I found the most intriguing part of Ley’s article to be ‘The Pink Ribbon’ section. Prior to this week’s material, I was familiar with pinkwashing, but not greenwashing–which was its inspiration. “This concept [of pinkwashing] draws on the earlier notion of “greenwashing,” a term coined by critics of corporations that constructed themselves as environmentally friendly as a means to bolster their public image at a time of growing public concern about environmental issues” (Ley 118-119). Which, when compared to pinkwashing, makes a whole lot of sense. Companies started using pinkwashing tactics, especially during the month of October, to proclaim their public desire to search for a cure; however, the majority of profits made in some of the biggest named health organizations do not go directly to cancer research.
When I was a sophomore in college, I tried working as a telemarketer for the American Cancer Society, where I was educated on the mainstream breast cancer culture at that time. I had never done anything like it, so I did not know what to expect from the experience. It inevitably shed a lot of light on the behind the scenes looks of a health organization that is nationally known for being dedicated to eliminating cancer. When I would make calls to people who were uninterested in donating, I was the first to understand, and thank them for their time; however, that was not meeting the expectations and protocol of my position. After hanging up with them, I would be directed over to another station where someone had been listening to my call and would be questioned as to why I did not use any of the rebuttals prompts to make the sell. Needless to say, it was the shortest time I’ve ever spent at a job, and I quit a week or so after my training.
Since that negative experience, I have been hyper-aware of mainstream breast cancer culture, and often try to educate as many people as I know about tactics such as pinkwashing. At the end of the day, an undeniable strength of this culture is spreading awareness. Breast cancer affects so many people’s lives, and there is a nationwide desire for wanting a cure. The weakness, however, is presented in the fine print. It is awesome to want to be part of the solution, but if that solution involves hidden agendas, it may lean more towards being part of the problem long term. When I took the time to research the best way to donate to breast cancer research, the first answer that popped up on my search engine was donating directly to the organization, however, that is not necessarily the best advice. Once you give money to an organization, you no longer know where that money will go. Blinding putting trust into organizations with large sums of money without doing some investigation of the organization and where the funds will go could wind up contributing more to the organization itself than to the actual cause. It is an automatic assumption of the general population that organizations are helpful, not harmful, but this is not always true. Scandals happen everywhere, and it’s important to know where your money goes if you truly want to make a difference.