We’ve been having an ongoing conversation with the fabulous Gayle Sulik, author of PINK RIBBON BLUES: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health which we’ll be spooling out here over the next few weeks. Take some time to read about exactly why you need to Think Before You Pink.
What do you think people believe they’re doing when they buy a pink ribbon product?
“Many people believe they’re supporting breast cancer research, the war on breast cancer, and helping to save women’s lives. Some people don’t care what they’re supporting and just like the trendiness of the pink stuff.”
What’s the actual truth of what they’re doing when they buy a pink ribbon product?
“In truth, the bulk of money raised and spent does not go to research. It goes to ‘awareness’ programs, marketing materials, and overhead. If you read the financial reports, you’d be surprised at how little money supports anything useful. In the meantime, the fledgling organizations that are trying to support their communities and fill gaps in care are left without adequate funds to do their work.
Some of these programs even disseminate information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or decontexualized. And it’s cast as ‘awareness.’ What are they aware of? Breast cancer exists. Be afraid. Feel your boobies. Have hope. Get your mammogram. Have courage. You’ll be fine. How can people make decisions based on sound bites and false information? This is not awareness.
Also, pink consumption has been cast as the ONLY way to support the cause when, in fact, it does more to support the large organizations and partnering businesses than it does diagnosed women or women at risk. ‘Join the Fight, Buy the Gear’ campaigns increase revenues and consumer and employee loyalty. These efforts expand consumer markets, and they pay for themselves. It keeps the largest organizations in the spotlight, so long as they support the corporate version of charity.
Some of the campaigns overtly trivialize the disease. Others sexualize it. I analyzed hundreds of breast cancer ads, and you cannot tell them apart from other marketing advertisements. There is a lot of skin, cleavage, fashion, beauty, sexual innuendo, empowerment rhetoric, and – keeping women in their traditional roles – cooking and cleaning products. Many fundraising events use these images too, and they often paint survivorship to be a triumphant and festive experience. Many of the diagnosed, especially those who have had recurrences, are marginalized from this culture.
And if you ask questions…. Look out!”
Well, we here at THE CANCER SHOW are asking questions. Lots of ‘em.