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