small stock will increase the likelihood of the long-term success of the project and also improve the standing of women and children in the region."

CC
who notes that lots of people in SOUTHERN Africa are lactose intolerant, while most people in Northern Africa are fine. There's something disgusting about twisting your facts in an attempt to make an organization focusing on feeding the starving look bad.

John A Arkansawyer said...

Don't take this the wrong way, Charlie, but when someone from any group with an acronym ending in ETA makes arguments about food animals in development that are not about the ethics of how humans treat animals, I assume the arguments are sophistry and ignore them.

Harsh, perhaps, but life is short.

Lizard Eater said...

Amen, amen, amen. As someone who previously worked in marketing, I was quite entranced with how fast and well it worked. And for free.

Anonymous said...

Well at least there are some men out there that believe that this was a good effort to get people involoved in a breast cancer awareness program. Even if you dont agree with what we did. I will always do whatever I can to get people to be aware of this very important cause.

Chalicechick said...

Anonymous-

I'd say most people here are on your side.

CC

PG said...

Are there people with internet access who don't know of the existence of breast cancer? I don't understand what the point of "raising awareness" about it is. (Contrast with something like mistreatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka, of which many people are not aware.)

'I would find no comfort in Facebook games about colored lingerie that my new body no longer needed, or tight tee-shirts with cute slogans about saving "second base" or the "ta-tas."
Or any other campaign that emphasized the womanliness, the beauty, the importance of breasts. Never mind the breasts. Save the women.'

Chalicechick said...

When the amount of public attention and awareness breast cancer gets stops correlating to the amount of public funding and donations breast cancer gets, I will sing lead soprano in the "it's stupid" chorus. Until then, I'm not criticizing a strategy that is so obviously working.

PG said...

I think it's reasonable to criticize a strategy that's "working" if you don't necessarily share its goals. For example, does it actually make sense for breast cancer research to get more funding than ovarian cancer? And is it worthwhile to get donations even through methods that reduce women's health to sexually-attractive body parts?

Chalicechick said...

According to the American Cancer Society estimates, there were 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in 2009 and 40,170 deaths, and breast cancer kills more American women than any other variety.

Those same estimates for Ovarian cancer are 21,550 new cases in 2009, with 14,600 deaths. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women.

Based on that alone, yes, it seems worth it for breast cancer to get more money.

But also most people who start something like the bra thing or who sign up for a breast cancer three-day aren't doing it because they have objectively observed the data--they are doing it in memory/honor of someone they love, so I'm not sure whether taking a macro view and asking whether it makes sense is actually the point.

I'm a little torn on the "reducing women's health to sexually-attractive body parts" issue, but if it is cancer of those body parts that is killing women faster than any other kind, it seems like to not focus on those body parts is both prudish and bad marketing.

CC
who has never lost a friend to breast cancer and lost a very dear one to ovarian cancer, but the numbers are what they are.

PG said...

I'm a little skeptical of comparing breast cancer diagnoses to those of any other cancer, because mammograms to a certain extent over-diagnose breast cancer. That is, because malpractice-terrified physicians insist on removing anything found in a woman's breast, even if it was very unlikely to have been malignant, we get a higher rate of breast cancer than we do for cancers that aren't as over-diagnosed.

If we go by deaths, breast cancer should get a little less than three times as much funding as ovarian cancer. The National Cancer Institute alone spends nearly $600 million dollars annually on breast cancer research; it spends less than $100 million on ovarian cancer research. To me, the funding is out of whack.

Chalicechick said...

(((That is, because malpractice-terrified physicians insist on removing anything found in a woman's breast, even if it was very unlikely to have been malignant, we get a higher rate of breast cancer than we do for cancers that aren't as over-diagnosed.)))

If a tumor is removed and found not to be cancerous, I can't imagine that person ends up counted in Cancer statistics.

Also, a lot of the money raised for fighting breast cancer doesn't go to research, it goes to things like mammograms for poor people and teaching people to self-examine. Breast cancer, while more prevalent, doesn't kill as much is because it is caught early. A mammogram costs about a hundred bucks.

Only 20 percent of Ovarian cancer is found while it is still in the ovaries. One of the reasons that Ovarian cancer has such a high death rate is the most reliable test for it is an $800 pelvic ultrasound and requires a followup MRI or CT (both in the thousands) if a mass is found.

PG said...

If a tumor is removed and found not to be cancerous, I can't imagine that person ends up counted in Cancer statistics.

Depends on how the statistics are compiled. If part of it is done through billing to insurance (including Medicaid and Medicare), and you bill code 19129 for "Excision of cyst, fibroadenoma, or other benign or malignant tumor, aberrant breast tissue, duct lesion, nipple or areolar lesion," then I don't think the statistics will reflect whether it was benign or malignant.

Also, a lot of the money raised for fighting breast cancer doesn't go to research, it goes to things like mammograms for poor people and teaching people to self-examine.

Do you have any statistics on that? The Susan G. Komen foundation, which appears to be the largest and most prominent private fundraiser for breast cancer, is certainly very focused on a cure.

Chalicechick said...

Komen does do some research, but part of the deal with all the fundraising they do is that it stays in local communities helping out the poor.
Here's one example.

CC

PG said...

The link says that at minimum, 25% of all local fundraising must go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Program.