Promises of Hope. Not Cure.

Gayle and Rachel June 2011

A version of this essay was published on September 27, 2012 on Girl w/ Pen, a collectivity of feminist scholars, writers, and thinkers who publicly and passionately dispel modern myths concerning gender.

“I too used to secretly look forward to October, when I would drape myself in pride with all manner of garish pink, survivor-emblemed merchandise and take my place in the Survivors circle whilst bopping out to “We Are Family” or whatever the cheesy designated anthem was for that year, at one . . . → Read More: Promises of Hope. Not Cure.

“Keep the Race Moving Toward the Cure”

photo-Lisa Valentine crop

Pink Ribbon Blues Contributor Lisa Valentine has written two essays for the PRB Blog: “What Lies Beneath,” which examines cultural expectations about women’s breasts, and “I Didn’t Know Then What I Know Now,” which shares how Lisa went from being an avid Komen supporter to a new kind of breast cancer advocate. Earlier today (Jul. 12) Lisa published an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune highlighting the exploitive character of much of today’s pink ribbon culture.

In “Keep the Race Moving Toward the Cure,” Lisa Valentine . . . → Read More: “Keep the Race Moving Toward the Cure”

Yet another "breast cancer awareness pitch"

A sea of pink

A sea of pink

It’s June. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is months away. Yet, I’ve received countless “pitches” throughout the year from PR firms gearing up for another year of pink ribbon festivities and revenues. In the wake of mounting concerns about pinkwashing, profiteering, political biases, and the overwhelming diversion of funds from research, prevention, and the kinds of actions that might help people in dire straits after a cancer diagnosis, the happy-go-lucky pitches keep flowing in. Here’s one I recently received.

Hi . . . → Read More: “BREAST CANCER AWARENESS PITCH”

Context is Everything — Framing the Film Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Today on Pink Ribbon Blues, Barbara Brenner shares a speech she gave at Smith College about the new film, Pink Ribbons, Inc. Barbara Brenner, former executive director of Breast Cancer Action, spent the last 15 years of her life as a breast cancer activist and now faces a different illness, ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”). A leader in the breast cancer movement, Barbara Brenner recently received a Smith College Medal for her exceptional professional accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the . . . → Read More: Context is Everything — Framing the Film Pink Ribbons, Inc.

“The Emperor Has No Clothes”: Komen for the Cure Exposed

I’m pleased to have written a guest editorial for KomenWatch about the recent scandal involving the Komen organization.

KomenWatch (www.komenwatch.org) is a public service website aimed at “sharing information and generating critical discussion about the largest breast cancer fundraiser in the world, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.” The KomenWatch website includes a large, searchable database of news sources and other articles that highlight public concerns about the Komen organization and/or its role in contributing to the splintering of the breast cancer movement and to the overt commercialization . . . → Read More: “The Emperor Has No Clothes”: Komen for the Cure Exposed

22. Pinking the Global Landscape, and the Global Market

The statue of Christ the Redeemer is lit up in pink for the start of the national campaign "Pink October" to raise awareness for breast cancer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes) www.boston.com

Breast cancer is clearly big news and big business in the United States, but it’s also going global.

Numerous world landmarks have been lighted in pink in the name of breast cancer awareness –the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario; the River Danube’s historical Chain Bridge in Budapest, . . . → Read More: 22. Pinking the Global Landscape, and the Global Market

“The Scent of Exploitation”

KomenWatch (www.komenwatch.org) is a public service website aimed at “sharing information and generating critical discussion about the largest breast cancer fundraiser in the world, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.” The KomenWatch website includes a large, searchable database of news sources and other articles – dating back to the 1990s – that highlight public concerns about the Komen organization and/or its role in contributing to the splintering of the breast cancer movement and to the overt commercialization of the cause itself. It also publishes occasional editorial analyses . . . → Read More: “The Scent of Exploitation”

“Boobies.” I said it. Now, May I Have Your Attention Please?

There’s been a lot of talk about boobies lately especially in breast cancer awareness campaigns. Discussions erupted in the blogosphere in early March after Peggy Orenstein posted a set of pointed questions about the awareness tactics of an “I ♥ Boobies” campaign promoted by the Keep A Breast Foundation. Katie of Uneasy Pink was super uneasy about the situation, questioning why it was okay to sexualize women and trivialize the disease in the name of “awareness.” Jackie Fox, author of From Zero to Mastectomy, questioned the overabundance . . . → Read More: “Boobies.” I said it. Now, May I Have Your Attention Please?

“It’s Time To Get Real”

The commercialization of breast cancer has been a growing trend. Beginning with the emergence of the pink ribbon in 1992, there has been an increasing notion that breast cancer “awareness” results from pink osmosis. Many, including myself, have asked: What exactly are people made aware of? When analyzing the imagery associated with pink ribbon products and awareness activities, the messages are clear:

Breast cancer exists.

[singlepic id=300 w=420 h=340 float=center]

All women are at risk.

[singlepic id=33 . . . → Read More: “It’s Time To Get Real”

Komen’s Leadership In Question

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz for The Wall Street Journal

The fury over Komen’s official responses to the trademark debacle continues to mount as individuals, breast cancer advocates, journalists, bloggers, and the diagnosed raise numerous questions about Komen’s trademark policing, hubris, and financial allocations. Despite an ambiguous admission on the Nightly News with Brian Williams that Komen may have been “overzealous” in its trademark protection and that the organization is “not perfect,” Komen maintains its official response that it sees trademark protection as “responsible . . . → Read More: Komen’s Leadership In Question

"The Cause Marketing Dilemma" by Gayle Sulik on @PsychToday... fb.me/3jBZP1dG2

“Pink Ribbon Blues,” Book

Paperback includes new Introduction on fundraising controversies and color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer (2012).


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Recent Sulik Interviews

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception Listen to BlogTalkRadio »

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' Listen to KCRW »

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer. The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

"Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed" Philly Inquirer

"Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science" Reuters

"The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

"Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood." In Deep with Angie Coiro

"Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue?" NPR's All Things Considered

"How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health?" America’s Radio News Network

"Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer" The Kojo Nnamdi Show

"The Big Business of Breast Cancer" 
Marie Claire

"Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases?" Slate

"Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red" The Sacramento Bee

"Get Your Pink Off" Ottawa Citizen

"Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions" USA Today

** MORE MEDIA LINKS **
** MORE RADIO INTERVIEWS **