Don’t Just Post A Heart. Support Something That Will Actually Help Stop Breast Cancer

You might have seen a friend or three of yours post a single heart icon into their social media profile (usually on Facebook). You might have done it yourself.

This is supposedly to promote “Breast Cancer Awareness Week”.
Let’s get this straight: There is no “Breast Cancer Awareness Week” in March. There is a day in March for triple-negative breast CA (3rd March) and International Women’s Day (8th March).  There is a whole month for breast cancer; I’m pretty sure you noticed it last October.

Further, let’s call this out for what it is:  A way to feel good without doing anything.  This is more inane, useless, and harmful than the clicktivism that pervades so many things. 

Posting a single icon of a heart – more on that symbol at the end – is NOT actually helping anyone.  Not. A. Single. Person.  Oh, it makes you feel like you did something… but at exactly NO effort on your part.

It also lets you feel superior, since it’s an inside “code” that you are part of.  Added bonus: The especially Heathers wannabes will feel snarky and superior those who don’t post the heart icon. 

So it’s useless.  How is it harmful?

After breast cancer awareness became the hip thing for businesses to donate trivial amounts of money to while using cancer as an advertisement, I don’t think awareness is the problem. Hell, big funding for research isn’t the problem – in 2008 breast cancer funding per death outstripped every other and was still listed among the top-funded in a 2014 study.
But this little, meaningless way of checking off the “I did something about it” box distracts people from what will help women and lower breast cancer rates in the real world:
Inexpensive health care for women.
But instead of posting a heart icon, that might mean standing up for Planned Parenthood.  Because as Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned
Parenthood, said (I’m quoting FactCheck.Org here), 
“Planned Parenthood does help women nationwide
get access to mammograms,” as part of the health care services it
provides to nearly 3 million persons each year. “Women rely on Planned
Parenthood for referrals for and financial help with mammograms and
specialized diagnostic follow-up tests (like ultrasounds and biopsies)
when indicated by age, history and/or clinical breast exam.” Nucatola said that “for many women,” Planned Parenthood is their only
health care provider and “thus the only way they will get a referral
for a mammogram.”
Don’t care about women who need Planned Parenthood? Fine.
Your fight still isn’t done.  Because with the impending repeal of the ACA, it’s likely that gender rating is going to come back on the scene.
You don’t remember gender rating?  To quote the UPenn Public Policy Initiative:
Gender rating is the practice of charging men and women different rates for identical health services…Research conducted before the
implementation of the ACA showed that women on the individual market
could pay up to 1.5 times more than men for health insurance…It also showed that gender rating costs U.S. women approximately $1 billion dollars annually.
Yeah, getting rid of that crap that was part of the ACA.  Obamacare.  The thing the current administration is still adamant they’re going to get rid of, and still hasn’t presented any kind of replacement.

If you don’t care about keeping gender rating away from our health care but care about posting a heart to social media or wearing the latest pink-ribbon fashion, you’ve got your priorities pretty messed up.

Look, I get it.  Cancer is fucking awful.

That’s my point.

Instead of posting a contextless heart on social media and feeling good about it, ovary up and fight for something that will actually make a difference in breast cancer detection and prevention.  
Use your social media post to remind those around you that you support inexpensive health care for women.  
Use your social media profile to remind those around you that you oppose discrimination in health care pricing.

Do it in honor of International Women’s Day.

Maybe posting something so political seems a little indiscreet or blunt to you.  
But it’s too late if you already posted that heart to your wall.

After all, that heart symbol gets its shape from a seed pod that used to be used for birth control and reminded the Romans of nothing so much as…testicles.

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