Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pink stuff

I got through one day of October--one day!--before feeling compelled to blog about all this pink stuff. (But haven't actually had time until today which means I had to stew through all this NFL goes pink and Tom Brady's pink cleats, etc, etc.)
I have done the whole pink complaint thing before and thought I would just let it go this October. But, as we know, breast cancer awareness is a year-round campaign ('cause there might be an unaware person out there who is transformed by that pink spatula at Target) so sport teams--especially collegiate teams with trot out pink laces, shirts, arm bands, etc. during their respective seasons. And I have done that post before (perhaps more than once). And I have talked about the issues with breast cancer charities before.
I was worried about being pro-breast cancer or anti-woman or something, but I read an article in the Boston Globe Magazine Sunday (here's a television segment that goes along with the article) about pink backlash from people with or recovering from the disease. A lot of them are just so over pink. But as one person notes "It's hard to challenge [the pink ribbon/awareness campaigns] without looking like a big meanie or a leftish wacko fringe."
So this post is about how loaded pink is. Last month Nicole at One Sport Voice wrote about pink hockey gloves as punishment. Punishment for boys. Female hockey players sometimes seek out these same gloves.
Laura Pappano wrote about the NFL campaign and other incidents of pinkness in sport.
Men wearing pink for breast cancer is ok. Otherwise it's a little suspect. And in sports it is especially suspect. A few years ago Radek Stepanek got a lot of ridicule for a pink shirt he wore (it also had a cutout in the back). His opponent Leyton Hewitt said after he beat Stepanek that there was no way he was going to lose to a guy wearing pink.
And this year at the French Open, Rafael Nadal wore a pink shirt that apparently caused an uproar. I read about the all the controversy the shirt engendered in the latest Tennis magazine. [I didn't hear about it when I was there during the first week of the tournament. That probably says a lot about "reality" and media.]
Some critics even said that the pink could have contributed to his (first) early exit from the tournament. Yes, it must have been the pink shirt and not the bad knees or anything like that. Nadal, to his credit, shrugged it off and said pink was a popular color in Spain.
Which raises another interesting point: things are completely different in Europe. And not just the fact that pink for men is ok. The Globe article notes that all this marketing of breast cancer--or of any disease ("cause marketing" it is called) is non-existent in Europe. I suspect it has something to do with socialized medicine. After all some of the biggest supporters of breast cancer awareness campaigns are the pharmaceutical companies.
I am sure there will be plenty to come this month--and it will come in pink. Be aware of what you are buying, where the proceeds go, how much goes where, and think about writing a check to a charity that you yourself have investigated and believe in rather than collecting yogurt lids. And think about what it means that pink has come to represent a disease that affects (for the most part) women and the metonymic relationship between women and their breasts.


Anonymous said...

It is not true that there is no 'cause marketing' in respect of breast cancer over on this side of the Atlantic. As I pointed out when you raised this topic before, Middlesex County Cricket Club have been wearing pink breast cancer shirts for a couple of seasons, and while I can't speak for mainland Europe where maybe this doesn't occur in the same way, the ubiquity of the pink ribbons and pink themed displayed in shops et cetera, presumably with the same lack of regulation about what exactly happens to monies raised rang very true. Katharine United Kingdom

Anonymous said...

I find it especially ironic in light of how much hate Sons of Sam Horn-types give to pink hat wearers, as long as those pink-clad fans are women, and doing it for some reason other than breast cancer awareness affiliation.