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February 3, 2012

Pinkwashing and Politics

by at 1:52 pm.

I haven’t posted on the whole Komen/Planned Parenthood thing. I think it’d be clear where I stand on it (having praised Planned Parenthood many times before, both from a doing-good thing and on a personal level). I’m glad there’s an intense backlash on the fundraising org for its terrible, and apparently very politically motivated decision to stop funding breast exams for poor women at PP clinics (all protestations to the contrary, the evidence is piled quite high…one can doth protest too much).

But this Gin and Tacos blog post (via the dkos “backlash” link above) goes further in dissecting Komen and why you should be boycotting its races and fundraisers, and its products (including this gun):

But you should not have a low opinion of Komentm because of their announcement on Wednesday. You should have a low opinion of them because they’re a fake charity run like any other company with a product to sell. In this case the product is a combination of guilt, pity, and hope dissolved in a weak acid and dyed a nauseating pink.

And that’s all Komen is – a consulting firm that helps large corporate clients sell more of their products through pinkwashing campaigns. By slathering everything from pasta to baseball bats to perfume to fast food with the Pink Imprimatur, consumers are led to believe that their purchases are making meaningful contributions to breast cancer research. Somewhere down the line a few cents per purchase may trickle into those bloated coffers, but the immediate and motivating effect of that pink packaging is to get you to buy things. In short, Komentm is a group of salespeople selling image. Whatever money benefits the sick, researchers, or recovering patients is ancillary. Getting those big, fat tax-exempt checks from their Partners for the Curetm is what drives their business model.

The Gin and Tacos post also links to a Marie Claire expose (I know, right?) as background information. Both the post I quoted above, and the Marie Claire article, are well worth a full read. There is a paucity of articles and reporters questioning the very concept of “cause marketing” in general and the breast cancer “pink” campaigns specifically. Like “greenwashing,” “pinkwashing” is a marketing ploy first, a way to make a customer feel good about their purchase and therefore, encourage more buying. The Marie Claire article writes about outfits which provide “pink” branded merchandise that have nothing to do with donating to cancer research, and it’s questionable how much of your purchase of a “good” pink-bedecked item really goes to research. What’s clear is that the proliferation of charities and foundations around the breast cancer awareness and research “movement” have done a lot of enriching of themselves, however, and have become big business.

So next time you are in a store or asked to donate towards or participate in a fundraiser like a race, think before you pink!

Just to add, the last page of the Marie Claire article does outline how to truly support breast cancer research and how to watch out for scam charities. (Sorry, fixed the link!)

5 Responses to “Pinkwashing and Politics”

  1. Joe S Says:

    Decision reversed.

  2. Lynne Says:

    Uuuuuuuuh…sorta. Kinda. ZNot really.

    Also, the whole point of my post is that it little matters if they reverse themselves, in that the Komen and other pinkwashing organizations, and the worse ones which are true scams, are preying on our natural fear and sympathy of cancer victims and survivors. For gobs of money and dubious business practices.

  3. Magnolia Says:

    Lynne - you know I am up there in years - but I will defend any woman’s right to do what she wants with her body ( I do have some limits) Some people conveniently forget that Planned Parenthood provides a multitude of services other than the ones the village idiots focis on. them.

  4. Renee Says:

    Totally agree on the pinkwashing concern, aside to our disagreement, SGK charity really took a life of its own over the years. Also I could rant on taking advantage of young teens with the “I love boobies” bracelets. Turning breast cancer into a way to annoy adults?? I have family members who had breast cancer, and my mother is a part of a sister study.

    For a matter of practicality the average patient for Planned Parenthood is between 15-35, at the height of our reproductive years, but routine mammograms are not needed until the age of 50. As we know the grants was actually a small amount consider the size of both PP and SGK, but I think many people who don’t have strong opinions are either side of the issue are scratching their heads why such grants even existed, and consider that any referral grants to simply more charitable waste.

  5. Susan Engelbert Says:

    politics.. that’s how it is

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