The XX Factor

Breast Cancer Awareness Finally Penetrates the Earth’s Crust

We have reached peak awareness.  

Courtesy of Baker Hughes

It’s infiltrated the gun range, the gridiron, and even space. Now, breast cancer awareness will travel deep into the Earth’s crust, thanks to oil company Baker Hughes, which has just painted 1,000 of its drill bits a Susan G. Komen shade of pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Drill bits, as Fuel Fix’s Rihannon Meyers notes, “spend most of their lives miles underground breaking up geologic formations in oil patches where a fraction of workers are women.” But Baker Hughes’ director of operations for U.S. land drill bits, Bill Debo, told Fuel Fix that “Our hope is from the water cooler to the rig site to the coffee shop to everywhere, someone gets this information to their spouses, their girlfriends, their daughters so we can create awareness and end this disease forever.”

We are aware. Pink has taken over our pepper spray, our Poo-Pouri, our pornography, our Shampure™ aroma hand cream, and the pistol grips on our rifles. Pink equals breast cancer. That much is clear. But what many companies hawking pinkwashed products still don’t seem to understand—or think we’re too dumb to notice—is that “raising awareness” about breast cancer does more to raise the company’s profile than actually fight the disease.

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the greatest barriers to breast cancer screening among women are a lack of health insurance, a low income, and a lack of access to medical facilities and primary care doctors. A “lack of awareness of breast cancer risks and screening methods” ranks low on the list. Baker Hughes will also donate $100,000 to Komen as a part of its Doing Our Bit for the Cure campaign. That’s either commendable or laughable, depending on your take on Komen’s particular approach. But spare the message about the virtue of landmen telling their girlfriends all about this breast cancer thing—those pink bits will be just as effective for “raising awareness” when they’re buried a mile under the ground.