Monday, February 19, 2007

If exotic dancers' money not good enough, don't count on mine
Feb . 17, 2007

When I first heard about a national breast cancer charity turning down a donation from exotic dancers in Vancouver, I got mad. I fired off a furious e-mail to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, and suspect a lot of other people did too.
Being an exotic dancer is, after all, a legal profession. Up until 2004, Canada even had a special fast-track immigration category for exotic dancers to ensure the country never ran short of them.
Do we want our charities getting sniffy about taking donations from hard-working, fully legal dancers just because somebody disapproves of how they make a living? That’s what happened in this instance, when the cancer society rejected the proceeds of a fundraiser being put on by Vancouver’s Exotic Dancers For Canada next month.
But while I was poking around on the Web in search of insight into what could have possibly possessed the society to refuse the donation, what became obvious was that the same kind of thing happens all the time. Exotic dancers in particular have had a hard time of it.
The Windsor Star had a story about exotic dancers back in 1984 who tried to donate half of a night’s wages to charity. The local United Way wouldn’t take it, and the dancers finally ended up giving the $3,000 to a Windsor hospice.
Two years later, dancers at the same club raised $20,000 for two local hospitals. Both refused to take the money. It went to five other less-discriminating Windsor organizations instead.
Here in B.C., the interesting thing is that the very same charity that’s refusing the money this time out was being praised a year ago for bucking the trend and accepting money from the same group of dancers.
Up to that point, none of the main cancer organizations wanted to touch a donation from Exotic Dancers for Canada, unless they agreed to remain anonymous. Understandably, the dancers found that just a little demeaning.
The group launched its fundraiser in 2004 as a benefit for a colleague dying of breast cancer.
The following year, after the woman’s death, the fundraiser was staged again to benefit breast-cancer research. But organizer Annie Temple couldn’t find anyone willing to take the donation. As had happened in Windsor back in 1984, the dancers gave the money to an appreciative hospice instead.
The year after, Temple wrote such a compelling letter to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada that they agreed to accept the money from the 2006 event.
“Our bottom line is that any women can get breast cancer. It doesn’t matter what they do, what their profession is,” said cancer society executive director Rany Xanothopoulo a scant year ago.
Since then, however, “certain major donors” have made their displeasure clear. When the exotic dancers called Xanothopoulo this winter about donating the proceeds from their upcoming fundraiser next month, they got the news. Donations from “controversial sources” are no longer being accepted.
In this case, it’s especially outrageous because the dancers are legally employed. They ought to be applauded for their social-mindedness, not spurned for their offers of dirty money. Breast cancer kills more than 5,000 Canadian women a year, so good on them for trying to do their part for that ongoing battle.
The on-line debate around the Breast Cancer Society’s rejection of the donation reveals an overwhelming majority against the decision, although not without a number of people pointing out what a difficult position the society had been put in.
A “major donor” - someone able to provide a great deal of money for the cause, presumably - had made a fuss after the society had taken money from the exotic dancers last year.
The society could either stand on its principle of a year ago and risk losing a lot of money, or reject the donation from the dancers and give up a mere $3,000 or so. The decision makes sense when viewed as a financial dilemma.
I respect the right of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada to do what it has to do. While the Web site of the Sarnia, Ont., non-profit doesn’t breathe a word about the current debate, I have to presume that it did what it thought was necessary in choosing to pass judgment on its donors.
But an organization that does that also has to accept that it’s going to lose a donor like me when it all comes out, because I don’t want to go along with anything like that. If nothing else, this aggravating news of a charity turning away a donation will at least give me an additional thing to ascertain when deciding where to put my own charitable contributions.
Hooray for exotic dancers who care enough to raise money every year for breast cancer. May their money no longer go unwanted.

1 comment:

j said...

I think if they traced back the true origins of where all of their money came from, they'd find things much more disturbing--it's sad, really.