Week 7 Blog: Mainstream Breast Cancer Culture – Sarah Wagner

In chapter of Barbara Ley’s book “From Pink to Green” she gives the definition of the “mainstream of breast cancer culture”: a type of activist culture that has come to dominate the social, cultural, and political landscape in the 1990s and early 2000s”.  There doesn’t seem to be a date provided on when this book was published, but probably not recent enough to involve the last ten years.  The general definition of mainstream, according to Google, is “the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional”.  The “attitudes” and “activities” of the mainstream breast cancer culture can be seen as a strength and a weakness.

One strength of mainstream breast cancer culture is raising public awareness.  There are fundraisers, such as Susan G. Koman for the Cure, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and American Breast Cancer Foundation, to help encourage people to provide donations to breast cancer research.  Another is breast cancer support groups.  There are lots of these organizations across the U.S. to help support women who must go through these tough times (breastcancer.org 2012).

After looking through this week’s material I’ve taken more notice to the weaknesses rather than the strengths.  One of the weaknesses of mainstream breast cancer culture is recognizing if the donations via corporations actually goes towards research to prevent/cure breast cancer or as an advertisement for the businesses providing the promotion.  Ley talks about how corporate “pinkwashing” consists of businesses who “seek to attract customers by presenting themselves as caring about women’s health…through breast cancer advocacy” at a convenient time of public awareness of breast cancer.  This business advertisement is probably in October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Another way the mainstream could be seen as a weakness is 3-5% of the donation money goes to the research on preventing it.  The short clip shown in the “Pink Ribbon Inc.” video, where the woman tells us that statistic, criticizes that people will argue that “we can’t prevent it if we don’t know what causes it”.  If more money went towards finding the cause, then they might figure out what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it!  It’s important to cure those who, unfortunately, already have the disease, but there should be more than just 3-5% towards research to prevent it.  The short clip was from 1997, so hopefully in this day, close to twenty years later, there has been some kind of change to the amount towards prevention research.

Ecofeminists are those who share a common interest between an environmentalism and feminism approach to “the impact of environmental degradation on women’s health” (Ley n.d.).  Like the woman in the short clip Ley also points out that most of the donation funds are going towards research for a cure, not a prevention.  Feminists who organized the Breast Cancer Fund’s 1999 campaign made recognition to the environmental side of the cause of breast cancer.  There are some people who blame women’s lifestyle choices as a cause of breast cancer, but the feminists argue against it and believe it is the social, political, and economic systems that “hinder women’s opportunities to make healthy choices and avoid exposure to toxic substances”.  Like I said above, weaknesses are really what I took notice to and unfortunately can’t give a good comparison.  Maybe if more donations could be applied towards the prevention of breast cancer there would be better comparisons!  If the public could become more aware of the truth of breast cancer, the women (and some men) experiencing it, and the importance of breast cancer prevention research there would be better strengths toward the mainstream breast cancer culture.

Works Cited:

“How Can I Find a Breast Cancer Support Group in My Area?.” Breastcancer.org. Breastcancer.org, 16 May 2015.  Web.  18 August 2015.

Léa Pool.  “Pink Ribbon Inc.” Online video clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 21 Apr. 2012.  Web.  16 Aug. 2015.

Ley, Barbara.  From Pink to Green.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, n.d.  Print.

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