Susan G. Komen

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Susan G. Komen, formerly known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is a group that raises money for cancer awareness.

Misdeeds[edit]

Suing legitimate charities[edit]

Susan G. Komen has a brand, and anyone else who tries to help cure cancer while potentially getting close to that brand is going to be in trouble.

The organization has started over 100 lawsuits against other charitable organizations for using the word "cure." Kites for a Cure, Cupcakes for a Cure, Surfing for a Cure, and other charities have faced the legal wrath of Susan G. Komen.[1]

Tone-deaf ads[edit]

When I see an oh-so-adorable shirt that says “Save The Tatas,” I really want to scream “F*#k the tatas, save the WOMAN!”
—Alyssa Royse[2]

Susan G. Komen encourages people to "save the tatas," along with pictures of young scantily-clad woman. "Apparently, we need to see young, intact, firm ta-tas in order to save them," quips Jessica S. Holmes.[3] Apparently, Susan G. Komen thinks that sexualizing women in playful ads is the best way to raise awareness for a disease that literally kills people.

Needless to say, breast cancer patients and survivors aren't pleased with sexy ads that turn their ordeal into a feel-good campaign. Survivor Lani Horn says "Save the tatas? No, save the women. A lot of us had to give up our tatas to live."[4]

While early stage girls are dressing in pink outfits, putting their hair up and going to parties where they get crowned "Survivors," those of us with metastatic disease (aka the Losers) are left inside, sweeping the stone floors while gulping our Dilaudid, knowing the only Prince who will rescue us is the Prince of Darkness.
—Ann[5]

The feel-good ads are alienating to breast cancer patients who don't feel good, especially those who have stage 4 cancer, which can't be cured.[6][7]

De-funding Planned Parenthood[edit]

In 2007, Komen began giving an annual grant of roughly $680,000 USD to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.[8][9] This allowed allowed PP and its affiliates to provide 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals over the next five years, mainly to low-income and minority patients.[8][9] On January 31, 2012, Komen announced that they were cancelling the grant, stating that Planned Parenthood was currently facing a congressional investigation, and that they had recently instituted a policy barring funding to entities "under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities."[10] The investigation was launched by Cliff StearnsWikipedia's W.svg, an anti-abortion Republican Representative from Florida, and ostensibly sought to ascertain whether Planned Parenthood had used government funds to provide abortions in violation of the Hyde AmendmentWikipedia's W.svg.[11] Planned Parenthood had routinely faced audits before, none of which turned up evidence of misconduct.[11] Stearns had expressed a desire to de-fund Planned Parenthood and played a central role in an unsuccessful bid to cut off federal funding to the organization in 2011.[12]

While the Komen decision was predictably applauded by conservative groups, it was strongly condemned by media commentators, women's health advocates, and several Democratic Senators.[13][14] Within twenty-four hours of Komen's announcement, Planned Parenthood had received $400,000 in donations.[13] On February 3, Komen announced that they would restore Planned Parenthood's funding, and that they would amend their new policy to "make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political".[9] Several top Komen officials resigned in protest of the initial de-funding in the immediate fallout.[15] Karen Handel, the vice president of Komen and an anti-abortion advocate, resigned on February 7, stating that Planned Parenthood only wanted to "advance" its "agenda," and had "sucked Komen in the middle of it and used them."[16] Handel is credited with pushing for Planned Parenthood's de-funding within Komen, and went on to release a memoir with the not-so-subtle title Planned Bullyhood just a few months later, in September 2012.[17] Komen's founder Nancy Brinker also stepped down as CEO in August.[18]

However, although Komen quickly reversed course on the de-funding, the damage to the charity's reputation was already done. Participation at Komen fundraising events throughout the U.S. dropped significantly later in 2012.[19][20] In 2013, the 3-Day Walk for the Cure events were scaled back from 14 U.S. cities to seven, due to a 37% drop in participation since 2009.[21] Donations to Komen were reported to have declined by 22% in 2013.[22]

Inaccurate ads[edit]

Susan G. Komen pushes mammograms, even though they don't really increase chances of survival, and can lead to over-diagnosis in cases where the tumors are benign and don't need treatment.[23]

What to do[edit]

Don't raise money for Susan G. Komen. There are groups that actually help cancer patients and survivors. These include:[24]

  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation
  • California Breast Cancer Research Program
  • Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
  • Living Beyond Breast Cancer

References[edit]

  1. Laura Bassett, "Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word 'Cure'", Huffington Post
  2. Alyssa Royse, "F*#k The Tatas, Save The Woman", The Good Men Project
  3. Jessica S. Holmes, "Save the Ta-Tas, Save Women?," Huffington Post
  4. Liz Szabo, "Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients", USA Today
  5. "Pinktober from a Metastatic Point of View"
  6. JoNel Aleccia, "'Pinktober' ignores breast cancer patients who can't be cured, some say", Today.com
  7. Peggy Orenstein, "Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer", The New York Times
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nancy Cordes, "Komen for Cure, Planned Parenthood sparks fly", CBS News
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Huma Khan, "Susan G. Komen Apologizes for Cutting Off Planned Parenthood Funding", ABC News
  10. Jeffrey Goldberg, "Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood Cave-In", The Atlantic
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Planned Parenthood Investigation: A Frustrated Bully's Malicious Attack", International Business Times
  12. David A. Graham, "Meet the Man Behind Susan G. Komen's Decision to Stiff Planned Parenthood", The Atlantic
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Reactions heated on Planned Parenthood-Komen rift", The Boston Globe
  14. Laura Bassett, "Susan G. Komen Loses Support After Planned Parenthood Decision", Huffington Post
  15. Laura Bassett & Lisa Belkin, "Susan G. Komen Top Officials Resign As Backlash Gains Steam", Huffington Post
  16. "Komen Foundation VP resigns, blasts Planned Parenthood", CNN
  17. Seth Abramovitch, "Executive Behind Susan G. Komen's Planned Parenthood Defunding Announces Memoir", Hollywood Reporter
  18. Corrie MacLaggan, "Susan G. Komen Founder Nancy Brinker To Leave CEO Role", Huffington Post
  19. Scott Hensley, "Planned Parenthood Controversy Hangs Over Komen's Fundraising Races," NPR
  20. James Ewinger, "Komen Race for the Cure sees drop in participants in Cleveland", Cleveland Plain-Dealer
  21. "Komen breast cancer charity cancels three-day events", BBC
  22. Jamie Stengle, "Komen sees big drop in 2013 contributions", USA Today
  23. Steven Woloshin & Lisa M Schwartz, "How a charity oversells mammography", BMJ
  24. To support breast cancer research, skip pink ribbons and check out these charities