The Thinking 

Breast Cancer and Feminism

October 9, 2012


ANDY NOWICKI writes at AlternativeRight about Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

During October, everything in sight is painted pink—the chosen color of feminine “empowerment,” I suppose—and a bevy of worn, weary “survivors” are regularly trotted out as exemplars of womanly courage and fortitude. I have nothing against women with breast cancer, of course; indeed, I wish them well. But do we really require pink newspapers delivered to our doorsteps, and do we really need to see professional football players wearing faggy-looking pink shoes and socks for an entire month, just to show we’re properly concerned for and in righteous solidarity with the afflicted?

And if we’re going to parade the victims around and sing them gushing praises, why the selective, patently exclusionary, celebration? Are people with lung, throat, eye, pancreatic, and testicular cancer not also suffering? Are they not also facing their difficulties with stout determination? Why have these inspiring victims not been their own months to be affirmed, lauded, and praised?

The answer, I suspect, has very little to do with cancer, and very much to do with the misandric calibration of the current era. Just as AIDS became a cause célèbre because it disproportionately afflicted gay men, at a time when the Zeitgeist-shapers wished to banish “heterosexism,” so breast cancer “awareness” has become a means of furthering the “Girls rule, boys drool” vibe of radical feminism, which disdains and aims to “deconstruct” masculinity. There’s nothing at all inherently wrong with women giving other women encouragement, but the fact that macho NFL linemen are now being made to wear pink should tell us something about the aims and objectives of the “Save the Tatas” campaign.

 Surely there is a way to honor the sick that doesn’t resort to cheap posturing and politicizing. And surely there are sincere people in the “pink ribbon” movement who only want to see the development of a cure for a disease that affects thousands of families a year. But the hearty Zeitgeist-defier should recognize, and be leery of, massive media-driven, and obviously contrived campaigns to exploit his compassion for nefarious ends.

The supreme irony of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the immense public campaign is that for all the hoopla, virtually no attention is drawn to three clincially proven causes of breast cancer: delayed childbearing, hormonal contraceptives and abortion.

—— Comments —–

Kevin M. writes:

It only gets worse. You ever hear of that “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” nonsense on college campuses? Men trotting around in high heels to “show solidarity” with the bottomless plight of women?

Every time our culture acts like this–publically demonstrating an oversentimentalization of women’s status–we become more and more irrelevant to Planet Earth. Men and boys need to stop apologizing for being male and start acting like the men our society relies on for its continuation.

Laura writes:

I shouldn’t be, but I’m shocked. I’m shocked that this has gone as far as it has, with men wearing pink shoes and women using this ugly, sad disease to show off their knockers at parties. See this previous post on what I called the “indiscreet, in-your-face, sickly sweet, ever-pervasive campaign against breast cancer.” Other posts are here.

Jane S. writes:

They’ve turned me off the color pink.

Mrs. M. writes:

Last Sunday, my family watched a football game and my five year-old son asked me, “Mommy, why are those football players wearing PINK?” I suppose I am a bad parent for teaching him that pink is a color for girls to wear. The best age-appropriate answer I could muster was that the pink color was a way to say the players want girls to be healthy. My son found the pink shoes offensive anyway!

Karen I. writes:

I think it is important to tread carefully when discussing “risk factors” for cancer. While there are well established risk factors, others are not as clear. There is a fine line between advocating a healthy lifestyle and taking a “blame the patient” stance. Sick patients often wonder what they did to get (“deserve”) a disease, to the point of tormenting themselves with the question. They could be very sensitive to suggestions that something they did or did not do led to their sickness.

I am a patient at a major regional hospital’s cancer care center because I am high risk for an uncommon, lethal form of cancer. It is related to another, relatively uncommon condition I have. The best doctors can do in my case is watch me carefully for the cancer and catch it early, before it spreads. I have been told to report certain symptoms because they could mean I need to start chemotherapy within 24 hours. So far, I have been fine and my doctor tells me to live my life and let her worry. In my case, like many others, research points to the cause being an underlying genetic tendency towards a disease that is triggered by environmental or lifestyle risk factors. Those risk factors could be severe stress, a virus, exposure to toxins in the environment, etc. If I did not have the underlying genetic predisposition, I would not have the condition and the associated risk of cancer, regardless of my lifestyle or environment. So, these things are complex.

