Awareness Months

We break to your usual programming (of live blogging Rhetoric of Science) to bring to you a disturbing rhetorical analysis.

Hi, last Tuesday, I was looking at a calendar that had what each month’s campaign was.  There were things like “Black history month,” or “Chinese history month” or “LGBTQIAA history month.”  But, then I saw that there were many awareness months.  I decided that I wanted to do a quick rhetorical analysis of the awareness month campaigns.  Please stick with me here and try to read all of the following because afterwards, we are gonna play a game called “There’s something here that isn’t like the rest.”  If you want to see a longer list, please go to the end and read that.

  • National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
  • Minority Cancer Awareness Week
  • Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • Blood Cancer Awareness Month
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Lung Cancer Awareness Month
  • Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Awareness Month
  • National HIV Awareness Month
  • National Autism Awareness Month
  • National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Hellen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week

So, what can we gain from this?  We can gain that nearly every time that the term “awareness” is put on something, it is something that should be eradicated or fixed.  Cancer, abuse, and death are all attached to awareness months and I think we can all agree that cancer, abuse, and death should be eliminated whenever possible.  A person is not their cancer, is not their abuse, is not their…death?  Okay, that last one didn’t quite work well.

But autism, being deaf and blind, trisomy (Which is something that is associated with Down Syndrome), Down Syndrome, and disability are also attached to this term that is used when we want to eradicate something.  And, unlike cancer, abuse and death, these things are an inherent part of our lives.  A disabled person is not separable from their disability because it, I would say most of the time, shapes the way we experience the world around us.

One of the biggest things that I have seen in my experience as an autistic self-advocate (I was only born a bit ago in that regard) is this idea that awareness campaigns are good enough.  But, most of the autistic community expects and demands that we go beyond awareness to acceptance.

Read the following and try to be aware of how they make you feel

  • Black awareness month
  • White awareness month
  • Female awareness month
  • LGBTQIAAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, Pansexual) awareness month
  • Asian awareness month
  • Native American awareness month (The sad thing is this is actually what this is called)

We don’t do awareness months for these groups (except for the Native Americans, *face-palm*) because we recognize that they are a natural part of human diversity.  Why have we not reached the point where disability is also a natural part of human diversity?  Why?

Here’s the most likely reason why: because disability is viewed as a bad thing.  This reminds me a bit of Burke’s Terministic screens, when you attach disability to the word awareness and awareness is used with things like cancer, AIDS, SIDS, and abuse, then you are already setting up disability to look like it is a bad thing.

I confess here and now that my views on disability over the past year have been very warped.  I thought disability was a bad thing, but it’s not.  And honestly, that’s for another post (that I definitely will write, I promise you that).

So, what is the main point here?  The main point is that awareness is attached to things that are bad and need to be fixed or eradicated (I could use the term exterminated if I wanted to), so when groups say that awareness is a good thing, you can easily call their bullshit and show them the many things that awareness is actually tagged to.


  • National Glaucoma Awareness month
  • Thyroid Awareness Month
  • National Winter Sports TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Awareness Month
  • AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
  • Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week
  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week
  • National Colorectal Cancer Awarenss month
  • National Endometriosis Awareness Month
  • Patient Safety Awareness Week
  • Alcohol Awareness Month
  • National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month
  • STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Awareness Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
  • Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month
  • Minority Cancer Awareness Week
  • American Stroke Awareness Month
  • Arthritis Awareness Month
  • National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
  • National Celiac Disease Awareness Month
  • Hepatitis Awareness Month
  • Lupus Awareness Month
  • National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month
  • Preclampsia Awareness Month
  • Food Allergy Awareness Week
  • National Neuropathy Awareness Week
  • Cataract Awareness Month
  • Hernia Awareness Month
  • Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month
  • National Aphasia Awareness Month
  • National Congenital Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month
  • National Scleroderma Awareness Month
  • Scoliosis Awareness Month
  • Cord Blood Awareness Month
  • Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month
  • International Group B Strep Throat Awareness Month
  • National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month
  • National Immunization Awareness Month
  • Psoriasis Awareness Month
  • National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month
  • Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • National ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) Awareness Month
  • Blood Cancer Awareness Month
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
  • National Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Spina Bifida Awareness Month
  • Mental Illness Awareness Week
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Trisomy Awareness Month
  • Hellen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week
  • National Autism Awareness Month
  • Disability Awareness Month
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