Working for the Cure: Challenging Pink Ribbon Activism [Book Chapter]

In Roma Harris, Nadine Wathen & Sally Wyatt (eds.), [Book] Configuring Health Consumers: Health Work and the Imperative of Personal Responsibility. Eds. R. Harris, N. Wathen, S. Wyatt. Amsterdam: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Palgrave-Macmillan (2010)

Authors
Maya J. Goldenberg
University of Guelph
Abstract
In accordance with the critical women’s health literature recounting the ways that women are encouraged to submit themselves to various sorts of health “imperatives”, I investigate the messages tacitly conveyed to women in “campaigns for the cure” and breast cancer awareness efforts, which, I argue, overemphasizes a “positive attitude”, healthy lifestyle, and cure rather than prevention of this life-threatening disease. I challenge that the message of hope pervading breast cancer discourse silences the despair felt by many women, furthers a tacit blaming for disease infliction via a rhetoric of personal responsibility, underemphasizes other cogent health determinants like environmental toxicity, and undermines legitimate critiques of current biomedical practices like widespread mammography. While finding a cure for breast cancer is a laudable and worthwhile healthcare goal that can understandably be shared by women’s health activists, corporate sponsors, and the medical community, this paper resists the current formation of campaigns for the cure and “pink ribbon activism” in general.
Keywords women's health  pinkwashing  breast cancer awareness  health activism
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