I don’t resent the attention given to breast cancer. I used to be annoyed by the pink ribbons, but I have changed my thinking. I now realize that every dime spent on any form of cancer research benefits all cancer patients. If the money comes from the sale of junk adorned with pink ribbons, so be it. If it means football players run around in pink socks, fine. Those ribbons can help us all because treatments and advanced detection methods used for one form of cancer can eventually be applied to other forms of cancer. Gene therapies for one form of cancer can someday benefit other forms. And, risk factors for one form of cancer apply to other forms as well. Breast cancer studies have recently shown that not all breast cancers are alike, so they should not all be treated alike. That sort of revelation could help patients with all types of cancers and even other diseases, like autoimmune conditions, which tend to afflict women far more often than men and are a leading cause of disability in women.

Laura writes:

First, I have never expressed annoyance with pink ribbons on their own as breast cancer fundraising symbols or with breast cancer walks or appeals for funds. Breast cancer fundraising is a noble cause. These campaigns are important ways for people to honor women who have died from this disease and for those who have never known anyone with breast cancer to help. The complaint is with the over-the-top nature of breast cancer awareness campaigns, which have become a vehicle for narcissism, grandstanding and the occasional guilt-tripping that suggests women’s health is neglected by the medical establishment. I agree with Nowicki, there is an undercurrent of feminist manipulation.

But, I could put up with all that. To me, the more important issue is this dishonesty about risk factors and the deliberate refusal to warn women. Has there ever been a more shining example of the hatred for women that lurks within feminism?

It is important to be very careful when discussing risk factors. The point is, the leading breast cancer fundraisers are not being careful as they are denying a significant body of evidence regarding certain risk factors. I would not post this evidence if I thought it was not substantial. Pointing to these risk factors is not to say these are the only risk factors or even the most serious ones. Obviously, there are other serious causes. And, many women will never know what caused their own cancer.

As for blaming patients for the disease, the patients were not involved in research or in withholding information. The point is not to scold women for getting abortions, but to warn them. Would you prefer the information be suppressed so that women who may have unknowingly increased their risk of breast cancer are not hurt? Should researchers have withheld the information that smoking causes lung cancer so as not to hurt people who had smoked?

Terry Morris writes:

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month again? Somehow I hadn’t noticed. Ha, ha.

Back when I was a high school football player in the early Eighties, our team was fortunate enough to have a new locker room built to replace the old locker room. The new structure also included a smaller dressing room for the visiting teams, which we painted what might now be described as “Breast-Cancer-Awareness Pink” – not nearly as popular a color then as it seems to be now. lol

Our intention in the choice of color seemed to work perfectly according to plan since most of the visiting teams refused to use the room, preferring rather to dress in and around their respective school buses. Unless, of course, weather conditions made doing so too uncomfortable. Which was an extremely rare event.

It is amazing the level of discomfort young men can, and are willing to, endure for the sake of preserving their dignity when they feel it is being challenged. On the other hand I can recall, on more than one occasion during post-season play, a crafty coaching staff turning the color of their dressing room to their team’s advantage, as they utilized the space.

There’s nothing tougher, meaner, more resolute or downright dirty than a team of visiting high school football players who’ve had it drilled into their heads that their opponents think of them as girls belonging to another sport.

But what has that to do with Breast Cancer Awareness? Nothing. And that is the point.  :-)

Laura writes:

In other words, pink football cleats have nothing to do with breast cancer and everything to do with a perverted delight in seeing football players in pink.

 Ivey writes:

While in town with my son recently, I actually had the displeasure of seeing a pumpkin painted pink with two smaller pink pumpkins attached as breasts. Of course the stems had to be painted bright pink. Fortunately, my son is just a toddler so I didn’t have to divert him, but I’ll have to be on the lookout next year.

Paul writes:

Mr. Nowicki sums up my anger, and there is reason for anger.  Although I do delight in spotting pro-football players who refuse to succumb to the “think-pink” Orwellianism, there are serious problems at play.  One problem is another example of Lawrence Auster’s unprincipled exception, which allows liberalism to survive.  Liberals, who dislike capitalism and pro-football’s blatantly male activity, use pink to assert the monetary value of male pro-football to escape the effect of their anti-capitalistic policies, which fail to produce the money needed to improve their favored class, women.  Liberals pressure the low owners, pure capitalists.

Another problem is the Media’s favoritism towards breast cancer.  Annually, prostate cancer kills 28,170 men and breast cancer kills 39,510.  Annually, while 12.5% of women are diagnosed with breast cancer, 16.6% of men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.  There is little evidence for the effectiveness of mammography or prostate cancer screening (the PSAblood test) in reducing mortality.  While breast removal is traumatic, prostate cancer surgery has a high risk of dreadful complications.

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