Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tough titties


Dolphic Oracle by Pants



Today I received a chain email containing this request,



Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.


Wrong, wrong, wrong.

For a start, the friend who sent me the email did not conceal her address list. Neither did the friend who sent it to her. This is a serious breach of email etiquette. I have sent a polite email pointing this out and asking to be excused from all further forward campaigns. But it is a minor evil. My email address is made freely available by me on this blog, althought not so conveniently spam-packaged.

The real subject of my displeasure is the content of the email itself. Firstly, the friend who sent it is UK-based. In the UK, mammograms are free to all women and in Australia they're free to women on low incomes. What was she on about? I looked at the site and it's for American women. I absolutely gagged on 'donate mammogram in exchange for advertising'. Who did the unit cost evaluation on that I wonder, Shylock?

If the plea had been for women in poor countries who have no access to services other than those that charities can provide, it would have been different. But then again, they would have asked for money. We're talking about the richest country in the world. I am aware that there are plenty of women in the US who cannot afford to have a mammogram but this is not a good reason to support a private initiative that relies on retailer advertising.

I checked with Hoax-Slayer. It isn't a hoax, but it isn't entirely honest either. It is true that 100% of the money generated by all this clicking does go to providing free mammograms for women in the USA. Although it is partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation in the US, The Breast Cancer Site is not itself a non-profit organisation. The site's major business seems to be an odious Breast Cancer Store dedicated to selling all manner of infantilising Breast Cancer 'product'. Pink Ribbon Artisan Glass Peace Crane anyone? A snip at US$14.95.

More worrying is the assertion by Hoax-Slayer that there is no apparent evidence that the site is 'having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily' to meet their one-a-day free mammogram quota. If anything, the site itself boasts of over-achievement. I also discover that these emails have been doing the rounds for years. I am fortunate to have been spared before.

I have had some experience with charities whose own continued existence ends up being its primary purpose. This is not a good thing. One could argue that this campaign is doing some good work so why quibble over ethical niceties when lives could (theoretically) be saved? My view is that a moral premise that is based on a lie is not a very sound one. A mammogram is not the same as Oprah delivering a fridge to your house because you have been doing it tough lately.

By all means click away if you believe you can make pain disappear with a wave of your mouse. It can do no harm beyond further fetishising breast cancer. If you want to do something positive however, send an email to President Obama, who is struggling to get his Health Care Bill through the US Congress right now. At the bottom of the email contact form you will find a subject option that contains a sub-option, 'message of support'. Click on that and tell the man who's trying to make fundamental changes to poor women's access to health that you believe he's doing the right thing.