Fine Until We Get to Speculation
Today, I was explaining to someone I know online why there are pink guns if having a gun is supposed to be about empowerment. As it happens, I forgot one aspect in my rant, because the idea is too bizarre. The fact is, some of those guns are pink because they're supposed to be promoting breast cancer awareness. I mean, that's not me, right? That's seriously weird, right? Some of the breast cancer awareness stuff makes at least a vague kind of sense, but the gun thing does not. Because the thing is, even if you're saying "I'm going to use it for protection," a gun's purpose in life is to cause harm to another human being, which is sort of the opposite of trying to fight cancer. So okay, whatever. But when you get right down to it, the whole "breast cancer awareness" thing is not as good an idea as it sounds for a whole list of reasons, many of which are covered in this documentary.
There was a time when discussing any kind of cancer was taboo, and breast cancer was among the most taboo, because breasts. Now, every product you can name and probably more than a few you'd never consider has a breast cancer awareness promotion or special packaging or some such. There are sponsored [i]everything[/i]; my mom does, or did, the Avon Walk for the Cure herself, and Mom doesn't do things like skydiving or dressage, though other people appear to. And that would be great if there were some evidence that it was accomplishing anything. However, breast cancer rates aren't down. Survival rates are up, I believe, but since there's no communication among researchers, a lot of work is duplicated, even when it proved futile the first time. And there are plenty of companies that are both known for their anti-breast cancer programs and for using carcinogens that are probably given people, whether employees or the general public, cancer. Even if it isn't breast cancer, that's still bad.
One of the things presented here is the simple math. Let's say you do that thing where you send in (cleaned!) Yoplait lids during that particular promotion. Eating three containers of yogurt a day throughout the promotion, and mailing in all the lids, would earn $34 for breast cancer programs. It's got to be cheaper to just send them the check. And since so much of the research is duplicated, you can't even be sure that your $34 is going towards anything useful anyway. But people think just buying something pink is really contributing, so they don't actually contribute. It's more than a little frustrating to people actually working in relevant fields--or people with breast cancer. Avon and Revlon have both made a big deal about their breast cancer programs, but they both use chemicals in their makeup that are linked to cancer. (More on which anon.) So of course, no one using those funds is going to look too closely at environmental factors that might point the finger at Avon or Revlon, are they?
So okay, this is something that kind of got me. "Linked to cancer" is not the same as "a proven carcinogen," and the film gives no details. I happen to know that there are a lot of people who believe things are linked to cancer no matter how little evidence there is in favour of it--or evidence there is against it. I don't know any of the details of the chemicals in question here, because--among other things--I pretty much don't wear makeup. But correlation is not causation; that's one of the first and most important things they teach you in science. They had a woman who appeared to be just someone at an event, and she was saying how obvious it was to her that the issue was plastic in the food chain. But who is that woman? Does she know what she's talking about? Or did she hear it somewhere and think it sounded good and not look into anything that suggested maybe she was wrong? I don't know, because the film never gives any detail on the subject.
Overall, this is a good and important film. It's worth knowing that a lot of these programs are more about profit for the companies running them than actually fighting--or certainly preventing--cancer. And that's leaving aside the thing the film doesn't say, which I already knew anyway, which is that heart disease kills more American women every year than all cancers combined. The film includes an interview with Barbara Ehrenreich, who doesn't like being called a "breast cancer survivor" but is in current parlance, and I highly recommend seeking out her book [i]Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America[/i], wherein she talks about her experiences in breast cancer groups. Here, she says that she's actively offended by the idea that pink teddy bears will solve her problem. If you are over seven, it may be time to move on from pink teddy bears. And it seems no one wants to listen to the Barbara Ehrenreichs out there, because they aren't saying what we believe they should.