Joining the Dots

Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Blog, Living today, Rants, Women's equality issues | 1 comment


The Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning has been and gone, leaving me pondering yet again what an anomalous event it is. I must admit that, when I worked in a large office, there was nothing I liked more than an officially sanctioned opportunity to stop, actually talk to the people I sat a few feet from all day, and stuff my face with cake. Yet overconsumption of cake leads to conditions – Type 2 diabetes, obesity – that make developing cancer far more likely. (See p. 525 of Cancer Nursing: Care in Context: ‘Sweets and cakes are enjoyable but bad foods over which we need to exercise control.’)

It’s a rather as if Alcoholics Anonymous were to raise money through wine-tastings. Call me a killjoy if you like, but I just think Macmillan should base its flagship fundraising campaign on something a bit healthier.

Are charities especially prone to blindness when it comes to failing to make the link between certain aspects of their fundraising activity and the very cause they are espousing? I could not believe my eyes a few years ago when I was idly watching the Children in Need coverage. Cut to a local fundraising event, and there was a large donation in the form of an outsize cheque being handed over by A WOMAN DRESSED AS A SCHOOLGIRL!

BBC Children in Need ‘exists to change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.’ You can bet your life that among them will be some children who have been sexually abused or groomed, so how is it OK to publicise the charity’s work with an image that sexualises girls? Even if the local fundraisers didn’t perceive the anomaly, was there really no one at the Beeb, with all its massive Oxbridge intellectual might, capable of spotting the contradiction and preventing the switch to the location? To be fair, this was some years ago, so I’d like to think – post-Savile – that it could not happen now.

At the heart of these anomalies is a failure to perceive – or perhaps to acknowledge – any kind of continuum in our attitudes and actions. There was a classic example of this recently, in the wake of Hugh Hefner’s death.

John Humphrys, on Radio 4’s Today programme, interviewed Marilyn Cole, the first woman to pose completely nude for Playboy magazine. He quoted to her a point made by Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail (who, let’s face it, on another day would have opposed this point of view), when she accused Hugh Hefner of helping to create a world in which ‘ … the way you look in a sequin-encrusted thong is more important to many than family, friendships …’. Cole refuted this by invoking the presence of a fellow bunny with her at her husband’s deathbed and wilfully ignoring the fact that the sequinned thong reference was clearly shorthand for ‘objectifying’ garments of all sorts – in fact, she triumphantly asserted the bunny girls never wore sequinned thongs and sidestepped the whole discussion by accusing Sarah Vine of poor research and toxic journalism. Sad to say, much of the Twitter response seemed to think that she had trounced John Humphrys.

We are subjected to a barrage of images and appeals from all quarters that are not necessarily benign: it’s time to follow the trail through the maze of implications, consequences and covert connections to find out what’s really going on.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with you Verity about the cake and cancer link and why raise money for cancer by unhealthy foods? The Multiple Sclerosis society was doing the same thing some years ago and having a coffee morning and cakes to raise money for the charity. Coffee is really bad for the nervous system but coffee morning we had and it was useful to talk to other people with MS at the coffee morning, but I really couldn’t drink the stuff or the horrible brown tea.

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