Reversal or no, I just keep getting more and more angry at the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with Pink October. My sister was diagnosed in that month, and not an hour after receiving her phone call, while doing my grocery shopping and trying to pretend everything was going to be okay, I was confronted with a box of frozen waffles with a pink ribbon on it. It was all I could do not to throw the fucking thing at the first hapless passerby. The juxtaposition was just too ridiculous. It was insulting. And I knew, from what little I had read, how little money was actually generated by the pinking of my products. If these corporations really cared about breast cancer research, why not just make the donation and shut up about it?
But that’s not how corporations work. And apparently, that’s not how the SGK foundation works, either. They have long been criticized for how little of the money and publicity they generate actually improves the health of women.
When Komen announced earlier this week that it would no longer be funding grants to Planned Parenthood, they denied that the move was political. As everyone is well aware by now, they claimed that it was because they do not fund entities that are “under investigation.” And because a Republican Congressman had called for a financial audit of the organization, well, you know…they had no choice but to cease funding them.
Which is bullshit, of course.
The investigation was manufactured so Komen had an excuse to cut ties with Planned Parenthood. That much was clear from the get go. But even those who would deny that the investigation was spurious cannot possibly defend the unevenness with which Komen has followed their own rules. They fund plenty of institutions that are under investigation, and have no qualms taking money from some of the worst offenders. Jezebel did an excellent roundup of their worst offenses here. Holy jiggling breasts, indeed.
Predictably, Komen has now reversed their decision, restoring hearts and rainbows and pink ribbons to all, so phew. Catastrophe avoided, right? Wrong. They still have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. Currently, the banner on their website (and the statement announcing their reversal) says:
We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what’s right and fair.
It’s a day late and a dollar or two short. It’s also completely disingenuous. Komen doesn’t seem to have any problem accepting money from institutions or corporations that have been criminally and conclusively investigated. That’s probably wise on their part, given the as-yet-immeasurable hit donations have taken and will continue to take as they try to clean up the mess they have made.
As for what’s right and fair? What’s right and fair would be for women in this country to have access to comprehensive health care. Komen has already made clear that it is an organization more inclined to swathe us in pink than fund these services. Their hiding behind a rule when it’s politically expedient -- and ignoring it entirely when it’s not -- is neither, no matter how sorry they say they are.
May Komen's loss be Planned Parenthood's considerable gain, so that the millions of women who rely on them for cancer screenings continue to receive them. And may corporations, private donors, and others bypass the corporate hype and give directly to the research institutions and foundations less interested in turning my freezer case pink, and more interested in, say, detecting and curing cancer.