If you're suffering from awareness overload, you're not alone.
When it comes to breast cancer, we're inundated with what health studies professor Samantha King calls a "tyranny of cheerfulness." Rather than addressing the more complex issues of inadequate health insurance, environmental pollution, and stalled research, the public face of breast cancer advocacy veers toward to what Barbara Ehrenreich calls "the breast cancer cult," an ultra-feminine, consumer-driven approach drenched in sentimentality and good cheer.
The ubiquitous pink ribbon often overshadows the actual achievements of breast cancer organizations.
By now, chances are you've seen the news that the Susan G. Komen Foundation defunded its support of Planned Parenthood, which it had established in 2005. Pressure for the foundation to stop the support began almost immediately, and the national Susan G. Komen board resisted this pressure until yesterday. I spoke with Gina Popovic, Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, who stressed that Komen is not the bad actor in all of this, the anti-choice activists are.
Perhaps you have heard of KFC's "Buckets for the Cure" campaign. The idea is, every time you buy a pink bucket of fried chicken from the chain, 50 cents is donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation for breast cancer research. Now, raising money for cancer research of any kind is great, but I can't help but think (and I am by no means alone here) that this campaign is misguided and misleading (not to mention the weird irony of buying – and eating – certain breasts to save others). Of course, tying an advertising campaign to the fight against breast cancer, a practice commonly known as pinkwashing, is nothing new. Let's look at some more examples and discuss!