Think Pink, Part Two

To paraphrase a quote from the clip in Think Pink, Part One, if you must think of breast cancer, think pink!  And why not?  Pink is cheery, feminine, affirmative of all that one fears lost with breast cancer.  Peggy Orenstein in last Sunday’s NYTimes has a different understanding. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to destigmatization. The experience of actual women with cancer … — women like me — got lost. Rather than truly breaking silences, acceptable narratives of coping emerged, each tied up with a pretty pink bow. There were the pink teddy bears that, as Barbara Ehrenreich observed, infantilized patients in a reassuringly feminine fashion. “Men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not receive gifts of Matchbox cars,” she wrote in her book “Bright-Sided.”

Instead of bracelets with I ❤ boobies” we might be more in touch with cancer sufferers if we used the slogan,”“I ❤ My 72-Year-Old One-Boobied Granny.”

And now breast cancern concern is getting tied up with sexiness.  For example, there is “Project Boobies (the slogan on its T-shirts promoting self-exam reads, “I grab a feel so cancer can’t steal,” though the placement of its hot-pink handprints makes it virtually impossible for them to belong to the shirt’s wearer).”  Another example was discussed here before, in our post on the Save the Boobs Campaign.   According to Orenstein:

Rather than being playful, which is what these campaigns are after, sexy cancer suppresses discussion of real cancer, rendering its sufferers — the ones whom all this is supposed to be for — invisible. It also reinforces the idea that breasts are the fundamental, defining aspect of femininity. My friend’s daughter may have been uncertain about what her bracelet “for breast cancer” meant, but I am betting she got that femininity equation loud and clear.

How far the ‘think pink’ approach to breast cancer renders its sufferers invisible may be debatable, but surely the danger is real.  It  seems pretty clear that we have a problematic campaign that should be discussed for a variety of reasons. 

I think the thing that worries me most is that ‘thinking pink’ seems to emphasize getting women into medical treatment and renders the very serious topic of environment causes moot.

[Thanks to MD, who wrote us about the article!]


UK Jobless women total hits 22-year high

Today’s Independent points out that, though jobless rates have (as ConDems are so keen to point out) recently fallen, the recent trend is opposite for women in the workforce, and set to get much worse.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Female unemployment has been rising for over a year and hit a 22-year high this autumn.

“With the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting half a million further job losses in the female-dominated public sector, women look likely to suffer rising joblessness for some time to come.”

Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “There are signs that cuts in public spending are already having an adverse impact on job prospects for women, with the unemployment rate for women now at 7% – higher than at any point since the start of the jobs recession in 2008.

“Women are likely to have been adversely affected by fewer vacancies in public administration, education, health and social work.

“The public sector, which has a relatively high concentration of female workers, is also the only sector to record an increase in redundancies in the latest quarter.”

Once again, THANKS, NICK. read more here.