The title of this post is the name of a documentary that is slowing being released across the United States. Unfortunately, it appears it won't be making its way in my direction so I will have to reserve it in my Netflix cue and hope it gets released to DVD soon. The documentary tells a brave story, one that many are hesitant to tell, but it's important that we look behind the curtain.
Pink ribbons. We see them everywhere and are told they are part of the search for the cure. But are they really? It's politically incorrect to even question those ribbons. Questioning the ribbons is almost like questioning breast cancer survivors as the two have become so entwined. However, for a while now, I've questioned the story behind the ribbons and the documentary seems to be confirming my suspicions.
Pink ribbons don't cure anything. Using them to create "awareness" is meaningless. All they do is create more profits for companies whose products sport them. And, as this article from Salon points out, the funding that actually does go to find the "cure" supports the status quo of treatments, treatments that aren't really cures but are programs that bolster profits of pharmaceutical and other medical treatment businesses. (For those of you who might think I'm being callous, ALL of my biological aunts have had breast cancer, I lost a dear friend - who was technically a "success" as she survived past her 5 years - to the disease, and an old friend of mine underwent a double mastectomy several years ago.)
In order to find a cure, there must be an understanding of the cause. When companies that sell products under the banner of the pink ribbon include, in those very same products, chemicals that are known carcinogens, there seems to be a terrible conflict of interest.
The Salon article links to an article by well-known social justice author and breast cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich. In this article Barbara reinforces my identity as a feminist when she states, "the feminists want a cure, but they even more ardently demand to know the cause or causes of the disease without which we will never have any means of prevention." She continues: "suspicion should focus on environmental carcinogens, the feminists argue, such as plastics, pesticides...and the industrial runoff in our ground water. No carcinogen has been linked definitely to human breast cancer yet, but many have been found to cause the disease in mice, and the inexorable increase of the disease in industrialized nations." Isn't prevention so much better than finding a "cure" through new expensive and toxic treatments that increase the profits of large corporations?
Why do individuals not realize that buying things isn't activism? And it's definitely not a cure. Read Ehrenreich's article and watch the movie trailer. Then tell me what you think: