Pinkwashing Turns on Itself with Breast Cancer Awareness Gun

Smith & Wesson Breast Cancer Awareness PistolOctober was Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the group Breast Cancer Action seized on the opportunity to promote its Think Before you Pink campaign to raise awareness of how companies are increasingly exploiting breast cancer as a marketing device to sell products -- some of which are actually harmful to women's health. Pink ribbon campaigns are offering up some bizarre, albeit benign products like a breast cancer awareness toaster and a breast cancer awareness floating Beer Pong table. But the most bizarre item yet to have a pink ribbon slapped on it must be Smith & Wesson's Pink Breast Cancer Awareness 9 mm Pistol, promoted by a woman named Julie Goloski, Smith and Wesson's Consumer Program Manager and a sharpshooter herself. Goloski is promoting S&W's breast cancer awareness pistol on her Facebook page, saying "October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness M&P’s are shipping to dealers. I am thrilled to have my name associated with such a worthy cause and one of my favorite firearms." According to a 2008 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, firearms are the second most common cause of violent deaths of women, accounting for 29.2% of all violent deaths among females in the U.S. in 2008.


So a company making a donation to fight one of the most common causes of death, overall, because violent criminals sometimes use similar products to commit violent crimes? Would you complain about a clothing company giving a breast cancer donation because violent criminals wear clothes? What a horrible way to disrespect a young woman who made personal sacrifices for the good of breast cancer patients and survivors everywhere.

The point is, a company that manufactures a device that is one of the leading causes of death in women is trying to cloak itself in a "pink" campaign to help obscure that fact. This is corporate hogwash, roughly the equivalent of a cigarette maker selling a special pink cigarette for women, and then donating a tiny percentage of the profits from it to a women's lung cancer fund.

Anne Landman

1) Firearms are not a leading cause of death in women. There are between 10 and 15 thousand firearms deaths (not including suicides) every year in this country, with well over half the victims being male. There are many things that cause more than 7k women's deaths every year, leaving firearms way down the list.

2) There are approximately 2.5 million defensive gun uses in this country every year. If approximately half of those uses benefit women then clearly firearms represent a net benefit for womens well being.

3) Firearms are a tool, and like any other tool their goodness or badness depends entirely on the user. Drawing ana analogy to cigarettes is completely wrong because the use of cigarettes never benefits any who uses or is around those who use them, whereas millions of people in this country benefit from having or being with those who have firearms.

Comparing guns to cigarettes? So guns are bad then right? That means no police officer, law abiding citizen, competitor in shooting sports, sportsman or hunter, should be allowed to have them? No company that makes them should be able to market them? Is that because anyone that has a firearm or works for a gun company is evil? Unfortunately you have missed the point and are simply anti-gun.

Oh? What's that "tiny" percentage? You don't seem to want to fairly report how much the company has donated, supported events that raise awareness, etc. You seem ready to put other statistics that support your personal political views under the guise of non-partisan fairness. Now that's hogwash.

You blame an inanimate object on the criminal acts of a tiny minority of the population and assume that the company that manufactures the object that you so despise is trying to "cloak" the complicity that you assign them.

Missing from your evaluation of the relative value of guns is any consideration for how many women's lives are SAVED each year by having a gun available and knowing how to use, say, this one:

" A Mobile, Alabama woman fatally shot a violent ex-boyfriend who broke in to her home, hid in her bedroom closet, and attacked her when she returned home."

You are allowing your own bigotry and irrational fear of an inanimate object interfere with the ability of a lawful, robust industry to help with a cause that you yourself support.

Sounds to me like you are placing your own personal feelings over the lives of the breast cancer sufferers that the money raised by the firearms industry might help.

Consider that guns may be perceived as wholly inappropriate products to use to promote cancer awareness at all. What is the connection between guns and cancer other than the fact that both kill people?

What if D-Con made a special, pink box of breast cancer awareness rat poison? Or a chemical company promoted a special breast cancer awareness pesticide? What would you think of that? It would be over the line. It would be absurd. So it is with the gun.

Rodent poison may have a useful purpose, but it would simply be inappropriate to put forth this bizarre type of promotion.

So it is with a breast cancer awareness gun.

Guns kill. Breast cancer kills.


Anne Landman

Ms. Landman,

While it is commendable for Julie to help support the breast cancer fight, I have to agree with Ms. Landman. There is a certain dissonance between the idea of healthcare and the idea of guns. I'm not saying that you all shouldn't have all the guns you want to shoot whatever needs shooting or to compensate for whatever needs compensating for. Just be careful, which, I know, most gun owner are. But I can see that you know you're not winning the argument because you've resorted to all-capital letters, a typical conservative ploy to shout and drown out dissent.

Why would you take away the right of a good hearted business man who wants to do a good thing and support a great cause just because what he makes/ sells happens to be rat poison? I purchase rat poison to place around my warehouse in the winter and I would absolutely purchase a "Pinked" rat poison, to help a good cause. What do you consider bizarre about a legitimate business promoting breast cancer awareness and helping fund it prevention? Like somebody else pointed out earlier if the Breast Cancer Research people choose where they accept money from according to your sensibilities (and politics) they would be much worse off. Women of the world would be further from a cure, but you would be happy because it is better to not have a cure, the to have one funded by a legitimate business who product you deem "inappropriate". Just to clear something up AGAIN, guns dont kill, people do. A gun left to its own devices is not harmful. Breast cancer left alone does kill, but choosing to not accept money destined to help fight breast cancer only lets the disease kill more women.

The point is, the product the company manufactures is not responsible for a single death (man or women) in this or any other country. The person responsible for the deaths when a firearm is used as a tool is the person pulling the trigger. This is the same as choosing to smoke. The person responsible for the repercussions of smoking is the person who, knowing the possible consequences, lights up. Smith and Wesson is a great company that makes a great product, that is used for good every day. Many women (and men) have used their products to fend off attackers, and to preserve their life and the lives of their loved ones. Many law enforcement officers use their products to preserve the peace and protect the good people of this country. It is strange, you only see the product being used to hurt women, but where are your percentages describing the number of women who are going out and purchasing (and using when necessary) their product to defend their right to life and liberty? I say, by giving women the ability (with proper training) to defend themselves from any attacker, and to choose not to be a victim, the products Smith and Wesson provides actually empowers women. I (might) feel bad for anybody who decides to accost Julie in a dark ally (or anywhere else). I commend S&W and Julie for donating their hard earned money to a cause as worthy as the fight against breast cancer. So should you.