A Problem In Pink

October is a month filled with many different things isn’t it? Halloween comes to mind first but let’s not forget it is also Stoptober for those trying to quit smoking and is the designated Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pinktober… yes not a very clever name, is supposed to be a month in which efforts are made to raise awareness about those diagnosed with breast cancer, though there are some issues I have with the whole thing. I never take too kindly to campaigns solely based in raising awareness, chances are we’re aware of what they’re campaigning about (except maybe things like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, something I’m sure wasn’t much in the public mind beforehand). So what’s wrong with Pinktober if you ask me? Well, where to begin?

The Pink Ribbon movement was originally a feminist ordeal to get the discussion of breast cancer out in the open because whilst breast cancer has been around for a long time, it hasn’t always been an acceptable subject of conversation. Ridiculous to think of it like that now but once upon a time, a time so recent that your parents or grandparents might remember it, you had to keep hush-hush if you had it, talking about your breasts in any context was vulgar, even if it was to tell people you have a life-changing affliction that affected said breasts. However, what started as a noble goal to make a taboo subject something the world had to pay attention to is now more of a money-making scam laden with sexism, commercialism and a small-minded attitude of focus upon breasts over cancer or indeed, the victims they’re supposed to be helping out. In fact, there’s even a term for this corruption, pink-washing.

Pink-washing, in this instance, refers to the sleazy efforts of corporations trying to cash in on a charity by slapping said charity’s label on a product they sell and assuring us a percentage of their profits goes to the charity they claim to represent. The pink ribbon is the most exploited of these symbols, having been stuck on even things such as beer bottles. Whilst many companies are happy to just give some spare change away and think themselves in the right, this easy way out fails to educate anyone on anything and some of these percentages and donations are so minimal they can’t be doing it for anything beyond good publicity. Of course, if you point this out to people that buying all the ribbons in the world doesn’t promote any awareness whatsoever and that pink shirts and pink pop bottles aren’t the answer, you get called out as a monster, strange though it seems. A campaign to discuss a serious health condition and the knock-on effect it has on the lives of those with it has been reduced to a garish pink mess of boob jokes and self-righteous parties. If you buy pink, you’re helping right? Well, no, you know no better so you’re not more aware and when these pink ribbons can be found attached to products that can CAUSE CANCER, it’s a real kick in the shins for those fighting for the cause. After all, you don’t see Oxfam branded caviar or British Heart Foundation branded cigarettes.

The media has dumbed down something as complex as the development of cancer into a popular viral branding scheme, dressed it up in pink and made it into a sexist mess? How is it sexist you ask? Free the ta-tas. Yeah, a breast cancer awareness campaign focused solely on breasts, on how wonderful and amazing boobs are. Forget the woman behind them, she’s dying, so what? Nah, save those perky pink orbs! A woman is more than a pair of breasts! Let’s not forget that men can get breast cancer, do we free his ta-tas too? I’m all for funny and interesting ways to get people to care but efforts lately have been warped into focusing on a sole part of a woman’s anatomy and forgetting about the men in the same boat, the women being oggled and the families who have to adapt or possibly even grieve. A study by Bright Pink showed two thirds of women they interviewed would do more to change their lifestyle if it prevented breast cancer but only about half of those women knew where to start making those changes. The Pink Ribbon stuff has been around for as long as I can remember but I’ll admit to a limited knowledge of breast cancer and I’ll bet most of you reading couldn’t outline how to get checked, how to prevent it happening and what happens if you do get breast cancer. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime but only 10% of women know what to do to correctly estimate their risk of developing it… put simply, we know what breast cancer is, we as a society just know jack shit about it.

There is a certain kind of ignorance that surrounds this cause, a kind that I’m sure will have some who read this thinking I just don’t care and I’m calling this entire thing a worthless con, I’m not. However, when you reject the people your cause represents and turn a noble cause into a capitalist nightmare to feel like you’re the patron saint of all things good and righteous just because you wear a ribbon and attend a cake sale, you fall out of touch with the spirit of charity and you overlook the importance of your cause. I understand it’s difficult to get actual factual information circling in the public psyche but it is not impossible and sadly painting the town pink and calling it an effort to raise awareness isn’t the way to do it. We’re all aware, who really hasn’t heard of breast cancer these days? The people are AWARE of it, now it’s time to educate them on the reality of it, on the people it changes and what needs to be done. As it stands, this campaign has become something ignorant, something corrupt and dare I say it for the irony… something rather cancerous.

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Like and Share, you mindless mortals! (Originally Published – 10th September 2012)

Hello, Jacob Wolfe clocking in again at the factory of foul ranting, after a lengthy holiday that mostly consisted of working my nuts off, here, there and everywhere I could be made to do something for somebody. I’m sure you’ve all been wandering what happened to these once-upon-a-time weekly rants but rest assured I’m going to try and get back into routine so you don’t have to miss out on the hilarious results of frustration plus keyboard. To those of you checking out my work for the first time, you haven’t missed out on too much. The premise is simple, I vent out my anger at a failure within modern society as a page of fanciful ranting and then put up on the internet for people to either laugh at, or be offended by so I can laugh at them. I must warn you in advance, this isn’t friendly stuff so if you’re of a nervous disposition or easily offended, go read something more cheerful. If you’re still here, you’re no doubt after some entertaining vulgarities aren’t you? Oh go on then

My topic today is related to Facebook and in particular, one of the most annoying things about it. I’m not talking about the ever changing layout that leaves people in tears, desperately clawing at their screens because change is bad. No, I’m on about something much much worse. ‘Like and share, ignore if you’re heartless/hate gay people/want to die a grizzly death involving your eyes, a melon bowler and several burly men etc.’ I don’t really have to explain why this is so bad do I? I mean, it’s smegging obvious what’s so bleedin’ annoying about this airy-fairy drivel and if you can’t see the problem, you’ve probably liked and shared one of these stupid photos or maybe you were the one who uploaded that picture of a dying child, demanding I share the photo or you’ll appear under my bed with a knife? By the way, appearing under my bed would be an impressive feat; it has no legs so the space under my bed is as thin as a sheet of paper.

