Week 7 Blog Post

When someone talks about breast cancer, it is impossible to think of anything but the pink ribbon and smiling faces of women across America. The culture of breast cancer has been shaped a roaring sea of optimism, stories of survivors, and enormous campaigns. Through the efforts of thousands of women over the years, the awareness for breast cancer has increased significantly. More women are getting mammograms and finding ways to prevent the onset of disease (NFB 2017). One of the greatest strengths of the movement is the empowerment of women and how each woman is uplifted and invited into a supportive community. Many times, when someone is diagnosed with cancer there are a lot of questions and emotions that come up. Knowing that there are community groups around helps through the process and treatment.

However, there are many things that the mainstream breast cancer movement doesn’t encapsulate. The main message of the movement is hope, finding a cure, and being a survivor. The reality is that there are many women who are diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, where their prognosis has a bleak survival rate (NFB 2017). The message of the mainstream movement doesn’t encourage them but makes them feel outcasted and hopeless. Another weakness is that the movement puts a pretty, pink face on the disease and makes the breast cancer experience monolithic. Each diagnosis is different, and women need to prepare differently, sometimes for the worst. A big issue with the movement is that much of the fundraised money doesn’t benefit breast cancer research, and there is a flood of companies who advertise the pink ribbon but barely support the cause (Ley 2009). This has become such a phenomenon that the term “pink washing” describes how everyday items that may be linked to causing the disease are turned into advertisements.

Barbara Ley’s perspective of eco-feminism bridges ecological issues and feminist concerns, where the focus is on how the environment impacts women’s health. Some similarities between the mainstream movement and eco-feminism is bringing women’s health into the spotlight and providing awareness. A difference is that many of the mainstream methods to raise awareness is with teddy bears, pink clothing, and hair accessories. All these things pointing away from what a feminist would suggest advertising with, also items that are detrimental to the environment for their one-time use nature. One of the differences between the mainstream movement and Ley’s perspective are the preventative measures for breast cancer. Eco-feminism provides specific lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer such as avoiding pesticides and herbicides in food, not microwaving plastic containers, and avoiding optional treatments like hormone replacement therapy (Ley 2009). The mainstream movement provides more feel-good moments of support rather than practical steps to living with or preventing breast cancer. When supporting a charity, it is on the donors to do their research and make sure the proceeds go to a legitimate cause. As much as we want to trust the big companies, there are many times where the public is taken advantage of. Though well intended, the mainstream movement leaves out the stories of many women and may be hurtful to the environment as well as the people living in it.

NFB (2017). Pink Ribbons Inc. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5vqdad

Ley, B. L. (2009). From pink to green: Disease prevention and the environmental breast cancer movement. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

2 thoughts on “Week 7 Blog Post

  1. Hello Hannah,

    I love your thoughts on the topic! The breast cancer movement definitely promotes community and offers a space at which women can come together and not only share their stories, but seek comfort in one another. There has also been an increase in awareness and making sure women are regularly receiving mammograms in order to catch cancer sooner.

    I understand your main concerns with many women being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and having the movement make them feel as if they no longer have any hope. Another topic that is touched on is how mainstream breast cancer culture uses the pink has an idea of femininity which often disregards men who are also diagnosed with cancer (Ley 2009). Have you considered taken this from the males approach and discussing how this can also be a men’s issue?to

    I appreciate you taking both the mainstream breast cancer culture and the eco-feminist approach to cancer and discerning between the two. While both can have there positives and negatives, we can all acknowledge that preventative measures need to be taken. Do you think that the two movements can come together and create a better approach towards preventing cancer? Or do you think there is a way that corporations can play a larger role in donating towards the cause?

    Ley, B. L. (2009). From pink to green: Disease prevention and the environmental breast cancer movement. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

  2. Hi,

    Breast cancer awareness is a huge movement. Have you wondered why its like the most popular disease to spread awareness about? In October almost every item you can think of is pink with a pink ribbon. Its even prevalent in our sports culture, pink socks, helmets and fields/courts. Ive always wondered what problems traditions like that solve. Its almost like a constant reminder that we aren’t making any progress in curing. And if the money companies raise doesn’t actually go to research, where does it go? From the documentary “What the Health” its clear that the same food companies that are said to be a factor in getting the disease, supports eating their food to prevent breast cancer. Ley is focusing on the holistic issue of breast cancer, something Western medicine only tries to solve by the many treatments and surgeries. Do you think awareness is all thats needed to cure breast cancer? Do you think doctors and researchers are doing all they can?

    Anderson, K., Kuhn, K (Producer),(2017). What the Health[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.netflix.com/browse

Leave a Reply