Pink Ribbon Blues
Pink ribbon paraphernalia saturate shopping malls, billboards, magazines, television, and other venues, all in the name of breast cancer awareness. In this compelling and provocative work, Gayle A. Sulik shows that although "pink ribbon culture" has brought breast cancer advocacy much attention, it has not had the desired effect of improving women's health. It may, in fact, have done the opposite. Based on eight years of research, analysis of advertisements and breast cancer awareness campaigns, and hundreds of interviews with those affected by the disease, Pink Ribbon Blues highlights the hidden costs of the pink ribbon as an industry, one in which breast cancer has become merely a brand name with a pink ribbon logo. Indeed, while survivors and supporters walk, run, and purchase pink products for a cure, cancer rates rise, the industry thrives, and breast cancer is stigmatized anew for those who reject the cheerful, pink ribbon model. Even as Sulik points out the flaws of this system, she outlines alternatives and presents a new agenda for the future. The paperback edition includes a new prologue on the recent developments in breast cancer culture involving Susan G. Komen for the Cure as well as a new four-page color insert with images of pink culture and compelling reactions to its messaging.
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A very interesting, critical and worthwhile read. Does a decent job of introducing the reader to some of the controversies and thorny problems of breast cancer. Probably more pessimistic than even the actual progress needs to be (even factoring out stage 0 cancer treatment, breast cancer has slowly but steadily become more survivable over the past decades) but a much-needed criticism of Pink Ribbon culture. Hopefully one that supports a rethinking of that culture if possible, and a resolution of some of the contradictions found in it (selling what amounts to carcinogens with pink ribbons on them seems a little suspect). Much of the second half is anecdote and personal stories of women with breast cancer, with far, far less research than the first half. While initially I saw this as a bad thing, finishing the book it became far more obvious how the individual stories fit into the overall arc of the discussion and I ended up coming away more convinced than I expected to be.
An excellent iconoclasm.
Introduction to the 2012 Edition
WHAT IS PINK RIBBON CULTURE?
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PINK RIBBON CULTURE
MIXED METAPHORS WAR GENDER AND THE MASS CIRCULATION OF CANCER CULTURE
CONSUMING PINK MASS MEDIA AND THE CONSCIENTIOUS CONSUMER