ActivismAfternoon InquisitionFeaturedSkepticism

AI: Breast Cancer Slactivism is SO Lazy it goes on Vacation.

Apparently, it’s that time of year again! You know. That time of year where your friends annoy the crap out of you by participating in some silly social media prank disguised as awareness. And lucky us! It’s about breast cancer AGAIN! Because as you know, there are so MANY people on FB still unaware that it exists and we have to raise consciousness because there are not enough pink balloons in the ariport. Ammirite!

Here is my weekly I-haven’t-had-enough-coffee-yet-but-I’m-still-talking video on the subject. Enjoy!

Slactivism. Definition from Urban dictionary: “The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem. Signing an email petition to stop rampant crime is slacktivism. Want to really make your community safer? Get off your ass and start a neighborhood watch!

Text from image above that I read in the video:

Ok pretty ladies, it is that time of year again…support of breast cancer So we all remember last year’s game of writing your bra color as your status? Or the way we like to have our handbag handy? Last year, so many people took part that it made national news… and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness! Do NOT tell any males what the status means…keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste this in a message to all your female friends.The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the GIRLS ONLY and let’s see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went around all over the world. YOUR STATUS SHOULD SAY: “I am going to Mexico for 21 months.” The month you were born is the Place you are going, and the day you were born should be how many months you are gone….
January – Mexico
February – London
March – Miami
April – Dominican Republic
May – Paris, France
June – Rome
July – Hawaii
August – California
September – New York
October – Puerto Rico
November – Las Vegas
December – Australia
Please do it, don’t be a spoil sport…show your awareness for Breast Cancer! Don’t forget to pass it on!

My response: No.

Is this helpful in any way? Am I a “spoil sport” for refusing to play along and for discussing it here, in front of men? Are we hiding this “TRUTH” from the men because we don’t want them to know that men can get breast cancer too? What better, more effective outreach could we do for breast cancer awareness?

ALSO! We had a COTW from last week’s post! WOOOT! Congrats to commenter, izillari! Izilari send me your shipping address through the contact link on the top of the page, Put ATTENTION SURLY AMY and I will send you your very own bar of Dove soap AND a surprise!

The winning comment: “Beauty-schmeauty; when you make a soap that soothes murderous rage and repels swarming toxic commercial messages I might be interested, Dove.”

This week if we have a winning COTW in my post, I will send out a fabulous Surly surprise -something made by me! To participate in my Comment of the Week shenanigans and giveaways just reply to any comment that you find funny or poignant by putting “COTW” in the message. I will pick a winner each week. Good luck and happy commenting!

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. You know what would be awesome? Getting to go on a vacation FROM cancer. “I’m going to Rome for 15 days and breast cancer is not coming with me.”

    And WHY are we hiding this from the boys again? Because it’s boobs or because this bullshit is stupid and they’re going to judge us for being assholes?

  2. I wonder what happens if my birthday is in, say, december and I am already in Australia. They really haven’t thought that through, have they?

  3. Knowing people who’ve had cancer, this has to come off as the most trivializing, shallow stunt disguised as activism. You’d be as well to post “Pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster to use his noodly appendage to eradicate breast cancer.” Dumb. Let’s all not play this stupid icebreaker game and provide our Facebook Friends with useful information about breast health and breast cancer instead.
    Also, none of the places listed are in Canada. Hi, we’re the second largest country. I believe we deserve some recognition in your stupid game that I wouldn’t play with anyone over 8 for fear I’d be eyerolled to death.

  4. Amy, if it’s a secret that makes it more special, and what could be more special than a meaningless gesture. On the other hand, I’m going to Hawaii, which would be cool if it wasn’t for 21 months. After a while, it wouldn’t even be a vacation, I’d just be living in Hawaii with no job.

  5. My birthday is a holiday and I always get screwed out of an extra gift and have to give others something.
    And men get breast cancer, too. Why don’t they get to “play”?

  6. Is there anyone on the Internet who isn’t aware of breast cancer?

    I used to work in cancer research, so I might be biassed on this point. But I’m pretty sure that pretty much everyone knows it exists, and can be bad. What people need to know is exactly what Amy says: where to get a low-cost mammogram, how to self-examine, what charities exist that you could donate money to, and so on.

    Walking up to people and saying, “by the way, breast cancer exists; just sayin'” is not helpful.

    Bleah. I’m going to Tasmania for a week.

  7. A couple of years ago I got my dear wife a nice new Ipod Nano for Xmas. This was just after her completing the horrible, traumatic courses of Chemo. I knew she wanted a red Nano but they were all sold out, so I got her the next best thing.

    When she opened it, instead of being excited, her face fell. She looked as miserable as I’ve ever seen her.
    Me: “What’s the matter?”
    She: “It’s…it’s BREAST CANCER PINK!”

    Wow, she hates that colour! Of course I went back and swapped it for a blue one.

    Maybe some people may think that she was being oversensitive. But then again, sometimes folks just need to be able to forget their disease and not have it shoved back in their face all the time everywhere they go. I can understand that.

