Posts Tagged ‘Susan G Komen Fund’

Been Down So Long 

Well, I’ve been down so Goddamn long
That it looks like up to me
Well, I’ve been down so very damn long
That it looks like up to me
Yeah, why don’t one you people
C’mon and set me free

I said, warden, warden, warden
Won’t you break your lock and key
I said, warden, warden, warden
Won’t ya break your lock and key
Yeah, come along here, mister
C’mon and let the poor boy be
Baby, baby, baby
Won’t you get down on your knees
Baby, baby, baby
Won’t you get down on your knees
C’mon little darlin’
C’mon and give your love to me, oh yeah

Well, I’ve been down so Goddamn long
That it looks like up to me
Well, I’ve been down so very damn long
That it looks like up to me
Yeah, why don’t one you people
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon and set me free

The Doors


In 1982, when the Komen Foundation began, lack of sufficient gender specific research towards diseases, was a founding basis. Research, even in gender common illnesses tended to be conducted, and conclusions reached on male subjects. While the Komen Foundation certainly was successful in popularizing the cause of breast cancer research and elimination, I found myself annoyed on several fronts.

Suddenly everyone I knew was concerned about my breasts and was reminding me about them. It was true that my mother had her own adventure with the breast carvers. Her experience theoretically put me in a possible higher risk group. I could understand and even appreciate the health tracts she sent me. At the same time, however, no one was reminding me about the possibilities of an imminent stroke, heart attack, uterine/colon cancer, or celiac disease, industrial toxin based cancer, all of which also have occurred in my families. No one approached me clucking, with that glazed look of concern I received for my breasts, that I should have a heart murmur checked yearly, get tested for bodily damage from my construction job, or have my head examined to see if there was any organic change over my lifelong headaches.

Aside from the personal medical intrusions, I knew that heart disease was, in 1982, and still is, the leading cause of death in women. The symptoms are often different in women. Awareness has grown, yet the publicity level that the Komen Foundation for garnered for breasts has never been achieved for women’s heart disease. Additionally, according the CDC, after the cancer category of all types for women in general, stroke is the third leading cause of death.

We need to eliminate cancer. Breast cancer sometimes spreads, just like other cancer forms. We need to stop that.  Let’s face it, though, we don’t need our breasts to survive, or even bear children, like we do our heart and brain.  We don’t need them the way that we need our unscarred uteruses, kept safe from coat hanger abortions. We don’t need them the way we need free choice and medical help free of unnecessary probings, dictated by the latest paternalist clothed in a religious hair shirt.

Boobs are still the purview of the leering public, and command it’s attention and devotion. Talk about boobs and even the most severely afflicted ADDr will be able to listen long enough to hear the back-story. Mention boobs and the wave of concern over attendant issues will rise more quickly and crest higher. Boobs still belong to the paternalists, sex purveyors and sellers. They remain the bugaboo of disfigurement that we will be less valuable as sex objects in our unfair world. When public boob fomentations are greater than that for the total health of the person holding them up, something is amiss.

As we have learned, all was not what it seemed in the Komen Foundation either. Hiding behind the pink ribbon was the political malignancy of a right wing liar and her helpers. The cancerous breast as the banner of women’s medical need both advanced and divided the cause of women’s equality because it fostered this political infiltration. Grant funds from Komen to Planned Parenthood were intended to provide screening for breast cancer to poor and uninsured women-no more. Yet Komen was willing to deprive these women of this service in order to push the right wing agenda against Planned Parenthood.

What was all this Komen mess about really? In a sense, as opposed to Planned Parenthood, Komen has outlived its use, by continuing to focus on one body part. It caters to the wrong public aspect of who we are as women. Somewhere in it’s evolution the Komen breast became the Komen boob. People who brought our attention to the problem are to be commended. It probably helped that we were talking about boobs.

Beyond the recent issue however, Komen stands as one symbol of the cost of pragmatism and compromise. While progressives and conservatives alike have dragged these words out like shiny new toys, women have suffered their consequences for centuries. Having failed yet to pass the ERA, women have been consigned to grasp and glean tiny bits of freedom and equality. This also necessitates vigilance over a vast patchwork of threaded laws and rulings and makes the work of equality more difficult.

