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.
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.