Activism

Bathsheba’s Breast: Women, Cancer, and History by James Olson (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).

In 1967, an Italian surgeon on a museum tour stopped in front of Rembrandt’s Bathsheba at Her Bath and noticed an asymmetry to Bathsheba’s left breast; it seemed distended, swollen near the armpit, discolored, and marked with distinctive pitting. The physician later learned that Rembrandt’s model died after a long illness. He conjectured in an article for an Italian medical journal that the cause of her death was breast cancer. Olson provides narratives such as these of prominent women through the ages, including Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV; Mary Washington, mother of George; environmentalist Rachel Carson; and others. Olson chronicles politics and economics, the evolution of research, gender dynamics of women patients and men physicians, and patient activism.

Cancer Activism: Gender, Media, and Public Policy by Karen Kedrowski and Marilyn Sarow (University of Illinois Press, 2007).

Explores the interplay between advocacy, the media, and public perception through an analysis of breast cancer and prostate cancer activist groups over a nearly twenty-year period. Despite both diseases having nearly identical mortality and morbidity rates, Kedrowski and Sarow present evidence from more than 4,200 news articles to show that the different groups have had markedly different impacts. They trace the rise of each movement and explore how discussions about the diseases appeared on media, public, and government agendas. They demonstrate that the breast cancer movement is not only larger and better organized than the prostate cancer movement, it is also more successful at shaping media coverage, public opinion, and public policy.

From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement by Barbara Ley (Rutgers University Press, 2009).

From the early 1980s, the U.S. environmental breast cancer movement has championed the goal of eradicating the disease by emphasizing the importance of reducing—even eliminating—exposure to chemicals and toxins. This book chronicles the movement’s disease prevention philosophy from the beginning. Challenging the broader culture of pink ribbon symbolism and “awareness” campaigns, this movement has grown from a handful of community-based organizations into a national entity, shaping the cultural, political, and public health landscape. They demand that the public play a role in scientific, policy, and public health decision-making to build a new framework of breast cancer prevention. Read a Breast Cancer Consortium Review»

Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by Gayle Sulik (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Reveals the hidden costs of the pink ribbon as an industry, one in which breast cancer functions as a brand name with a pink ribbon logo. Based on historical and ethnographic research, analysis of awareness campaigns and advertisements, and hundreds of interviews, Pink Ribbon Blues shows that while millions walk, run, and purchase products for a cure, cancer rates rise, industry thrives, and breast cancer is stigmatized anew for those who reject the pink ribbon model. Even as Sulik points out the flaws of “pink ribbon culture,” she outlines the positives and offers alternatives. The paperback includes a new Introduction investigating Susan G. Komen for the Cure and a color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer.

The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing Cultures of Disease and Activism by Maren Klawiter (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

Maren Klawiter analyzes the breast cancer movement to show the broad social impact of how diseases come to be medically managed and publicly administered. Examining surgical procedures, early detection campaigns, and discourses of risk, Klawiter demonstrates that these practices initially inhibited, but later enabled, collective action. The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer ultimately challenges our understanding of the origins, politics, and future of the breast cancer movement. Opens a window to broader changes transforming medically advanced societies and challenges our understanding of the origins, politics, and future of the breast cancer movement. Breast–Cancer–Activism–Political Aspects

The Personal and the Political: Women’s Activism in Response to the Breast Cancer And AIDS Epidemics by Ulrike Boehmer, PhD (SUNY Press, 2000).

Drawing on the experiences of thirty-seven diverse women who are active in the AIDS and breast cancer movements, The Personal and the Political provides an in-depth look at the social and political dimensions of AIDS and breast cancer within the context of social movement and feminist theories. While it is generally assumed that activists’ reasons for getting involved in either the AIDS or breast cancer movements differ, Boehmer uncovers similarity in women’s motivations, finding that activism depends on both a personal and a political link to the disease. The work pays particular attention to diversity issues such as race, class, and sexual orientation and explores the women’s motivations, how they view their activism, and how their activism relates to their identities. Breast–Cancer–Political Aspects–Activism


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