Week 7 Blog Post

Please write about the strengths and weaknesses of the “mainstream breast cancer culture” and compare/contrast with the eco-feminist views that Ley describes in her article.

Mainstream breast cancer culture has many strengths and weaknesses. The main strength of the breast cancer culture is the sense of unity and community that it creates. By wearing the pink ribbon and buying merchandise that has the pink ribbon on it, we as people are telling them that we are here for them and are putting support towards the disease they have been plagued with. The walks, foundations, and organizations that are involved in the cause take the stance of support and raising awareness.

There are many weaknesses that mainstream breast cancer culture raise. One of the main issues associated with this culture in the pink ribbon used to promote breast cancer awareness. “Pinkwashing” has become an increasing concern for Environmental breast cancer activists. “… pinkwashing  refers to the ways in which businesses seek to attract customers by presenting themselves as caring about women’s health and wanting to improve it through breast cancer advocacy at a time of rising public concerns about breast cancer” (Ley 2009). Corporations use the breast cancer symbol as a way in which to earn money by promoting something that they know will make them significantly more money than a topic, such as HIV or AIDS. The fact that women are not socially associated with a stigmatized group and because the women are significantly more safe than if they had a different disease, they are less controversial to be associated with.

Another weakness of mainstream breast cancer culture is that the main color associated with it is the color pink. Pink is an extremely feminized color and is often only associated with ink due to the vast gender binary that American culture associates itself with. To critics of this movement,  it is a “pastel pink at that – reeks of femininization and infantilization that belittle women and led to political complacence” (Ley 2009). Color plays a significant role in association for many cultures. Pink in the Unites States is associated with the woman and being feminine. The issue with this is that even men have breast cancer. By using pink as the color associated with breast cancer, we disregard men and the fact that they also are affected by the disease, while it is at a proportionally lower rate, they are still affected. We have turned breast cancer into a woman’s issue, and not an everyone issue.

Another issue with mainstream breast cancer culture is the amount of development that we have seen. There has been no change in how we approach breast cancer or treat it. Dr. Susan Love, MD, explains that “all twenty years we choose surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for treating breast cancer” (NFB 2017).  The medical techniques have not showed improvement, we are just better at finding it sooner and diagnosing i more. With the amount of money that has managed to be fund-raised and donated towards the cause, you would think that more development would have been made in terms of technology used to treat it and possibly even remove it from the body.  We ignore prevention and focus on support. The only way that mainstream breast cancer culture can improve is by acknowledging that we need to focus more on prevention and improvement.

Sources Cited:

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. The reason women are associated more with breast cancer is because 1 in 8 women have the chance of being diagnosed with it. It is the second highest cause of cancer related death for women. (National Breast Cancer Foundation, INC. 2016) Men might be affected by it, but women suffer from it more. That is why I believe that the focus is more on women than men and I do not think that is wrong. There are many other things that affect both men and women, but the concertation for help is generally bigger for men. Companies are taking a big liking to supporting breast cancer because they know that there will be a big profit from it. Even the United States Congress has approved funding for breast cancer. The Congress decided to increase stamp prices, so the extra money made will go into research for breast cancer. (The Lancet 1997) If you look at it from a business point of view, does it not make sense to support breast cancer because not only does it help them receive profits, but it is also helping to support the second highest cause of death for women? Is it really wrong for companies to support something that they know that will make them profit too? Is it not good enough that they are donating and supporting the cause?

    Reference:
    i. The Lancet Editorial Staff. (1997). Breast cancer gets the hard shell. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(97)21032-9/fulltext
    ii. National Breast Cancer Foundation, INC. (2016). Breast Cancer Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts

  2. I agree with you, and with what we read and watched this week, that it has been way too long with no significant discoveries or technological advancement in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. I also think that we are just so focused on treatment, treatment, and more treatment, when we should be equally — or even more — focused on prevention. As discussed, we do not make nearly enough effort to ask or research WHY we get breast cancer and WHY its so prevalent. I think that we just assume it’s genetic. That’s what I grew up thinking until basically a couple years ago now. A clear issue is that so many businesses capitalize off of the pinkwashing. While I do think it creates a community, which is also important, if they spent more money donating to causes that actually will do the necessary research instead of paying so much to their CEO. What do you think is a potential solution to this problem?

    I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that breast cancer is seen generally as a women’s issue. I don’t think men should be left out by any means, but the vast majority of cases are women. However, instead of being so obsessed with wearing pink, if we use that motivation and momentum in the right way, we could be in a better position.

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