Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Pop's Inequality Spotlight #2

On first glance this is a good cause. They help people with cancer which is clearly a very good thing. But delve closer into the organisation and you find a worrying amount of sexism, something made most evident by the race for life campaign. 

Race for life was originally marketed to us all as a breast cancer run. It is a worryingly little known fact, mainly because of organisations such as this, that men can get breast cancer as well as women. They have a worse prognosis because they often find it later, a lot of men don’t know to check or are too embarrassed to go to a doctor when they begin to have problems. Having a breast cancer run for one gender is pretty despicable,  and is the kind of sexism that genuinely leads to life threatening situations.

A cancer charity should be raising awareness of cancer and trying to encourage people to find help faster, having a gender only cancer run for a cancer that affects both genders is directly deceiving people into thinking that they can’t get a very serious disease. 

Mainly thanks to this organisation, we now associate breast cancer with a pink ribbon thereby further segregating men and making them think that breast cancer is gender specific. So what seems like a good and well-meaning organisation has a female only run for a disease that affects both cancers, and propagates a ‘think pink’ view that alienates potential sufferers. 

But even if we accept the very wrong view that men don’t matter because they’re the minority, they can be affected by their female family members too. If a man has a wife with breast cancer why shouldn’t he be allowed to run? Why shouldn’t he be allowed to run for a cause that has affected him just as much as a woman? I asked this to family member of mine and she, without a moment of thought, claimed that it was to make women feel safe. 

Men aren’t inherently dangerous; allowing a man to run alongside a woman is not going to make them mad with desire and start raping or murdering. But society has led us to the point where that is an acceptable argument for sexism, men are dangerous and women need to be protected from them. 

While reading the forums, specifically the area where users discuss the sexism of race for life, I read a letter which had been posted there. It was from cancer research UK to someone who had complained and it called breast cancer a gender specific cancer. Their website has a section for male breast cancer and yet the people involved with the organisation don’t realise that it exists.  When asked what men involved with cancer should do, they offered to start a male only run. It seems the organisation believe sexism can only be combatted with more sexism.

Recently the run has been changed for all cancers. Now men aren’t allowed to run for any of the ‘200 cancers’ that the race supports. The advert says ‘all of us versus cancer.’ It seems ‘all of us’ is now only half the population. We should all be allowed to run together for cancer, there should be no gender barriers when it comes to charity. So I urge you, do not run in race for life. Do not give this charity any money. There are plenty of charities that help people with cancer without having to be sexist. Show this organisation that sexism just doesn’t wash in the 21st century.

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