Politics & Policy

Greens Mock a Breast-Cancer-Prevention Effort

An awareness-raising pink drill bit looks like a “phallic cyborg” or a “parasitic worm,” they say.

An energy company’s charitable donation toward breast-cancer research was met last week with allegations of “pink-washing,” while the advocacy group Breast Cancer Action called its awareness-raising drill bits “the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t” seen all year.

Baker Hughes, one of the leading energy companies in the country, announced recently that it planned to renew its annual $100,000 donation to breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The company is also installing 1,000 pink drill bits for its fracking sites, and when it ships them, it will include information packets about breast cancer.

Cue the bizarrely Freudian liberal outrage.

Sandra Steingraber at Ecowatch wrote:

It’s hard to stop staring in utter baffled amazement [at the pink drill bits]. Is it some kind of . . . phallic cyborg?

The opening scene of a yet another sequel to Tremors? (Kevin Bacon! Nevada! Subterranean, worm-like, cross-dressing graboid!)

A sex toy from hell?

In fact, it’s all these things and more.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Morford urged his readers to indulge in a bit of fantasy: “By the way, feel free to imagine all the creepy phallic/parasitic worm/nightmare sex-toy imagery you want as you look at those massive, hot-pink drill bits, the ones Baker Hughes had painted just for the occasion.”

In his article, Morford includes a picture of a tapeworm, along with the caption: “This is a tapeworm. Because apparently NO ONE ELSE at Komen considered the visual similarity.” Under a picture of the pink drill bit, he continues: “What, too suggestive? You must be a pervert.”

At the website for Truthout, a left-leaning nonprofit journalism organization, William Rivers Pitt wrote:

There is a saying that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters will eventually re-create the works of Shakespeare. By the same token, an infinite number of monkeys banging away on an infinite number of typewriters will eventually come up with a marketing strategy as catastrophically ugly as this. Komen didn’t need the monkeys; they did it all by themselves.

Meanwhile, news website Bustle questioned why “a massive fossil fuels company, which employs mostly male drillers, [would] change the color of their drilling bits to Barbie-pink.” The Bustle writers are apparently unaware that oil and gas industry projections say the sector will provide 185,000 additional jobs for women by 2030, and that women already account for around one-third of all energy workers. In fact, IHS Global estimates that nearly 70,000 women will have white-collar energy jobs by 2030.

Few critics complaining about Baker Hughes’s donation acknowledge that its director of operations for U.S. land-drill bits, Bill Debo, got involved in this campaign in part because his mother died of breast cancer when he was a senior in high school. “It’s really important for me to be involved in this and do what we can to end breast cancer forever and save lives,” Debo told the blog FuelFix.com.

The weightiest complaint these critics lob is that the chemicals used in fracking might cause breast cancer.

But many of these same critics were strangely silent about Planned Parenthood’s donations to Susan G. Komen, despite similarly non-definitive studies suggesting a link between abortion and increased rates of breast cancer.

And the alleged connection between fracking and breast cancer is tenuous at best: Though some chemicals are known to cause cancer in high doses, a very tiny amount is used at fracking sites, where most of what’s pumped underground is just sand and water.

To its credit, in its article about the controversial Baker Hughes donation, the sustainable-living website Treehugger.com reluctantly admitted that “it would be scientifically unsound to say that fracking causes breast cancer.”

Likewise, even a top researcher at Susan G. Komen said that she hasn’t seen an increase in breast-cancer rates in northern Texas, one particularly high-fracking area.   

— Jillian Kay Melchior is a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and a senior fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum.

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