I’d like to offer a different perspective on the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s (BCRF) rejection of the $2,080 donation by a group of three men, referenced in Binley Yang’s recent article “Extreme Feminist must be tamed”. I suggest that rather than misplaced pride and selfish morals, the rejection was based on practical and professional choices.
The basis of Yang’s objection is that a charity shouldn’t reject money, regardless of how it was earned, because of the good it may be able to do. By that logic, any donation from any source (Murder? Drugs? Black market organ sales) should be accepted as well. These extreme examples serve to illustrate my point – if you think that these sources are objectionable, then you agree that the way in which the money was made does morally color the donation. A few key details that Yang forgot to disclose: this fundraiser was being run by three self-declared pickup artists and posted on their channel “Simple Pickup” whose tag line is “[a] channel normally devoted to the fine art of mackin’ on chicks” and is known for other popular episodes such as “how to call hot girls & get laid.”
A charity can’t take money and then criticize the source of the donation. If it chooses to accept the money, it is seen as publicly endorsing the method in which it is made. Like corporations, charities have a brand-identity that they nurture carefully. The morals and image conveyed by the video are not an identity with which many of their conservative sponsors and endorsers would want to be affiliated. In accepting the $2,080 and indirectly endorsing the way it was made, the charity could alienate sponsors and loose millions of dollars in the long run. Case in point: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation recently rejected a substantially more generous donation from the Crazy Girl’s Strip Club in Las Vegas with the statement that “It just doesn’t fall in line with who we are as an organization”. Any organization looking to protect its long-term financial interests, be it run by men or women, would have made the same decision.
In fact, the BCRF didn’t “renounce the generous donation by choice because a small minority of feminists deemed the video to be offensive,” but rather as they stated in the email to the trio that “the donation…came in via BCRF’s online automated donation page without our knowledge of any of the activities involved in the making, solicitation, and distribution of their campaign.” In other words, they were unaware of how the money was earned and when they were made aware they chose to renounce it.
It is disappointing to see a logical business decision reframed as a “selfish” action by “extreme” feminists. Unfortunately, feminists are regularly vilified and blamed for many unpopular decisions and oftentimes at the heart of this anger is an ignorance of what their belief system truly entails. In truth, feminism is defined as “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (merriam-webster.com). Unfortunately, this philosophy is misrepresented and stereotyped so negatively that people are afraid to self-identify with the cause. This movement would perhaps be better served if it were renamed “equalism” because it is founded on the notion that any gender stereotypes have negative consequences for both men and women. Anytime limitations are imposed because of gender, everyone loses sight of the freedom and choice that comes with simply being a person.
From my perspective, what is more unfortunate than the rejection of the donation is how the men chose to raise money for breast cancer.  It is difficult to believe that there wasn’t some self-motivated sexual gratification involved in the “motorboating” of women (I’m guessing that even though breast cancer also affects men that they somehow weren’t asked to earn donations) and that raising money for research was a convenient cover to elicit participation.  I would argue that using something as serious as cancer as cover for touching women’s bodies is a much clearer example of  “insecurity” “selfishness” “petulance” and “arrogance” than any action taken by the BCRF. Furthermore, whereas most people would likely feel embarrassed to be caught using cancer as a thinly veiled excuse for a sexual thrill, to echo Yang, “Do they feel proud of themselves? I’m certain that they do.” In the most basic sense, payment for sexual favors is prostitution, even if it comes with a veneer of charity. Is it surprising that any corporation would disassociate itself from this image? Incidentally, if these men weren’t sexually motivated and were sincerely trying to raise money for cancer research, I’m excited to see what parallel fundraising initiative they’ll come up with for prostate cancer.
Although the women participating in the video could have said no, many would have had a hard time doing so (and I’m guessing that those who did weren’t included in the video). Not only are women as a gender socialized to be nice and not be assertive, but they’re also oriented to be accommodating and have a communal (other focused) perspective. Twenty dollars is a large enough sum to be perceived by most people as significant donation, especially for a few minutes of “harmless fun.” Despite this fact, the group raised only $2,080  via the “motorboating” directly (i.e. 104 women said yes), and the rest was made up of $100 donations that were supposed to follow for every 100,000 views on the Youtube channel.
Aside from the sexual connotations, the actions in this video remain in poor taste. Women lose breasts to cancer and frequently feel less feminine and sexual as a consequence (Flores, 2003). It is callous and insensitive to rub their faces (metaphorically or visually) in this loss.
The rejection of the donation was smart financial move by a charity in order to ensure continued corporate support and not the work of insecure radical feminists seeking to boost their egos. Clearly the misconception about feminists being “angry, man-hating, unattractive wom[e]n with hairy armpits, screaming irrationally about imagined insults” (Melby, 2009) is unfortunately still alive and well. Should any student, including Yang feel like learning what feminism truly entails, I invite you to take my Psychology of Gender class (PSY 267) or to stop by my office in Meliora Hall.
Marie-Joelle Estrada, Ph.D. is a lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Scoial Sciences in
Psychology.



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Editor’s Note (5/4/24): This article is no longer being updated. For our most up to date coverage, look for articles…