On Tuesday, the YouTube how-to crew known as Simple Pickup posted yet another in a series of questionable “pickup” videos. In the clip, which now has more than 2 million views, the men of Simple Pickup “motorboat” women on the street, meaning they press a woman’s breasts together and shake their face back and forth between them, to make the sound of a motorboat.
Perhaps due to past criticism of their tactics, which often involve approaching women on the street and initiating unwanted physical contact, they put a disclaimer on this video: It was for breast cancer awareness, and for every “motorboat,” they’d donate $20 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They racked up $2,080.
In a separate video, they offered proof that they were actually making the donation and a link to the receipt.
I sent an email to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, asking if they had, indeed, received a payment from Simple Pickup, and provided a link to their latest video. Here’s the response from Peg Mastrianni, the Foundation’s deputy director:
“Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. The donation from the makers of this video, a group called Simple Pickup, came in via BCRF’s online automated donation page without our knowledge of any of the activities involved in the making, solicitation, and distribution of their campaign.
We appreciate efforts to raise money to advance breast cancer research, but out of respect for the community we serve, we have asked Simple Pickup to cease all references and associations to our organization and are refunding their donation immediately.”
I emailed Simple Pickup to see what they’d be doing with the returned donation. Their response:
“We completely understand their decision. It’s very obvious that the BCRF is refunding the money due to pressure from a minority of people who find the video offensive. We will donate this money (and any additional money in the future) to another charity that funds breast cancer research and awareness.”
Not sure if minority is the right word here. Mastrianni’s response echoes what many people—not to mention women who’ve been diagnosed with and battled breast cancer—were likely thinking: that objectifying women was a disgraceful way to support the cause.
Screenshot via Simple Pickup/YouTube