    So TL;DR there is a downside to too much awareness.

    1. Eek, apologies if I’ve told that story before. It’s a sign of old age I guess. Please tell me off if I do it again!
      I just wanted to add, I believe many of the families affected by SIDS (cot death) are similarly up in arms about the Red Nose Day fundraising appeal (is that a thing in the USA?). They believe it is trite, undignified and disrespectful and I can totally relate to that.

    2. Jack99, in no way to diminish anything you just posted, but if it’s ok….reminded me of the ‘sweet geranium’ lotion set I bought my partner for her birthday which happens about the 25th Dec. whose plastic wrap packaging deservedly scored a future as an ashtray for her ‘last one’ cigarette. Did I ever get reminders of my lack of sensitivity / hypocrisy – 100% deserved!!

      I hope things go well for you both.

      I’ll never ask my friends girls what ‘pink’ means to them, never

      best wishes

  8. I’m not in the mood for silly games. My mother died in my arms from complications of breast cancer two weeks ago. I’m still cleaning out her house.

    Then I find out I’m going to The Dominican Republic for 46 months? Well, I guess it beats Arizona.

    1. You are my comment of the week because I want to send you a Surly gift. Please send your shipping info in to the contact us form at the top of the webpage. Send it: Attention Surly Amy. Thank you for commenting. :)

  9. You call that activism? Lets really change the world. Pick your favorite color. Spell it backwards. Type the into Google and pick the eighty third page in the search results. Click on the first advertisement you see. Find the price of that item and add up all the digits. Add your age to the result. Post that number followed by your first pet’s name on Facebook. When someone responds, unfriend them immediately and post a picture of a duck on your wall and yell, “Fuck you, breast cancer!”

    Awareness accomplished!

  10. I already knew that men could breast cancer, but only because I watch Archer. Man, that guy’s a douchebag.

      1. Men could “get” breast cancer.
        That was the only episode of that show where the guy ever showed any redeeming qualities. Admittedly, he expressed his redeeming quality (empathy for a woman who had died from fake chemo drugs) by going on a self-gratifying revenge rampage, but still …

  11. No one of an age in double digits and an IQ above room temperature is unaware of breast cancer. This little game would have to be an order of magnitude better thought out to rise to the level of “silly.”

    How about listing alternatives to SG Komen for donations, community resources for people who’ve lost their insurance and so forth? It wouldn’t take any more effort to copy and paste data like those than to look at the chart and figure out your status from it.

  12. My mom had breast cancer. She had to close her business and then cash out her life insurance policy to pay for her treatment because she didn’t have insurance. Not that the life insurance paid for all her treatment, mind you, she’ll be paying the balance on that the rest of her life. Now she and my stepdad live on SSI, since neither of them are fit or young enough to hold down regular jobs. Yeah, my mom is trying to pay for her cancer treatments with SSI checks. Fun for everyone!

    I find these sorts of “awareness” campaigns revolting and think that everyone who participates in them ought to be fined five dollars which is then channeled into the “people who went bankrupt in order to live but still have this silly human need to eat and stuff” fund.

  13. One of my dearest friends just came off chemo etc after 7 years of horror, told her daughters it’s a matter of weeks. She and they and I and her lifetime gf and her brothers and her cousins and…..don’t need another pink balloon or bottle top or……. Do I wear pink when I see her or would that be over the top? Or wear pink when I an not planning on seeing her? I see pink and get annoyed, like she’d slipped my mind.

  14. I actually get a kick out of receiving those messages on Facebook now because there is more often than not a recipient in the group who’s had breast cancer or whose family has and she doesn’t hesitate to tell the sender to piss off with the trite games that do nothing to help anyone.

    I was super excited to buy some pink ribbon windshield wipers recently, though, not that I give a shit if even a nickel goes to Komen, cuz now I have RIDICULOUS pink wipers on my car! Yay! /random

  15. If you live in any of these places, this won’t work. There are 244 million people who live in the sites listed above. Brilliant.

    1. Oh, it’s not about breast cancer. They say it is, of course, but really they just want to keep playing silly games that confuse the people they know who aren’t in on it, because it makes no sense at all. Last year’s “bra game” didn’t make much sense either; they just posted the colour of their bras. While bras are technically related to boobs and thus breast cancer, posting a random “red with black lace” status or something doesn’t actually raise breast cancer awareness either, unless somebody not in the know cares enough to ask about it and the person posting the status cares enough to say “oh, it’s about breast cancer, now you’re aware!” Again, it’s just a ridiculous game that people play so they personally can get attention, rather than really caring about breast cancer awareness.

  16. This campaign really annoys me. I’m so relieved to find out I’m not the only one.

    As others have pointed out, men can get breast cancer too, and of course they’re also affected when their sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, female friends etc get it.

    If someone told me that women can’t be affected by prostate cancer I’d be very angry, and point out that I lost a dear male friend to it. Cancer affects us all.

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