The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has made an effort to include women; mostly with line items for pregnancy and breast care. I searched the Act in pdf form again recently, and found 142 instances of “women”, 42 for “breast” and 78 for “pregnant or pregnancy”. In contrast, “men” were mentioned twice, and “prostate or erectile” not at all. One of the two lines where men are mentioned is there to assure that medical data will be compiled for both sexes.

I’ve said this elsewhere before; while to have some of women’s specific concerns mentioned in the Affordable Care Act, appears to be an advance, each line item is now a target for removal based on the whims of Congress. Men, on the other hand, being legally the more equal of the two sexes, will continue to have their prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction treated quietly by their doctor, away from the Congressional reductionists.

To my mind the most important line items are the 351 locations, in the Act, of the word “research”. Each one of those items is an opportunity for the future and at the same time, a target. Women will need to defend these as well.

The Komen fiasco has opened  plenty of room for outrage. It’s easy to add it to the list.  There are so many things wrong:

Tom In Paine raised the question as to whether Democrats and Progressives have learned this political lesson of outrage and action and will move forward to defend other fronts.

The ACLU webpage maintains a list of active campaigns, in which they are involved. I counted over ninety at the bottom of the page.  Some are for women.

Ian Welsh’s recent post on justified pessimism is great.

However, my breasts and I, think, that, as has happened too many times before, the Komen fiasco is being subsumed by well meaning but outside progressive interests. It is easy to get pulled away from the core concern. What appears to be a right-left issue is about those who would reduce our rights and those who are telling they should decide when we should be equal, because there are more important things to do. It’s just two faces of paternalism.

Women are not a special interest group. This incident was about 51% of the population, women, and the people who support them. This was a case of women attacking more vulnerable women, pure and simple. The attackers did it to gain favor with the warden. Confinement will do that.

Congress is the warden and the ERA is the key. Until the 1972 ERA passes women won’t see “up”. The sad part is that at least 50% of us weren’t even around yet to see the promise of “up”, or think we are in “up” and don’t know what the hell I am talking about.

This is a teachable moment.

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Elizabeth Anania Edwards died on New Year’s Day in the new Lunar Hijri calendar of 1432. That first day in the month of Muharram, where it is forbidden to fight, she stopped and gave up her life to a disease. Though most in the US don’t use the word or embrace the context, she could have been considered a martyr, to the cause of ending breast cancer.

We in the United States often wear blinders when it comes to looking beyond our boundaries, but her death was noted outside our confines. Pakistan Times carried THIS.

I found myself wondering at the complexity of translation from English to Arabic that must have occurred, and fascinated by the resulting translation back to English in the Pakistan Times, I nevertheless recognize the syntax of the press release found in many other publications. It’s a reminder to me that the world really does listen, engage and even honor those it finds worthy.

In looking at the day in Wikipedia, it seems in a mystical sense, all of a piece that her death day was also that of the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Bombing, the day Indonesia invaded East Timor, the day Yassar Arafat acknowledged Israel, the Day the Republic of China moved to Taipei and the day the US first executed a person by lethal injection. Days of tribulation and days of human rights achievements are always linked.

Anania studied law, then, spent her life helping others, struggling for their rights in bankruptcy court and family law. She went to Washington and told our government how the dysfunction of our health system and bankruptcy laws did more than anything in our country to break people financially and kill them.  Anania spoke out for the human rights of others. Maybe there were other reasons, but she did not take the name of Edwards until and in honor of her son’s death in 1996. In another time she would probably have held the stage herself, rather than as a Senator’s wife. A daughter of the 70’s promise of human rights, her life was too short, but she strove to make it worthy. I think she succeeded.

Her death day folds into this week’s UN celebration: International Human rights Day, where this year’s recognition is for those defenders to end human discrimination.  To recognize her is to understand the honorable struggle ongoing in the world.

So, it will be sad and pathetic it will be when these people show up at her funeral tomorrow. My pity is for them. If you wish to send an  honorarium you might send to the Komen Fund in South Florida, (At the bottom of the Examiner page.) or the Wade Edwards Foundation. It’s all of a piece.

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