Week 7 – Blog Post

Breast cancer has been something that has always been discussed in my family, from what I can remember, due to the fact that my grandma is a survivor and had to have a complete mastectomy. I grew up knowing about the Susan G. Komen walk and we participated in it quite a few times. We’ve always been very aware of the risk and my mom has made it a point to talk about regular screenings and also learning how to check yourself. I would say my family fell in with the “mainstream” breast cancer culture. We wore the pink and the ribbons and went to the exact kind of events portrayed in the Pink Ribbons, Inc. video. I can definitely affirm the claims made in Ley’s article about the lack of knowledge or research into environmental causes of breast cancer. I honestly didn’t know that there were environmental causes potentially linked to breast cancer until a couple years ago. I’ve only really known about the genetic component.

I don’t necessarily think that the mainstream breast cancer culture is a negative thing. It definitely maintains the discussion of breast cancer. With many other causes, getting the discussion going is one of the most difficult things to do. For example, anything mental health related is so stigmatized that people don’t like talking about it. Additionally, as Ley states in her article, it does bring people together at the events and brings survivors together, and I think that is a very important thing.

The mainstream breast cancer culture does have some short comings, however. Obviously, from my personal example of breast cancer awareness in my family, I knew nothing about potential causes besides genetics. The fact that an entire area of research that could protect so many people has essentially been ignored, is very alarming. Additionally, from the materials for this week, and just being a member of society, you can see that there is an obsession over the pink ribbons and pink in general during October. The problem with this is that companies capitalize off of this and spend their money designing and creating products to sell, when that money, in reality, should be spent on research efforts into environmental causes. It benefits the companies more than the breast cancer efforts. Breast cancer has been known about for decades, yet there has been little to no advancement in treatment or research regarding a cure and causes – this obviously has something to do with the mainstream culture of breast cancer.

Eco-feminists, as represented in Ley’s article, are attempting to change the conversation. They are reshaping breast cancer as an environmental women’s health issue. They utilize the feminization of breast cancer as momentum into the environmental approach. As Ley points out, the pink ribbon doesn’t have to symbolize complacency, it can symbolize “political and environmental radicalism” depending on how activists “assemble them.” Additionally, they concern themselves with making the public aware of how their donations are spent by organizations like the Susan G. Komen Race. Eco-feminists differ from the mainstream by bringing to light what needs to be worked on in the future rather than continue in the complacent manner that never progresses or moves forward. They are similar in that they, as aforementioned, utilize the pink ribbon and other things that already bring awareness, but use it in a progress-driven way that sparks a conversation about the right things.

 

Ley, Barbara. (2009). From Pink to Green. Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement. Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2016/06/7.1-Ley.pdf

Pool, Léa. (2017). Pink Ribbon Inc. NFB. Retrieved from https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5vqdad

2 thoughts on “Week 7 – Blog Post

  1. Hi Kelcie,

    I found your blog post really interesting. I too have a family member that is a survivor of breast cancer, she however did not have to have a complete mastectomy, she had a partial one. My family also supported and participated in several events that we for the cause. Ley’s article also brought to my attention the inadequacies of mainstream breast cancer culture. Ley’s statements regarding eco-feminist really helped me to understand that there are improvements to be made when it comes to educating the public about health issues. Like you I also believed that one of the main sources of breast cancer was genetics. I’m curious, as you seem to be, why there have been no real advancements in the treatment options for breast cancer patients. I completely agree that eco-feminists are bringing awareness to the changes that need to happen in the future. I am curious to know however; do you think that this approach is different from a feminist approach or do you think that feminist and eco-feminist are working to achieve the same goal, or something completely different? I really enjoyed reading your blog post, thank you for sharing your ideas and personal stories.

  2. I can relate to a lot of things in your post, as my mom is going through the process of breast cancer diagnosis right now. Even before this week’s blog post, I was unaware of the negative aspects of mainstream breast cancer culture and I probably would’ve supported my mom by wearing pink ribbons and raising money only to pay corporations and to fund research that isn’t even focused on preventing the disease or learning more about it–which baffles me, by the way. One of this week’s articles on The Lancet stated that huge amounts of money–around $513.5 million for 1997–are being spent research. This sounds great on the surface but most Americans don’t know that the research is mostly aimed toward treating the disease rather than stopping it from happening and looking at the environmental factors that are at play. You would think that after breast cancer incidence had remained static for 10 years that something different would be tried (The Lancet Editorial Staff, 1997). I agree with you that mainstream breast cancer culture has done good by starting discussion about ending the disease, but do you think the discussion should be maintained when it’s focusing too heavily on the wrong aspects of the disease, like post-diagnostic treatment and overly positive feminine attitudes?

    Source:
    The Lancet Editorial Staff. “Breast Cancer Gets the Hard Sell.” The Lancet, 1997, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(97)21032-9/fulltext.

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