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Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Word About Komen

I try really really hard to not ever get political on my blog. And this is difficult, because I think of this blog as "my place to type stuff I want to type about" and frankly I have a lot of really strong opinions about politics and issues that face us today. I also try really, really hard to not ever get too political on Facebook, or at work, or with my running friends, which basically means that I tend to vent all of my political frustrations to Todd, which probably sucks for him. Even through all of this trying, I just can't keep my mouth shut on the issue of Komen and Planned Parenthood. But, I'm going to try to be as fair as possible with this.

Full Disclosure: I am ardently pro-choice. I believe in a woman's right to choose, and I believe that abortion should be legal. The discussions on Facebook and news sites over the past couple of weeks has made me crazy-angry. Even more full disclosure: I used Planned Parenthood when I was a teenager to get birth control. I have never had an abortion, but I credit them with keeping me from being a mom WAY too young. Their services are necessary and good, and I support them fully.

So, about Komen.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Susan G. Komen for the Cure chose to defund Planned Parenthood. Internet and public rage ensued. Komen restored funding to Planned Parenthood, and internet and public rage ensued. Basically, the pro-choice folks were angry at the defunding and the pro-life folks were angry at the re-funding, and now one likes Komen anymore. Here's a complete guide to the nonsense if you aren't up to date, although this article is a few days old and more has happened since then.

The awful thing is, I didn't really like Komen that much to begin with. The pink ribbons show up everywhere, on every type of product imaginable. I began to resent how much the pink ribbons were being forced upon women. And, I felt like I was not supporting women if I didn't support Komen. It's not that I don't support breast cancer research, I absolutely do. It's that the brand is being over done - to the point where I don't really want to see any more pink ribbons on anything. And, with as much marketing as Komen has been using - I feel more like wearing a pink ribbon is like wearing around some other trademark, such as Coke or WalMart. It's cheapened it all.

I have had all of this anti-Komen feelings floating around inside of me for years. Once, my friend picked up a pink ribbon skirt or shirt or something at our running store and said to me, "This is cute," and I responded "Yeah... but I'm SICK of breast cancer." I later regretted saying that. Well, I mean, of course I'm sick of breast cancer and I wish it would go away, but I'm not sick of trying to support those that are fighting the illness and I'm not sick of trying to raise awareness and find a cure. I'm sick of Komen. I'm sick of too much marketing. I'm sick of pink ribbons.

Now, I feel sort of justified, and I no longer feel bad about it. I'm saying loud and clear: I DO NOT SUPPORT SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE. And I will not, ever again.

Once all of this Planned Parenthood stuff came to be, I did more research. What I found was that some of the money raised by Komen was spent to sue other charities for using the phrase "for the cure".

Furthermore, only about 16% of Komen's funding actually goes towards research and "finding a cure." I just don't think I can support a charity that fails so much in supporting its own mission.

And then there's Planned Parenthood. They provide breast cancer screenings to poor and underprivileged women, and providing abortions is only 3% of their activities. The money that Komen provided to Planned Parenthood was not going to abortions. And again, I remind you - abortion is still a very legal procedure.

When it comes down to it, the whole debacle was all about politics and not at all about women's health. Komen continues to run their organization more like a corporation and less like a charity. And, I will not be supporting them in the future.

Because I want to remain slightly positive, here are some wonderful resources to support breast cancer awareness and research:

That's funny, I wasn't even aware of these other breast cancer charities!! That's because Komen does such a great job of marketing!!

Another great read: I Will Not Be Pinkwashed

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James said...

Every since I've learned about how much of the money raised for Komen actually makes it into the research, I've been against the foundation. They aren't the only way to give money to breast cancer research either.

Mary said...

Yup, and the National Breast Cancer Coalition does a MUCH better job of not just funneling money directly to research, but providing genuine advocacy and communicating evidence-based, no BS information about breast cancer.

lindsay said...

i used to be involved with komen... but i agree that they don't have good financial %ages. they have definitely won the marketing campaign, which i suppose is good for BC in general.

i am not anti-komen now, i just think there are better organizations out there and i will be "voting" appropriately with my donation dollars.

Mary said...

Problem is, there is an argument to be made that Komen with their marketing and pink ribbons and such have actually HARMED the fight against breast cancer if they aren't actually directing significant amounts of money raised to research/advocacy, etc. Because what actually happens is that people buy all their pink ribbon crap, and then feel like they've done all they need to do for breast cancer, when, in fact, only a tiny percentage of that money is going toward research. So, as a charity, you've wasted all those resources and all that effort in something that doesn't actually get people invested in beneficial action--it just makes them feel like they are.

misszippy said...

Totally with you on this. Even with their reversal on the decision, they've lost me for good.

Black Knight said...

Every year I run the Race for the Cure.
Now I know something more, interesting post.

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