The offending photos range in appearance, usually something harmless and brain dead along the lines of ‘Share if you like Black Veil Brides. Ignore if you’re a Bieber fan’, which, whilst a strong motivation to not ignore your photo, I don’t like Black Veil Brides either and the idea of giving you my attention makes me feel like vomiting. Occasionally, the photos get a bit wedged up their own ass and preach to you about heaven and hell, saying that God will only save those who like the photo of him posted on Facebook. I have read the Bible and I am pretty sure, there isn’t a Psalm Reading along the lines of ‘And so the loyal shepherd liked thy holy spirit’s Facebook photo and so he and his flock were spared from the vengeful flood’. I may be wrong. God’s losing it if he really has to run heaven as an online subscription service, perhaps he’s feeling the effects of global recession and the economic value of the afterlife equates to an amount roughly the same as a Greek saving account.

However, I can put up with the harmless photos of puppies, cartoon characters and various musicians pulling cute faces at me, hoping I’ll grace them with space on my profile because in all honesty, they’re just the end results of creepy weirdoes using pictures to get a couple more friends and the only real way to avoid them is to scroll past them quickly and hope that you don’t get murdered by a ghost or banished to the void between dimensions. I may be irritable and grumpy but I let this slide because it’s essentially just the only way these monkeys can socialise. On the other hand, there are times where the photos can just go too far. I know what you’re thinking, I dance on the edge of taste myself but if you look back at my other rants, I do not dirty my work with anything much too vulgar. Cancer, specific national traumas, disabilities are just three topics that I make sure not to make crude jokes about because I know it’s entirely tasteless and that I will actually be murdered in my sleep by a victim of such topics. However, the photos don’t stop at the border of what’s a harmless picture for some likes and what’s actually just cruel. The photos and their creators are like some sort of psychopathic comedy nightmare, moving into areas that you just cannot poke at for attention. I’m sure we’ve all encountered the photo of a dying baby, suffering with a terminal illness, an abnormal growth or a victim of cancer and below the picture is a tragic back story and this command to share the photo a million times or the baby will die. Firstly, I don’t want anyone to think I’m a heartless old man who thinks those that are ill should die off and leave room for me and I certainly don’t want anyone in the world to have to live with such horrid illnesses, nor do I wish them upon others, even the people I wouldn’t save from being hit by a bus. I just want to make it clear, the photo is not a miracle of medical science and sharing it has no benefit for the child. Doctors get to work the moment they receive a patient, case studies are not uploaded onto Facebook for the public to decide who gets medical attention and who gets thrown out. If a child receives less than one million likes on Facebook, unless the child has already passed away, the child is most likely stable or on the path to recovery whilst receiving support from a number of trained doctors and surgeons. However good your intentions may be, you cannot save a live by making a photograph appear on the Facebook news feed of half your home country. Correct me if I’m wrong but no global catastrophe or terminal illness was ever prevented by a photograph on the internet

Allow me to tell you the story of a little girl named Isobel, a new-born infant that was suffering with a terrible cancer on her brain that appeared as a lump on the side of her head. I mean to tread softly as possible here and I hope nobody takes offense so please let it be said, anything that is interpreted as rude is not intentional. Please also note the information may not be 100% accurate as I am relying on information received from people who identified with my outburst on the comments of her photo. Isobel was photographed, lying on a bed with this growth and clearly looking uncomfortable as she bravely fought against the cancer but what she didn’t know, nor did her parents, is that the strictly confidential photograph was leaked onto Facebook and made into an attention whoring campaign for admins on various tactless pages (You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones with page names written in something even a dyslexic person can spot spelling mistakes in and that offer you 2000 extra friends if you add their shirtless admin and tell him your name, age, occupation, bathroom habits and so forth). The photo came with a brief misinformed back story and the demand that people must share the photo for the child’s sake and that failure to do so is proof that you have no heart. Comments were disallowed unless it was sympathetic but still, the wiser users of Facebook, albeit the grumpier ones, voiced their disgust at what they saw. I would like to inform you all that the child in the photograph survived and received the necessary surgery to remove the cancer; the parents are overjoyed and the whole family is moving on gradually. Now I can’t understand why anyone would use the personal struggles of a stranger just to make themselves popular, it’s sick. The photo is available across the internet and it seems to just say to anyone who looks at this popularity campaign ‘This is the length that an idiot will go to if it makes them popular’. Heck, you’re not even impressing your friends, you’re trying to appeal to people you’ve never met and never will. Isobel’s family were outraged and awash in tears as they watched this photograph make its way across the world for all the wrong reasons. Isobel isn’t the only victim here. Starving orphans, seriously ill babies and sufferers of natural disasters are all exploited as ploys to get Facebook admins noticed.

I do not wish these people to die or become ill but should they ever suffer, I may just reach for a camera. However then again, I might not, for fear of sinking to their level. I couldn’t live a life where my moral standards sit lower down than the Earth’s crust. I don’t normally end on such sombre notes and I hope you all enjoyed this rant as much as I hope it made you think but to any admins out there, the line in the sand should not be crossed for the sake of a few more likes. I can tolerate your bombardment of photos of Bieber and Biersack, your pictures of Satan, of Jesus and of ghosts but if you ever exploit the suffering of another human being to get noticed, you’re not somebody I want to know