In the United States breast cancer is an issue you can mention and everyone will know about. The pink ribbons! The runs! The walks! The survivors! The is a large sense of community surrounding the idea of wearing pink during breast cancer awareness month, and judging by the amount of pink ribbon products in the grocery store, the awareness doesn’t stop at the end of October but lasts all year round. I think this very apparent community atmosphere surrounding breast cancer is one of the absolute strengths of the culture this issue has cultivated. As mentioned in the film this week, many women were unable to say the word “breast” without feeling uncomfortable – but this word has since been normalized. The main stream breast cancer movement has effective made people aware and able to talk about women’s bodies and women’s health.
There are however several draw backs to the mainstream breast cancer culture. As mentioned in the film, the pink ribbon is the face of breast cancer. Pink ribbon products can be found in nearly every aisle, waiting and allowing consumers the opportunity to spend a few extra dollars that will go towards breast cancer research. The idea behind this model is gold – consumers are able to choose to give to a cause, and even better, the cause makes itself apparent to them so that they may choose. The intent and idea is good – fully capitalistic. But we have to consider that the breast cancer culture is a billion dollar industry. One billion dollars because of these little pink labelled products. This is wonderful and beautiful – as mentioned before on a large scale people seem to care (or at the very least know) about women’s heath issues. But it really is too good to be true. With the billion dollars that are going into this system, only 3-5% of that money is used on prevention. The other bits are to figure how the cancer progresses, how to better eradicate the cancer, but not to stop people from getting it. Also, the pink ribbon has turned breast cancer into a business, literally with the Susan G Komen foundation and also on another level, when we see that the pink ribbon can be used without the money going to the organization. Finally, and something that i found perhaps be the most troubling, is that the money raised by breast cancer culture does not always reach the women or the research incentives that it was donated for. This money in many cases may be filtered back into the corporation to make improvements, add bonuses, etc.
In Ley’s article From Pink to Green, we see that that approach described to learning and handling breast cancer is entirely different. Ley describes that in Massachusetts that have decided to look specifically at the environmental factors of breast cancer, as opposed to genetics or some anomaly, and specifically use the “precautionary principle.” Ley says that in Massachusetts if they ever want to take the initiative and challenge that environmental factors, the scientific idea of truth has to be bent. This is think is radically different from the mainstream culture at has because breast cancer research in the main stream is entirely run by facts. In the video is was mentioned that they could not figure how to prevent breast cancer until they could treat it. But Ley describes an effort to make preventative care and research a real priority.