I was not a fan of the “no make-up selfie” craze, yet the ice-bucket challenge struck me as awesome. This sentiment made me feel somewhat uncomfortable at first. I am aware of our learned biases against women, and women-centred actions. Having grown up in a community which was bible-belt-level patriarchic, I’m aware I was especially indoctrinated into thought patterns which don’t stand up to scrutiny. I always pause and consider the motivation for my feelings in cases like this one. In this way, I’ve sometimes discovered some weeds in the garden of my mind.
However, I think my sentiments are justified. The no-make-up thing was often labelled “for cancer”, if explained at all, a vague purpose that seemed tacked on as an after-thought. It had at its centre an action which was highly contentious, and excluded half of the population from participating, except as a joke. One good thing about it was, perhaps, that it put a spotlight on the fact that women feel pressured to wear make-up to be presentable.
The ice bucket challenge stays away from any morass of controversy. It can be done by any gender. Sir Patrick Stewart did a brilliant one, putting his own delightful spin on the cause, and Kari Byron rose to the challenge with a fundraiser auction. How it started I’m not sure, but perhaps learning from the no-make-up thing, those posts which attached a cause made it clear: to raise awareness and funds for ALS. Now I, for one, had to go do a search to find out what ALS was, and I would not have done so if not for the ice bucket challenge. Mission accomplished then, at least in my case.
I did not have to go do a search to find out what cancer is.
In the end, the no-make-up-selfie thing accomplished a great deal. Donations to charities concerned with cancer research or support skyrocketed. Yet I think it was more by accident than by design. The ice bucket challenge probably learned from that, and went about being a craze with greater clarity, and perhaps more success.