Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Dirty Little Pink Ribbon -- My Komen/Planned Parenthood Rant

This morning, during Good Morning, America, I read on the news scroll that Planned Parenthood was "pleased with the Komen Foundation's decision to restore funding to Planned Parenthood."

Well, I'm not pleased.  Not one little bit.

Honestly, I have been at odds with Komen for some time; I am baffled and angry that they continue to accept money from corporations whose products and/or ingredients are antithetical to good health -- breast health in particular.  Don't get me started on Yoplait or KFC (because I've ranted about them before, here and here.)  And I don't know who was asleep at the wheel of the Good Ship Komen when they rolled out their signature fragrance, "Promises"; do these girls not read?  Don't they know that for years women have been warned of the possible link between the chemicals in perfumes and cancer?  Good grief -- even if all that research would be disproven tomorrow, wouldn't you think a Foundation focused on cancer prevention would take a wide, wide tack around an association with a product that could be a carcinogen?

And I'm not crazy about how they spend our money.  If Komen really is "for the cure", don't you think they should spend more than 20% of their yearly income on research?  According to their latest published report, they gave only 13% toward screening services and only 5% on treatment.

Their biggest slice of the pie  -- 40% -- goes toward public health education, also known as "awareness".

If there is still a woman in the US who isn't aware of breast cancer, roll the rock off of her and send her to me -- I can educate her for $0.0 in about 5 minutes.

It's time to flip those numbers around -- how about 5% for awareness and 40% for research?  Send back all those barrels of pink ink that packaging companies use in October and use the refunds for mammograms.  And someone tell those guys in the NFL that they can quit wearing silly pink sweatbands and footwear; we are all quite aware.  Give all that money spent on the pink gear to women who can't afford their chemo, because we get it.  Breast cancer is bad, pink is good.

But just because pink is good, don't use the ribbon willy-nilly for your fund raiser, and don't even THINK about dubbing your event "for the cure"; even if it is for lung cancer, or prostate cancer or toenail cancer, Komen will sue your ass.  Aren't we all in this together?  Apparently not, if you step on their trademarked motto or logo.  They will spend a million dollars a year to make sure that you don't try to sell "Cupcakes for the Cure" at your local bake sale.

I will admit to being a huge fan of Komen until just a few years ago; walking in the Race for the Cure let me do something to remember my mom, raise awareness, give a little $ to an important cause and fill my closet with t-shirts from the events.  And I greatly admired Nancy Brinker, and her promise to her dying sister that she would work for an end to breast cancer, and not quit until there was a cure.  And even though I could say some pretty rotten things about her, I won't, because I try really hard not to be mean to others.

I guess that's part of what I promised my mother when she was dying of breast cancer -- I promised I would take care of myself and my family, do self-exams, get yearly mammograms and play nice with others.

But Komen has forgotten how to play nice with others.  Even when those others are women who desperately need the funding Komen can provide.  Even when the only place those women can find the care they need is at Planned Parenthood.

As a Catholic, I know I'm not supposed to say nice things about Planned Parenthood.  For the record, and to hopefully keep my Catholic card punched, let me say right here that I am against abortion, and look for the day when no pregnant woman would see abortion as her only, final choice.

But unlike my Catholic brothers who make the rules, I believe that the best way to prevent abortions is through education and (watch out, I'm going to say it) birth control.  And I believe that the agency who best knows how to disperse sex education and birth control is Planned Parenthood.

I know, I know.  It's a tricky, labyrinthine slope leading straight to hell that I am treading upon.   But I believe that if I proclaim that I am "pro-life," that means I have to be pro-all life.  I have to be pro-life for death row inmates (which I most certainly am), and pro-life for assholes who make even bigger assholes of themselves by spouting their asshole agendas outside military funerals (which I most certainly am not pro-, and hope to someday be forgiven for loving them not one little bit).  It means I am pro-unborn babies, but I also must be pro-their sweet, scared moms, whether or not they choose to have their babies.  

And to me, what is most important is that I must be pro-life for those people who are not privileged to have access to shelter, food, education and healthcare.  I can't fix all their lives, but like my hero, Mother Teresa (who was firmly anti-abortion and would probably wag her finger at me for this blog post) said, with love, I can do what little I can do.  And if that means supporting an agency like Planned Parenthood, which has a great potentional to fix lives, then I will.

Komen's transparently insincere re-funding of Planned Parenthood will probably do some good for a lot of women, so I guess I should just shut up and let it be.  But I'm just tired of Komen and their kidnapping of breast cancer to the benefit of their bank accounts, "corporate branding" and political agenda.  I am sick, sick, sick to death of the politicizing of women's health issues.

When the pink ribbon gets political, as it did this week, it's no longer a sweet symbol of solidarity among all women  -- it's a dirtied little reminder of what happens when corporations and politicians make pacts to "benefit" one another instead of benefiting those they claim to serve.  I just can't wear it any more.  And you can't know just how very sad that makes me.


  1. Wow. yeah. what she said. you go, girl. love ya. :)

  2. Oh Georgia I want you for my president!!!! If I haven't told you before Girly you R awesome!!!!!

  3. Very well said Sister! Love it!