Yaaaaay, ice bucket challenge! I’m totes throwing ice cold water over myself right now to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. I choose you, Pikachu, as the next one to do it! Yaaaay!
And so the craze escalated more and more. Pretty much every celebrity on the planet did the challenge. Yaaaay!
Have you done it? Little did you know that you’re not only raising awareness, you’re also donating money towards animal testing. Yaaa … um, wait, what?!
In the past decade, only about a dozen experimental ALS treatments have moved on to human trials after being shown to alleviate the disease in animals. All but one of these treatments failed in humans — and the one that “passed” offers only marginal benefits to humans who suffer from ALS. — Pamela Anderson
Supporters of animal testing argue that “virtually ever medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way”. However, in this day and age, it is has become completely unnecessary to test anything on animals, be it beauty products or medicine. In fact, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, only 8 out of every 100 drugs that pass animal trials pass during the human clinical trial phase.
The problem is that species differences are so vast that animal results are, at best, a very poor approximation of what will happen in humans or, at worst, dangerously misleading.
Sophisticated non-animal testing methods — including in-vitro methods, advanced computer-modeling techniques, and studies with human volunteers, among others — have given us everything from the best life-saving HIV drugs to cloned human skin for burn victims. Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel — it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures. — Pamela Anderson
I’m beyond glad that I hadn’t gotten around to donating money to ALS research yet.
The problem with social-media campaigns
My friend Leigh Andrews recently asked me a few questions about the Powa “more than a click” campaign that I participated in. Women who took part in the campaign were asked to change their relationship status to “single” on Facebook and post the following banner:
A powerful statement. Unfortunately, as I told Leigh, the campaign received little uptake and attention. Changing your relationship status is not really “sexy” enough for people, it seems. Our public space is so dominated by masculinity that many women couldn’t fathom fake breaking up. After all, if you’re “in a relationship”, “engaged” or “married” you belong to someone. You are owned. Why would you want to change that?
Women commented on my new single status with the Powa picture attached with messages of support and expressed how clever the campaign was. All men who commented complained of a “heart attack” and “heart break”, completely ignoring what the point of the whole thing was.
I was deeply disappointed that no one indicated that they had donated and none of my friends picked up the baton of the campaign. Sure, a lot of it had to do with the fact that the campaign was local, not international. But it still doesn’t excuse the lack of local engagement.
I also took part in the #nomakeupselfie, an international campaign where you took a selfie of yourself wearing no make-up and donated money to breast cancer research. Yeah, the connection is tenuous, but it raised more than £8 million just in the UK. The campaign started to spiral out of control in that the message was “lost” and people started posting the posed, pouty, surprisingly well-lit selfies just for the sake of being part of the movement, rather than donate money to the equivalent local breast cancer cause.
Our society nowadays has unfortunately become one of slacktivism and these kinds of campaigns speak to those people who would rather not get off their ass to support a worthy cause.
On the other side the coin, if it’s fun, celebrities do it and it shows off your “hawt nipple stand”, people are more than eager to raise money for scientists to drill holes in mice’s heads.
Check out Humaneseal.org to find out which charities you can support that do not poke and prod animals for no reason.