Many thanks to amateur for pointing me to this fascinating blog entry by sportsbabel about his experience running in a recent breast cancer charity event. Here are his very interesting observations as he questions if such events are really "feminist" (noting that there are many types of feminism of course):
"1. There is a bounty of sponsor-provided free food offered to the runners after the race is completed, while Toronto's homeless peer in through the semi-enclosure or sleep on grates nearby.
2. After the post-race refuelling is finished, there do not appear to be temporary recycling facilities anywhere to collect what will be thousands of plastics and tetra boxes.
3. Men can get breast cancer as well, yet I could only find this nugget of information buried away on the web site's Breast Cancer Statistics page. Saying so out loud must confuse the "Think Pink" message.
4. In the ultimate irony of "Thinking Pink," there is predominantly pinkish skin in attendance at the event held in what is purportedly the most multicultural city in the world. One presumes that the minimum requirement of $150 in pledges or a paid $40 registration fee places real economic pressure on those (particularly minorities) who would like to contribute their efforts as runners, rather than as volunteers."
Point 1 about the homeless is well-taken, but as someone who teaches women's studies and continually hears from her students about the multitude of issues out there I can unserstand that every event cannot address every issue. So long as the charity event did no harm to the nearby homeless, I do not think they can be faulted. But I do hope others noticed the situation and were perhaps moved to consider ways to address this issue as well.
Point 2 about recycling is quite surprising. Because it's in the purview of the event, organizers should have had recycling bins. And participants should complain about their absence.
Point 3 is somewhat contentious. While men do get breast cancer, they get it much less frequently--which does not mean that they should be ignored. But grassroots movements by women fought so hard for so long to get recognition for and research on this disease, and I don't truly believe they have an obligation to place men at the center of the discourse alongside women.
Point 4 is particularly compelling to me given the recent stats I have heard about the increase in cancer among African-Americans. I understand the need to have a registration fee for these events because too many people would just run it as part of a larger training regimen. But I do think there needs to be a sliding scale for these events. Will this draw more people of color to the event? I don't know. Like the original women's movement of the 70s, breast cancer activism has a very white movement and it might take a lot more purposeful outreach to change that dynamic.