COMMENTARY | Just because a political move gets reversed doesn't make it any less of a political move. In fact, the outcry against the Susan G. Komen Foundation for a poor decision was so immediate and forceful that Komen really had no choice. When heavy hitters like Breast Cancer Action and Dr. Susan Love are publicly outraged, people notice. It was my impression right from the beginning that the Susan G. Komen Foundation was just trying to look good to important people, in this case the right-wing anti-abortion lobby.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Komen really is more interested in saving women's lives than maintaining its pretty pink image. It's possible. It's possible that "Promise Me", the perfume that the Susan G. Komen Foundation marketed to raise money for breast cancer research really didn't have carcinogens in it. Maybe Komen's partnerships with numerous retailers don't really make anybody any profit.
These possibilities are not strong enough or compelling enough for me to spend any money on anything that has a Komen label on it. There are just too many other excellent charities to contribute to, like the National Breast Cancer Coalition to name one. The NBCC is committed to ending breast cancer by 2020. I donate directly, since retail pinkwashing is so ubiquitous. If in doubt, consult Think Before You Pink, which is a project of Breast Cancer Action. The Breast Cancer Action League was yet another of the many breast cancer organizations that loudly protested against Komen's decision.
My twelve-year-old daughter wanted to buy a pink compact mirror yesterday, because she thought it was pretty. "Look Mommy, it is for breast cancer, we should buy it!" It had the Susan G. Komen label on it, and I told my daughter I would not. I told her that I didn't support a breast cancer charity that says it is committed to saving lives, while yielding to pressure and sacrificing medical care to women who need it. She was very upset. She thought it was terribly unfair. She demanded to know why I was punishing her, ruining her life, etc. A twelve-year-old can really pour on the pressure.
I did not cave in. The Susan G. Komen foundation has. Twice.
Elizabeth Danu is a five-year survivor of Stage IIIC Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She maintains a resource blog for cancer survivors at the Liberation of Persephone.